Most days when students first enter the art classroom, they do a warm up. This fall, students have been practicing observational drawing during the warm up. They do 2, two minute quick sketches using crayons.
Students spent 3-4 weeks drawing from flowers in vases (still life).
Currently, students are doing their warm ups using the manikins or artist figures (figure drawing.)
What I am hoping students will experience during the observational warm ups:
- laying down a sketch quickly in a focused manner with no talking
- developing the confidence that they can complete a sketch in 2 minutes at the same time as feeling comfortable knowing that it likely will not be 'finished'
- working with 'mistakes' by drawing over them, turning them into something else or turning their paper over (I stress that no matter how unworkable the mistake, they are not to crumple their paper or throw it away--every so called mistake is an opportunity to learn)
- exposing students to an authentic artistic practice of doing timed drawings from a figure
- practicing working attentively and carefully to draw what they see
- using crayons instead of pencils so that they are not tempted to erase and for practice in using more than three colors and using color to fill in all shapes and the paper to the edges
During the observational warm ups I also begin talking about how artists use imagination in combination with observational drawing. By the 4th week of still life drawing, students often begin to worry that they have drawn the same still life more than once or that they are bored with the subject matter. I then invite students to begin to change elements of the still life using their imaginations: such as changing the pattern and color on the vase, adding a background (and the background can be anywhere, even on Mars if they choose!), combining flowers from various still lifes around the room or using their imaginations to change the flowers entirely. I tell students that this is how artists stay engaged by and excited about making art for a lifetime--when they get bored, they make changes, they use their own ideas: they use their imaginations!