drawing 101 : students are lazy

The fact you cannot draw well is not your fault, its your art teachers’.  Okay that might be crossing the line put its partially true.  The other reason you cannot draw is… coloring books. I love blanketed statements of this nature, AMBIGUITY can be a wonderful thing. After all I work used to be centered around such ambiguity and the what i called the ‘human experience.’ But I digress, more on that in future posts.

My biggest challenge as a drawing instructor was combatting two things. My students laziness and the bad habits they already learned. I wasn’t afraid to call my students out on the laziness. When i called them lazy it was accurate. Naturally they took it wrong, even though i explained what I meant on several occasions.

They were being visually lazy.  They were making assumptions on what they thought they saw.  They weren’t observing. Assuming, then putting it to paper in order to get it done faster. Assuming a ellipse was a circle, assuming a shadow was as black as an abyss. Assuming the human eye looked like an outlined football.  Those who actually cared to look got better, those that didn’t, well, didn’t. An entry level, collegiate drawing course is about observation just as much as it is using a pencils & charcoal.

What went wrong? What made students ‘lazy’? Who killed their observational – eye to hand skills or hindered the development of? Art teachers! Perhaps this is unfair, okay it is unfair. My art teacher in high school didn’t ruin me. In fact ‘Spisak’ did nothing of that sort. He was very impressionable most of my drawing “dont’s” I learned from him. In part, hes one of the reasons i went to art school. He said “I think you would make a good illustrator” Although i think hes was wrong about that I am awful at illustration, but as artist who draws – thats my sweet spot.

I can say middle school art teachers aren’t any different than high school art teachers.  Every single college art course I took was full of Art Education majors. Certainly can’t blame them either. They know better don’t they.  They a have the luxury of make art lessons for all including the uninterested. Which might be part of the problem. But one i don’t care to speculate on at this point. Art foundations were placed before this point anyway.

I’m going to blame grade school teachers and parents.

When you ask a young child to draw an apple. Their initial reaction to to give you a big squiggly blob of nonsense.  But rather than accepting this form of rendering, they are instructed that it is incorrect. They are given a coloring book and a pat on the head when they get between the lines.

When they produce their squiggles, they are thinking about mass, the object as a whole. Even though they might not understand the word ‘mass.’ They are drawing the top/ sides and bottom all at once. A refinement of hand eye coordination is all they need.

Teachers teach the child to draw outlines of the apple the fill in. Killing the idea of mass.  And they won’t get it make until that first college drawing course. That is so hard to unlearn. Rather than ‘coloring’ clip art you know what should have been art time when you and when children have art time- a Where’s Waldo book. Then directly to still lifes. Can you image a 5 year old drawing a still life / assuming s/he never saw a coloring book in their life. Oh how amazing.

SPACE, “this vase  is on a box, that box is on the floor, the floor is part of a room which has walls and a ceiling….” is my first lecture and it shouldn’t be.

This is a blog, disagree if you will. There will be more on this later. Happy drawing!


* a note on posts | most of these post are written on the run | there will be mistakes and misspells | troll someplace else