Monday, February 29, 2016

Learning to See


As an art teacher, I learned early on that drawing is rooted in perception, and not so much about motor skill.  In class, I like to spout little catchy cliches, like, "Look longer, see more" or "Art is an action of the eye before it is a work of the hand."  Or, as some people much more famous and important than me have said, "People who look hardest in the end will be good artists" (David Hockney) and "It is my contention that most people, including many artists, do not use their eyes to really see, but only to identify objects" (Fletcher Martin).  It's not unusual for me to take away a student's pencil while she works on an observation drawing and tell her bluntly, "Now draw."  Many of my students probably think I'm a little crazy (they may be right), but there is method to my madness, and it's always satisfying when a student learns to use their "eyes to really see," not simply to identify objects.

Today, a student brought in a lion drawing she created in 10th grade (above, on the left).  She--now a 12th grader--wanted to compare it to a recent lion drawing she created a couple months ago (seen above, on the right).   As I'm sure you'll notice, there is a notable difference, which is due to the development of this student's willingness to use her eyes to really see.