Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Teaching...

Sorry about the lack of updates... I bet a lot of you are wondering if I plan to keep working on TMDT, and my answer is: I do.

I've learned a lot more about teaching since my first two weeks at college in front of a class of about 18 people -- many of them beginners, and some of them are not particularly interested in drawing but they're there as part of the school curriculum requirements.

The first thing I learned about teaching which has become my 'cardinal rule of teaching' is that NOBODY likes to hear a lecture, especially if it has to do with the basic principles. Rather, it's better if we just dive bass-ackwards and flailing into drawing the fun stuff that we really want to draw, die on impact (because we don't know any of the basics), identify all the problems that result of our lack of the bare minimum and try not to make the same mistakes again.

So what does this spell for the future of the series? Hopefully nothing bad -- I intend to continue teaching basic principles, but instead of isolating principles, I'd prefer to do a demo that calls upon some principles that I want to teach. It's gonna be rather tough to spot all the possible things that can go wrong, but fortunately my unfortunate students are there to show me all of the things I know that I take for granted.

Another part of me wants to write a book, but teaching seems to require the kind of feedback that comes from a person-to-person conversation. Beginners also carry this shyness about their work -- they worry too much that a drawing will turn out "badly" and they spend a lot of time on tight linework and minute detail in an effort to shore up their work. I think if we're going to make any progress in the next class tomorrow I'm gonna have to find some way to open up that shell...

7 comments:

Michelle said...

I taught elementary school for a long time and now teach high school art. I found that one of the ways to get them to loosen up is to do some gesture and contour drawings. If the students know beforehand that a drawing isn't necessarily supposed to look realistic, it lightens the burden a little.

Also, one of my favorite ways to get them to let go of preconceptions about what a drawing should look like was to have them draw with their opposite hand.

I hope this helps.

Jay said...

I remember those drawing classes in college... I went into them thinking that I would learn to draw far beyond my own capabilities; that by the end of the semester, magically, I would be producing photo realistic artwork... Silly me.

What I did gain eventually was an appreciation for the basics of line, volume and form. By the time I was taking figure drawing, I no longer cared if my work was best in the class or photo realistic, (it was a drawing after all, not photography.) I concentrated instead on the basics and created more visually satisfying work.

Michelle brings up some good points. Gestures were my personal favorite and would allow me to loosen up.

Joseph Wilson said...

Boy, I'm really looking forward to what you've got coming up. :D Keep up the GREAT WORK!

Tan said...

I teach life drawing to a college class once a week (10 students). You're totally right that it's tough to teach stuff from basic principles. Especially the concept of drawing Gestalt.

I found I get better results starting the students doing freehand drawings and do the lecture in the middle of the class to make sure they're warmed up and thinking in a drawing mindset.

Lately I've been ending the day with peer review sessions. The sooner you get students externalizing the lesson the sooner you can gauge what they've gotten out of it!

Videos are awesome Mark, hope you can find the time for more!

Mike said...

Something that has helped me to open up my confidence vault is doing rough thumbnail sketches for storyboards. My teacher provided the environments and the character model sheets and we were suppose to place them in a visually pleasing way across 12 frames to tell a story. It really helped me to open up a little more. Plus it was a little bit of a study as far as line, balance, and proportion as well because I was able to draw from something else instead of having to think of it myself. It has helped me to visualize a little more as well.

sylverone said...

I'm missing you Mark! I've found these videos enjoyable and instructive, and I hope you can continue making them.

I agree that just jumping right into the drawing seems like a good idea. Not only does it allow you to pinpoint weaknesses or preconceptions the students might have, but it also makes it possible to put more emphasis on helping them with things that are difficult to them and not spend too much time teaching or explaining things that they already have a good grasp on.

I hope your work is going well!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark -- Its Aaron (of Carl) -- I don't know how to get in touch with you, but I do still have you on MSN...

Can you email me or call me @ work?

You know the site...