Monday, February 12, 2018

Notes on class and sketchbooks from today (Art 1 version): 2/12/18

I'm in a bit of a conundrum lately and this post is an attempt to try to communicate and figure it out all at the same time.

First, today was a great day in class.
I have mentioned to some of my colleagues and friends that I am thoroughly enjoying my Art 1 class this year. I'm not sure that you realize it, but every class is different - not just from one period to another, but from one year to another. I would say that the combination of personalities, diligence, ability to work together, kindness, etc. are all strong with my first period this yay for you. For real!

Second, as an educator I am always trying to give you experiences that are interesting and valuable.
I am trying to challenge you and get you to see the world in a way that is different from how you typically would. I truly believe this is part of my job. Challenging what you know should be something you strive to experience throughout your life (#lifelesson)
Even more than that I try to build a community with (and for) you. I want to get to know you and have you get to know each other. It might sound cheesy, but I do care about you.

None of these things we do in class are difficult per se, but in truth, they aren't easy either.
They aren't easy in that it requires thoughtfulness and willingness and attention.

I know you have the time, and here I will again mention the use of tutorial and after school - both of which are underutilized by too many of you. I have heard some of you say how busy you are from other teachers at tutorial, but you should be giving equal weight to all of your courses. Sometimes "time" is the only magic you need. Well, time without distraction. And yes, this is when I mention the negative nature of the mobile and wireless devices we are surrounded with on the daily.

But I digress...

One of the things some of us teachers have noticed in recent years is that there seems to be a higher percentage of students that just want to get the work done. They just want to move on to the next thing so they can be finished. "What do I need to do to get an 'A'?"
Oh man have we heard that a lot.
Hopefully you know me well enough to know that this isn't an appropriate question. It's about the learning, not about the grade.

Let's talk about that learning.
Let's talk about those sketchbooks.
I have tried to express how valuable those sketchbooks are, and how much of the actual learning comes in them.
I have tried to express that the frequency of the sketchbooks allow us to stay sharp with our skills while also increasing the proficiency of those skills. I don't need you to be perfect, but I need you to chase the idea of being better.

Now it's time for an illustration.
Pen and ink. This is one of my favorite media, and if you follow me on instagram you would see this. The techniques we learned at the beginning of the year (hatch, stipple, fill-in) all need practice. If I am asking for a pen and ink drawing - or to have pen and ink to be combined with something like watercolor - I should see you practicing those techniques.

To illustrate further, one of the things I definitely said was that when we are using stipple or hatch we should NOT be outlining in ink.
Additionally, one of your Ch. 4 entries was to get more practice with watercolor (a media we just used in a project) and pen and ink (a media many of you will want to use in your next project - even though you may not realize it yet).
This is what we call practice, right?
This is where we get better so that the pieces which wind up on display have sophistication and improvement shown.

I was surprised at how many of those entries really didn't show a sophisticated use of shading. I just wonder, "why not?"

What kind of stands out even more, though, was the portrait of a human or animal that asked you to work from a photograph, print out that photo reference, and attach it to the facing page.
Remember, a photograph comes from a camera and is not a reproduction of a drawing/painting.
Also, if you are asked to print it out, why wouldn't you?
You should never tell your teacher, "My printer ran out of ink." This is an excuse (and only shows you do not feel the need to hold yourself accountable). If you have five weeks to work on an assignment, why would you (presumably) wait until the night before to print out your image? This just doesn't make any sense.
If you're like me and you don't have a printer at home, do you need to ask a friend for help? Do you need to go to Kinko's? Or Walgreens? Maybe a parent can print it at work?
Problem solving is key to success, and waiting to the last minute doesn't allow you to be as successful as you could be.

Fortunately you are not dinged for bringing something in late, but I will mark something as incomplete if you haven't followed the very explicit directions. I will reassess later - after you have made corrections/completions.

For myself though, separate from the physical act of drawing from a photograph being, at times, better than drawing from a screen, what is there to learn from printing out the image?
Yes, I question what I ask you to do. (I try to do the same things I ask of you.)
Well, there is follow through - which you need in order to be successful in life, and there is accountability.
If you can just not do something and there is no adverse affect, why do it?
Well, what if it is just the right thing to do?
What if it is intended to help someone else?
(Maybe a lesson we can learn is that doing something for others is the quickest path to happiness and joy?)
Maybe that person is me, the teacher, the one you are trying to show your creativity, growth, and sophistication to?
Is it possible that I can make all kinds of incorrect judgements about a piece of art that is supposed to look like a photograph if I don't have a reference? Is it possible that I might give you all kinds of bad advice about how you might make your drawing better if I don't have something to reference?

If I'm giving advice that isn't applicable, how can you get better through our shared experience?

In other words, the right thing to do is for me to give you as many opportunities to show your growth (and use of positive and helpful feedback) as possible, and then after you do the work towards taking advantage of those opportunities, I give you (more) usable feedback.
If you give me work/references, and I give you feedback, and then you use that feedback on the next piece, and I give you more feedback, and you use that see how we are creating a loop here?
We need to help each other so that we can help each other improve.

This is all good stuff, so please, let me help you.

You all have the ability to make really good projects, and you are all kind humans (which is why I want you to sign up for Art 2 nest year :) ), but you still need to do the work.
I try to make the topics and themes interesting, and I try to give you say in what you will create. I really think a pretty good job has been done on this front, and while you may not agree, please know that it has been a work in progress for years and I really have tried to do my best for you.

Now that this post is significantly long, what next?
Well, we will do some sort of self assessment on Wednesday. If you want to add to, or have a do-over before or after then, please feel free. Some of you should certainly take advantage of this, but some of you definitely don't need to. At that late of a point, I may or may not be able to have this chapter influence your progress report mark, but I don't worry about that since it is just a progress report.
What would be helpful is to ask questions if you are not sure.

I don't like posts like this, but as much as I desire to be friendly to you, I am responsible for holding you accountable, and at some point someone has to be "the adult in the room" and "call a spade a spade" and do the hard work of expressing that not everything was done as it should have been (as it could have been done).

Please read the comments that might have been left for you and know that they are intended to be helpful.
Lastly, know that these words don't apply to everyone - and certainly not everyone all the time. Some of you rocked it in Ch. 4. I applaud you.
Others sort of rocked it, but could stand to tweak things a bit.
Some of you, well, it seems you forgot what rocks were over these past several weeks were.

Yes, that's supposed to be a funny ending. It's the best I've got right now.


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