Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Copying Contin./Story of the Week

Anyone who's interested, please note the comment made on "the question of copying" entry by Stephen (under 'Anonymous'). In addition to being my best friend's husband, Stephen has a degree in sculpture and is at MIT studying design. I value his opinion--thanks Steve for your comment. Also, my friend Kate had so much to say that it didn't fit in the comments box, so she emailed her response to me. Kate has degrees in art history and arts administration, as well as many years in an art education setting. She now teaches part time at a purely classical school. Here are some quotes from her email regarding copying:

"I thought I had my opinion made up that I didn't like the idea until it was reintroduced to me as 'imitatio.' This is what the process of copying the works of a master is called among classical educators who consider it a highly valuable process. Many artists we know and love participated in this, and since classical schools place such a value on art history and the great masters, we should too! We've been studying Renoir, and part of his education was painting porcelian in Limoges, then copying great masters in the Louvre, before receiving formal training where he met Monet. (I think he got bored with copying and realized he needed something more, and that's why he went back to school!) I think people who aren't in art education backgrounds tend to inherently value the product more than they would like to admit and can measure improvement/accomplishment by this method. Some of them might be happy if just about every project they encountered was copying a famous painting like the teacher you wrote about has his students do. . . . [Kate tells a story of how, in her watercolor class at Baylor, the first thing they did was copy a watercolor painting, then 'moved past' this and started making original paintings.] I think imitatio or copying other people's work has to be used as a learning process to help children appreciate and learn from the artists who inspire them. The teacher must not over praise their results because it could cause them to get hooked on copying and not be able to grow in their creative ability. Creative teaching and the development of each child's own work has to be the focus. Copying is a means to an end, which is personal artistic development, but if all a child does is copy, that end will never be met. I'm happy we agree on this and it's good to have your philosophy challenged and strengthened through these kinds of thought provoking discussions."

Thanks Stephen and Kate for your thoughts!

And now for the art class story of the week.....this happened yesterday.

"The Minimalist"

In third grade we are working on painted paper collages of a biblical character or saint. This is in reference to Giotto, our current artist, who made religious paintings. One student who shall remain unnamed, except to say that he's our headmaster's son, was in a minimalist mood yesterday. It seemed every step he took with his background had to be pulled out of him by me. Finally, he started on the Biblical portrait part. At first he cut out a large head and glued it to the middle of his paper. (He's doing Noah.) He asked me if "that looks good." He says this very much as if he's wanting to be finished. I said, "looks great so far, but I think Noah needs a body. Right now he's a head floating in space!" Sweet boy smiles and we talk about how he can cut out a body shape, which paper he might use, etc. I am doing my best not to dictate his picture, but to push him "just enough." So he industriously starts on the body. A short time later he brings his picture to me. "Can I be finished?" "Well, E., this body you made is great, but where are his arms?" E. sighs, and a look of slight irritation crosses his face. "Well, you didn't tell me I had to make arms!"

loved reading Kate's thoughts.....very thought provoking....
Also enjoyed Kate's comments. Love the story of E.!
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