View Full Version : Training to see ACTIVELY not passively

11-30-2005, 01:19 PM
Thought it might interest some to see what I do with high school students in their painting unit.

I am into my third week with high school students painting landscapes. A unit that will go for an entire quarter or nine weeks in which one 18x24 acrylic will be completed.

Along the way, I show various powerpoints I put together, give various demonstrations. I engulf the students with a lot of info, but pertinent to their work. Gray scale studies 5x7" in size, basic color theory, use of complementaries to control color. We look at the works of many artists, look at many step by steps of how artists go about constructing their steps start to finish. Don't want the students to errantly believe their instructor's methods for his own painting is the only approach.

This Friday...I will have them sketch out a number of paintings of other artists using a black ink ball point pen then a basic Prang watercolor set doing washes of color over those sketches. The students and myself have black hardbound 100 page sketchbooks we work in.

Here are a couple examples I did for them today...putting up images of Scott Christensen's work and on our WC Marc Hansen from the PA forum.



Such an exercise is not geared to produce finished works in and of themselves.

I devised this activity to (in a round about way) get the students to look more critically at the art work of the artists. Actively.

Instead of passively, "oh...that's nice"...they will begin to gain a sense of composition, dark versus light masses, a sense of color.

Its that "birds of a feather flock together" idea where hanging with good artist's work more actively, intimately will foster the greater likelihood of excellence being that much more understood.

Naturally...the routine and practice will establish a technical approach making them more competent with sketching, watercoloring and so forth.

The next thing, if possible, would be to get them to do their own version of outdoor quick sketches. I believe the confidence to do so is easier to encourage when the competence of this exercise is realized.

Each sketch with pen is about five minutes, the watercoloring perhaps 5-7 minutes. I really enjoy sketching with the Bic Medium black ink pen.

Years ago...when watercolor was more in its inception as a preferred traveling sketching medium, artists sketched lightly in pencil, then went over with watercolor washes of color and color notes. Singer Sargent was one such example/master.


11-30-2005, 01:33 PM
oh...should add that I have a past archived Wetcanvas article, eleven pages...on sketching, the importance of it for artists. Hope some might find it of interest...encouragement.


11-30-2005, 05:46 PM
Larry, it is really kind of you to share what you're doing with your student with those of us who normally visit here, avidly hoping to pick up some tips and get advice on how to proceed. You've just given us both - in one posting!
I love your sketches..especialy the developed ones!
I'm a great believer in the use it or lose it theory...and I'd guess most of the people who go back to drawing later in life will fully agree!
Luckily, I've found it does come back...if you practice enough! However, unless one was a really accomplished artist before, it takes longer to reach that stage!:(
I draw every day...come rain or shine...I just wish I could apply my theories to dieting!:evil:

11-30-2005, 05:57 PM
appreciate it Deirdre...

I agree...sketching keeps the eyes and the mind in the game. I think it hones the aesthetic senses as well, and nurtures the habit of making effort to see more routine.

It really takes little to spend five to ten minutes doing sketches.

I have found that at art exhibitions, if I have my sketchbook on hand, people tend to really enjoy pouring thru it. In fact, they will sometimes generate a crowd themselves. Perhaps because they are non-threatening (not for sale) plus I think folks presume they get some insider view into the artist's mind or something. Like a visual diary...

take care


12-11-2005, 08:25 AM
thought I'd add to this thread having some pics to share...here a few of my high school students working this exercise....



What I have the students doing here is looking thru my art magazines choosing the paintings of those artist's works they admire (landscape works in this case) and then do this sketching and watercoloring as a means of deeper seeing...rather than passive looking.

Here's a sketch I did in about 20-30 minutes at the request of another art instructor I rode on a coach bus with a week ago, drawing one of Norman Rockwell's works (part of it) from this teacher's new Rockwell book he purchased...


good exercises...black ball point pen...simple watercolor washes...


12-11-2005, 09:00 AM
Larry, this is fabulous (my wife has me watching Project Runway again)! I a pming Murray about placing this permanently in the Learning Center after the thread has run it's course. Thanks!

12-11-2005, 10:44 AM
Thanks Jay...appreciate the kind regards.