does art matter?

(67 Posts)
jrrtolkien Sun 03-Feb-13 10:59:31

Of course it matters if you enjoy it or you need it for your job. But what if you don't like doing it and are pretty useless at it? Is it worth the effort to improve?

Both my children are quite good academically, enjoy sports, enjoy music but not art. Neither have ever shown the remotest interest in drawing or colouring in, even I always had paints and colouring books for them since they we're babies.
Now they are in their last years at Primary and their drawings etc are probably the worst in the class and they hate doing them. Unfortunately, they both seem to get a lot of drawing work to do e.g. draw a storyboard.
Is,it worth me trying again to teach them how to draw or at the very least colour in nearly?

Bonsoir, you are very very lucky.

When I was full time I used to do lots of observational drawing. I remember my first lesson with my y4 NQT class. It was spring and I had brought in vases of daffodils. In our very first art lesson I put a box of pastels and a vase of daffodils on each table ... and the children almost universally drew a row of daffodils across their paper, all with 6 round petals. Not one had even looked at the flowers in front of them.

We started from scratch.

Tethersend, I am sorry I was a bit defensive and irritable last night!

Bonsoir Wed 06-Feb-13 18:41:24

Her current art school (Ateliers du Carrousel du Louvre) is wonderful and the teacher she had from 4-7 was amazing too. She is more lucky than talented but you have convinced me that this is worth pursuing!

orangeandlemons Wed 06-Feb-13 18:38:32

Sounds like your is a talented kid. With some proper teaching she should fly! But I bet she thinks she can't draw when asked to do so directly from imagination, but is stunned with what she can produce from using an objective drawing as a starting point!

Bonsoir Wed 06-Feb-13 18:21:14

OK. You have convinced me that DD needs to carry on with her Painting & Drawing class next year - we were debating whether she should drop it in favour of Sculpture, but I am now 100% certain she should do both! smile.

orangeandlemons Wed 06-Feb-13 18:04:34

...and this s my gripe. Kids are often told to draw from imagination which is actually very hard, and then are unhappy with the result, and then think they can't draw. But they need to study objects in close detail (objective drawing) to use this as a basis for imaginative exploration of ideas.The outcomes when it is done like this are streets ahead of just drawing random stuff from memory

Bonsoir Wed 06-Feb-13 18:02:06

Interesting. At school DD is asked to draw from imagination (to illustrate the poems they have to learn by heart) and her pictures are nothing more than OK. At her art school, she is asked to draw/paint something that the teacher has supplied - and her pictures are spectacular.

orangeandlemons Wed 06-Feb-13 18:00:01

But they n eed an actual object to start off from, to understand the shape, form, pattern etc and then develop their imaginative ideas from that

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 17:54:01

I presume asking children to draw a Saxon weapon when none is available is more of an opportunity to practice their imaginations than an effort to create proper art.

orangeandlemons Wed 06-Feb-13 17:49:25

I didn't mean the comments in that awful way...sorryblush.

What I meant was, ime experience our primary feeders rarely get kids to draw from observation, and this is the key to all good art work. I just hate when kids are told to draw some Saxon weapons or whatever with nothing to work from in primary school. Or Moses and the Red Sea! Where are the observational sources for that. Get a room of kids in total silence doing objective drawing and the results are stunning.

Storyboards and posters in other subjects can be hard. I agree storyboards have their place, but can be a challenge for kids, but posters are often given as low level home works for subjects other than art and often results in low quality outcomes. This is at secondary rather than primary. I loathe seeing felt pen posters and bubble writing on kids work

Bonsoir Wed 06-Feb-13 17:27:51

I think art matters, for many of the reasons given on this thread - it's a vehicle for self-expression, a way of holding your own personal mirror up to the world. My DD, who is 8, has done art classes with a proper teacher since she was 4. It is the highlight of her week.

MolotovCocktail Wed 06-Feb-13 17:09:09

I haven't read the other posts, OP, as I wanted to answer you as honestly as I can. Apologies if I x-post; I will read others comments afterwards.

Art isn't about being 'good' or 'bad' at the subject. Art is a vehicle for expression, self-reflection, a tool to enable us to access thoughts and feelings. On a deeper level, art is, to paraphrase Picasso 'the lie which enables is to see truth'. I think this reflects the power of art; also how it encourages free-thought and expression and ultimately can be life-changing, whether on a large or small, personal or social, etc, scale.

So, your DCs might not be the 'best' at art in their class. So what? That's a value judgement, anyway. I'd be encouraging them with other materials as art that is taught in schools can be linear and rigid and doesn't suit every child. Try an get to a specialist art shop in your area and buy some beautiful paper and craft bits and bobs and that might encourage them by giving them an alternative means of expression.

Admittedly, some people just don't enjoy art that much and that's okay ... but it's a shame to cast it aside becaus they're not enjoying it. I'm certain there is something out there to do that they'd enjoy smile

steppemum Wed 06-Feb-13 16:57:50

tethersend - I did my teacher training more than 20 years ago, and for primary art we were encourged to get the children to look and record what they see.

I remember a group of year 1 drawing spider plants, they sat down with the teacher for ages and looked at it, talked about it, looked at colours, stripes, shape of the leaves etc. Then they went off to draw, each table had a spider plant in the middle and teacher just said, remember to stop drawing and look for a bit and then draw what you see. Total silemnt absorption for about 20 minutes

Those pictures were awesome.

That went alongside lots of free expression of colour, texture, line, printing, mixing colours for hours and experimenting with colour etc etc.

That was how we were taught to teach art. Yesterday I was in my dds class helping, and the TA told one girl off for mixing all the paint colour and not painting anything, What a waste of Time!!! I cringed.

My kids used to mess around mixing paint loads. it rarely actually got used. I was helping in dd class last year and they were painting and I realised that she was the one who knew how to create the colours they wanted - direct result of all that 'messing around'

Op my ds doesn't like art. What he means is he doesn't like drawing. So when he has projects to do I try to get some enthusiasm by doing something else, like taking photos, using funky 3D writing, cartoons etc, which he doesn't see as 'art' It works up to a point!

Elibean Wed 06-Feb-13 15:00:08

And a quick comment re drama, for those who think it a waste of time.

It needn't be at all (depending on how it is used and taught!). The skills involved can include confidence in public speaking, working as a team, empathy via role play, social awareness, physical fitness (think of the dance aspect), and, not least, fun.

It's also used, at least in my dds' primary, to teach history and to get kids to think creatively in terms of writing stories - writing has improved hugely since kids have started acting out stories prior to writing them down.

I'm not a drama teacher, or involved in drama in any professional way, but dismissing it as a waste of time doesn't make any more sense to me than writing off music, art, creative writing.....confused

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 06-Feb-13 14:39:40

well thank you tethersend but I wish you had been around when I was young!

To answer the OP's question. Yes, Art matters, for all sorts of cultural reasons, but you knew that smile

But narrowing it down - does visual observation matter?

Well for me, at 16, I was choosing whether I was likely to be a doctor or a lawyer. And really, being a doctor was completely closed off to me because of my weak powers of visual observation. A GP, at the end of the day, needs to be able to "see" significance in rashes above and beyond putting names to them just as a musician in a band needs to be able to "hear" - at lightning speed - what the "right note" is in music above and beyond knowing the technical term for the chord change. So I became a lawyer.

Which is probably a good thing!

Latterly, with my career at the crossroads that my name suggests, I've often been in front of 50 children at a time. I've had to conciously "allow" my weak observation skills to work - like a weak muscle - in order to recognise all the childrenl. I have got better, so there is really hope for us all.

It's the workarounds - using a different kind of reasoning as a crutch - that allow the core skills to atrophy.

So OP, my advice is to ask the children to draw something they genuinely love, whether it's a wrapped up present or the family pet or ballet shoes or whatever. But with lots of time and no script.

tethersend Wed 06-Feb-13 12:02:12

Even a blurry abstract drawing is an act of recording observations, learnandsay. It has nothing to do with detail.

I am contrasting observing and recording with drawing from memory, regardless of the level of detail or abstraction.

thesecretmusicteacher, that's a very good analogy.

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 06-Feb-13 11:11:40

"things are taught which must be unlearned in order to draw well. Children are rarely taught to observe and record, which are key skills for drawing"

This is exactly my experience as a learner.

Visual observation means using your brain in a particular way.

It's the same with music. Nowadays we are aiming to teach "audiation" first - which means trying to hold music in your head (which may be helped by notation or movement).

But you can get away with producing music and producing drawings without audiating/visually observing to any real degree. You can produce the notes on an instrument just be reading the notation, and you can produce something that's a face by following rules by rote.

Those skills that you are learning may be brilliantly useful as part of your intellectual development - I'm glad I can draw a graph! They just aren't audiation/visual observation. they're something else. It would be a bit more controversial to say that they "aren't music" or "aren't art" I guess.....

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 10:48:46

It makes sense to some extent, but surely it depends on what level of detail we're talking about and what we're trying to achieve. Since we're discussing primary school children I don't suppose details of veins, knuckes and nails are important. I could be wrong. And the study of a moving form can have lots of blurry outlines and gaps in it. That kind of "scribbled" drawing (for want of a better phrase) is supposed to give an impression not faithfully represent, iyswim.

gabsid Wed 06-Feb-13 09:55:43

Catriona - I would ask them to have a go, but wouldn't expect much more than stick men. Middle to higher ability children I would then expect to write more ... more descriptive ... which is fine in English, but can be difficult in MFL.

tethersend Wed 06-Feb-13 09:30:29

"Upthread someone said don't say this is the way you draw hands and this is the way you draw feet, etc, presumably because saying such things stifles creativity and leads some children to believe that they can't draw hands and feet."

Actually no, learnandsay- learning to draw in this way means that it is a struggle later on to rely on observational skills to tell you how a form appears, whilst part of your brain is saying "That's a foot. feet go like this"; when in fact, they don't, and to draw a foot accurately actually requires you to observe and record it objectively. Does that make sense?

tethersend Wed 06-Feb-13 09:27:49

Ah LaBelle- Sorry if my post came across as an attack on primary teachers; that was never my intention. I am seeing this purely from an art point of view, and the fact remains that art education in most primary schools is dire; even in terms of formal drawing skills, things are taught which must be unlearned in order to draw well. Children are rarely taught to observe and record, which are key skills for drawing. Story boards are not my issue; I think they have their place, but I do think that they are over-used in some settings as a misguided means to include art in the curriculum.

Please don't take that as an attack on primary teachers- the problem IMO is that there is just no room in the curriculum for art. This means that little time is spent on art during teacher training, and that most art graduates choose to teach secondary as the primary curriculum leaves little room to teach their subject. You are the exception, not the rule wink

Primary teachers do a job I never could; their skills are just usually in different areas; assuming they teach any art at all. In some schools, art is done during the teachers' PPA time.

"I'm an art teacher- I really wouldn't worry, as most of a secondary art teacher's time is spent getting students to unlearn the crap they were taught at primary school."

"I loath what they are told to draw in primary school. Eg Moses and the Red Sea. HOW can a child draw that?"

What is all this anti-primary invective? It is offensive and condescending and shows no understanding of the pedagogy required to teach young children. As a primary teacher who takes part in frequent meetings with our destination secondary, to be informed 'this is what we want you to do', I get rather fed up with it.

I am a highly qualified professional, as are my secondary colleagues. I teach art (I have a degree in graphic art), but I also teach 10 other subjects up to year 6 level, and all at least as well as I teach art.

Story boarding and drawing as a response to show understanding of the story of Exodus are both valid activities; many young children much prefer to draw than to write to show their understanding - indeed most do so spontaneously long before they even start school. Those children who prefer not to draw are offered an alternative method; some complete story boards with notes or stick men, while one pupil today showed his comprehension of the story of the Good Samaritan by designing an abstract stained glass window and explaining the symbolism of the colours he used.

A little less sweeping criticism and a little more respect please!

Catriona100 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:53:56

gabsib - what do you answer those Y7s who don't want to do a storyboard?

DS1 will be one of them next year and it would be a relief to him if he discovered that he never had to storyboard anything ever again!

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 05-Feb-13 17:57:30

sorry lljkk, didn't mean to suggest you were a pleb! just mean that colouring in is more like doing a crossword or some sewing or even ironing a shirt well - and nothing wrong with those. I like colouring in too!

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 05-Feb-13 17:55:55

As the art teacher above indicated, you can use "workarounds" to do drawings without actually using your visual processing skills. So then you have to go backwards to allow that poor visual processing part of your brain to get some exercise.

I remember only once sitting down and drawing something that l loved (my sleeping cat) very slowly and carefully, looking at the cat all the time. The art teacher was amazed at the difference in quality from my usual poor mechanical attempts.

they weren't art, they were numeracy and verbal reasoning skills translated on to a piece of paper. Perspective and mathematical graphs were ok, anything else was rubbish.

It doesn't surprise me that many artists are dyslexic - if one kind of processing challenges you, you'll fall back on stronger processing skills and develop those.

I think that colouring in isn't really about art, any more than "crotchet, quaver crotchet minim" is anything to do with music. One is a test of discipline, compliance and care and presumably really all about handwriting skills. The other is.... well... now that is a different thread entirely.

lljkk Tue 05-Feb-13 17:04:46

I love colouring & colouring books (muse). Am obviously a Pleb.

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