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?

Ferguson Sun 03-Feb-13 22:50:05

Hi - ex-TA (male) here :

As your post has been ignored all day I thought I'd reply to you!

I don't know if art can really be 'taught' if a person has no interest or aptitude for it. I was never much good at ordinary drawing or painting, but when I was older I was VERY good at technical drawing, with rulers, compasses etc, and I did even wonder about trying to be an architect, but that idea didn't last long.

You don't say if they are boys, girls or one of each (not that it makes much difference really.) Also when I was primary age I went in for a 'gummed paper craft' competition, which involved tracing shapes onto the back of the appropriate colour gummed paper, cutting it out and sticking it down in the correct part of the picture; I won a book for my effort.

As your children will be transferring to secondary in a year or two, it would be a minor advantage if they can draw or copy still-life items; I remember I had to draw things like a half-open matchbox, and for that a knowledge of perspective and distance are required. Our DS at grammar school had to take his tie off and draw it. You also mentioned music : do they play any instruments, as that is a useful skill and good for social reasons, as well as creative.

Of course, these days a lot of art work can be done on the computer, either with a vector DRAWING prog, my favourite being : www.xara.com/uk/ but there are cheaper or even free children's progs, or a PAINTING prog which probably came with your computer software.

Looking at the work of famous artists may give a glimmer of stimulation to your DCs, and there is masses of that on the web. Some artists make millions from abstract paintings, which might look like they have been done by a child, but it must be having the original ideas that is the important part. Back in the '70s I went to a Bridget Riley exhibition and I love her work, which looks like it's been done by computer, but hasn't : www.op-art.co.uk/op-art-gallery/bridget-riley

Books can teach the basics of drawing and painting : shape, perspective, texture, shading etc, and quality pencils HB, B, 2B, 3B or softer, are nice to use. Painting can be watercolours, oils or there are modern acrylics, and may be others I don't know about. Colour pencils or pastels are not too expensive, and can be enjoyable to use.

Being brave and 'having a go' is probably they best thing they could do; don't worry about the results, but just create something different and new, and see what turns out!

Good luck.

tethersend Sun 03-Feb-13 23:03:27

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.

"Being brave and 'having a go' is probably they best thing they could do; don't worry about the results, but just create something different and new, and see what turns out!"

This is exactly right. Art (well, art education) is about the process, not the result. Experimenting with different materials and making a complete mess will get you a higher NC level than a colouring in neatly.

Whilst the formal elements are still important in art education, other facets such as recording, exploring, comparing etc. make up the assessment. Your children may not enjoy drawing storyboards, but they may enjoy debating the function of art. Go and see some exhibitions with them instead of teaching them to colour in, and then decide whether they are interested in art or not smile

learnandsay Sun 03-Feb-13 23:16:25

From a non didactic point of view I would have said that it helps in certain circumstances. If you're drawing a story board it helps if you can draw. But it's also possible to draw one using matchstick men. Look how far Lowery got. And although Picasso was actually very good at impressionist/proper painting he's actually remembered for painting square people with orange, yellow and blue faces. So, my guess is when you say art, you probably don't mean "art", you probably mean the ability to represent your idea in pictorial form. Yes. It's useful. But it's by no means essential.

jrrtolkien Mon 04-Feb-13 00:32:25

Thanks for your replies. I have taken them to art galleries though not for 3 years. Maybe I can try again...

I've been thinking about it today and I guess all those story boards and title pages they keep getting are because teachers would see drawing as something every child can do to an extent. Every child except my two.
I guess they.will need to improve or else they won't be able to draw diagrams of science experiments or maps for.geography or anything for history when.they get to secondary.
It's comforting to hear that they will get a fresh start for learning about art at secondary though.

I had an easel, colouring in books, glue, glitter and enough colouring pens and pencils to supply a classroom for a year but they would always rather play with their other toys when little and the interest just never came.
Sorry about the phone autocorrect errors!

RaisinBoys Mon 04-Feb-13 06:43:25

love that tethersend as the mother of a DS who have never really coloured in nicely but loves colour and texture and experimenting and who has often been made to feel that his stuff is not "neat enough" by school TA's.

legalalien Mon 04-Feb-13 07:00:06

My ds is the same. He's in year 3 and has project homework every weekend that almost always involves a picture. He'd much rather do spelling or maths!

Rightly or wrongly i've been encouraging him to accept his limitations in terms of drawing lifelike options and try and come up with creative ideas. This week he made a "constellation picture" with black paper, silver star stickers and "join the dots" with a white pencil - much easier than drawing the thing that he was supposed to do! Tracing using baking paper also good (luckily he can colour in ok). No complaints from the teacher so far.....

Euphemia Mon 04-Feb-13 07:10:11

tethersend What would you say is "the crap they were taught at primary school"? What would you like primary schools to be doing?

In my experience, the teaching of Art at primary school is entirely haphazard!

EarlyInTheMorning Mon 04-Feb-13 07:11:56

I was going to ask the exact same question as Euphemia.

lljkk Mon 04-Feb-13 11:25:01

I've same question about "what crap things" do they need to unlearn.

I suppose Art is like sport or music, helpful to make the effort, brilliant if it comes to you easily, but not essential for getting on in life (whereas poor numeracy and literacy would be reason to worry).

My moan is drama... schools seem to do a lot of it and I struggle to see the value.

learnandsay Mon 04-Feb-13 11:30:17

Drama is probably popular because it's easy to teach.

PastSellByDate Mon 04-Feb-13 12:15:40

Hi jrrtolkein:

Let's start with just limiting art to drawing/ painting. Of course it is impossible for every child to be good or even excel at this - but let's be honest - there are all sorts of other forms of art:

sculpture
photography
pottery
etc....

link to Australian webpage: www.canleyvale.hs.education.nsw.gov.au/Winning%20websites/art/toa.htm

so just because one medium of artistic expression is difficult or not enjoyable for your children, doesn't mean there aren't any out there.

I'm personally a sucker for beautifully black and white photography and adore Ansel Adams (e.g. www.anseladams.com/) - and I think we all can agree that photography is accessible to all but those with impaired or no vision.

I think the point about 'art' is observation - seeing something in a new or different way. A closeup of a part of a plant or bark on a tree can be incredibly surprising. As a child my parents subscribed me to a children's version of National Geographic magazine and my favourite part was a section with high powered microscopy images of everyday things - it actually really blew my mind to see a close up of an ants antenna or a butterfly wing.

Drawing is eye - hand coordination and it isn't always instant and to be good it takes practice. So it sounds to me that one thing to tackle is the method - how they approach drawing something (and there are plenty of how to draw books and little you tube videos out there). Another thing to tackle is how to look at something - can you see the underlying shapes (circle for head, rectangle for torso, elongated triangles for legs, etc....).

Art Attack and similar on CBBC/ CITV are really worth watching - because all sorts of different types of artwork are being made and there really is something for everyone.

So my advice is this - don't limit yourself to just drawing/ colouring/ painting - explore other types of art making and do try to take a positive attitude - because the skill of closely observing an object or a scene and recalling certain facts about it is important, regardless of what you go on to do in life.

HTH

jrrtolkien Mon 04-Feb-13 13:40:19

Yes, I have to agree that art is much more than just line drawings, colouring in and a bit of painting. But these are the things my children struggle with (especially drawing). They are bad... DS2's teacher raised it with me last year as an issue. So I went out and bought Art Academy for their DSi and they did (some) fo the exercises - joylessly.

Then I sat down with them and showed them how to look for shapes, consider perspective, use light strokes and then copy a drawing I did, stroke by stroke. Followed with loads of praise etc.

But a year on, we are still stuck. Yesterday I couldn't work out what DS2 had drawn... it was the partoing of the Red Sea for moses apparently.

The problem is they are just not interested

pixi2 Mon 04-Feb-13 13:44:26

Music is an art form. Wouldn't worry too much about 'art'. I love drawing and painting but what makes art 'art' is different for everyone. I love the pre raphaelites and hate modern art which, to me, isn't art. My best male friend from school is a sculpture, he does a lot if modern shapes. Each to their own.

pixi2 Mon 04-Feb-13 13:50:44

Sorry about the spelling mistakes. Was casting my eye over the modern art my two dc have created on the table with their spaghetti bolognaise. Yuk.

superfluouscurves Mon 04-Feb-13 15:07:07

I agree with PastSellbyDate that art is really about looking and observing the world around you and children are usually great at that because they don't have any preconceived ideas or prejudices that inform what they see.

But disagree with Ferguson when he says it cannot be taught. I strongly believe that everyone can be taught art up to a certain level of competence - like any other subject - it takes practice and commitment.

As for whether it is essential; I would say definitely 'yes' but it depends on one's priorities in life I guess. (I find it difficult to work out whether I've been given the right change at the supermarket blush which most people would consider a much more essential skill)

Everyone has different strengths - I think you have hit the nail on the head when you mention the word 'joyless'!! If you want your dc to engage with art and find it stimulating, then maybe you could do it backwards by first finding a subject that they are interested in and then exploring that subject through photography (disposable cameras), mosaic, shadow pictures, sculpture, crafts such as metalwork or sewing etc etc

superfluouscurves Mon 04-Feb-13 15:08:28

Agree with Ferguson about being brave and having a go though!

Happypiglet Mon 04-Feb-13 15:09:57

My DS2 is like this. Bright as a button, very musical, funny, great penmanship but a TOTAL inability to draw anything, from imagination or life.
His older brother and younger sister are actually quite good at it and both sides of the family have an artistic bent...I even scraped an O level in Art!
I am not sure what his issue is, the seeing or the transferring to paper.... He does get frustrated especially as his Yr3 teacher said the other day that he was much too old to be drawing stick men! He is literally at the one oval with a face on and arms and legs stuck out of it stage...like most two year olds...
I do think either you have it or you don't!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 15:21:28

I think art is as important as sport or drama and to some children as important as maths, science or English, depending on what they are good at.

A child who is not academic but fantastic at art needs it more than ever because its an area where they can excel and may end up being where their future career lies. Was for me anyway. A lot of the people i went to art college with weren't academic. I've actually noticed over the years that the less academic they are the more successful they've been as artists, illustrators, graphic designers or fashion designers. Im not saying they are thick, its just its seems to be a different type of intelligence.

It doesn't matter if it doesn't come naturally they can still get a lot out of it.

weegiemum Mon 04-Feb-13 15:27:31

I think art is essential, but then my dd1 is exceptional at art. She's in s1 (y7) and the teacher is already talking about her options for accelerating her progress through the exam levels.

Partly it's just that she's talented and has lots of ideas as well. It's also that she was encouraged in an amazing way from p1. She's been at 2 primary schools, both of which were linked on to a secondary with shared staff, so she's always had art taught by an art teacher.

I'm a geography teacher, and diagram drawing/ field sketching is important in my subject too. I think there's a lot to be said for impressive art education. I wish I'd had it!!

jrrtolkien Mon 04-Feb-13 17:00:28

weegiemum: "I think art is essential, but then my dd1 is exceptional at art."

But that just means its essential for your daughter, not for all children irrespective of how weak they are at drawing.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 18:44:41

I doubt anyone would class sports as a waste of time because their child isn't good at it, it still teaches coordination amongst other things. So i don't think art should be any different. Its not essential that they are good at it but i do think its important they do it anyway. No lessons should be abandoned just because the child isn't that great at it.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 18:47:58

And art isn't just about drawing.

Have your boys tried any sort of sculpture? Print making? Photography? Typography? Etc. They may excel at one of them or at least just enjoy it more, and a background of art in school will give help develop the eye for it.

tethersend Mon 04-Feb-13 19:25:44

"Then I sat down with them and showed them how to look for shapes, consider perspective, use light strokes and then copy a drawing I did, stroke by stroke. Followed with loads of praise etc.

But a year on, we are still stuck. Yesterday I couldn't work out what DS2 had drawn... it was the partoing of the Red Sea for moses apparently.

The problem is they are just not interested"

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not sure I'd be interested in that grin

Ok, stop asking them to copy drawings. This will actually hamper their artistic development and encourage them to draw in a formulaic rather than analytical way- one of the things commonly taught at primary schools which is hard to undo- they begin to think that 'faces go like this' and 'feet go like this' etc.

Art can indeed be taught. Drawing can be taught. An interest in learning does help though.

To answer your original question, I really don't think drawing ability is essential for every child. However, I do think art plays an important part in encouraging children to question the world around them. There is a theory that art now serves the same function that philosophy has throughout history, and I agree with this.

Your children will lead full and happy lives never drawing anything- but they may still end up being great artists. If they want to.

SanityClause Mon 04-Feb-13 19:39:44

Can I just say, DD2 is dyslexic, and although she is bright, she has struggled at school. This was made particularly difficult for her, as she followed my very bright DD1 up the school. (Now at different schools - perfect!)

A new head started, and she walked into DD2's classroom, took down a picture she had done (after Matisse) off the wall, and showed it to the whole school in assembly. That was such a proud day for her. (I'm a bit teary, thinking about it, and it was about 4 years ago.)

Anyhoo, I think it doesn't hurt for people who are good at most things to find things they have to work at, and it's good for those that struggle to have strengths others might not have.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 20:34:37

Sanity. That's so lovely smile

Quite a lot of the artists and designers I've worked and studied with have been dyslexic.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 20:38:45

Op. The way you describe teaching them sounds as though you are trying to teach them in an academic way . . . as in teaching them that to do it correctly they need to do xyz and have it turn out looking like a specific idea of yours of what constitutes good art. When in fact i think you should just be encouraging enjoyment of it in a non stressful or conforming way and experimentation.

Its love of creating the art that spurns someone to do it more and more, try new things and gradually then they would naturally got better at it in their own way.

jrrtolkien Mon 04-Feb-13 20:56:01

I was just trying to give them confidence that they are capable of producing a recognisable drawing.
As you all,may have guessed by now, I'm not very artistic either. Nor is DH apparently.

choccyp1g Mon 04-Feb-13 21:00:48

tethersend your children will lead full and happy lives never drawing anything

Not sure I agree with this; you can lead a happy life without drawing or painting for pleasure, but so much of school life involves drawing diagrams, maps, shapes, designs etc.
before you even start on the homework consisting of colouring-in, posters, leaflets, mood-boards, family-trees, mind-maps.....
all these things call for some ability to represent your ideas visually in a two dimensional way, and it is a problem if your DC (I'm looking at my DS) can't relate to that.

And don't get me started on the serious projects like building castles, churches, animals etc..

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 04-Feb-13 21:10:50

Perhaps working on something abstract would boost their confidence more, because you can't really do that wrong.

smile

orangeandlemons Mon 04-Feb-13 21:22:54

I am also an Art teacher. It most certainly can be taught. Basic elements like tone, shape and NEVER colouring in. I go mad if my students talk about colouring in! Ugh, keeping inside the lines...what is the that about? Nothing in real life has an outline

I loath what they are told to draw in primary school. Eg Moses and the Red Sea. HOW can a child draw that? I would struggle. It's like asking a child to write War and Peace without telling them how do to it. All good drawing comes from looking at primary objects, and rarely (but sometimes) straight from imagination.

My school gets some of the best Art results in the country. All Y7's who think they can't do Art are suddenly amazed by the fact that actually they can, they have just had to spend 4 years drawing Romans or whatever from imagination, which has totally turned them off. Also ones that can't draw are often excellent at proper 3d work (not making monsters out of bog rolls)

All the research has proved that having a creative part of the curriculum provides benefits in other areas and raises students' self esteem.

Where would Vivienne Westwood, Dyson,Emin etc etc be without Art and Design?

tethersend Mon 04-Feb-13 21:25:07

Choccypig, you absolutely can lead a full and happy life never drawing- think of children with mobility problems and/or disabilities which mean they can't draw.

" teaching them that to do it correctly they need to do xyz and have it turn out looking like a specific idea of yours of what constitutes good art. When in fact i think you should just be encouraging enjoyment of it in a non stressful or conforming way and experimentation. "

Yes, exactly.
Art Gould be about asking questions, not providing answers.

tethersend Mon 04-Feb-13 21:28:02

*should

lljkk Tue 05-Feb-13 11:04:48

keeping inside the lines...what is the that about?

I always thought it was about paying attention to details and being aware of aesthetics (most people think it looks nicer kept inside the lines).

orangeandlemons Tue 05-Feb-13 11:19:14

But nothing has an outline, so how can you keep inside it? Neatness doesn't have much to do with artistic ability, except for fine motor skills. Aesthetic appeal is important, but I would rather see no outline.

Outlines have a place in design but not in pure fine art. Most art educators and specialists think colouring books are the invention of the devil. I never use the word outline in my lessons. Dept were judged to be outstanding/inspirational in recent Ofsted.

I don't let them use rubbers either. These are used for rubbing out outlines, which don't exist

quiller Tue 05-Feb-13 11:25:06

So, how would you encourage/ teach a child at home? Mine thinks he is crap and doesn't want to try any more, even the notion of having fun with paint is now alien

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 11:42:43

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. And somebody said do not copy existing pictures. So what do you do if your very young child does a scribble (or what I presume is a scribble) which coincidentally creates a brilliant outline of a person? The scribble I'm talking about has a curved sausage shaped torso, two curved pipes for legs, some undefined squiggle about where an arm should be and a circle for the head. It looks like the studies of a moving figure that you find in art schools. I'm tempted to encourage my child to reproduce that format because doing it deliberately, rather than doing it by mistake as in this case, would be quite a feat.

choccyp1g Tue 05-Feb-13 11:48:16

tethers, I agree you can lead a full and happy life without drawing, except for at school where they expect you to draw or paint for every bl**dy subject.

(Totally off the topic, but I know several people who live full and happy lives without ever reading novels, shocking as that may seem to many MNers.)

changejustforyou Tue 05-Feb-13 12:12:36

I'm so glad I never had to do all those story boards DS has to do at sec school.

Colouring in on the other hand, I LOVE it, and will happily colour in ds homework, in fact i often have to beg him to let me do it.

catinhat Tue 05-Feb-13 13:55:11

My father is absolutely appalling at representing people/objects through drawing.

It has not affected his happiness in life. He has been a successful professional person (although not in the Art World!) It just entertains his grandchildren! (who could draw better than him at 3).

Our family seems to divide on those who can draw and those who can't...we don't seem to have a middle ability!

catinhat Tue 05-Feb-13 13:55:48

He rarely reads novels either!

gabsid Tue 05-Feb-13 15:35:05

Yes, as long as they have a go, explore and have varied interests. Not everyone can draw well - DP keeps telling me that everything I draw looks like a pig (that's the only thing I can draw reasonably well).

DS (7) drew stick men until age 6 and now he seems to become rather good at drawing as DP, I think its because they enjoy drawing together.

As a secondary teacher I have been asked a couple of times by frustrated Y7 whether they really have to draw a story board or whether they could just write the story! It was meant to be fun for them to be able to draw confused.

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

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

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.

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!

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!

"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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.....

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 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.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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 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

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 18:04:34

...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 18:21:14

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 18:38:32

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 18:41:24

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!

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!

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