SchoolArts Magazine

January 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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H ow many times have you said, "Learn- ing to draw is learning to see?" One of t he most talented students I ever taught came to me as a third grader straight from Vietnam, speaking no English at all. His ability to focus, see, and draw from observation (and his interest in doing so) was immediately evi - dent. He was a standout over my teaching career. From our experience as art teachers, we know that most of our students need to be taught to mind - fully observe—to really see, and not just look. Observation is one of the Studio Habits of Mind detailed in Studio Thinking 2 (Teachers College Press, 2013). Learning to see with new eyes goes beyond simply looking and extends to seeing the world as content for thinking. This parallels the ideas in The Intelligent Eye: Learning to Think by Looking at Art, by David Perkins (J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994). Perkins's approach touts attentive observation as a way of providing opportunities for better thinking, as well as a way of enhancing one's development of the "art of intelligence." How can you get your students to better observe what they see? Encourage them to take time to look at, think about, and describe what Visit Follow me on Editor's Letter they see. Ask them to look for the expressive prop- erties of artworks and make regular observations a nd drawings in their sketchbooks. Another practical approach to helping students better observe is through the use of viewfinders, which help them to isolate and abstract what they see as elements in a composition. These can be purchased or easily made from mat board or card - board and look like small picture frames. Looking t hrough a viewfinder with one eye eliminates depth and helps students see three-dimensional objects as two-dimensional designs. The original object, scene, or source no longer matters, which helps students draw based on what they see, not on the source. T hough it is not specifically art-based, another book you may want to explore is On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation, by Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner, 2014). This engag - ing book details eleven walks the author took a round her neighborhood with different people. The route never changed, so Horowitz was able to discover the differences in the ways each compan - ion observed and perceived the walk. You might j ust create an art lesson inspired by these tales about what Horowitz calls, "paying attention." "Observing is the consequence of imaginative contemplation." —Eugene Delacroix You'll have to look closely to see Nancy amidst the details in this photo taken at Tinkertown in New Mexico.

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