Teaching For A Change

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Summary of my Life Drawing students experience with descriptive critique, or "noticing."

Summary of my Life Drawing students experience with descriptive critique, or "noticing."

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  • 1. teaching for a change “ what do you notice?” shifting student and teacher response from superficial judgment to real seeing Amy Fichter, Assistant Professor Painting/Drawing Department of Art & Design University of Wisconsin--Stout Menomonie, Wisconsin  Travis, conté crayon, Alex Engelmann, Life Drawing II, 2007 
  • 2.
    • Look at and discuss the drawing by noticing.
    • Withhold direct judgment.
    • Phrase comments in the positive. (instead of “there is no line variation,” say, “I notice all of the lines are thick and heavy.”)
    • Make comments as specific and relevant as possible.
    • Pay close attention to your language as you verbalize what you see. Select the most accurate and informative words for your description.
     the rules: Self-portrait, graphite, Melissa Hensel, Life Drawing II, 2007
  • 3.
    • “ I notice:
    • … pronounced mark-making used throughout the piece.
    • … contrast used throughout, utilizing much of the grayscale.
    • … the color of the paper is visible as well as areas of stark black.
    • … the bones of the cheek portrayed in this image are very pronounced.
    • … the shading is a mixture of blending combined with hatched strokes.
    • … an alteration in shading style between the areas of the face and the area including the neck down.
    • … very distinct planar areas on the nose.
    • … the light source appears to be from above.”
    • --Chad Behnke
    Self-portrait, conté crayon, Charlotte Mann, Life Drawing II, 2007 
  • 4.
    • “ I notice the contrast between the very soft values that make up the body and the very linear vertical and horizontal marks that surround it. It pushes the body forward while keeping a full range of value. The drawing appears very thick and rich.”
    • --Alex Engelmann
    Figure Study, charcoal and gesso, Charlotte Mann, Life Drawing II, 2007 
  • 5.
    • “ I notice:
    • … a sleeping face.
    • … light wispy lines used to model the eyes.
    • … the top and frontal plane changes of the lower eyelid.
    • … the darkest part on the face is the nostril.
    Travis, conté crayon, Tim Bergelin, Life Drawing II, 2007 … the direction of the lines seems to give weight to the face pulling it down …”  --Jennifer Hannum
  • 6.
    • “ There is a high range of contrast scale used in this piece. There is a heavy draw focally into the colored sections. There is a tonal shift when the media over top intersects the background. Organic embellishments are quickly noticed in this piece.”
    • --Chad Behnke
    Figure Study, mixed media, Tim Bergelin, Life Drawing II, 2007 “… the atmosphere of the drawing gives a feeling of motion in kind of a fantastical manner.” --Charlotte Mann 
  • 7. Adrienne, conté crayon, Jennifer Hannum, Life Drawing II, 2007
    • “ I notice … how line work is refined and thought out.”
    • --Katie Unertl
    “ I notice: … all of the lines are very organic and each line is very different from the next. … there is not much contrast or shading. … the nose and mouth area are exaggerating the pose. … the nose and mouth have more planar shifts than around the eyes. … only the lips are outlined.” --Charlotte Mann  “ I notice: … lines used to give definition to the hand. … curving lines are used to give definition and depth to the nose. … the hair on the right side is drawn darker than the hair on the left side which is drawn very lightly. … shading is shown above and below the right eye but not above and below the left eye.” --Dylan Cheek
  • 8. “ Wow. When we do this, I really have to decide what I think about the drawings.” --Noah Berkeland, Life Drawing II student, to me in the hallway after the first “I notice” critique Self-portrait, charcoal, Noah Berkeland, Life Drawing II, 2007 “ This critique is different because there is no judgment so you don’t know if parts are liked or disliked.” --Life Drawing II student spring 2007 
  • 9. Travis, charcoal, Molly Biebl, Life Drawing II, 2007 “ I have learned … that my drawings have a variety of line work and value. I think most people enjoyed my Travis over the other two drawings, which is how I felt. Some people liked my more gestural drawings in my self portrait, but others did not. I learned that I have defined other areas over some.…” --Molly Biebl “ As an artist and student I saw improvement in descriptive vocabulary. Ways to explain what you are seeing--improvement in the reflective process.” --Life Drawing II student spring 2007  “… Since we couldn’t judge it was much harder, since that is what we’re used to. Although it did help me see different things about the drawings…” --Molly Biebl 
  • 10. Portrait, charcoal, Alan Briggs, Life Drawing II, 2007 “ I notice: … this drawing is from a viewpoint that is from the side and looking up. … most of the lines are gestural. … the left side of the face is outlined in a dark thick black line. … there are eraser marks on the outside of the left cheek, showing that he changed the placement of the cheek. … the eyes look to be closed, and there is an outline defining the outside of the eye lid. … there are many marks made around both of the eye brows. … a horizontal line goes through the middle of the forehead. On the right side of the hair line, the marks look to be shaded more than just placed on the paper. … the style of drawing and mark-making changes from the left side of the drawing to the right side. … the darkest area of the drawing is on the left side of the lips and chin. … there is shading and mark-making under the bottom lip, and gestural marks showing the roundness of the chin. … there are contour lines on the cheeks and around the brow.” --Deborah Scottberg 
  • 11. How did the “I notice” method of critique affect your Life Drawing II experience this semester?
        • “ I think it made the experience more casual. There is less focus on how good or bad each individual drawing might be and more focus on understanding the qualities of the drawings overall. Individual technique and practice rather than immediate judgment. We spent more time on each drawing.”
        • --Life Drawing II student, spring 2007
    Figure Study, charcoal and pastel, Noah Berkeland, Life Drawing II, 2007 
  • 12. How did this critique method seem different or the same as critiques in other classes?
        • “ I think that, compared to other classes, more people participate when using this method. Nobody is afraid of judging or being judged. We look harder, focusing on all aspects.”
        • “ The critique was more thorough than other classes. It also took a lot longer to get through some of the drawings.”
        • “ It was nice to have the entire class participate rather than the same people doing all the talking. There was much more involvement as well as a level of comfort with the students I didn’t know at first.”
        • --Life Drawing II students, spring 2007
     “ Made us take time and THINK. It eliminated moments where no one had anything to say. Always could make observations.” Figure Study, conté crayon, Deborah Scottsberg, Life Drawing II, 2007
  • 13. What did you gain (as an artist and a student) from this mode of critique?
        • “ I gained a greater attention to detail and I look at drawings longer, focusing on individual things as well as the whole.”
        • “ I learned the value of looking—taking time to not only look at other students work but my own. Also, how valuable classroom experiences can be—being surrounded by other artists.”
    • --Life Drawing II students, spring 2007
    “ I learned to be more patient and observant .”  Figure Study, conté crayon, Katie Unertl, Life Drawing II, 2007