A 14 Year Old Beginner Drawing Student with Promise

S*** invested at least 3 hours of time in her homework and the results were exceptionally good - surprising that she has never explored drawing before. Her skills are at a higher level than the usual beginner.  As part of her homework, she listed what she liked in six issues of "Drawing Magazine". Her taste is as broad as the subject itself! So my challenge, as a teacher, is to help her develop her "foundation" skills, but not discourage her creativity. She is very detail oriented and has good hand/eye coordination, so I am sure she will master representational drawing if she decides to do so. At the same time, it is apparent that there is a "dream" or fantasy side to her interest that should also be encouraged. Therefore, I am going to suggest that she keep a sketchbook in which she can draw whatever she wants, without any "lesson" or discipline in mind.  For her second lesson, I brought some objects for still life study - mostly small bottles of various shapes and sizes.  The lesson's emphasis was on directional lines to help explore and determine  proportion and the relative location of objects in space, as well as volume. I suggested not to worry (at this time) about light, shadow, texture, reflection, etc. but just to study and render the volume, shapes, distances and proportions of the objects. Since S*** has an analytical mind, she tends to draw tightly (common in beginners). We discussed this, and her second practice drawing was much freer than the first. I explained why this is significant: A loose drawing can always be worked into for detail; a tight drawing is limiting and offers no flexibility for exploration or search. It is a common beginner's approach to draw tightly (and heavily). So right away, I am encouraging her to work lightly and then to increase the level of detail through intentional decisions.  I also showed her the practical tool of using the pencil to measure any object's proportion (and distances) with a straight elbow. It is an eye/hand support that all beginners find difficult, but if introduced early, the habit soon becomes instinct and avoids a lot of frustration.  When the weather improves, S*** is definitely ready for outdoor nature study. In addition, soon we will use a spotlight to illuminate still life so she can work on chiaroscuro (study of light and shadow) which is a lifelong journey. Eventually, we will get to portraiture and anatomy. 


Deborah S.

Studio Arts, Literature & Writing

50+ hours
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