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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Volunteering in my kids' classes

Woojae, 8, self-portrait, drawn with opposite hand
( left page)
and with the eyes shut (right page)

Volunteering in my kids' classes is something I am very interesting in doing. The school does not have the money to hire an art teacher, that's the way it is.

A few weeks ago we went on a field trip to the San Diego Museum of Art, we had a great time looking at some paintings with a knowledgeable docent. There were questions, we took our time, we only saw a handful of paintings. That was good. The theme was the portrait.

Back to school, and after a few weeks passed, I started a self-portrait project with the third graders. I bought a bunch of 4B pencils and a stack of drawing paper and a mirror for each child at 99 cents.
Nothing fancy, very simple material.

Milo, 8, self-portrait,
drawn with the left hand

Brittany, 8, self-portrait,
drawn with the eyes shut

Yahel, 8, self-portrait, drawn with the eyes shut

First thing first, we got rid of the erasers. We are here to practice. We need to practice, to see what we are doing and to see our progress. We keep all the drawings. There is no such thing as an ugly or a bad drawing.

I have an hour per week. The practice is important, the result is not. I want them to experiment. To see things differently, to find their own way. I do not show any example (I did not chose the timing for the visit at the SDMA, I would definitely have taken them to the museum AFTER we worked on a self-portrait). Once the project is completed, we will take some time to look at some portraits and to talk about them.

Woojae, 8, self-portrait, drawn with opposite hand ( left page)
and with the eyes shut
(right page)

If the children have questions, I am there to answer them, but I am not there to show "how to do it". We talk.
We took a long time to look at oneself in a mirror. To really look. What do we see? We listed everything. We talked about shapes, lines, proportions.

self-portrait, drawn with the eyes shut

What they worked on during the session:

- They draw their portrait in the air with one finger and their eyes shut. The children love it!

- Then they draw their portrait with the pencil with their eyes shut.

- they draw
their portrait with their opposite hand - usually our "normal" hand goes very fast and the brain cannot even tell new information about what it just saw: the hand draws what she knows how to draw! By changing hand, we give the brain the possibility to oblige the hand to actually draw some "new" information about what we just saw. The result may be strange looking but it certainly is fresh!

For each "exercise", they could make several drawings, depending on the time they were spending on each of them. But I asked them to try to slow down, to take as much time as possible.

self-portrait, drawn with the eyes shut

Breaking habits.

Looking at things a different way.

Taking the time.

Releasing the pressure.

It's already a lot if they can experience that!
I am grateful to have the opportunity to share that time with the children, they are great!


Lori said...


It really is wonderful that you can do this for your kids and the children at their school. I love the project. You might want to talk to SDAI about showing some of the projects there. I think it's fun for the kids to see their work at a different space and experience the reception.


Michele Guieu said...

That's an excellent idea Lori! I'll talk to Tim -