On my first day teaching Intro. to Art Ed, practically every student felt compelled to come clean about their relationship to and with art. Many told me they couldn’t draw, did not consider themselves artistic, knew the names of two artists ( Van Gogh and Picasso),were in this class hoping to learn some art to make with little children only, the list went on an on.
I went through customary introductions, gave them an overview of the syllabus. After this, I put aside the rest of my lesson and brought out the oil crayons and drawing paper.
I asked everyone to think back to their childhood and remake a drawing that they remembered making. If there was something they drew obsessively, or if they recalled any of their early ways of making marks: I asked them to try and replicate it again for us.
To be honest, I was not sure exactly why I asked them to do this. Something in their admissions to not being artists/ artistic compelled me. It was an experiment and I was curious as to what we might see as a group.
These below are the drawings
We put them up and looked at them as a group. The similarities struck us, the houses, the trees, the sun in the corner, always the sun in the corner. We shared about where we grew up, amused that city children and rural children drew pictures of the natural world.They also read as a similar age group: possibly 7 to 9 years of age.
I think I may have said something a little pithy like see art has this way of getting to the bottom of things, it’s a language which we all share: it can be a method, a way of thinking, understanding and expressing the world around us, be a language- practiced and learned. Something about memory and pre- linguistic states…
But the drawings already had their attention and engagement. The objectives of the syllabus had maybe already come to life. We were going to make art, share art, talk about art, remember our own stages of growth and development, and through pedagogy and passion learn to address those various stages of learning and making.
It is an exercise that has been referenced a lot in our class. We’ve been able to talk about these ‘early drawings’ when we read about early childhood and art making, as well as, during student presentations on artists ( Basquiat in particular).