Friday, December 7, 2007

A new genre of art?

Students in my 2D Art classes have been working on some still life paintings. Basically, we are doing "observational" paintings-- the object is, in theory, to paint what you see as best you can. (I am working with high school students, by the way.)

The other day, a girl in my ninth grade class called me over to her table. "I'm finished. What do you want me to do now?" (Mind you, this is about three days into a two-week project.) I looked at her painting. "Um.... do you see that dark red piece of fabric that all that stuff is sitting on?" (The various objects are sitting on a number of cardboard boxes, all of which are covered with a large piece of red fabric which also is pinned up on the wall behind everything. The fabric is absent in her painting; in fact, there is no background at all-- the objects are all just floating all over the page. In red paint, she has painted the word LOVE running up the left side, and her name on the right side-- both very large-- and oh, let's not forget the two or three hearts she has also added.)

"Mmmm, yeah, I guess so........"

The objects in her painting are in totally different positions than where they are actually located.

"Why is that ball over here on the lower right side of your painting? Look up here" (I point at the ball); it is actually up there on top of that box way up here on the left. And what about all of these other objects-- NONE of them are even close to where they are supposed to be. And all you've done is outline them in different colors-- they are not even painted in. Did you even do a thumbnail sketch?"


"A small sketch." I hold up my hands, making a rectangle of about four by five inches with my thumbs and middle fingers. "You know, to determine the design or layout of your painting."

"Oh... yeah, I guess so...."

"So where IS it?"

"I dunno. In my locker. Maybe I lost it. I dunno."

"And what about sketching in your drawing on your board before you started to paint?"

"Huh? I don't know what you mean..."

"I have explained all of this repeatedly for the last three days. Okay-- listen: are you willfully ignoring my directions, or not listening, or don't you even care?" (If it seems like I am being a bit impatient, please keep in mind that his whole scenario is par for the course with this student.)

She hangs her head ever so slightly. In a quiet voice, "I guess I'm not a very good listener."

"Geez-- I guess not! So, what's up with this painting?"

She looks up and gives me a great big smile. "Well, you know, I'm just doin' it FREESTLYE!"


"Yeah, you know, freestyle!" She raises her shoulders and waves her hands in a circular motion. Another big toothy smile, eyebrows raised.

"Um.... o-kay..... you know, this is supposed to be an observational painting. You observe the setup; in other words, you LOOK at it, and then you paint it as accurately as possible. NOT FREESTLYE!!!" I let out a big sigh.

"So... you want me to do another one?"

"Well, considering that we still have over a week to go on this project, that would probably be a good idea. And this time, please do it the way it is supposed to be done. No more freestlye, okay?"


Well as you can probably guess at this point, when I came back to her table the next day, what did I see? FREESTLYE!!!

Ya gotta love it. Freestyle. I love my job!

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