Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drawing from Maquettes

Andy Wales, a frequent commentator on this blog and a contributor to Art By Committee, is also an elementary school art teacher at the Lynch Bustin Elementary School in Athens, Pennsylvania.

In anticipation of my visit next month, he has been using maquettes with his young art students so that they can make their fantasy drawings more realistic.

"We're not building our own models, but we are using dinosaur toys and action figures to imagine scenes. Above you see that Cyclops of the X-Men is taped to a dinosaur. We're working with the lights off, using only the lights that come in from the skylights. In my demonstration sketch, I'm showing the kids how to use charcoal, blending stump and erasers to create shadows and highlights on objects."


Andrew Wales’ blog Panel Discussion, link.
The Lynch Bustin Art Room, link.

10 comments:

Jon Hrubesch said...

I was asked to draw a picture of an Ostrich for a billboard once. The person who asked me to draw it later saw me looking at a picture of an Ostrich from the dictionary as reference. The response that I received from him was that I was cheating. And that I was just copying the picture. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had this experience. Thank you for this blog as it has helped to reinforce for me the importance of reference material whether it is a picture a still-life or going outside to capture a location on canvas. I have also had to help another artist I work with to understand that it is not just alright to use reference but essential if you would like to be accurate.

Andrew Wales said...

My students will be tickled to death when they find out they're on here!

jeff f said...

If it's cheating then kindly ask the person who wanted you to do the billboard to draw and paint the Ostrich, most likely they will not be able to do it. Which is why they hired an artist in the first place.

Glendon Mellow said...

Jon, I'll go another step further: projection.

While most of my artwork throughout my life has been freehand life drawing, and sometimes photo reference, when under deadline I recently tried using a projector to help me with the bone structure on a portrait.

So I sketched in the basic contours in about 10 minutes. I then spent the next two hours refining the face.

It's a point of pride to be able to draw from my imagination primarily, and to keep improving my life drawing skills. I'm still uncomfortable at the thought of a projector, I suffer from that feeling of cheating, but a lot more work went into that portrait after the projection than during.

r8r said...

what a bunch of fortunate kids!

Drew said...

Andrew, you're definitely an awesome teacher.

Weirdly enough, Cyclops taped to that dinosaur reminds me of the old toy line "Dino-Riders." Predates Dinotopia by a good decade, I believe, though admittedly it was weird. Still, having a toy of a T-rex with lumberjack saws strapped to his ankles and lasers on his head is awesome.

Scott Flanders said...

Wow this is great! I'm an art teacher too and I love this idea, I've done similar things with action figures but I definitely haven't been using them to their full potential as reference objects. If you're interested please check out my kids blog and you'll see what we've been up to at the Boys & Girls Club in Long Beach California.

www.theyoungavengerscomicbookclub.blogspot.com

John-Paul Balmet said...

This is wonderful. I would have killed to have a teacher like that in my youth. Perhaps these young students will be the next great fantasy illustrators. I can certainly point to "ah-hah!" moments in my younger years that helped inspire my artistic career.

I was just discussing with my students different ways of using reference for inspiration, so this is a very timely post. As long as the model or reference studies are either helping to achieve a goal based on the inspiration of the artist or filling in areas or "holes" in the artist's knowledge about a particular subject, I don't see a problem. I think reference is as much a part of good art as imagination. It's just how you use it!

Ginger*:) said...

Oh to be a kid again and a student in this exciting class!

John Calvin said...

I love having my junior high students draw from objects as well, and I've tried to pick objects that they'll find both interesting and challenging. I've used dinosaurs, action figures, collectible statues, models, busts (1/4 scale, 1/2 scale, 1/1 scale), etc. Here's a link to view their work, remember they're no older than 15: Junior High Student Still-Life Drawings