Saturday, June 6, 2009

Teachers Reworking

Artist Clark Hulings recalls how the art teacher George Bridgman at the Art Student's League insisted on erasing student work and redrawing over it.

How do you feel about art teachers who draw on your work? Students are paying teachers for their expertise, and it’s a privilege to own an example of a master’s hand, right?

But it’s also can feel like an act of vandalism. It can be infuriating if the teacher doesn't respect or understand what you were trying to accomplish. Should teachers ask permission? Should they do their drawing on the blank paper off to the side? If you have an opinion or a story, please share it.
More about Clark Hulings at
Thanks, Alex!


gayle said...

I am a newly graduated art teacher (k-12) and I almost always draw on another paper or the back. In my student teaching, my cooperating teacher would not only draw on the students' work, but she would complete entire sections. I could tell it bothered the students that you could an entire area of their work wasn't theirs (and it was usually obvious), so I promised myself I would never draw directly on their pieces. However, depending on the needs of the student, I will show directly on their piece how dark they could go, etc.

I realize this was an art school question, but I figure we start our drawing habits before we get to college and I've seen high school and middle school students expect the teacher to finish an entire piece for them because they were used to it or get overwhelmed because they can't get their work to the level of the teacher's example. A lot is learned through a little struggle.

Unknown said...

If your teacher draws all over your work, how are you supposed to learn how to do something?

I do remember a teacher painting eyes on one of those ready-made sculptures for me as an example. It was the kind of eye meant to be on a fluffy bunny and not a dragon, so I painted right on over her stuff anyway when I was doing the eyes on it :P

Matt said...

I had a professor who would do this during my college career and it was nothing but helpful. It matters greatly the context in which the teacher is helping. As a class we were all working on learning how to build an image out of shape and light using an eraser on cotton rag paper. It was confusing coming from a background in "line".

Also the professor only working on you piece after asking if it was ok.

I have no issue with someone working over my stuff anyway I guess. I could always go over it.

Kunst Kommt Von Können said...

One student (Franz Hein) of Ferdinand Keller(a famous 19th century german academic master) said the same about his teacher. It's difficult for me to translate it, but he wrote something like this:
Keller said: "Oh, give me the palette and brush" and then he painted with a beautiful swing in the shortest time the head or the body right. So the student can carry a "real Keller" home, but was seldom been able to continue their own work, because Keller couldn't communicate what he has done and so it was useless for the student.

John Calvin said...

I teach junior high, grades 7, 8, and 9, and I have a policy against drawing on student work. Reliance on a teacher to solve the hard parts teaches them to find somebody else to do it whenever the going gets tough. I like to tell my students that I'll show them how, but that I won't do it for them. I do draw on the chalkboard, and demonstrate by having my work projected by an overhead camera. I have drawn for students on separate pieces of paper, and in spite of my stated policy, have drawn on student work when they really appeared to be struggling. I have noticed that doing this even once can create the future expectation of having to do it again. It's a slippery slope.

On the other hand, in college, I had a professor say about my live figure drawing, "Let me see if I can pull this out of the fire." I saved and treasured my drawing that he re-worked for more than 20 years.

Björn said...

I have a friend who attended Florence Academy of Art as a sculpting student. While studying the teachers showed very little mercy upon the students creations -- One particular story he told me once involved him working on a 1:1 sculpt from a real life model. He'd been struggling a long in slow pace until in his second week where he got air under his wings and got up to pace. Feeling somewhat relieved and proud he asked his teacher for a critique, upon review the teacher took a large sculpting knife and CUT a shoulder / scapula part RIGHT off without mercy, without hesitation and uttered the words: Redo, do right.

I think discipline is something you can't learn, but it's something that you can nurture and something that if you want to be an ultra realistic artist, something you will need.

Melissa said...

I never had a teacher come by and wipe out a drawing completely. I think doing so would really limit the ability to learn on one's own.

I would have a teacher that would come by and draw on our drawing - usually blocking out an area that we were having trouble with. This I found was very helpful, since you could reference it as you where drawing. It did however make me feel like a chump for sweating over a face for an hour - and teach comes by and masses out the forms in a few pencil lines :)

Jean Spitzer said...

I think that even if the teacher asks permission first, it is far better to demonstrate on a separate sheet/on the back/in a small area of the paper than to draw on the student's drawing. The few times this happened to me, I found it demoralizing. Much better to be told what you're doing needs re-doing/isn't working/needs more work, still better for the teacher to elicit the criticism and a solution from you.

Erik Bongers said...

I'll be brief.
I grabbed a teacher's wrist one time, right before he wanted to make a change to a painting I was making.
He never tried it again.

(although it could be that I didn't touch him at all and just blocked his move with a errm...karate move of my arm. Either way, he never tried it again)

Erik Bongers said...

Oh, my 'mentor' for my first comic book uses an 'overlay' of drafting film (velum?) on top of graphite drawings to trace my drawing and then make his own change on that.

For charcoal or a wet painting this would not work of course.

Steve said...

Thee are so many variables: age and stage of the students, their familiarity with the medium, their readiness to integrate what's been demonstrated. I feel it depends entirely upon the context. If it's a pencil or charcoal drawing, the "example" can probably be done off to the side. But when working in color, sometimes a minor adjustment within a piece is the most effective way to clarify everything. In that case, it would be much less effective for the instructor to show their example away from the actual piece. Either way, it needs to happen infrequently, on a small scale, and, ideally, with permission.

Jean Wogaman said...

I had a teacher in college who would draw on my paper next to my drawing. The first time he did it I was a little taken aback, but then I began to see the value in having his drawing as a reference. I also noticed that he did it only when I was working on newsprint or cheap drawing paper. If I was using the good stuff, he'd draw on an old scrap.

ashton said...

I had a professor who would do this occasionally. It didn't bother me until one day at the end of class we had all pinned our work on a board for critique. She started to compliment someone's work before she realized it was her own. Airhead.

Hank said...

That's the big plus of digital painting and digital drawing: teachers can do overpaintings without destroying the students work.

If I see, how fast young artists improve their skills (watch all the digital art boards like

), how easy they can get help for everey WIP - then I know, what I missed as a student. Overpaintings are the best way to teach, I'm convinced. The student can compare his original work and the version, optimized by the teacher. Nothing is destroyed. I wonder, why this great technical possibility isn't used by all art teachers.
I guess, it's just a matter of time..

Unknown said...

My teacher Jim had a good system down for working on our pieces. He used tracing paper or vellum for our anatomy/life drawings and either left it with us or tossed it. His instruction was in depth enough that a lot of times we just needed to see it once to retain the information and work alone. When it came to painting he DID work directly on top of our paintings once they were dry. He'd demo for maybe an hour, talking the entire time and pointing out which colors he mixed, how he achieved a certain effect, how he varied the opaque and transparency, etc etc. However when he was done with his demo, he would simply grab a cloth, dip it in linseed oil and wipe away the entire section he just did. In the beginning we were mortified because hell... there was one beautiful section to our paintings we could work to. But we learned to appreciate his method in not trying to influence our own work with his own style and take in what he told us and make it our own.

Anonymous said...

My parents bought me private lessons with a pastel artist when I was in middle school. She did most of the work for me and I came away feeling I had learned little. To my shame, my parents fawned all over those works and even framed them.

More recently, I took a watercolor class with a horrible, horrible painter who would draw and paint directly over my work and ruin it. I took great offense to that.

Myself, I would never draw directly on a student's work but would use a different piece of paper. I would tolerate this only from someone I hold in high regard, in which case I would get over myself and try to learn as much as possible from whatever teaching method they were used to.

kev ferrara said...

My mom went to pratt in the late 50s. In what seems like an effort to free the student from thinking of their art or art materials as precious, instructors would crumple the students drawing paper as they were working. Or would poke a hole through it with a pencil. While I don't think it would work for the overly sensitive, the method clearly worked for its purpose, at least on my mom, who has perfect freedom with materials to this day.

Stephen James. said...

It can be intimidating when your teacher is standing over you, and you know they are about to swoop in.

jeff said...

Erik you grabbed the instructors hand! That was way out of line. You should have politely said to him or her that you don't like having them draw on your drawing. This also shows me that you think way to highly of your abilities and if your were that good what are you doing in school?

I teach drawing and I use a small pad myself but sometimes I draw in the students pads always with permission.

If you did that to me I would ask you to leave my class for the day. I would also have a meeting with you and my department head. The subject would be you getting an automatic F getting physical and lack of respect.

Getting physical is a big no no.

jeff said...

I studied with Frank Mason and he would work on our paintings. Sometime I would get a great crit, some of which I still have and prize. Sometimes I just got lost in what he was doing. I never said no out of respect for his abilities and that was why I was there. If one had issues with his methods then one should not take the class.
Pretty simple, your in the class to learn.

That's kind of old school, but I learned a lot about painting and drawing with the brush from watching him paint on the students work. He was very tactile. You had to watch him, that was kind of the point you learned by taking it in.
Sometimes you watched and it made know sense at all. Then one day you were painting and all of the sudden you remembered what he did and it solved a particular problem.

Taj Nabhani said...

You're in Art SCHOOL to learn not to be vain about your creations. Plus if you can't do something more then once then you couldn't really do it.

Random York said...

I wish I had had more confident teachers who had drawn and painted upon my page/canvas. I look back at my classes in college and the 2 professors that I think were worthwhile made no apologies for drawing right on top of my stuff. After all, they were the instructors and I could see immediately what they were trying to convey. Oddly, those were the 2 professors who were sacked out of all I had and it should have been the other way around. Oddly, also, those were 2 of the very few who actually made a living selling their work. One of the 2 I'm talking about had the gall to tell the art dept. chairman's son that he needed to "learn how to draw"... it was a glorious "Yes" moment... but, as I said , he was not rehired for the following semester.

DPetersen said...

I was never a fan of the teacher drawing OVER my work or erasing. There were a few times that a life drawing instructor would use a red pencil and draw a line showing where the hip SHOULD extend to or the correct contour of something. I found this an acceptable way of doing it because I could still SEE my work and thus SEE my mistake.

I really like being able to go back over years worth of work and seeing my growth, and if my drawings were corrected by others, I can't do that.

Overlays or drawings on the side were my favorite methods.

Unknown said...

Wow! This question touched a nerve!

I remember having many conversations with fellow students. Some profs would do this and some would not. Some students liked it and some hated it.

For something like figure drawing from the model, where we aren't really expected to create finished drawings, I think it's fine. Maybe the prof could say, "Would you mind if I drew right on this?" I would treasure it as a memory.

For a finished project, I don't think it should have the teacher's work.

For younger kids, sometimes they want you to do more of it than you should. However, I once had a class of Emotional Support students. They were quite unruly. I started the year by offering to draw them anything they wanted if they would color it. Each week, I would do a little less of the drawing and have them finish. By the end of the year, I was doing hardly any drawing for them at all, and they were hooked on drawing.

Deborah said...

I remember years ago taking a workshop with a famous pastelist and having him come to my easel, pick up a piece of charcoal and feather over the layers of pastel I had in place. This resulted in a glossy spot that looked like the sheen of water I had been striving to achieve. He then added three or four jots of a pale color into my dark forest, bringing it alive and creating depth, and walked off without a word. I dove in and used the techniques he had shown me. No words could have given me what his additions did, in my opinion.

I teach weekly pastel classes to adult students and to this day I will dab in a color or scribble a stroke to show them what I think will help or inspire. I'm never offended if someone changes it--it's their painting, not mine--and I'm not deriving ego strokes from the help I give. Very often with my advanced students, many of whom are professionals or semi-pros, I'll simply ask if they want "a push," and they know what that means. Only occasionally will they say, "Not right now." I respect their artwork, but my teaching style includes showing visual artists how to do things by example.

S. Weasel said...

Students are WAY too precious about their work. Life drawings in particular are workmanlike exercises; you're supposed to learn something.

If you want to get somewhere, you have to get over yourself as early as possible.

Serious students, I mean. Kids and hobbyists can do what they like :)

Scale said...

I'm more perplexed by the fact they erase before correcting. As useful as the eraser is I think it can be harmful to use it on studies like the ones in the movie.

I am mostly self-taught and pencil is one of my favourite media, and I have been "addicted" to the eraser for a long time. When I finally forced myself to do without it I realized that it was hiding tons of problems. There were parts of the anatomy that I knew much less than I thought I did, but I had never noticed because I just redrew them two or three times every time I made a mistake, without even realizing that I had to try three times in a row before getting it right. Erasing made me much less aware of my mistakes and limits.
Also being unable to compare the wrong version to the corrected version is not nice, that kind of comparison is useful to learn spotting future errors in the early stages of a picture, and also as a reminder to avoid repeating errors.

This for basic figure studies at least. For painting I don't seem to have the same issue, I tend to remember mistakes even if they get erased. Maybe it is just because mistakes in painting take much more time to both make and to fix.

Shawn Escott said...

My instructor from the Lyme Academy, Deane G. Keller, would do smaller drawings in the side margins or bottom corners of the paper. We would work on 18x24" pads so he always had some room to do sketches. He never erased or drew over our drawings. He would politely explain what wasn't working and how to fix it, while keeping our integrity and hard work in tact. I think this is a great way to teach because the student can see his drawings and the corrections and then go back, sometimes years later, to review his notes. I posted a page of Deane's drawings here: He was a master and I miss him greatly.

Nicole Cardiff said...

I've never minded - those of my teachers that have drawn off to the side of my newsprint to show me what I was doing wrong were usually the most instructive. I cherish the few critique partners that will do digital overpaints, too; they're more time-consuming than words, but there's no more eloquent way to state exactly what you think should be changed about a piece than a visual demonstration.

Kendra Melton said...

When it specifically comes to figurative art I'm all for teachers ripping what I do apart. Sometimes you can tell something is wrong but you can't figure out what it is or how to correct the issues. I could see people having a problem with a teacher erasing out of something they were already heavily rendering. But in that instance I would think the teacher should have offered help a little earlier in the preliminary stages.

On the other hand, when it comes to final Illustrations a couple of my teachers use to make us turn projects in with tracing paper on top so they could draw over the image and show you where the weak/strong points were. I think that's the best method for finished pieces. In the end its less invasive and no one gets offended.

(sorry if this is repetitive I didn't have time to read the multitude of other comments)

Matt Rigg said...

David Bluestein, probably the best teacher I've had, would use post-it notes over our work when he was trying to demonstrate something. It was far more useful than just erasing or drawing over, because you can compare and contrast.

I would get extremely annoyed if my work was erased and redrawn. It does not at all help.

Erik Bongers said...

To Jeff.
You're right of course. Never get physical with a teacher.
But to put things in perspective. We all had to 'block him off' as he was known to have ruined many students' work. It was standard practice and not even considered an issue. (ButI shouldn't have boasted about it on this blog.)

But don't conclude from this that I (or my class mates) were overly satisfied with our work.
I think many artist can relate to the thought: "My work is rubbish, but don't touch it!"

Larry said...

Jack Ruge was one of my drawing teachers. He would come around the class with a large pad of tracing paper. If he wanted to correct your draftsmanship, he would place a piece over your drawing and show you where you went wrong.

Mark Heng said...

I think it's fine to draw on a blank bit of the paper if it's just an instructional life drawing session. That should give the student something to compare their own work to. By the same token, simply fixing a student's drawing doesn't allow them to see the difference between their mistake and the correct observation.

Projects for presentation, however, should bear only the hand of the artist!

badbot said...

i have experienced this a few times ( someone who draw over my work ) and each time i feel a little demoralized at first... but really happy and re-ernergized at the end.
I think the fact of seeing someone who's better draughtsmen than you work over a piece of yours is very instructive, cause for each area that caused you trouble, you see someone get the right thing on it.

to me it's a sure way to learn faster, and in a very efficient way.

student should'nt be shocked by art teachers drawing over there pieces. Some of them can be very promising draughtsmen, some of them a bit too precious about there work ( as S.Weasel said ), some of them quite closed to criticism... But there are all here to learn.

Anonymous said...

Hated this in high school - although most of it wasn't me thinking my work was precious (occasionally it was though). I actually had a year 12 Head of the Art Dept. Teacher, who; while she knew I had no interest in her drawing my work for me, would sit down with students and paint whole sections of their final pieces. As she also was the one to choose which final pieces were submitted for the best of the state show, this was kind of a conflict of interest. Also, this was the teacher who after I signed the form for my final folio of work stating that it was entirely my own work (which it was) prior to it being submitted for the tertiary entrance exam marking WENT THROUGH MY FOLIO AND CHANGED THINGS AND THEN LET ME KNOW ALL ABOUT IT LATER. Sorry for the all-caps, but I am really disgusted that she committed fraud and knowing I didn't want to make those layout changes (and she said that after, I kid you not) took it upon herself to do them after I'd signed off on it.

I’m finishing off a BA of Design (illustration major) now (that one abhorrent high school art teacher luckily was an aberration so I wasn’t put off drawing), and while I love some of my teachers and friends work, I wouldn’t want it mixed with mine for anything other than a stated collaboration. I mean, my major stream coordinator who is also my tutor in illustration takes a pencil and asks if she can doodle over out layout designs occasionally if she’s suggesting other compositional ideas, but she’s not interested in drawing out work for us. I like that a lot, because I think you learn better foundations for the long run working your mind around the ways to work their suggestions into your work, rather than it being done for you.

Plus, I mean, we’re so exposed to others work anyway; I think individual style perhaps also develops better if teachers don’t have students mimic their own solutions to a problem, and let students do a bit of mental contortion to figure things out for themselves sometimes. Or maybe I just like over-thinking things.
Sorry if this is a bit rant-like – this is a bit of a hot-button issue for me because of my experience with that teacher, who I think betrayed the unspoken contract between students and teachers, apart from just the fact that she also committed fraud as well (signing off on the student pieces she’d painted sections of as well that it was all the students work). This whole thing still leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth about four years later, and I’m usually a pretty up-beat person.

Smurfswacker said...

Fred Fixler used a tracing paper overlay on drawings. I found that extremely useful because I could compare his version to mine and really understand what he was talking about. Later I could keep the overlay for reference.

It's not that simple when on paintings. You can't really do an overlay (though I heard of an oil painting teacher who painted on acetate--dunno how he kept from smearing the original). Fred painted on one of my pieces to show me what to do...later I repainted it (nowhere near as well) and felt justified calling it my work. Another piece Fred pretty much repainted. I learned a lot from watching him but I never felt the painting was mine, even though a lot of "me" was still there in the finish.

Here I'd like to put in a word for respect. Having a teacher "tear a piece apart" is always somewhat humiliating, even if you learn much from the critique. However it's unnecessary to add sarcasm, ridicule or insult as some instructors do: "What the hell do you call this? That isn't a nose! Come on, give me that!" (Teacher grabs drawing and proceeds to make it look like the he drew it himself).

i, me said...

I am chiming in a little late, but I studied all my teachers painted (or drew over my work at the art students league, with the exception of one who drew to the side. the lessons of seeing your own work corrected are invaluable.
I also agree with the 'precious' comments - you are learning a process, not making a thing. when you start to fall in love with your little moments of perfection you're sending a message to your sub conscious that its an accident rather than an ability.

i, me said...

Erik: I think you have no business learning from that teacher, especially since its a voluntary thing. (no one forces you to take a class). you seem 'proud' that you intimated your teacher. You probably also stopped him from teaching you.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and my friends and I have discussed this issue quite a few times. I have had teachers work directly on my paintings, drawings and sculptures. Sometimes I appreciate it immensely and other times I resent it in equal measure. When my objective is to produce a working study aimed at improving in any number of technical regards, it is fair game. However, when I am aiming to produce a work which will showcase my accumulated skill and personal view, it should not be worked over by anyone else...after all, it will carry my signature. I think both are important diagnostics which should be incorporated into the curriculum.
The long and short of this issue, in my opinion, is that communication between the student and teacher is necessary. It is even more important that the objectives of the work be clear and agreed upon by both of them.In my experience this line is far too blurry for either party to behave appropriately.

Chinami said...

I had a teacher who used to competely take over if I asked him for any advice. He would sometimes get really into drawing or painting over over my work and he forget that I was still standing at his side. He never really explained what he was doing. This really irritiated me and I never felt that my work was truly my own if had helped it.

My current teacher always explains the why and how behind what he is doing. He always will show me how to do things on a seperate peices of paper, which I really apreciate.

Anonymous said...

Everyone's being too hard on Erik. The teacher shouldn't have violated his personal space by working on his drawing without his permission.

alberto said...

I honestly think that it's ok for a teacher to do so. The best figure drawing teacher that I've ever had(@Ringling School of Art & Design) would do it, not all the time but when needed and in front of the whole class.
He took my charcoal drawing, put in on an easel in front of the class. Spoke about what worked(sometimes he would draw right next to it) and what didn't and to illustrate how to unify shadows he went ahead and wiped his hand across the whole thing ,unified it then drew on it. Of course it shocked me and the rest of the class but not only did it show me how it made it better but also to not get too attached to the work. I think that's also a very important lesson. When you get too attached you stunt your growth and tend not to take chances to discover new things. That and if you're going to be an illustrator or work in any commercial art field it helps not to get too attached when clients want changes made.

Again, he didn't do it all the time but when he did it it was great. His name is Fiore Custode and the man is truly a master.

i, me said...

meridith when you're working on studies in class it's a given that your work is subject to alternation.

One of the problems with art schools these days (other than the complete lack of teaching in most accredited uni. schools) is this attitude. Its to the point where in many classes teachers are afraid to even criticize - especially in pay as you go ateliers - because sometimes they tell students what they dont' want to hear.

i have a few studies that my teacher (a quite well known name and excellent painter) worked over. I can see where he took my work - and seeing that happen with something YOU started but cant' get to is an invaluable aid.

I have also seen another great teacher at the League take a carefully worked piece a friend was working on and totally wipe it out and simpfliy - it was EXACTLY what my friend needed because he was fretting and worrying over every stroke... from that day forward his painting improved ten fold.

marctaro said...

There are MANY artists I'd want to paint over my work - living and dead. I think it comes down to if you want to learn from the artist in question more than you want to admire your latest piece. I feel it's an important step for an artist to learn that a single work is insignificant in the long view...if you can't re-create the art reliably, you haven't mastered the process.

PixelFish said...

Um....I don't like anybody touching my actual work, except me. (Unless it is known to be collaborative from the get go.) Had I been in that student's shoes, I would have been offended.

Of course, if the instructor asks if he can demonstrate on your piece, that's polite, and you can say no, or you can ask him if he could demonstrate on a blank piece of paper. (And as somebody pointed out, sometimes it REALLY does help to see a technique

Honestly, I think when a teacher starts drawing over their student's work, it becomes more about their ego as an artist, and less about their teaching. If they are to impart their knowledge, the proof of it should be in their students' ability to paint without the teacher's hand on the brush.

Now, THAT said, one thing I find incredibly useful is the "paintover" done digitally. On one art site I participate on, very often people will crop a section and do a quick and very rough paintover to show what they mean: if the anatomy is off, if the composition is weighted too heavily to one side, if the colours are too disparate. It is very common to see this in the crit sections but A) the original file hasn't been changed B) the work still needs to be replicated by the original artist C) the original artist can choose NOT to implement it, and D) it's more of a guide or a suggestion, not a DO IT THIS WAY OR ELSE!

treplovski said...

I've also heard that Bridgman would reel back and spit on his students' drawings if they particularly offended him.
My high schoolart teacher, whom I respected greatly, would occasionally ask "may I?" and take the charcoal to indicate a correction to a student work, and we all being highscoolers still intimidated by authority, would allow him to redraw the area. Except me. The one time he asked me, "May I?" I hesitated for a second and then asked if he'd mind drawing on a separate piece of paper so I could compare. He felt this was a good compromise and afterwards I noticed more of my classmates requesting the same.

Anonymous said...

Everyone's being rather harsh on Erik but I have to say in a similar situation where the teacher just dashed in and tried to scribble on my paper I would probably do something very similar. I probably wouldn't grab the teacher's hand, but I'd definitely raise a hand in a "stop!" motion to block him/her.
Personal space is important to me and that extends to my drawing paper. The teacher can try to point something out that I'm missing by comparing my drawing with the model, offer suggestions, or demonstrate on another paper, but they SHOULD NOT be touching my paper.

Then again, most or all of my teachers have generally recognized that I work best when they mostly leave me alone, and so I tend not to get many comments on pieces before a finished critique. It's more common for me to finish early, and end up going round and offering suggestions on fellow student's work while chatting. And I never, ever draw on someone's paper. If I have to demonstrate a line, I mark it in the air above the drawing or on another sheet of paper. I think it's terribly rude to invade someone's space like that and claim the drawing as your own by marking all over it.

Anonymous said...

In college I had a sports coach who got great results, despite his physically and verbally abusive methods.

While the example of a teacher drawing on one's work without asking doesn't quite meet the definition of abuse, it's worth remembering that results aren't the only measure of a good teacher.

i, me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy Morgan B said...

Well, my college teachers will usually rework my things on tracing paper, on roughs they may draw to the side of it.
On occasion my figure drawing teacher would draw over my shorter 5minutes and under sketches. I didn't mind this too much since you are suppose to draw tons of short sketches and it cant hurt to lose a few. If a drawing had problems it is better to see a teacher correct than hang on to it only to throw it away later.

Im not sure if drawing over the work would be appropriate for younger students, I remember in grade school I didn't understand it when teachers did that and would take offense instead of leaning from it.

Mark Vander Vinne said...

I was struggling with the rendering of a foot in oil painting class. The teacher walked up, picked up a brush and painted one in for me, quickly explaining the planes of the foot as he did so. To see it was helpful, but I was really proud of the piece and his style of painting was not mine, so it infuriated me. Also, I already knew that he knew how to draw and paint feet, I wanted to know that I could do it. So I scraped his off and painted my own version of it using what he told me. It always bothered me that he didn't ask first.

When conducting workshops and classes I keep those feelings of anger in mind and never draw on another persons art. (Though once I was tempted.) I find a blank sheet or canvas somewhere and demonstrate for them what I want them to learn, but I don't do it for them on their work.

Unknown said...

Really enjoy the blog here! I have read all the comments. I think the key words here are 'in the classroom' where you are the student. It's not like you are in your own studio working on what you believe to be the next masterpiece of the art world. You are a student taking a class from someone with more experience. You are there to learn from them. I learned more from my professors coming by and correcting my work and showing me 'how it should be done' in their own hand next to my feable attempt. It's not just the correction of the drawing but watching them execute it that I learned even more. Even if it was just the way they moved their hand working on the exact same spot I had been painstakingly trying to execute was invaluable to me.

Prettylines said...
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Prettylines said...

I'm surprised, after reading so many posts/comments that this approach did not come up:
As the teacher in my classroom, I will often work and help on exercises and thumbnails/sketches...but stay away from their final works.
My students never work straight to a final---we do many, many exercises that are just that--excercises. We use them as learning experiences and the students aren't as personally attached to the piece, but MORE to the Experience and Process....then they can OWN their own FINAL I nurture their growth.

James Gurney said...

Nightlanding, that seems the most sensible to me, too. Doing a thumbnail sketch to clarify a point is a great help. It's like a movie director may try to talk indirectly about what they want out of the character, rather than actually trying to tell the actor the exact inflection they want on the lines of dialog.

knoxblox said...

New to the blog, but late to the post...

My instructor and mentor was Betty Dickerson, student of B.J.O. Nordfeldt, and wife of William Dickerson - who in turn was part of the Prairie Print Makers. Due to Bill's associations, I strongly suspect she also had learned a few things from Edward Hopper and Birger Sandzen, too.

When I joined her class, I was only 15, and remember she drew an entire hand on my first drawing of a long pose. I was pretty meek at the time, and didn't speak up.
As my skills advanced, she started to make thumbnail sketches off to the side, or on another piece of paper to explain the point she was making.
Quite often she would drag me by the hand up to the model and start drawing directly on her skin at certain points to emphasize shadow or points of musculature. I've never met another teacher who has done that.
I remember once taking on a difficult position behind a prone model, which put her upside down in relationship to the top of the canvas. Betty thought it was amusing, and dashed off a little stick-figure of me feverishly sweating behind the easel, the model lazily smoking a cigarette in front. We laughed pretty hard over that one, and I still have it in my portfolio.

Betty didn't draw or paint often in her later years, and now that she's gone, I really wish I had more examples of her instruction to consult.

Poetry Man said...

Interesting question... I think it is sensible to know your students. If you do that, it is a lot easier to know whether or not they would want you marking over their piece. Personally I wouldn't invade someones sheet without asking first.

using a spare paper is an obvious alternative.

Unknown said...

I know this is an older post, but I had one teacher like that in college and it really irritated me - and I told him so, several times. I would go to extreme lengths to try and make sure his bush or pencil didn't get to whatever I was working on. It kinda became a running joke.

My main problem with a teacher drawing or painting over my work is that I am supposed to be learning something - and I'm a visual and tactile learner. Someone else doing something to "correct" my work , or show me a "better way" to do something never helped me understand what was wrong in the first place. Sometimes I couldn't see what what was wrong, and someone coming in (without my permission) and "fixing it" (especially if they were just fixing it so it would conform to how they would have painted it)just left more confused.

I learn much better if something is simply pointed out to me and then I actively try and fix whatever it was that was wrong. That way I see the correlation between what I did wrong and what I did to fix it.

But I think that everyone learns differently (my sister is the exact opposite of me) and a part of their responsibility as an artist and a student is to understand themselves: how they learn, how they communicate, how they see, etc. Then they have to figure out how the make the most of whatever learning environment they are in. I think it's the teacher's responsibility to open doors; a teacher should never take the stance of "my way is the best and you have to do it my way if you want to succeed".

I think it's great to be able to learn from master artists, but the point isn't, or shouldn't, be to draw or paint like them; it's to become and be true to the artist that it is in you to be. I think artist are always pushing towards that goal, or they should.

Anyway. I was fortunate to only have to struggle with one of those teachers, so it could have been worse.

Unknown said...

I attended art school in LA at Chouinard in the 60s. It was a wake up call to see all the talented kids that were there from all over the US. My life drawing teachers were Watson Cross and Herbert Jepson. I liked having them draw on my work. It was when I learned the lesson that at best most of our work is just shavings on the floor when working on the bigger piece...our art careers.

x said...

In the beginning of my learning I ended up with a painter/teacher who would work over our pieces if we had trouble with an area, whether anatomical, about shapes, values, temperatures, etc. I didn't like his ways because I never learned anything from someone reworking over my errors. In the end I understood that he did it because he was unable to explain clearly, logically. Even his reworking on my self-portrait were off, the head he did was too big, but he didn't care enough about his students' learning.

Fast forward. I later took an alla prima portrait workshop with Dorian Valejo. On the 3rd day I was having trouble with our final assignement. What he did, he asked for my panel to do a demo for me. I erased my useless attempt (I could also have pulled out another painting pannel, but what I had done that day wasn't worth saving). And he did a demo for me on this pannel dedicated to this purpose. I saved the demo as such, never working over it. This way I have an example to refer to. I really appreciated his way of showing me how to correct my mistakes.

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

I never attended Art school, and the workshops I've attended nobody attempted to draw on my work... HOWEVER, I used to instruct dog training classes, where I was teaching the owner's to train their dogs... let me tell you it is WAY easier for me to train the dog, than to train the PEOPLE to train the dog. In the beginning I had 'Gimme that dog' moments where I'd take the dog and use it to demonstrate how to teach an untrained dog how to sit for example. In short order, due to my skill with dogs and my method of training, and because the dog didn't know me and so was probably wary of an obvious alpha person... the dog would quickly learn the lesson and show quick progress... handing the leash back to the owner however I realized the owner hadn't learned anything, and the dog quickly reverted to behavior he knew he could get away with. Eventually, I broke myself of taking people's dogs and using them as demo dogs... it wasn't helpful to the dog, or the student. I think an art teacher that draws over a students work... is doing the same thing, and the student resents it and doesn't learn much from having the experience.