“One of the most important things that a teacher or parent can help children retain as they mature is their awareness of experience through the use of their senses and emotions.”
Earl Linderman + Donald Herberholz
Developing Artistic and Perceptual Awareness (1969)
This past fall, I worked with local art teachers in Alachua and Marion Counties and then with art teachers from around the state at the Florida Art Education Association Conference in Naples in three hands-on workshop situations. The intent of each of these workshops was to expand participants’ visual vocabulary through mark making and drawing while concentrating on one or more of our individual senses.
Looking back at the three workshop experiences, I feel the most successful activity involved participants listening to a collection of eight recorded sounds that I downloaded from iTunes and then responding visually to each sound by making marks in a section of a sheet of 12 X 18-inch white drawing paper that they had previously folded into eight sections. Once all eight sections were filled, I ask participants to label each one with a caption that identified the source of the corresponding sound (e.g., a loon calling). Then, with time permitting, I had participants extend and embellish on each of their drawings using their choice of colored pencils, gel pens, markers, or watercolors. Lastly, I showed them how to fold the paper into an origami book (diagram by Paula Beardell Krieg, 2009). Download the Coming To Our Senses handout from the FAEA workshop to learn more about the day’s activities.
For the Marion County workshop, I invited by colleague Patrick Grigsby to join me for a full day of activities focusing on the senses and helping students (and some teachers themselves) overcome a fear of drawing. In addition to doing the sound drawings, we had the participating teachers create sketchbooks and then respond to a series of drawing prompts that I refer to Drawing Challenges such as “How many sea shells can you draw on one page?” Patrick introduced the participants to Max Ernst and the surrealist method of creative production called frottage, which many art teachers and students know as “texture rubbings.” You can see a few of the resulting images created with the frottage method in the slide show below.