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## What Should I Draw?

One of the hardest subjects to get students to participate in is art. Most of them at the age of eight or nine have already decided whether they are good at it or not. If they feel they are not good, they will stop unless they are encouraged to participate in the art. These students will participate in art history classes. They will read the textbook, but when it comes to putting pen to paper they hesitate, very well.

Many of these students have realized that their work isn’t as good as someone else’s, or that their image doesn’t look like reality, and many other reasons they won’t tell you. So they stop or do a half-baked project and pull it out quickly.

I can relate to how they feel. Many of you know how they feel. When I was drawing on the blackboard we all had a good laugh because it was very obvious that my talent was not art. But, I still draw and really like doodling. I wanted my students to continue trying to express themselves by making art, but I hit a wall. “We don’t want to draw.” “I don’t know what to draw.” I can’t draw, I’m not an artist.” Yo! Draw, you’ve got to be kidding.”

One school year I decided to tackle this problem head on. I decided that: 1. There would be an art project every week. 2. The order would be delivered every Monday and sold on Friday. 3. The art project was considered an assignment just like math and counted toward your grade. 4. Everyone had to do one and everyone had to do the same.

On Monday I gave them an Art Start that was generated from my computer. It had an image in the corner, side or top. There was always a title on the page such as: My Castle and that was what the student had to draw. They could get ideas from books or from their heads, but there could be no copying or tracing. I soon generated several rules about artistic composition.

1. Use the entire page, not just the center.

2. No blood, guts or anything that anyone might find offensive.

3. No weapons because our school had a zero tolerance policy and so did I.

4. Names of people could not be used.

5. Color was necessary because we see color and it is important in our world.

6. Be proud enough of your image to sign it.

7. Do not laugh or comment negatively on any picture, including your own.

8. If you take it home, it must not be bent or wrinkled.

On Fridays or any day of the week, students could hand in their drawing. It was punched with the three hole punch and placed under the laminated cover of our classroom’s ART STARTS book. This book was kept on the back table near the door where students, parents, teachers, principals or anyone who came could check out the book and enjoy the student’s art. Because I laminated the cover, I was able to use the same title pages each new school year and not have to redo them.

The comments they started making when they looked at the book were quite interesting. They might say something like “That was a good idea, I never thought of doing that to my image.” “Look at this one, it’s really great.” I think I’ll try something like that next time.” “Where did you get that idea?” During free time you could find the students back at the table going through the book looking at the pictures and seeing if they had improved.

Monday was a completely different day. Immediately after lunch my students started asking for their new Art Start because they wanted to draw. No more “What should I draw?” because I gave them the idea and for my students this was the most difficult thing, to get an idea of what to draw.

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