Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Creativity Stretcher: Automatic Drawing (Scribble Line Drawing)

This week's focus in art is Creativity Stretchers. After returning from a long weekend, it is sometimes difficult to get back on track to routines, procedures, and projects in the art room, so creativity stretchers are a great way to refocus creative energy into productive quick drawings.

Automatic drawing was developed by the surrealists as a means of expressing the subconscious. In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move randomly across the paper.  The drawing produced may be attributed to the subconscious. Artists who practiced automatic drawing include Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Jean Arp and Andre Breton. The technique was transferred to painting as seen in Mirรณ's paintings which often started out as automatic drawings.

Nocturne by Joan Miro
To start this activity, doodle or scribble with your eyes closed or open.  The objective is to keep a loose hand and “feel” your way through the scribble.  There is something to be said about happy accidents and unplanned ideas! Stop whenever it feels right or as a teacher, set a time for students.  My students are shown how to scribble first by drawing various lines covering the paper completely. I tell them to imagine they are toddlers again. I think my elementary students find great joy with this part of the activity. It may seem messy, but after one minute, I ask students to stop and use their creative eye to transfer scribbles into an interesting design or image using only the scribble lines at first to create a representational image or object.


Some rules that I establish with my students:
  • avoid slow methodical planned scribbles (there is no spontaneity with a planned scribble)
  • scribble fast and scribble the entire one minute
  • when searching for an image, avoid numbers and letters (too easy)
  • use the scribble lines as the original form, but add details to help evolve the found image (for example, if an animal shape is found, add texture or face details if not readily found in the available scribble lines)
  • No Erasing! 

Once students start the search for an object, animal, creature or whatever pops out from the scribbles, we trace the necessary scribble lines with black permanent marker to make our found object or creature stand out from the rest of the scribbles. This activity is very similar to the hidden picture image in the comic section of the newspaper. I encourage students having a difficult time finding an image to turn their paper and view the scribbles from a different perspective. I even encourage students to hold the scribbles close to their face and pull away to see if anything "pops" for them.


I must admit that this activity is difficult for any concrete "left brain" thinkers and less challenging for those who are easily abstract "right brain" thinkers.  Although incredibly difficult for some the first time, after several attempts, this activity will become easier.

I think the quote below is very applicable to any of the creativity stretchers completed this week...

“Don’t underestimate this idea of mine, which calls to mind that it would not be too much of an effort to pause sometimes to look into these stains on walls,  the ashes from the fire,  the clouds,  the mud, or other similar places.  If these are well contemplated, you will find fantastic inventions that awaken the genius of the painter to new inventions, such as composition of battles, animals and men, as well as diverse composition of landscapes, and monstrous things, as devils and the like.”

Leonardo da Vinci


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