Higher Level Drawing – Zart 

Prepared by Max Darby for the 2016 ZART Processional Development Day titled Nurturing Creative Spirit

The tile of this workshop Higher Level Drawing suggests that some drawing activities – demand more of young artists, and encourage works of a different character to be created, than what is normally or usually expected. The way teachers and students work together to achieve these things is of critical importance. A strong element of personal decision-making is required to achieve success.

Higher Level Drawing needs to challenge teachers; needs to challenge teachers’ planning; needs to challenge assessment practices; needs to challenge students’ approach to drawing, and needs to challenge the whole school audience and how it values what is accomplished and achieved (teachers, parents, peers and, perhaps, perhaps even the local community).

To exist as a Higher Level activity drawing needs to be more than just an exercise in skill and/or technique development and use….and, more than using new media (not that such activities are unimportant). I believe that to be a Higher Learning activity drawing needs to challenge more than what is put onto the surface (usually paper). It needs to engage the brain in different and challenging ways. Much of this workshop will be about that – using the brain to think about things a little differently, regardless of what level in the school you teach. I  remember having a parent ask me whether her junior school daughters could join my Life Drawing classes. I was fine with that; the Principal was fine with that and the parents were fine with that. Although massively supportive, the senior girls (VCE students) freaked the most because the young girls had fewer hangups! Not about nudity (although that too) but about what people expected them to do when confronted with trying to draw the nude!

You see, children draw naturally. It’s a part of their lives from their earliest manipulative years. Provocatively I suggest the way we’re forced to educate and assess, and measure young people, and the influence of ‘grown ups’ (parents and teachers) destroys much of the natural instinct and wish to draw. Sadly, those things also seem to influence students’ desire to even continue with art as a subject once they reach the middle years. Around Year 9 students realise that art (and drawing) is no longer fun.Teachers establish what they must draw in class, and teachers and parents decide what’s good and what’s not! Without going into it in depth here I suggest simply that students need greater freedom to determine what they draw, the style they use and how succeesful they think their drawings are. Not total freedom, just greater freedom. There are obviously some things students will never learn about if the teachers  ‘cop out’ and hand over total control to their students. 

Admittedly, today, I’m going to control what you do to an extent or I can’t get my point cross. Forgive me!

Below you will find in the gallery a series of images that are developmental stages of the one drawing.

Activity 1.

Draw a flower from memory using charcoal.

Draw another flower from observation of a real flower.

Compare the 2 drawings for differences.

Activity 2.

Draw the flower without looking at the paper.

Draw the flower with a dirty charcola smudged finger


The gallery of photographs below demonstrates one of the major approaches to drawing using Higher Level Thinking. It emphasizes the importance of the creative process rather than the final product – an important Art Education focus. THIS IS NOT NEW AND KIDS DO IT NATURALLY – the process of drawing is often more important than what the student ends up with…OBSERVE THEM DRAWING

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