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Teaching for Creativity: One Continuous Line of Creativity

March 29, 2012

One goal for the Teaching for Creativity series is to present the voice of other educators who can share insights and approaches to teaching that nurture creative behavior.  Meet Lorraine Gachelin, Artistic Director at the Dallas International School and participant during the DMA’s 2011 Summer Seminar.  Lorraine shares with us a drawing exercise that supports the development of risk-taking, freedom, and creative flow in her middle and high school students.

I have the pleasure of working with Middle and High School students.  They display a great deal of energy and enthusiasm when working on creative projects and studying art history.  Curious, analytical, and structured, they follow instructions and stay within their guidelines.  The challenge arises when I ask them to spend time sketching in their journals.  “What should I draw? How large or small?  Which tool must I use?”  “A free drawing”, I respond, “What is on your mind today?  What would you like to express?”

My biggest thrill as an artist and teacher is to offer my students the opportunity to be risk-takers in their art.  I want them to open up their minds, take a pen to paper, and doodle with a cause.  Go with the subconscious flow!  Let the pen move around with one continuous line until an image appears.  No planning, no analysis, no critical thinking.  Just pure creative freedom and finally, allow an image to spring forth.

One continuous line drawing by teacher

Sounds strange?  Not really, it just requires an open mind and a little practice.  A ballpoint pen is a great tool because it can’t be erased and the pressure can be varied.  The paper can be any size – try to use the maximum space available.  Constraints are minimal but important:  no reference photos and the pen may not leave the paper as this drawing will be created with one continuous line.  The first few minutes of drawing should be very free.  Consider it a warm-up.  I don’t even look at my paper during this time.  Once the pen touches the paper, allow the line to move around as if it is listening to music.  After a minute, my eyes are on my paper and I watch the line continue to flow and build.  Shapes may begin to appear where the lines cross with textures implied.  Patterns and values slowly emerge forming an image in a very organic and natural state.

One continuous line drawing by student

A talented sixth-grade student was intrigued by this approach to drawing.  Without question, judgment or any preset expectations of what would result, he quietly sat at his desk and drew for 15 minutes.  A flower and butterfly appeared with much energy and grace, all too well symbolizing the metamorphosis that had just taken place in his artwork.  It’s all in the continuum of the flow.

Many thanks to Lorraine for contributing to this blog and for being such a wonderful collaborator in the pursuit of creativity!

What creative experiences are happening in your learning environment?  Share your ideas with us and spark the dialogue.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

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