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Drawing from sculpture.

How does the form of a sculpture change as you walk around it? What do you discover about a sculpture by drawing a picture of it? Why would an artist choose to make a sculpture very large, or very small? These are a few of the questions that seventh and eighth grade public school students considered during workshops at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Nelson-Atkins is fortunate to have on loan, from the Hall Family Foundations, an extensive collection of bronze sculpture by twentieth-century British sculptor Henry Moore. This collection is an excellent source for teaching students about the process of making art. It also enables the students to experience the role that scale played for Moore, throughout the three stages of his working process: maquette, working model and monumental sculpture. If Moore felt that the maquette, a small, three-dimensional model, was successful, he would make a second version, increasing the scale to an intermediate size, which became the working model. Later, and frequently after making modifications, Moore would take the final step of creating a monumental sculpture.

In one two-hour workshop, students looked at and talked about Moore's maquettes and working models on exhibition within the museum, then moved outside to the Henry Moore Sculpture Garden on the museum's south lawn. In the garden, students explored Moore's monumental works by drawing a series of small, warm-up sketches on newsprint. For each drawing, students were given larger paper. The final drawing was made on paper measuring three feet by four feet. Students were instructed to look carefully at the sculptures from all sides before selecting a view to draw. The time allotted for the largest drawing was approximately forty minutes. Returning to the classroom, students added tempera washes to complete the final drawings.

In another workshop, trios of pencil drawings were completed by students. In this 1 1/2-hour workshop, eighth graders chose a card that stated one of the ideas that Moore worked with in making sculpture, such as Moore's intent that his sculpture should possess a feeling of tension within its form. After selecting a work in the collectin that they felt exemplified this idea, students drew the sculpture from three differnt vantage points. This drawing process emphasized the idea of a "journey around a sculpture," a description Moore used when discussing the experience of looking at sculptural form. Moore strongly believed that sculpture should be examined by the viewer from as many different views as possible.

The drawings from these workshops were recently featured as part of an exhibition in the Museum's Creative ARts Center titled "Learning to Look: School Workshops at the Nelson Museum." If you would like more information on this exhibition, contact Lisa Schlagle, Workshop Specialist, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Missouri 64111.
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Author:Schlagle, Lisa
Publication:School Arts
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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