Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Notes on Eve Anderson Picture Study

The class was studying The Milkmaid by Vermeer.

1. She introduced the artist and gave some historic context. She talked so long that I began to wonder when she was going to stop! I think it was 3-5 minutes.

2. She did not show them the picture yet. She talked about what to look for, what might be different in the painting from what we are used to seeing.

3. "Nowadays we are all in too much of a hurry." (I can't remember why she said this, but I think it was in the context of taking your time to look at the painting.)

4. Everyone had their own postcard-sized copy of the painting. She instructed them to get a first impression, then look in a circular direction for details (whole to parts). Focus on colors, textures, and remember you will be "drawing the picture in words" when you tell back.

5. While they still had the pictures in front of them (!) she asked things like, "What do you think the pitcher is made of?" "What else is in the picture?" "Where is the light coming from?" and they discussed each of these points.

6. "I won't say anything because I want you to observe it yourselves for two to three minutes." Pause. "When you find yourself getting restless, shut your eyes. Can you see all that picture? Open them again. Was your picture in your head right?" She encouraged them to keep doing this for the remainder of the time until they had all the details straight in their minds.

7. "Turn your pictures over. Listen very carefully" as their classmates began to describe the painting. She started in the front and went around the classroom from student to student, allowing each to narrate a portion of the painting. She stopped them if they tried to go on to the next detail without giving enough description of the previous one. After going through all the students, she allowed them to raise their hands to fill in final details. At one point, a student turned her picture over and Ms. Anderson covered it up again. One little guy near the end had trouble narrating, but finally got in some amazing detail about small tiles at the bottom of the painting.

8. They flipped the pictures over and she reiterated what they said (in their own words), adding her own touches as she went. She then described the size of the real painting and showed them a poster of it. To the little boy she said, "There are your tiles." *Your* tiles. He had narrated them, and they were now his. She didn't dwell on this point, but I like that she said it that way. One girl had described the small-paned windows, and Ms. Anderson talked about the expense of glass in those days. She really placed the painting in historic context-- before, during and after their narrations.

9. "Close your eyes again." She talked about her own experience doing picture study from the time she was a girl and told them that if they could see the picture in their minds, they would always have it to enjoy, even if they could not go to the Rijksmuseum to see it.

I am thankful I got to see these videos! I can't really go to conferences as I would like, so it was a special blessing to witness a teacher from the PNEU schools actually teaching.

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