Tonight kicks off my first caricature workshop weekend! I’ll be working with 13 students all through the weekend on how to draw caricatures. The students range from total beginners to seasoned caricature pros that frankly draw better than I do and I’ll be doing the learning. They have come from as close as right here in the Twin Cities to as far away as China.
I’ve been thinking a lot leading up to this week about teaching caricature and the best way to approach it, and looking back over some of the comments I’ve gotten on my The Mad Art of Caricature book I realized something… the plethora of “exactly how you do this” tutorials all over the internet have caused somewhat of a dumbing down effect on how people expect to learn new skills, especially creative ones.
Here are a few of the negative comments I’ve gotten on the book (from various sources, and in some instances paraphrased):
“Lots of good drawings to look at and techniques, but not really a tutorial”
“Barely helpful” (this one made me LOL)
“Doesn’t really tell me how to draw anything.” (LOLed on this one also)
“Confusing. I don’t know where to start, what materials to use, what to draw.”
You see? I am beginning to think some people of a certain age have been trained to believe step by step tutorials are the way they are supposed to learn things. If you do not show them a clear progression of steps that form a process to accomplish a specific task, they are lost. Have those people lost the ability to develop their brains to think critically, and to grasp general theories and concepts that allow them to create their own processes? Maybe. Certainly the people who contributed the above criticisms of my book must struggle with it.
I wrote the book to be as “style neutral” as possible, because what I was trying to do was teach people about caricature, not how to use a certain type of marker. It always makes me angry when I buy a book on how to draw anything and several pages of it are dedicated to materials and supplies… I know what a pencil and paper is. Don’t waste several pages of a book on how to draw the human figure telling me what kind of paper to use. That is immaterial (pun intended).
Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people who comment on the book found it to be a great resource in developing their ability to draw caricatures. There are still plenty of critical thinkers out there. It’s just disheartening to think we might be raising generations of people with 140 character attention spans and who think good art is created in 12 easy steps.
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