Joan Snyder a great contemporary painter recently shared some drawing exercises with me to help get the students to loosen up and diminish the fear of drawing that prevents so many of them from even trying and giving themselves a chance. During the exercise I ask the youth to draw different things, but each thing has an adjective attached to it for example a FAT lady or HEAVY rain drops. I love that by introducing this exercise the youth are lead to focus not on just on how to draw the object correctly, but how to give the object, person, or thing a characteristic. It takes the pressure off of thinking too much about whether something is “good,” and it lets the youth get into their imagination, and expression through drawing. Even if some of the youth are very limited in their drawing technique, they at least put marks on paper, tried, and got into trying. The exercise also led to a lot of laughter, embarrassed laughter. I think all the youth were embarrassed to be turning out drawings that looked so rough and childish. I also think they were amused that I thought what they were doing was good. When I think about the source of the embarrassment, I think maybe I would feel embarrassed too, if I was 16 years old as some of them are, and could hardly draw a person in a semi realistic way. I’m sure it’s hard for some of them to come to terms with the fact that they are almost grown and have very elementary drawing skills. So in the end I can understand their reaction. I’m glad that they tried, and that they could laugh, and share their drawings with me. I know this was a good exercise for them even if they don’t understand why.