Many of the kids I work with are taking drawing lessons because their parents are hoping to get them into activities that limit their screen time after school. Drawing is tactile; it takes construction skills – even though we are working in two dimensions on the page, it is still moving matter- graphite on paper; it takes being conscious of your body and how it is moving; it builds visualization and planning skills. It is nurturing stuff for developing as well as aging brains!
It might sound contradictory, but I often tell my student’s parents that I think it is okay for their kids to play Minecraft. I teach kids two and three point perspective, and Minecraft is building worlds with three dimensional blocks that are reduced to the two dimensional computer screen. It is forcing them to actively visualize in perspective. Plus with square cows, sheep and lots of creativity building their own worlds – kids loooooove it!
My students often talk to me about their love of Minecraft, but no one has ever shown me what they have created. This week, my budding architect, Carter came into the studio and blew my mind. After learning two and three point perspective, we began drawing a modern building that Carter picked out from a Google Images search.
Some weeks Carter will continue working on his drawing at home, because he’s so excited to be working on a modern building. My goal for students at this stage of learning perspective is not 100% accuracy in copying a building, but rather a comfort level and confidence in puzzling through the difficult process of perspective drawing. This is the current incomplete state of Carter’s drawing:
He’s decided to edit some things, such as the lawn in front. He’s told me “I’m not a fan of the cement planters around the lawn, because it feels too contained.” (Have I mentioned that I love this kid!? Many adults wouldn’t be able to verbalize such a clear design opinion about a visualized space).
So this week, he walks in to our weekly drawing lesson and tells me that he’s built the same building in Minecraft. He shows me these images, exterior and interior shots moving throughout the building up to the second floor balcony:
I think the practice Carter is getting in Minecraft to create his vision, while copying from a source image is fantastic! He has to visualize the structure, materials, floor plan, flow of interior space and how it relates to the exterior space. He is visualizing and problem solving in perspective in action. Even if he isn’t consciously seeing the angles of all the perspective lines (well THIS kid IS seeing that) while building his buildings, the sense of perspective in a two dimensional environment is being absorbed here.