For the first working day of the new beginning drawing class we dropped right off into the deep end of the art pool: an hour long lecture on linear perspective (generally the worst/hardest subject so I like to get right into it and get it out of the way) + gave out the first assignment & a show & tell of selected student samples from previous semesters, did a couple demos on using the pencil as a sighting device to measure relative angles and spaces; and then the posse saddled up to do two quick exercises: one-point perspective sketches in the department's hallways & bookcases in the library.
"I've not been cursed with talent, which could be a great inhibitor." - Robert Rauschenberg
This helps me to roughly gauge where everyone's at with respect to their individual degree of skill, and sets the rhythm and pace of the class. After the condensed insanity of summer session classes I tend to try and pack way too much into every day, which might be a little overwhelming at first but has some benefits, artistic-deficit-disorder aside. One is my trusted "bypass the bullshit" theory which doesn't allow for much if any ingrown agonizing over the work - emphasis is on the production, and the cumulative results will be, should be self-evident at the very end. And it also tends to separate the wheat from the chaff, as there will be a few who promptly bail on account of the expected workload.
*Posted here today are some of the little self-portraits I have students doodle out on the back of index cards with contact info and art release on the flip-side. Usually I unearth these (by then long-forgotten) gems, or nuggets, to stick up alongside their final during the last critique, to much amusement. In this comparison/contrast I gamble on there being major improvement - if there isn't, well, I haven't done my job. Though I try and resist psychological interpretations it's sometimes fun to make more of these initial efforts than something scribbled out under duress on the very first day of class. A promising collection nevertheless.
"I am doubtful of any talent, so whatever I choose to be, will be accomplished only by long study and work..." - Jackson Pollock