In the book that I’m currently writing I have included a chapter on an art class that I conducted at the historic property Cheshunt, a couple of years ago. I took this opportunity not to teach a particular technique, but to show class members a variety of ways of ‘seeing’ such a large subject as a farm. I didn’t want to see a series of ‘look-see-draw’ artworks. Instead, I wanted the class to portray their feelings for the ‘character’ of their subject (more on that class in my book).
Drawing an object isn’t really that difficult. It’s when you set ‘unrealistic’ expectations that it can become a real challenge. There is far too much emphasis on obtaining photo-like realism and not trying to portray the character of your subject in a way that reflects part of your personality.
Teaching is (for me) about unlocking a part each class members’ creative potential.
Everyone comes to my classes with certain expectations. Knowing what they are helps me plan each of my class members’ ‘journey’ for the day. Individual programs are nothing new and have been used by art teachers for years. I have taught this way for many years and it’s not as difficult as you may think. With one-day classes it can be a challenge, but experience always gets me through.
Technique-based teaching is important and is essential in teaching the basics, but I get a little worried when I see examples where classes have been taught to reproduce a particular subject in exactly the same way. I’m not sure that I see real merit in this kind of approach.
I never want my students to emulate the way I work and see things, instead I want to show them what I do and how I do it, but at the same time encourage them to ‘see’ for themselves, give them some skills and self-confidence and see that they are satisfied with what they achieve. Isn’t that what teaching art is all about?
Tomorrow: A special post that I had to write.