Image: The Law of Conservation of Mass
by Katharine A. Cartwright, 2010
watercolor on paper
Our discussions of John Dewey’s text inspired me to evaluate the structure of how I teach painting to my students. In my last post I stressed the importance of coupling intuition with knowledge in order to control and advance our artmaking. This viewpoint is the foundation to what I teach. Here are the four walls built upon that foundation:
Wall 1: Concept development. I use a process that I've developed to help students find their own voice. This voice expresses their individuality and unique relationship with the world around them. Until the student artist knows what to express there’s little need to continue. Therefore, this is the first wall up.
Wall 2: Material selection. Once my student has an idea of what to paint and its significance to him/her, we begin the process of selecting the materials most suitable for expressing that concept.
Wall 3: Construction. Next, my students carefully consider the symbols, style, composition, and palette that best support the central concept of the work. This step unifies all the elements of the painting so that self-expression is focused and unambiguous. The voice of the artist is transformed from a mumble to an articulate audible voice.
Wall 4: The student paints. I show them how to master painting techniques in their chosen medium and also offer critiques that allow them to analyze their own work and make corrections.
Intuition is essential during the construction of all four walls. Without it, student artists won’t be able to express their own unique style in their own unique "language."
The Roof: Gaining perspective. Finally, I help my students gain perspective of where their work fits into the contemporary and historical art scenes. It is from this perspective that they begin to understand their place and how to advance.
This building process requires me to nurture creativity, impart analytical skills, and encourage artistic maturity. I suppose I learned this teaching style by realizing how I best learn.
How about you?