A profile of the typical student enrolled in a studio arts course that I have taught looks as follows: a non-major, undergraduate, beginning student, with no prior studio arts experience. My main concern has been to provide practical instruction in the fundamentals of drawing and painting and to prepare students for . In light of this, the coursework addresses four main points: materials and art history knowledge, perceptual responsiveness, conceptual thinking and critical analysis, and finally portfolio development and profesional practice.
Materials and art history knowledge:
Students are invited to make comprehensive investigations into the nature and characteristics of the materials of painting and drawing. Lectures are given on the historical context of materials and methods. Students are prompted to experiment with materials in an effort to broaden and deepen their experience with them. The medium is always a significant part of the message in my teaching and a major component of my approach to formal critical investigation. I continue to be a student of art history and theory and try to draw relevant contemporary and historical examples into the course work in lecture presentations, videos, and whenever possible museum trips and extra-curricular lecture events. Students often learn best when introduceded to
Perceptual faculties are sharpened through careful observation of the visible objective world and a corresponding sensory response to it. Leonardo has stated that "it is not enough to believe what you see, you must also understand what you see." I would add to this that beginning students must "un-learn" what they believe about the seen world. In an attempt to relieve students of false assumptions about the visible world, most lessons incorporate direct response, empirical exercises. Students draw and paint from the life-figure, still-life and landscape. Lectures are given on the nature of form and space (or more accurately form in space) and then how these two big engines relate to color. .Strategies are presented to draw out more discerning judgements about the "real" world and to correct misperceptions. Among the strategies and exercises are investigations in negative space, hand and eye co-ordination, gesture and continuous line, horizontal and vertical guideline mapping, measurement and scale, observation of the principles of aerial perspective, value study, accent and highlight observation. Special sessions on composition, anatomy, perspective and color theory are taught when appropriate.
Concept is primary in contemporary art practice and theory. Once students have a strong foundation in the basic skills of visual design, every effort is made and every attempt is encouraged in the development of the conceptual basis for individual work and creativity.
Critical Analysis: Thinking about art and talking about art making processes is a key aim of many vital university art programs. Development of a vocabulary and grammar of critical discourse is a central concern in a complete college level course of instruction. Regular critical rounds with discussion and group participation is important. The sharpening of presentation skills both in student exhibition and student lectures is a skill which is becoming quite significant in the professional world of the practicing artist and students need to become acquainted with this new and evolving role. Special study seminars, visits to museums and galleries, and visiting artist lectures all support the building of critical awareness and confidence. Professional and career issues are addressed in portfolio management guidance and exhibition preparation. I teach art with the premise that all students are innately endowed with sufficient creative and expressive impulse. Learning to draw and paint is a process of trial and error: students are allowed to lose their way in an effort of discovery and exploration in order to find themselves on a new, stronger footing. Ideally, a studio arts course contrives to prepare a student to paint and draw with personal conviction and insight. I try to help where I think I can be of use and get out of the way when I think I might be a hindrance...not always an easy call, but one of the most important ones.
Portfolio development and profesional practice: