My instruction books have come out of experience, and a hunch. In regard to the former, details about my own art education are less likely to interest a reader than the conclusions I’ve reached about it. Essentially, I learned less about how to make art from most of my art teachers, and more about teaching–because I experienced special occasions were their teaching worked, as well as many when it didn’t.
Bad teaching didn’t harm me much because I had developed an identity as an artist early on, I was already confident, and in love with art. But ineffective teaching was a waste, an interesting waste, which I remembered in specific detail. And I’ve come to see over the years interviewing people about their early art education that because making art is so intimate, so soul revealing, bad teaching can really hurt people.
I came to understand that the old canard about teaching , as in “those who can’t teach make art”, wasn’t accurate at all. It was simply true that each activity required a different skill set which had to be developed, honed. Just because you can make art doesn’t mean you are skilled at breaking the art making process down into an effective, communicable sequence . And In many cases, an artist can confuse, and discourage students from developing their art potential because while they themselves “can do”, but haven’t developed the ability to think through and verbalize the art making process.
The brain functions required for each are different–1. “the making”, 2. “the analyzing/verbalizing”. I’ve come to think of them as akin to the player on the field and the coach on the sidelines. Each is necessary for performance, but requiring separate skills, skills that alternate in order to achieve their mutual goal.
My books come out of the studio classroom where I’ve been guided both by a passion for art and a question, “Why shouldn’t ‘t everyone have access to this wonderful experience?!” And that’s where the hunch came in. I just knew that anyone who had a viable sequence of instruction to follow, and wanted to engage their potential, could do it. And , as it turned out, I’ve been privileged to see this belief proven to be true for over thirty years. As a longtime instructor at Silvermine School of Art, my focus is on “the absolute and utter beginner” adult. My books “Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner”, and “Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner”, are based on my teaching there. Both books are available both in the United States, and around the world, most recently in China, in Mandarin.
Enjoy your art!