I teach from my own example as a working artist.
My philosophy of teaching is centered on balancing lessons in visual perception with conceptual process.
Observational skills go hand in hand with conceptual approaches. honing visual perception is key to my teaching philosophy. My students learn to draw from life and to train their eye for composition. This is accomplished through a combination of practical rote exercises intended to strengthen hand-eye coordination, and a close study of dynamic rhythms found in natural forms (including the human body).
I establish my classroom as a setting where ideas can be safely explored and mistakes learned from. The classroom must be an environment of learning and truth, where the artist is free to experience new ideas and challenge what is accepted. To teach effectively requires the teacher themselves have a passion for learning and a dedication to inquiry. Good visual art making is always the synthesis of instinct, intellect, and material process. I emphasize that what one does in studio is a ‘practice’…the ‘practice of visual art-making’. All other philosophies, critical discourses, and material meanings, etc. all flow from the making of lots of art, and are of secondary importance to one’s process. In teaching the practice of visual art-making, I focus more on quantity than quality from a student.
If one focuses on quantity first, a curious thing then happens. Students actually end up making better quality work, simply because they learn from their own practice. They learn to refine ideas that they themselves discover. They learn to be freer and more confident, and this is the basic foundation for a good visual art-making practice. Artists stall out when they are sure that their next effort is doomed to failure before it even begins, or when they become too precious about the results. Focusing on a sheer quantity of work by the end of semester circumnavigates this peril, and allows a student to later pick only what they think is successful from the results.
The class ‘critique’ will also be demonstrated early. Students learn early on that there may exist a gulf between their intention for their work and its interpretation by others. This feedback, while sometimes difficult, is important for students to experience early so that they may begin to learn how to better bridge the gap and not take art criticism personally.
The good teacher has the responsibility for drawing out the potential of each student. He must be able to recognize the seed that is waiting there to grow, and be able to nourish it into a sapling. He does this by his ability to relate what is of interest in the students life to their art-making practice. Therefore, emphasis is put on a cross-pollinating approach, where interests in life subjects are encouraged as content for the visual art-making practice.
Art flows from Life.