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On being a teacher...

by Rick Rotante on 1/12/2012 1:56:38 PM

This post is by guest author, Rick Rotante. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.  We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in theFineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 16,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.


It's hard to discuss this topic without it sounding like a gripe session.  There are many new art grad students out there teaching and they have little idea what the real world is like in the trenches.


Seeing this troubles me. So many things are wrong with our teaching/learning process. I put in years of figure drawing and anatomy study before I considered passing this information on to others as a teacher. But I find most don't care, don't have the time or just plain aren't interested, even though they crave to paint the figure or do portraits.


It breaks my heart to see this. I see new painters struggling, in the dark, trying to paint with excruciatingly bad results and I can't say a thing, unless they decide to take my class. Not to say I am a genius. I deal with this head on every day.


You learn that if you teach, you have to overcome the fact every student you get will NOT know how to draw. Period. I audit drawing workshops and watch people making these little tiny figure drawings from a live model and the instructor critiquing the work. What can you learn doing tiny drawings? How do you articulate the bones and muscles on a drawing that you can barely see?


The émigré Chinese here are kicking our proverbial asses with the training they receive - until we wake up and realize drawing and painting are worthwhile endeavors for our youth and invest in real training, western art students are in for a very hard, disappointing time.



Editor's Note: You can view Rick's original post here.



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kara rane
hi Rick-
I completely agree! That is why I did not go to grad. school for art (sorry most professors can't draw or paint 'classically' well) but instead studied privately with my painting teacher Nansheng Liu (a genius artist who survived the terror of Mao). I put in time, persistence, and dedication and am now so happy to be able to paint anything. It has served me well as I lived and worked in NYC as an artist, and now accept commissions in any style and subject of painting. Thank You Nansheng*!

Brian Sherwin
Rick -- would you suggest that in order to teach art -- be it college level or lower -- the teacher should have so many years of experience outside of grad school in order to be considered for the position?

Linda Eichorst
Rick, you are right on. I can't imagine trying to paint without learning to draw first. The most important thing I learned while studying art at the University of South Carolina from Professor Beyer was how to draw. Learning to draw teaches an artist to see, to develop their powers of intimate observation. There is little hope of painting something without the skill of seeing.

Brian, I don't think we necessarily need another rule. One of the reasons independent study works so well is that we can choose who we study with based on their works as well as their teaching skills.

I'm studying landscape painting with Waid Griffin, here in Albuquerque. I love his work and his teaching skills. He definitely can draw and it shows in his work. Perhaps art students should be encouraged to "choose" who they study with. Our colleges and universities are not always the best source of art education.

Debra Heard
I agree with you! I have a degree in Graphic Design and Art Education, and have taught art classes for many years!
The art education programs in colleges have very little to do with art and pushes the education courses that teaches how to write lesson plans and deal with kids that have learning problems. The requirment for a minor is discouraged in the art fields and it's usally a English or History choice so they can get a job.
Drawing takes discipline and desire to achieve that most people don't have, espcially self-dicipline, with no one to stand over you or give you rewards. It takes years to get good and most people don't want to work that long for it! Just look at the gyms (which are full right now , but will be empty in a few months)and see how many people really stick with exercising regular year after year (yes, I work out in the gym in classes and have done so for years).
Jack White wrote, "What you don't know shows"! This is so true!
My feelings are that if a person does not want to do the work, then they are exactly where they need to be!
If they do want the drawing skills that will improve their art then they will do the research, go to classes, and draw, draw, draw! It is their choice!

Debra Heard
It is the same as going to a brain surgeon for surgery! Would you want to pay someone who has just started a lot of money and risk your health, or go to a surgeon that has had a lot of experience? Art professors are supposed to be the best out there!

Rick Rotante
It should go without saying that when you begin a career there will be a learning curve. Art Grads have spent the last four years experimenting and learning in an insular environment. This setting isn't the real world. Plus we are talking about art here, not math or car repair. What makes a good teacher is a one who has a track record of creating, exhibiting, and selling--in the real world. They've experienced failures and have cut their teeth on real world issues.
College work no matter how good is student work. It should be. If you go to college to create work for sale, you missed the whole idea of college. Everyone goes through a period after study--of getting your feet wet; understanding the lay of the land so to speak. Not everyone with a degree has the ability to teach just because they went to school. I don't care who you are, to understand the in's and out's of any profession, you have to walk in the shoes first.
Art is not about terms or jargon or schooling -- It's about life experience expressed through paint.


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