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Teaching Confidence

I am really enjoying my "Drawing Skillbuilding" class at the ACA. I love the challenge of teaching adults. But how to convince them that they already have in them everything they need to make their own very individual artistic expression? How to convince them that drawing well does not equate with making art, necessarily?

I go back to my favorite mentor/author, Peter London, the author of No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist . When I found this book in the library stacks the title drew me in immediately. It is easy to teach technique, but it is really difficult to help students find what they want to say with their art. Why should we all strive to make art that looks like Picasso, O'Keefe or Degas? Instead we must learn to trust and value what we each have to say as artists, thus "No More Secondhand Art". The twelve exercises described in the book are geared to helping students generate imagery that is uniquely personal and immediate. These "Creative Encounters" are best done in a group setting. I have watched numerous students who have participated in these exercises break forth into new territory and finally find a freedom of expression that had eluded them. This book was a revelation to me when I first discovered it, and it transformed my teaching.

Another one of my most favorite books along these lines is "Learning By Heart", by Corita Kent. Those of us who were around during the 60s may remember her unique silkscreen prints that fused quotations and image. She is also responsible for the rainbow paint job on the Boston Gas storage tanks outside of Boston.

My colleague and former teacher at Mass College of Art, Dean Nimmer, has just come out with a book along similar lines - Art from Intuition. I haven't read it yet, but I just ordered it. I have started to write my own book along these lines - keep tuned... Seriously, this is something that I strongly believe in - that it is possible to guide students toward a unique creative expression.