Saturday, May 22, 2010

What it takes to remain an artist: Outline

What It Takes To Be Artistic

"Every child is an artist.

The problem is how to remain an artist once grown up."

-- Pablo Picasso


1. Children are naturally artistic, but can become discouraged or derailed as they grow up.
2. Educators may inadvertently dampen creativity without realizing it.
3. "Working with children makes you no more a teacher than having a piano makes you a pianist." Michael Levine (italics mine)

"Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants."

-- John Gardner

Key Question(s):

How do we promote student interest?

(or) What are common elements that can be identified among schools with strong arts


Four Considerations:

A. Reviewing/revising curriculum and teaching philosophy.

B. Integrating art history to the present experience.

C. Providing art units that students enjoy.

D. Across all grade levels reducing look-alike projects while increasing exploration, expression and experimentation (EEE)

A. Reviewing/revising curriculum and teaching philosophy.

1. Praxis: What is it? How does dichotomy endanger it?

“Praxis is practice… with thoughtfulness of reflection. It is as an idea emerged from Paulo Freire. Praxis embodies our belief that theory and practice are not opposites, but rather complements that work together to further one’s lifelong growth as an artist-educator.”

-- Steinhardt School of Culture in New York

Skills Based Spiral Model & Developmental Stages:

2. Visual Arts Spiral Model and Developmental Stages

a. As knowledge builds upon knowledge, so do concepts, skills and processes.

b. Developmental Stages:

o Scribbling (ages 2-4)

o Symbolic (ages 5-7)

o Realistic (ages 9 and up)

c. Drawing: Sample of Spiral Model in action:

Preschool : Exploration of lines, color and space

Elementary: Exploration of lines, color, space, overlapping, foreground, middle ground, and background

Middle School: Exploration of lines, color, space, overlapping, foreground, middle ground, background, linear perspective, depth, volume, illusion of space

High School: Exploration of lines, color, space, overlapping, foreground, middle ground, and background, linear perspective, atmospheric perspective, depth, volume, illusion of space, contour, highlight, halftone, shadow side, shadow edge, reflected light, movement,

rhythm, balance… etc

B. Integrating art history to the present experience.

Examples (accompanied by digital photos of student artwork):

Art Pictorials that forge an artistic style.
4th Grade Art History Unit:
Antoni Gaudí Dream Houses

C. Providing art units students enjoy.

Examples (accompanied by digital photos of student artwork):

o Prototype Models

o Miniature Sculptures

o Mural Design

o Synectics

o Wire Sculpture

o Creativity Theory

o Modern Character Pieces

o Food Replicas

o Stain Glass Window Design

o Faux Finishing

o Photo Montage

o Oxymorons

o Scary Things

D. Across all grade levels reducing look-alike projects while increasing exploration, expression and experimentation (EEE)

Examples (again… accompanied by digital photos of student artwork):

● Drawing with Brush ● Watercolor & Marker ● Color Chalk “Light on Dark


Educators need to be updated, in tune and discerning what is best for each child to insure the maturing process in all areas (Illustration: green banana that never matures)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Philosophy of Teaching Art

The following is a compilation from different sources to explain my philosophy of teaching visual arts:

“You are a life-line to a source of vitality, and strength which is so rare in society”

Teaching Art Philosophy:

Students need opportunities to revisit skills and areas of knowledge so that they can expand their repertoire and increase the complexity of their understanding.

- to learn about different periods of art, about different artists of that time period, and about the different techniques used by the artist. Then, they will use the techniques they learned and manipulate different media into creative pieces of art.

- to make the familiar strange -- to impart an awe for discovery in learning and to create situations where students perceive things with freshness.

- to spark student-owned ideas and processes – where students take charge of learning through critical thinking and transformed by the powers of their own thought. Art is improved by critical exercise. knowledge gained through inquiry is retained longer. Freeing student from the old idea that they are peripheral spectators in a drama (Freire, 1974).

- to use positive reinforcement to keep students interested and involved.

- to be a model. Teachers who model their own ongoing process of discovery help students to learn anew virtually every class, empowering them with enthusiasm and self confidence. The teacher needs to communicate not only a knowledge of the subject matter, but also interest in and enthusiasm for the subject matter.

- to organize classes so that students find them friendly and free of guesswork. Explain clearly to students what is necessary in order to do well, without making it sound any harder or easier than it actually is.

- to update content and methods. The term “praxis means” was coined by Paulo Freire and it means “reflexive action”. Good teaching and research are intimately related. Studying our practice and its underpinning assumptions enables us to develop a creative and critical understanding of ourselves, and our processes of learning and growth. We become theory generators as well as theory users.

- to help students probe how they have come to know what they believe to be true.

- to culturally train young people so they can both observe and appreciate the more subtle things of life (like detectives).


Independent thought, and self-direction are essential to the formulation of unique ideas in solving problems – that is, opportunities for students to take charge of their artistic learning. Pro-active education requires students to make perceptual shifts from being the object of knowledge to the source of knowledge and from being authority-dependent to being active learners and even teachers. This prepares students for the real world where initiation is required and initiative requires creative and critical problem solving.
Other real world learning skills:
· Efficient use of production time in class.
· Breaking the shackles of the traditional “Learning to draw” paradigm and adopting the premise of “Drawing to learn”. This signifies that although every student may not become a professional artist or designer, some artistic concepts and principles of the visual arts can be transferred to other disciplines even though they may appear so different and far removed from art itself – disciplines such as engineering, medicine, accountability, writing, etc.
· Planning future projects outside of the classroom. Students need to think in advance about what art projects they want to work on. This planning needs to be done outside the classroom so they can maximize their productivity inside the classroom.
· The visual arts studio compels each student to negotiate with the instructor as to the feasibility of his or her ideas (practical, economical, safety, responsible, age-appropriate, challenging vs. sluggish or dormant).
· The world we live in requires persons to choose among many alternatives. When we purchase a car today, we can choose from a wide range of models, colors, accessories, upholstery (leather, cloth, vinyl, etc.)
· The value and limitation of resources – students need to consider how much paint or canvas they use so they are not wasteful. They learn that the world does not have limitless resources therefore each person is accountable for how much material they use.

Art is Discovery

“Art is discovery, a way of looking
at the world as though seeing it for the first time.”
-- Guy Hubbard

Art making has been traditionally viewed from a “learning-to-draw” lens as a frill subject that only a few privileged children born with artistic talent could profit from. It has been looked upon as the extravagant career option for very wealthy folks or for daydreamers who lack the common sense to aspire a sensible career like business administration, law or medicine. Although only a small percentage of children or youth may ever pursue a visual arts career, a thoughtfully designed art program could make a fundamental difference in educational development.

Art education is moving from the “learning-to-draw” postulate to a paradigm where the emphasis is “drawing-to-learn”. In this wider, more encompassing discipline, art is a medium for learning, capable of strengthening other domains of intellectual development through creative right hemispheric processes. Many students have the disposition to prepare creative presentations or projects, but they often consider themselves unqualified in generating original fresh ideas. In a world that is quick to offer limitless ready-made ideas, people usually settle for dull, stereotyped notions.

Creativity is the ambiguous road that leads to self-confidence. Through the rich perspective of the artist, students have the opportunity to transcend to higher levels of learning.
(1) to become keen observers of life
(2) to look for answers in unexpected places (a relentless passion for the inductive process that leads to discovery)
(3) to experience life from a different and unusual viewpoint
(4) to convey freshness to an often times insipid reality
(5) to develop intense laser-like concentration
(6) to show readiness to take (prudential) risks
(7) to be tentative and consider multiple possibilities
(8) to make ideas visible in imaginative, engaging ways

Visual Arts instruction is flexible to multiple levels of artistic competency. Theory is mastered through the practice of visual design. Individuality is expressed through a diversity of media offerings while both spectrums of traditional and contemporary visual design pervade. Art students observe a guideline of artistic proficiencies such as the elements and principles of design, originality, theme development, media exploration, planning a project, organization, and presentation.

Text: Edwards, Betty. Drawing on the Artist Within. New York: Fireside, 1987.

Drawing on the Artist Within: A Guide to Innovation, Invention, Imagination and Creativity

This unit deals with you. It will help you discover new dimensions of problem solving and self-expression through the artist's way of seeing and depicting visual ideas and thoughts. This ground-breaking, based on the latest scientific research on both sides of the brain, show how anyone can quickly and spectacularly accomplish better artistic work and more creative thinking that can be applied to other disciplines and working fields.

Creativity is the force that drives problem solving, informs effective decision-making and opens new frontiers for ambition and intelligence. Those who succeed have learned to harness their creative power by keeping that light bulb turned on.Betty Edwards, has decoded the secrets of the creative process to help you tap your full creative potential and apply that power to everyday problems. How does Betty Edwards do this? Through the metaphor of drawing – a metaphor you can process to see problems in new ways.Through simple step-by-step exercises that require no special artistic abilities, Betty Edwards will teach you how to take a new point of view, how to look at things from a different perspective, how to see the forest and the trees, in short, how to bring your visual, perceptual brainpower to bear on creative problem-solving.

As you work through this unit, you will be creating a journal, which means you are recording your personal impressions and insights. As you develop the 'habit of creativity' you also develop an intuitive awareness. It is also a means of communication, a holding place for ideas to share with other artists and students who wish to learn. Your journal is a safe place where you can experiment with abstractions. It will facilitate an unveiling of ways to express emotions and feelings. Above all this safe haven of personal expression can become for you (if you let it) a source of relaxation. As an artistic venture your journal will naturally evolve into your precious planning tool.

Questions for reflection:

What is your definition of creativity?

How does creativity help interpersonal relationships?

Do you think you have the soul of an artist? If your answer is yes, when did you notice you were unique that way?

Do you find it easy to create? Explain.

Is there anything you feel compelled to achieve in the future that gives you a sense of mission or purpose in life and that you feel separates you from the mass?
What do you think keeps you from conforming to mainstream society?