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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Arizona, USA
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    Let's talk about good art instruction

    I see art schools and instructors insulted a lot and imo, it's really undeserved most of the time. I went to a public university; perhaps the art program here wasn't as rigid as others. I think I got a pretty good education there and 90% of my instructors were knowledgeable professionals who were very dedicated to their students. The other 10% were grad students who were still learning themselves. So I thought why not talk about our good experiences and the great teachers you had in art that really made a difference?

    I really liked my watercolor instructor. She is so amazingly skilled and accomplished and her work is just break taking. I remember once we were talking and the subject of African American artists came up. She was amazed at how little I knew (and I was embarrassed). She compiled a list of artists for me to look up and really jump-started my exposure to African American contemporary artists. She was also very informative during critiques and encouraging to all students. She helped me put my senior portfolio and show together as well.

    My advanced painting professor was very philosophical but in a good way. He really encouraged me to dig deeper into the concepts that I was already exploring and encouraged students to take part in school activities, most of which he had a part in creating. Taking part in some activities made me feel like we were an important part of the school.

    My painting 2 instructor taught me A LOT of color. She sat down with me many times and showed me tons of color combinations and mixtures that I never knew were possible. She also showed me ways to be really economical with my brush strokes. She was very encouraging and sweet. She must have spent hours with each student tackling things we were weak at. I think she teaches high school now and is part of a studio downtown.

    My life drawing instructor was a hard man to please lol. I remember students a level higher than me saying "don't take that guy; he's hard." I did the opposite. He quizzed us on anatomy and taught us a lot of valuable figure drawing techniques. I think my general drawing and shading skills improved immensely after instruction with him. I think the students didn't like him because he quizzed us and would get on your case if you didn't do your work. He also didn't give a lot of amazing praise unless you really deserved it but he was still quite encouraging despite whatever skill level you entered the class at.

    In general, despite the really discouraging second year which was partly my fault, I feel satisfied at the amount of education I received. Most of my instructors were great people, my art history professors included. A lot of my instructors provided me with experience that I could even put on my portfolio.

    tl;dr tell me good things about your school/instructors.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Thanked 337 Times in 227 Posts
    After attending a few art schools I've had my share of both. Its tough to be so hard on the instructors that were not very good,they seem to just be the product of a failing art system.

    The one teacher to stand out far above them all would be Myron Barnstone. Even though my time at his studios was brief I was exposed to so much information that I haven't seen taught anywhere else. It really did change my life.

    Frank Terry was a fantastic animation instructor.His heart was truly in it.

    Leo Monahan was a demanding and effective design much cut paper

    from there it sort of gets fuzzy, some bad, some ok, some just didn't show up it's been quite a mixed bag
    "Talent is a word found in the mouth of the lazy to dismiss the hard work of those who have achieved."
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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Thanked 4,921 Times in 2,548 Posts
    I would say you were very fortunate to be in a Department that valued teaching. Many "fine art" departments don't, which is why you hear such negative experiences from people who really want to learn something. I had a couple very good teachers but it was in the graphic design and illustration department. Right now I'm taking an excellent figure drawing class at the local JC. It just depends on the orientation of the department at any particular school.
    What would Caravaggio do?

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Athens, Greece
    Thanked 236 Times in 151 Posts
    The only kind of art education I have had was in the form of a few months of practice at an atelier-type place. They don't have an educational program to turn people into painters, they just teach people how to replicate some subject as good as possible in order to pass the exams to enter the school of fine art here. There is no private art education here. At least no place that's worth anything.

    The guy who owns the place is considered a good teacher around here, but he never really taught anyone. I was considered a more 'advanced' student and besides his daily hello's and some chat about when he travelled to america and wanted my opinion about some stuff, he never instructed me. All I remember was when he asked why I was smuding a charcoal drawing, smoothening out the edges on the chest of a cast, making the shapes have a more smooth transition from light to dark. As if it weren't obvious why I was doing it.

    The other 2 or three younger teachers there understood my goals and at times gave me some instruction but mostly about things I was going to do, for instance I might be in the stage of seperating light from shadow and because I may have also drawn in some smaller forms they would come and say 'these should be darker' and I would go 'I know, but I've just begun dividing light from shadow, I'll get to that' and they'd go 'Oh, sorry I didn't realize'.

    The trouble was the lack of practical knowlege. People would be puzzled as to how one should use a piece of charcoal and why this and that happened and all they would indstruct was that we shouldn't worry and practice would make us understand. I'm not saying that it doesn't but hey if I am paying just for the space and no direction and discover the workings of a medium that's been used for the past 500 all by myself, then let me pay half the price and the teachers can go home.

    Also, another thing that bothers me is the vagueness of instruction. It's always a bunch of vague intangible meanings. Now, I am not saying that this isn't part of it, but hey, when you want to instruct you'd better be able to make things tangible. My piece has something practical on it that's wrong, and not the aura of the ghost of the corners of the barrel.

    Needless to say, they never really felt I was supposed to be there. They always pointed out that since I am interested in being an illustrator that their place was useless to me. Well, in the end I guess they were right, but for the wrong reasons.

    It's weird how 'fine artists' can sometimes be more of philosophers or like Bhuddist monks, speaking in riddles, than actual craftsmen, with practical tools and technical abilities and knowlege.

    And I suppose that this is where much of the bad rep art teachers get comes from. Teaching is a skill, it takes a certain type of method to be able to transfer knowlege to a person, it isn't easy. Add artists who act like they are in a classroom teaching chants to correct reincarnation rather than practical ways to cultivate a skill, and you have a pretty dissapointing bad art teacher. It takes more motivation and personal effort from the student in the end, rendering the teacher useless, that helps one actually grow.
    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
    RIP Frank.

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