I have recently been studying to become a teacher and have spent some time at various art schools observing and doing some teaching of my own. I would like to share some of my thoughts here. I'm sure these subjects have been mulled over in one form or another on this forum yet I find it interesting to discus these matters. I apologise if these kinds of discussions have been done to death already.
My observations lead me to question whether or not there is any place for one such as myself at these art schools. I get the impression that not many schools are interested in the kind of art teaching that I would like to offer. My main concern is that a lot of schools seem to focus on cultivating some kind of abstract artistic quality rather then giving the students a solid understanding of the basic techniques in art (how to paint, draw, sculpt and so on). I have yet to meet someone who can really describe this abstract quality so it can be understood. I had a discussion with one teacher who claimed to be uninterested in such things as composition, perspective, colour theory (and so on) but instead wanted to teach some kind of creative thinking that couldn't really be explained. Skills like composition were refereed to as being shallow and boring. I also noticed that often during reviews of student work not one word was said about the technical execution or how they could improve their craft. It was all more or less philosophical talk about “this shade of green means this and that..”. Such discussions can be interesting but I find it problematic when they become the be all and end all of art education.
Some teachers appear to harbor some resentment towards representational art. For example I have observed teachers speak negatively and almost hostile to students that strive to create realistic representational art. They say things like “your art is shallow. You should paint more abstract” or “Why are you sculpting a horse? Oh, because you like horses? That's not exceptable. This is ugly and boring.” Some I spoke with expressed the view that they did not need to learn to paint “properly” because that would hinder them from investing real emotion and meaning into their art.
For some it seems that one must chose between being a more abstract “free” artist and creating “real “ art that says something or being someone who just paints still life all day. I think that one can (and should) be something in-between. Technical skills without imagination and interesting ideas can be boring yes but interesting ideas without the skill and experience to realise them is no better.
Of course I have not visited every art school there is. And only some here in Sweden. I have heard tough that this style of teaching and view of art is fairly common.I realise that my own preferences in art play a large part in how I interpret my experiences. I try to view things from other peoples perspective too.
So, what is there to discuss? I guess if anyone agrees, disagrees or has experience of being a art teacher/student under similar conditions it would be interesting to hear about.