Monday, October 29, 2012

On teaching and Learning

I'm sitting here in New York watching Sandy. Safe and dry.

And I have picked up the paint I ordered to be delivered to my daughter. Began thinking about the famous teachers of the New York Student League, including David Leffel and Gregg Kretz. Then I thought about the people I have studied with. Maybe 25 in total. Most were a waste of time. Knew little or nothing, were at best entertainers. Luckily my first teacher was very knowledgeable. But what about all those people taking lessons from the others? Rather sad. When I teach I encounter many of them. Absorbs you trying to break through the bad habits and misinformation.

So how might you tell who is good before wasting your time? Remember, some can paint and can't teach. Here are some considerations.

Certificates and other qualifications mean little. Harold taught the university teachers how to paint, never mind how to teach!
Time painting or teaching mean little. Practiced bad habits don't count.
A long history of taken workshops means little.
If you hear "this is THE way to...." run for the hills.
Formula approaches don't get you on the way to learning to paint.
The application of constructive truth from the teacher is fundamental.
Consider the reference from a reputable artist who tells the truth.

Consider your expectations. Learning to paint in order to become an artist is a trip. A long one. No short cuts.
Workshops are at best for learning one small element or skill. There is no followup so the ability to internalize the lesson depends on you alone, and practice. Courses are a little better.

The full trip can be enhanced by a good mentor. They put you in a position to learn, but you must do the work. As Robert Genn says, "go to your room and paint". Anything that distracts you from that slows the development process. That includes a focus on selling, doing juried shows etc. Involve your mentor.

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