My main function as a studio art instructor is to facilitate student learning. This is done on an intuitive level for me at this point. However, I will provide with words what happens in a studio setting.
I will use a Beginning Drawing class as a model for explaining my teaching beliefs and style. Some examples of what occurs during a learning episode will illustrate the direction that learning takes in one of my classes. Although the class is labeled as Beginning Drawing, the levels of proficiency in drawing may be as diverse as the students themselves. After completion of the first drawing session, I make mental notes on the level of each student. These observations are rarely verbalized. This gives me a baseline for the level of drawing proficiency of each student. Knowing where each student falls in skill and understanding of drawing techniques allows me to teach each student according to his or her individual needs. The studio art class lends itself to this individualized method of teaching. The classroom becomes a group of students who are taught and guided individually without experiencing any judgments on their work or insecurities about their level of achievement. My favorite saying to my students is that you simply have to do the work. You must put in the time. If you are a dancer, you must complete thousands of plies. If a musician, you must complete thousands of scales. In studio art you can not reach point C without first navigating completely through point A and point B. With this in mind, I do gear my drawing classes towards students being able to manipulate the pencil and paper to reflect the object he or she is trying to draw. Each student must devote time to pencil and paper to improve his or her skills in drawing.
My classrooms remain open, nonjudgmental, and encouraging in a gentle atmosphere. While creating this atmosphere, I also require structure of assignments and regular critiques. At the college level in a Basic Drawing class, outside work is required and is assessed. My respect for students is the starting point at the beginning of each semester. So critiques, as an important part of artistic growth, remain respectful while pointing out weaknesses and strengths of the student's work. My conceptualization of teaching offers a precarious balance between encouragement and accountability.
My goals in the studio revolve around helping students value and nurture their artistic talents. What brings each student to my classroom may be different, but what binds them together is an interest in art. I help facilitate a deeper understanding of drawing techniques for each student. Implementation of my philosophy comes in the form of class demonstrations, demonstrations by guest artists, and supplemental exposure to drawings by well-known artists throughout art history. I always encourage studio art students to periodically walk through the class and observe other students' work. So much is learned in studio art classes by observing other artists working.
Another area of studio art classes that is often overlooked is the business of art. This area of teaching focuses on preserving, framing, and photographing artwork. I also offer suggestions to my students on self promotion and entering art competitions. This is an important area for any artist to be aware of for the purpose of building a portfolio.