I've been teaching on and off now for the past 20 plus years. At first I was petrified. In fact I really feel sorry for the first students I had back in the early 90's at BYU - I wasn't very good at my craft which caused my teaching to suffer. I hadn't put in enough time to formulate my opinions about image creation.
Fast forward to today - boy am I glad I didn't quit after those first few teaching experiences! I strongly believe in exposure therapy. Afraid to skydive? Go skydiving a bunch of times. I really believe that if you're committed to helping your students learn it will improve your understanding of the subject 10 fold - especially in a subjective subject like art.
The process: You do something that's working in your painting. You have to explain it to someone else. You have to formulate words to describe your process. You hear your own words like you've never heard them before. You make a stronger connection. You make other connections to other principles. You now have to live by those principles for accountability to your students. Your art making improves. Rinse & repeat.
But is doesn't stop there. Because as you help someone else attain the satisfaction you have gained you are rewarded emotionally as well. The connections are so much a part of the teaching. Feeling like you can make a difference in the lives of others is priceless. I have made many friends over the years from some of my former students- and can you have too many friends?
And it doesn't stop there either because it has helped me heal. I've talked about my horrible public school experience as a child here on my blog in the past so I won't go into it again - but finding what you're good at and feeling valuable doing it has been very therapeutic.
I can't begin to tell you how rewarding it has been to teach at UVU and be able to start Folio Academy with Wayne Andreason and now SVS with Jake Parker. To be able to dream up a class and offer it online is such an amazing turn for me. When we get together the ideas just start flowing and we think of all kinds of classes. Early next year we plan to offer a "Luminous Color & Light" class. You can check out our Digital Painting class here.
My suggestion to artists: Start by mentoring another artists or volunteer at a community art program. Donate your time at various art events and offer pointers. You'll be amazed at how it will inspire you to want to create more...and you might find yourself teaching at an institution or online sometime down the road. The world is getting connected and if you embrace it - it will embrace you.
The image above was created for both my UVU Children's book class & my SVS critique class. I gave both groups the same assignment and I decided to solve it as well - too much fun!