Monday, September 23, 2013

What Teaching Has Given Me!


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!

18 comments:

  1. Oh man, Will! I forgot to tell you... I taught my FIRST art class ever this past week! It just dropped into my lap from outta the blue: volunteer work teaching a one-hour lesson to elementary grade students. I was thrilled and scared but mostly to-the-moon excited! I had a great turn out, but the parents came too so I was pretty nervous. I drew terrible art up on the board and lost half of my students in the explanation but... we made art together!
    In the end the staff at the school AND the parents loved me! And the kids loved the art they made! It made me so so so so so so SO happy I wanted to hug myself and cry tears of joy! And I had never really considered teaching art as part of my future career.

    So yeah. I really liked reading your blog entry today and I loved my little teaching experience. I'm hoping for more opportunities like that in the future and who knows? Maybe someday I'll have my own little class of illustrators and I'll be telling them, "You can do it!" like you always say to us. ^_^

    Thanks for everything, teach. It really is a brilliant path we walk, isn't it? In fact, sometimes I wonder how all those non-artists get around in life... sad really...
    (just kidding though)

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    1. That's awesome Rachael! Each experience brings you closer!...and you always get the rewards...even if you don't think you do.

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  2. Thanks for this great post, Terry. I'm going to be mentoring someone. And like you, I've been a guest on Mark's online "Marks and Splashes" illustration class. I'm finding it to be a really good experience.

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    1. That's great Theresa - Mark is top shelf!

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  3. Wonderful art work Terry. I like the idea of teaching a class on the light class.

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  4. I'm so glad you kept teaching too...and that you share so much here on your blog! I just filled out my application for a Master's program. They asked who I admired as an artist. I put you! You are so inspiring :)

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  5. I love this! Its so great to hear about your experiences. I really want to start teaching. I've started applying to work as an adjunct faculty at a college. I hope I can start soon. It's exciting and scary! But then, I've already done a lot of teaching, I think, through presentations, my blog, and critique group. So I hope to teach and grow as an artist as well. Thanks for always inspiring!

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    1. I'll bet you'll be awesome Shawna - just from the time I've known you I can tell that you care and are capable - the two most important ingredients! :)

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  6. We are so positively agreed on this Will, are you sure I didn't write this for you? The best thing I've ever done is to teach. To bring out what you're verbalizing and thinking and exposing it to the light of day; solidifying strengths and discover what really doesn't work, it's all good and comes out when you have to 'splain yourself Lucy. Above and beyond that ABSOULUTELY! EMBRACE YOUR FEARS (or the hands you avoid drawing because they're "too hard" or that elevator ride. It is the only way to NOT be controlled by them. And often it's surprising how capable, competent, etc you actually are. I don't push people when they aren't ready because that does develop phobias. but preparing people to stretch their boundaries and then opening a window, well there's hardly a few things better. Lova ya man!

    Agy

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  7. We are so positively agreed on this Will, are you sure I didn't write this for you? The best thing I've ever done is to teach. To bring out what you're verbalizing and thinking and exposing it to the light of day; solidifying strengths and discover what really doesn't work, it's all good and comes out when you have to 'splain yourself Lucy. Above and beyond that ABSOULUTELY! EMBRACE YOUR FEARS (or the hands you avoid drawing because they're "too hard" or that elevator ride. It is the only way to NOT be controlled by them. And often it's surprising how capable, competent, etc you actually are. I don't push people when they aren't ready because that does develop phobias. but preparing people to stretch their boundaries and then opening a window, well there's hardly a few things better. Lova ya man!

    Agy

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  8. oh wow. someday, i'd love to be an art teacher too~ you are an inspiration. But i havent attended any art school in my life, so i dont know how things go. It'd be great if I had you for a teacher. ^^

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    1. Thank you Anne - Your portfolio is the first step - look at a lot of other great art that inspires you - deconstruct it - copy it for practice - put it away - work on your own ideas - people will be drawn to learn from you.

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  9. Everything you said above is so true. I wish you great success in your online teaching. That's a great avenue!

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    1. Thank you Nicole! The world is changing so fast - I think we're going to see artists learning from artists all over the world.

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  10. As one of your former students, you know that I hold you in very high regard. You changed my life and I have been privileged to learn from you. Thank you for dedicating your time and talents to helping others learn how to access their creativity. I don't exaggerate when I say that you are my hero.

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