Remembering the heart of the artist

As I teach art, I have to contstantly remind myself why I love art, what draws me to an image, what motivates me to create and how to convey that to my students. The process of making art is a sense of wonder and the desire to communicate what you are seeing from your perspective.

Many times, I will teach a student to copy a technique, or an image so he or she can see the line quality, the colors, the placement, and the porportions used in the original work. This teaching technique is sometimes criticized, but a child learns to speak by listening and mimicking the world. The criticism often will occur because a student will stop at the stage of copying and no individual growth will occur. Most students will focus too much on copying something perfectly. Basically the student will get frustrated because something is not turning out they way they imagined it. The student needs to be comforted that art is a process not an end result. To acquire the ability to create art and convey an idea is a process. A process that changes each time you practice it. A process that requires patience.

The next step is to teach the student to explore the technique and give it his or her unique touch. The student will toggle back and forth between copying and creating an artwork that exhibits the unique touch of the student. There is nothing wrong with this technique and practice and our job as an art teacher is to move the student away from the former so the later is explored more and more. The student will begin to experience great satisfaction when his or her personal touch starts to become more dominant.

I still will copy a technique or an artists style because I am attracted to the art. I want to explore the technique used that has drawn my eye. Sometimes it is seen as magical and I want to crack open the secret that makes that particular work so amazing. It’s like learning the mystery behind a magic trick. But, we do have to be careful; sometimes after unvailing the secret, the wonder is lost.

So, we want to pass on that same sense of wonder to others who are wanting to learn how to create art. There are the moments when we show an art student a technique and they are so grateful that you have shared that secret; the secret that communicates an illusion, which can be an illusion of depth, of perspective, of reality or of an idea. That is what I call the “Aha” moment. That is an excting moment. It’s a moment when the student has realized that you have given them the power and the tools to convey what they want to create. The desire to create is the beginning and the learned know how is the means to fulfill that desire.

Remembering the heart of the artist not only within your student, but also within yourself is what keeps the process and the desire to keep creating. If you are stuck or experiencing a dry spell evaluate your heart and ask yourself what it is you want to create. What is the motivation behind the next project or the project you are currently stuck in? Maybe you need to go back to the mystery and wonder of art that got your artist heart beating in the first place.

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