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December 28, 2012
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What makes a good art teacher?

:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I've written this journal entry titled "How to be a good art teacher" [link] What do you think makes a good art teacher? What do you want to see your art teachers do?
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:iconvashneo28:
vashneo28 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist
Hi im new here at devianart you can visit my gallery at [link] much appreciate if you have fav and comments thank you dear...
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:icontokkitogepi:
Tokkitogepi Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I think emphasis on one's individual perspective and enhancing their own style is important. While letting people be unique, I think it's still important to understand basics such as structure, shading, quality, etc. that can be seen in any style of art.
I'm completely a self-taught artist, and have fed off of the critique/comments I've received throughout my life. A lot of it comes down to finally having that 'click' when something just makes sense and looks right ^u^ sometimes that comes fast for people, and for others it's much slower. I think patience with art is the most important
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Absolutely! I couldn't agree more.
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:iconyukih:
YukiH Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013
To add on, I read both that post and the one directed towards students.

Since I've been in college (not studying art) a lot of the things mentioned on both sides are relevant to any teacher.
One thing that seems more specific to visual art (and maybe writing...) more than any other field in terms of teaching seems to be being able to see the way a student sees and tailor to their specific concerns and figure out their concerns before they even arise in the first place! I see that concept more with people who have completed schooling and are now are working with developing a product for clients.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for reading! I'm actually working on a book that addresses how closely related the student experience is to the teacher experience. Thanks for reaffirming!
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:iconchronos-kun:
Chronos-Kun Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Student Digital Artist
The top teachers I have gotten the most out of are the humble, wise, extremely knowledgeable/experienced in the field, and super fun, but still lead with a stern hand. These are also teachers whom do not judge or argue against a student's thought process, but simply guide them through it and help the student the best way that is possible in regards to fulfilling the student's vision. These teachers/professors have also unloaded a double barrel too the head, and given harsh but extremely beneficial and motivating advice during critique, and most of all, wisdom that has usually been about their experiences in the professional field and what to expect/ is required of you. which in turn lead to cool life stories and a healthy dosage of informative growth as an art student. ^_^

It's a happy medium so to say, and it is rare to find such people, but it is something that comes with growing life experience and good people skills. With that said, let those whom seek advice/to learn from you, be welcomed, always, with a smile, open arms, and a truck load of advice/wisdom that the student might crave ever so much from a teacher.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Beautifully said!
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:iconcrimsonmagpie:
CrimsonMagpie Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
An impressively decent level of artistic talent is a must I think; it's all well and good having all the teaching qualifications, but they mean little if one is not highly proficient in the subject being taught. Especially for an art teacher, I think being able to lead by example is a must. 

I'm sure I could say a lot more, but I'm sure it's already been said here. =p
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I think that's very true, there's nothing more discouraging than seeing your teacher's work and thinking it's not very good.
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:iconcrimsonmagpie:
CrimsonMagpie Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed. I had three main tutors at college, and although their styles weren't the kind of thing I favor, it was obvious that they were good, and that they knew what they were doing. :nod:
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Yes, instilling that sense of confidence in an instructor's abilities is comforting and inspiring for students.
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:icondfx4509b:
DFX4509B Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, aside from the obvious certifications and stuff...

1) Does as much hands-on projects as possible.
2) Patience is a must, and artistic talent don't hurt either.
3) A fun personality.
4) Can come up with a few techniques themselves to teach the students.
5) Can work with all age groups and come up with projects for all age groups.
6) Can use traditional media as well as digital art software, both closed and open-source.

And that's about it.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Great list! I especially like #3.
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:icondfx4509b:
DFX4509B Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
And the more hands-on stuff, the better, and that doesn't only include drawing, painting, sculpture, or pottery, but crafts in a way too, as crafts, if done correctly and with enough creativity, count as art as well.
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:icondfx4509b:
DFX4509B Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! If you have a fun personality and slightly playful attitude as an art teacher, you'll be more likely to be liked by your students, especially if your class consists of all age groups.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Personality really does go a long way!
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:icondfx4509b:
DFX4509B Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A good project for pretty much any age group: splatter art, it looks cool, and it's a blast to paint in that style, and if someone volunteers to be a human canvas, that would make it even more fun.

Also, painting with $10 RC cars as well.
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:icondelphineapollo:
DelphineApollo Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I really haven't been to any art classes that had teaches that I would ever consider good. They praised everyone and refuse to critique or make excuses about how art was subjective when I asked for help regarding technical skill. It was impossible to fail these classes even if you refused to show up.

I really see a good art teacher as one who does not give compliments and points out exactly what is wrong with the work. I'd also like to see a person who just doesn't throw out resources then shrugs when they don't help. I've never seen this but I'd really want to study someone who favors technical skill above all else.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I don't agree that a good teacher shouldn't give compliments. Compliments and words of encouragement are vital to the teaching process. I think the issue is when people compliment too much. When you see that a teacher likes everything, compliments from them become meaningless. I prefer it when compliments are a rarity- so that when they occur they are really something special.
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:iconnarwalmilk:
Narwalmilk Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Student General Artist
To me, a really good art teacher is someone who's truly passionate about what they teach, and who isn't afraid to criticise the students work.
For example my fine art teacher at college is very outspoken and at first he comes across as quite harsh, but what he says is genuinely helpful if you can handle criticism.
Also, he actually congratulates and respects you for taking the criticism well, and is very enthusiastic about what's working well in a piece which makes you feel good despite knowing that you have areas to improve.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
He sounds terrific! I'm always happy to hear about positive experiences people with art teachers, as unfortunately there are so many people who have negative experiences.
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:iconnarwalmilk:
Narwalmilk Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Student General Artist
Yes, I think I'm quite lucky in that I go to a college where the staff seem to genuinely love their jobs and that really comes across when they're teaching. :)
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:iconvisionoftheworld:
VISIONOFTHEWORLD Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
Already I see multiple issues with your prescriptive strictures on how a perfect art teacher is supposed to be. Basically, they would have to be a perfect human being- and I guarantee you that your standards for "great teacher" conflict with other students' standards- often which amount to little more than "Give me an A on everything I do!" I taught briefly, I have presented my work to others in architecture, and have been asked advice by fellow students in grad school and there is no way I've been consistent, reliable, or supportive all of the time, every time, without fail. I'm the kind of person who sometimes starts out soft with people and then turns into a monster- OR starts out a monster and then spends months trying to walk it back to softness... nothing works, it's very tough to please people and when you're already someone who doesnt really want to please people anyway- then it's hard to predict what happens.
From what I observe from my arch- teachers, I don't understand where your #1 comes from. Be reliable about what? What is expected to be 'done' when students want it? You've got it backwards- the teacher is there to give an assignment and be a guide- it is the student's job to get it "done". The student owes the teacher the assignment, owes their own career a good effort, and owes the rest of the class an explanation in their presentation. The teacher owes nothing but their eyes and ears.
I think students need to learn their place, and that it isn't telling the teacher how to teach. It's to shut up and paint. Or shut up and draw. To shut up and DELIVER. That's how art school, and similarly architecture school- works. If you can't deliver, then you don't belong in that profession. It is too difficult for any teacher to have a written list of things to follow to have in their minds each day, and it takes many years being a professor to gain a consistency. So much trial and error goes into making that consistency. And the tougher they are on students, the less forgiving, the more strict- the better the work will be. I watched one of my arch professors lay down all these ridiculous and unreasonable dictats about our projects, and everyone was always stressed out. When it came time to design, many of them didn't know where to start or what to do and would beg him for help and then complain about what he said.
I never had this problem. He'd come over to my work area, stand far back, say "It looks like you know what you want" and I grin and say yep, and he nods and only answers any specific questions relating to technical stuff. I know what I want to design, and I know how to design- that's why I wanted to be there. If I had no idea what I wanted I wouldn't have joined. So you need to make an important distinction- between good teacher or GOOD STUDENT. A good student never has a problem with any professor no matter their style. Because that student knows what they want in their portfolio and knows their design ideas and believes in what they believe. The teachers' difference in style is no different to them than the color of the walls in the classroom.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
To be more clear, this list was in no way intended to dictate precisely what a "perfect" art teacher is, as there is no such thing. I think you and I must hold different definitions of what "reliable", "consistent", and "supportive" mean. In my experience in the visual arts field, I know a number of professionals and students who to me are all of these things without fail. I strongly disagree that teaching is about pleasing people, if that's what you think it's about you've got it wrong.

Perhaps I was not as succinct as I intended to be in #1. Be reliable means sticking to your word. If you say you are going to do something, then do it, don't flake out and disappoint your students by not owning up to your word.

I don't believe that students need to "learn their place," or that they need to "shut up and draw". I think that's insulting to everyone involved. I believe that the experience of learning is a mutual exchange between teacher and student. It's a dialogue and open conversation between all of us.

It sounds to me from what you described that you didn't get much out of your professor if all he said to you was "it looks like you know what you want" and then moved on. I also find it appalling that you seem so convinced that you "know what to design" and that you "know exactly what you want". The best artists I know are the ones who are constantly questioning their own creative skills and desires.

Good students are smart, humble, strong willed, driven, and hardworking, and have many other positive attributes that I'm probably leaving out here. Good students can and will have problems with professors. They can spot a bad teacher from a mile away.
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:iconvisionoftheworld:
VISIONOFTHEWORLD Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012
You still have me confused... if you read everything I said, it should be clear that I do not think being a teacher is about pleasing people, you really should read what I have said not to react to just the first three sentences. It is really important. I guess if there was any major critique I would give to any teacher- it is that I don't think they read my paper or looked thoroughly at my work.

When you say be reliable means sticking to your word- I'm still confused again- sticking to WHAT word? Teachers flaking out on what specifically? Like I have made very clear- it's up to the STUDENT not to flake out and to put their effort forward, not to demand perfection from the teacher.

I massively MASSiVELY disagree that you find it appalling that I say I know how to design. That is utterly absurd, and pretty awful way to think. I do know how to design, and having confidence in one's work is precisely what goes into success as a designer, and also as an artist. Questioning ones talent and creative skills does not mean someone is good at something. Questioning one self to question their very talent seems a little insecure to me. When I say I know and understand something, does not mean I think it's always good- which is why I enjoy teachers who let me design and step back. I got a lot out of that teacher because he did make suggestions and warned me about the path I went down with my design. In the end, I did what I wanted and he gave me a B- but I had the best project in the class and still do.

Being humble has nothing to do with being a good student... again, you really need to read what I have said. Please do not tell me you read it, and "didn't understand." It is in plain English. There is nothing to rephrase.
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:iconfernoll:
Fernoll Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
Interesting question indeed, and like the others, i'll answere from my own experience.
There's this teacher i've been studying under for the past few years, and what makes him a good art teacher is:

1. Patience and persistance- He is very forgiving when it comes to making mistakes, but he'll insist and keep fighting with you until you overcome those mistakes, and push your limits ever further.

2. Personal and technical development- to put it shortly, and i quote him: "Draw whatever you like. But also do the homework i give you, it'll help you develop."

3. Building in cycles- Once you're "done" learning anatomy, composition, toning etc. he'll move on with you. But you can expect to come back to those subjects to build on them even further.

4. Communication- A must for a good teacher.
Mine has a certein charisma and he speaks in a very level headed manner to students. No point teaching if you can't get your point across. More than this; he says that his students that are the hardest to reach and teach actually made him develop new methods for teaching, which works well on everyone else as well.

5. Results- That's what were here for in the end for, right?
My teacher keeps around early and late works of some students, and there are always oil paintings in progress by students lying around. If you study under someone, look back at works from 6 months ago, and see the huge development you made, then you might have something there.

6. Knowledge- Not just technical, but also theoretical.
Mine has a pretty thorough knowledge of classic, and to some extent, modern artist. He read many of their biographies and written letters they sent to eachother, and thus he has lots of interesting stories to tell- It's somewhat hard to explain.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Wonderful to hear, he sounds like a terrific teacher! Thank you for sharing in so much depth his approach and techniques.It's definitely given me a lot to think about.
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:iconsarahjaderoseblood:
sarahjaderoseblood Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
be as talntid as me
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:iconkafine:
kafine Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012   General Artist
I was asked to "teach" a 5 year old aquaintance recently and it didn't exactly end up as me teaching her (she definately lead the session ha ha). But as we were painting I was thinking about what it would be like to teach kids painting, and I think I would find it very difficult because it was so hard to find where her strengths were as she was so far behind me. If someone is good at painting and makes a mistake it's usually easy to pick out. But if someone is terrible, where do you start? I think it must be a skill paticular to art teachers to recognise the positives and find ways to be constructive about the work of youngsters and other beginners.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
You bring up a really good point. While it definitely has it's own set of challenges, I actually think that teaching advanced students is "easier" than teaching beginning students. Beginning students are the toughest to teach simply because there is just so much to cover, where do you start? I think boiling it down to a few simple directives is a good place to start, so as not to overwhelm, which is the danger with beginning students.
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:iconsarosna:
Sarosna Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I can only answer on the basis of what my high school's art teacher was like:

1. Compliment and critique on a rational level - Constructive critisism teaches. Personal dislikes and likes? Not so much.

2. Concentrate on a students strong points - Recognize the best attributes of a student and encourage them to improve.

3. Suggest new things but don't force them on a student - Learning new things is important in art but forcing students to do things outside their comfort zone does pretty much...nothing. We all have our own style and it should be respected.

And yes, there is a story behind these points. Basically, to summarize, this was my art teacher in high school:
"Urgh...why do you always draw in black and white? I think you should start coloring your work to make it less gloomy."
"Colored pencils again? Why don't you try watercolors? *I* love watercolors!"
"Oh, you don't like watercolors? That's allright, just keep using them and you might learn to like them!"
"You mean you really, seriously, TRULY don't like watercolors? That's allright. Just keep using them because...I'm just going to give you sevens for all your black&white pieces because I PERSONALLY don't like them!"
"Oh you drew another monster? Is there something wrong with you? How about you draw something like...I don't know...a fruit platter? Simply because *I* like fruit platters."

Gah, no wonder I stopped drawing for years. I can't help but wonder how good I would be today if my art teacher would've been different...
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Unfortunately there are so many people with stories like this. There are so many awful teachers out there who ruin it for everyone. I hope you've been able to get back on track, despite having a bad teacher!
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:icondfx4509b:
DFX4509B Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yep. Unfortunately. I would try to be the total opposite though, teach the class, have a tiny bit of a curriculum, but allow full creativity, and allow the students to really come up with their own projects.

What I would say: "Just do your own thing, and use whatever materials you want, however if you do splatter art, don't try aiming at me unless you wanna get splattered with paint too. :lol:"
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:iconmad-shrewd:
mad-shrewd Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
Honestly, that's a tough question. From my personal experience, I think that there isn't really a perfect teacher. I've had teachers in multiple different genres teaching me. I started with those wonderful Ed Emberly books, which were so simple you didn't actually need him to be there.

Later, I took drafting, which deeply influenced by sense of perspective, these days even my "flat" cartoons have a sense of space to them.

And tons of time spent behind a camera lens.

Last I had a course on painting which taught me a ton about the use of color to make an image that has a real sense of depth to it.

So, I would have to say, that somebody who has taken the time to master one or more areas and who can share the tricks they've learned without stifling ones interest in experimentation. But who will force you to learn the basic fundamentals even when they're dull.

Hmm, probably not a great answer.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
It IS a tough question, with infinite answers! Which is why I find it so endlessly fascinating. I had the Ed Emberly books too when I was a kid, and absolutely loved them. He managed to find a way to break down complex things and ideas into simple directives, something that I feel the best teachers do well.

I think your answer was great, gave me a lot to ponder over.
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:icongyr633:
Gyr633 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
A good art teacher is someone who teaches you something you didn't know, someone you can talk to, and someone ho helps you improve your art, all the while respecting your opinions.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I think the respecting opinions part is really, really important. Mutual respect between the teacher and student fosters a great relationship.
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:icongyr633:
Gyr633 Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Yes, very true!
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:iconopiumtraum:
opiumtraum Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012
Patience.
Not assuming that a student knows something, & not getting all pissy when it turns out a student doesn't know something the teacher thinks he/she should know.
Allows the student to find their own "voice" vs turning them into little mini-versions of themselves, though mostly, I think students to that to themselves.
Encourages a student without bullying a student

The one thing I'd always wished a teacher would do was go into the whys of things. Why do I need to learn X? How does this relate to what I'm so sure (because I'm a student & a teenager so I'm probably a know-it-all) I'm going to be doing in the future? I had a print-making teacher who always chanted "Darker darks. Darker darks." I don't remember him ever saying contrast makes for a more interesting print. Without contrast you just have grey. Oh.

I did eventually figure it out.
I also had a teacher, who once he knew what I could do, wouldn't let me get away with doing anything less. I really liked that. Positive & tough at the same time. Don't bring me anything less than your best. Words to live by.
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:iconkafine:
kafine Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012   General Artist
"Not assuming that a student knows something, & not getting all pissy when it turns out a student doesn't know something the teacher thinks he/she should know.
Allows the student to find their own "voice" vs turning them into little mini-versions of themselves, though mostly, I think students to that to themselves.
Encourages a student without bullying a student"


Ahaha did you have the same teacher as me, there? I know someone who neatly failed all of these points. "Pissy" was exactly how I'd desribe his response to my questions about printing parameters that I'd never encountered before. In a general illustration class he only responded positively to people who made comics because he made comics. This man's only comment on my figure drawing was that they always looked like hobbits. He should not have been teaching.
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:iconopiumtraum:
opiumtraum Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
I had a figure drawing prof at the local Jr college who evidently took his move from NY to the MD suburbs as a great step downward- & took it out on the students.

In college I had a prof who was pretty intimidating & a lot of people took to emulating him. I talked with him enough to know he didn't want that...his "intimidation" was just he took art seriously, passionately & that's how he approached his students. I fought with him constantly (in a good way) & probably by struggling to understand what he was trying to get me to do, I learned a lot.

I tend to be a little slow sometimes when it comes to art. A teacher tries to get me to understand something- 2 years later the light bulb switches on.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I wouldn't classify that as slow. I still have moments even today when I think to myself "OH! That's what they were trying to tell me."
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:iconopiumtraum:
opiumtraum Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012
Yeah. I don't consider myself slow as in intellectually challenged...I just believe it takes a while for things to "sink in". I think there are two ways of knowing something- you can know something intellectually/conceptually & you can know something intuitively or in your gut, but you really don't know something until the intellectual knowing & the intuitive knowing sync up- then you might know something. That can take a while to happen.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Really well said, I couldn't agree with you more! I still think you're not giving yourself enough credit. :)
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:iconruthmcgleish:
RuthMcGleish Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012
Support, encouragement to be risk-takers. but also someone who is kind and understanding. Patiences is a big thing as well, if there is a situation then I feel that a teacher should be able to understand all sides of the story. And I believe that a good art teacher would be rounded in all forms and types of art. Not just "This is art and if you do not make this then you are not making art"
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Great points! I especially believe in what you said about being kind and understanding, that's key.
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:iconruthmcgleish:
RuthMcGleish Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012
For sure!!! :nod:
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:icontheartofcbyoung:
TheArtOfCBYoung Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Someone who can encourage creativity, while still putting a strong emphasis on technique, theory, and the basic principles of design. All too often I've seen teachers who are so caught up in technique, that they don't encourage students to explore. Or, just as bad, teachers who are so caught up in the creative aspect that they forget that technique and technical skill is just as important--and that both need to be taught in equal abundance.
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:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Well said, I think one really important part of being an effective teacher is to achieve balance between all things.
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:iconsquadhillie:
Squadhillie Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A good art teacher understands that everyone has their own style and that art is a form of expression and has no certain "rules" to it.

my current art teacher sucks :/
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