Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning and teaching

Vulture - in progress
coloured pencil on Strathmore sketchpad 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Why is it that when you start something as a doodle almost it turns out well, but if you started the sme thing seriously, you'd fight with it for hours to get it right?

I was awake at 4:30 this morning and found this image of a youthful vulture (I think). I like the shapes and unique look to the bird so started drawing it. I pulled out an old sketchpad that obviously something hard had leaned on for awhile, as it has an indentation in the lower right side as you can see. And, of course the drawing is coming along quite nicely. It always seems to do that on bad paper.

I may be brave and transfer it to another sheet of paper or more likely I will turn it into a learning piece, bad paper and all.

So do we learn from our mistakes? Yes, I believe that most of us do. The learning process is all about trial and error, whether art or anything else. Of course the older we are, the more the world expects of us. They believe that older people have a greater bed of knowledge, skills and expertise, whereas we are still in a learning phase, albeit a slower one sometimes.

Because I am relatively new to teaching art, but am in my 50s, people think that I've been teaching for many years. I'm still learning that process at times and some of my students are my guinea pigs (sorry folks, but I do pre-warn you!). I do have a long period of art experience behind me though and that helps me over the humps - or at least I act well when necessary.

However, there is a world of difference between those who can draw or paint and think they can teach compared to those who can draw and paint and are able to effectively impart the knowledge and skills to others. I don't profess to be either at the moment. Feedback tells me that I do get knowledge and skills across to students and progress is made, so that's a good thing. They don't go running from the room when they hear that I'm the instructor. I believe a good teacher has a variety of skills beside her knowledge of the subject material. A teacher needs to have a strong interest in coaxing the best out of a student, supplying them with the knowledge and skills to do so and encouraging them to surpass her in ability and knowledge.

I think back to teachers who I have had and the ones that I learned the most from were skilled, empathetic, non competitive with the student, insisted on making me test the waters of areas I was uncomfortable with, praised, scolded and encouraged me both during and after my time with them.

These are people that you don't forget. These are the people who impact your art and your life.


Rose Welty said...


I had to laugh about the paper - I have done that sort of thing so many times. I wish you the best in transferring it!

You, my friend, are what they call a "natural" - a natural teacher, that's why people subscribe to your blog, that and the fact that your artwork is entrancing! You have nothing to worry about on either front.

Teresa Mallen said...

Oooh Jeanette, you are at the 'juicy' stage - when you snapped that last picture of your vulture wip. I find it a yummy, delicious stage when those first layers of colour start coming together and you can sense depth. He is a mighty fine vulture.

Can the dent be ironed out? I have had success using an iron (obviously at a low temp., perhaps with a cloth between the iron and the paper. This can't cure a really bad crease but it might be worth a try).

Hey, with regards to the teaching thing...I agree with Rose. You communicate your process very well. Add to that, you care if your students learn and you seek to encourage. I believe that is all it takes...and if you can 'act' when necessary, all the better! :-)

Jeanette said...

Thanks Rose for the kind comments. I try to put myself on the other side of the table as it were and understand what people are trying to accomplish.

Juicy is a good word for it Teresa! Its even juicier now. :) Thanks for the tip about trying to iron out the crease. I'll see what happens.

Something like ironing our hair way back in the day. No, you're too young to remember that, but I do remember doing it to a friend's hair. So it should work on the paper!

Jo Castillo said...

Such good advice and lovely ?? bird. :) Good job.

Anonymous said...

Although I've never met you I person, I imagine you'd be a wonderful teacher.

Having taught for 10 years, it seems like the good teachers were the ones concerned about improving their effectiveness.

Just the fact you recognize the qualities of a good teacher is enough to show you're there.