When I interview artists who teach drawing and painting, I usually ask them what procedures have proven to be most helpful to their students. Some suggest having painters start with a limited palette so they learn how to work with each color separately, others recommend they spend a lot of time drawing before they tackle painting issues, and still others say there is no substitute for just painting a lot of pictures and practicing what you’ve learned.
I’ve never actually interviewed students in an art class or workshop to learn what piece of advice or recommended activity was most helpful to them. Perhaps they would have told me they were most satisfied with the demonstrations offered by the teacher, the stimulation of working in a studio with other serious students, the words of encouragement offered by the instructor or another artist, or the carefully planned exercises offered during each session.
If you are currently an art student or remember back to when you were, it would help me to hear from you. I would be interested in knowing what you thought was the best thing that happened in a class or workshop. Or, looking at the question from the opposite perspective, what happened that was so discouraging or frustrating that you almost dropped the course and took up basket weaving?
Thinking back to my own art education, I don’t remember specific lectures, demonstrations, or teaching techniques, but I certainly recall professors who encouraged and inspired me. Their enthusiasm was infectious, so I worked hard to learn what they were teaching. I hadn’t been a particularly good student in high school, but I graduated first in my class in college, in large part because the instructors explained their academic subjects well, shared their excitement, and believed I could succeed.
Please let me know what recollections you have about your education in art.