Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ask, And You Shall Receive...An Answer!

It's funny how life happens... 

Yesterday, I went out for the day with my writer friend, Nina and my sister to tour around and take a look at the scenery of Nova Scotia.  It was a lot of fun, and quite visually beautiful!  Since it is spring out here, the rivers are mostly open and quite high, so we saw a lot of drowned trees and river rapids on our drive.  There is a feeling of excitement and rebirth to spring that is unique to this season and very distinct in different places.  In the Maritimes, it is all about melting and things getting going again... Rebirth;-)

That was wonderful, and of course, we got lost because we set out to do so.  And I was driving, so that virtually guaranteed it!  When we ended up on secondary road going along a river we stopped and asked this sweet older lady for directions.  Just to get our bearings so we didn't end up in Yarmouth by mistake.

She got to talking with us and invited us to stop by her house for tea after we finished our photo session.  We decided to take her up on it and after we got there, Marion and Sonny (the lady and her husband) treated us to an impromptu lesson on the history of that particular area of Nova Scotia.  It was very fascinating and entertaining as they both had a great sense of humour and loved their home and province with a passion;-)
As we had tea, we found out that Marion had taken some art lessons and was interested in painting as a hobby.  An interest in art was pretty obvious as she had a few nice paintings on her walls that she had done in her classes.

So we started talking about art and painting and I had my earlier blogpost question answered, even though I wasn't really consciously seeking the answer!

Because Marion was literally 'taught' to paint with what I thought was a very strange process...  Her instructor premixed her paints for her and then had her follow along on her paintings basically by watching him paint and try to ape his movements on her canvas.

With this method of 'teaching', she ended up with paintings to put on her walls, but no personal skills to create more.  Wow.  I was horrified...

  No grasp on colour theory, no grasp on composition, no practice in drawing or the creation of forms to simulate the appearance of three dimensions using light and shadows, and no way to move forward to paint for her own enjoyment! 
So she has paintings on her walls she can look at, to say to her friends and family, 'I can paint.'...  But when she tried to paint for herself, she was frustrated to no end. 

It really took the enjoyment out of it, I could see that.  So here we have a woman that would love to paint, but can't as she found herself frustrated and unable to because of the way she was 'taught'.

New Brunswick Farm
by Teresa Young
What is teaching?  To me, it's about seeing what your student(s) want, where they are at and where they want to go... The focus for me is on them, not on me. 

I already know how to paint, I don't have anything to prove.  So if I'm teaching, I would like to pass on the craft and skills so that person can go away and stand on their own...  What I would really like to pass on is a love of art for it's own sake, allowing that person to reach for their own unique form of expression, enriching the art world for all of us, eventually...
Cat's Emotions
by Teresa Young
I must admit that over the years, I've taught a few people to sketch, and a few people to paint, but nothing really major as I've focused a lot of my time on survival and working in IT.  --> But in IT, I spent a lot of time teaching many different people how to do things, passing on knowledge to strengthen my teammates and allow them to reach their own potentials...  I'm a good teacher, so maybe my training in art can allow me to teach what I know as a painter in a useful and clear manner.

I'm thinking now that what I was speculating about in my last post was more to do with how things are taught, not whether the information itself was a waste...

I think teaching anything should include a shift of focus to the student, rather than concentration on the teacher.  Or else it won't work, as I so eloquently saw with poor Marion yesterday...  The end result is that you could literally turn someone off art, without really meaning to.

Getting back to artistic training and how it relates to my unique style, what I think now is that without training in composition, my art wouldn't work as it does.  And without colour theory, it wouldn't be beautiful and resonate as a major art form...

So in the final analysis, I believe my art training was not wasted.  And that makes me really happy!

Photos and art images by Teresa Young:
1. & 2. River near LaHave - March 2010,  3. Stained glass window in LaHave Bakery - March ,  4. & 5.  An artists tools - March 2010,  6. New Brunswick Farm - August 1985,  7. Cat Dreams - January 2000.

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Anonymous said...

Hi how are you?

I was looking through your blog, and I found it interesting, and inspiring to me, so I thought why not leave you a comment.

I have a blog also obviously and would like to invite you to become my blog friend.

Maybe you can become my pal, and follow, and I can also follow you, if that is okay.

Well I hope to hear from you soon... :)

Dalifan said...

Hi Jesse!

I'm good, and I'm also quite happy to honour your request;-)

I just went and took a look at your blog and added it to the blogs that I've been following. I do like how you think. This is great;-)

Thanks Jesse!

SF Girl said...

Great post, Teresa!

Here are some reasons why I think formal training in any discipline is worthwhile, including the arts:

One is LANGUAGE... When I trained in the sciences, I learned a unique language that allowed me to express my science meaningfully to other scientists without ambiquity or confusion or misunderstanding. (this is what is at the root of using Latin names in botony). This is powerful and relevant in the arts as well... which leads me to reason #2:

Two is TEACHING: when you are in the position as master to guide novices beginning in the arts, there are core and fundamental aspects and tools that help the student achieve what they set out to achieve. I remember George Lucas explaining why he was re-doing the Star Wars series--because the technology and tools of his art had finally caught up to his imagination and vision to express it on film. It is the same here. When I watched you give our friend an impromptu lesson in colour, you were using what you'd learned in art training to convey to her your understanding of the use of the colour wheel. Without the formal training in the often mundane area of technique, you would have to rely on your intuition and buried self-knowledge, which is often hard to reach.

Three is MASTERING: Of course, we all know that once we learn these core "rules" and master our art, we toss them out and express our own voice, unbridled, and unfettered by prosaic constaints. But when we teach others, these are good to know (like the scales in music, the colours in art, the grammar in writing). As masters in our field, understanding the building blocks of our expressive pursuits gives us the means to go beyond the mundane into excellence. I submit that it is only when we realize from where we have come that we are free to soar to the heavens, where every artist must go.

And while we're on the subject of art expression and the language of art, your readers might wish to visit my blogpost on this subject on The Alien Next Door.
This one on art as metaphor in both painting and writing:
and this one on dreams and perceptions:

p.s. nice photos too!

Dalifan said...

As always, wonderful and informative comments Nina! Thanks for commenting;-)