Teaching at my own Atelier leads me to think about art education a lot. I am constantly refining my classes and programs, and these are some of the questions I mull over:
What is the environment and schedule that works best for learning? Is it most useful to have students work through a logical sequence of skill building, or should they try projects beyond their current ability? When do students need help and encouragement, and when should they be left alone to work on their own? Should art school be an insulated, protected time of study, or should it prepare students for life as an artist, which is not at all insulated or protected? Should a teacher offer the program they wish they’d had, or should they honor the instincts of each student on their own path? What is the most efficient way to build skills? And: Is “efficiency” even a valid goal for art or the study of art?
I don’t think there are right or wrong answers to any of these questions, and most my answers are somewhere in the middle of these extremes. I would even answer some differently depending on the student, depending on their goals and learning style.
My goal for art education is to foster an environment that helps artists develop their skills, builds their confidence, and also kindles and nurtures their inspiration. Because to be an artist you need to develop the emotional fortitude to continue no matter what (because continuing is the hardest part!), and you also need to practice the regular habit of tapping into what moves you, to find that original source that compelled you to want to be an artist in the first place.
From my perspective, an art school should foster all three equally: Skills, Confidence, and Inspiration.
With this goal in mind I have recently re-oriented most my programs and classes under the idea of Monthly Enrollment. Students who enroll have access to all the resources the Atelier can provide: A beautiful, well-lit space to work, instructors for guidance, a curriculum to organize time and progress, and inspiring subjects for study including a large, quality cast collection and a selective roster of the best models available.
I’ve set it up so students can set their own schedule and work at their own pace so they can benefit from a high quality program with plenty of instruction and an ordered curriculum, but also with flexibility to accommodate each student’s’ particular goals:
Some artists want to continue their weekly studies indefinitely, for the benefit of ongoing scheduled practice time incorporated into their busy lives, and others want to work intensively for a few years, exclusively focused on their art studies, and then move on to become professional artists. Still others just want try out a new technique or brush up on something they have not done in a while, or just try out the Atelier and see what it is like, so we still offer short-term classes.
I’m really excited about this new way of making traditional, realistic art education available to everyone who is interested in it. I feel it’s the best way I can offer an extremely high quality education, based on everything I have learned that worked well for me and also works best for my students, but in a way each student can take advantage of according to their own goals for their artistic development.
Click here for more information about Monthly Enrollment: