Teaching and Learning Styles part 1 - and a sketch of the beach in the rain

Approaching Rain. mixed media. about 10 ins square. Vivien Blackburn

One day I sat looking out across the beach watching approaching rain clouds - the rain started out to sea and I watched as it came sweeping in creating a misty silver haze in front of the sea, then in front of the cliffs, bleaching out colour, and finally it hit our windows. This sketch is an attempt to catch that day - with a nod to Hiroshige :>). http://static.artinaclick.com/titles/o/oha/ohashibridgeintherain/

Teaching and Learning:

I've had recent discussions with friends about teaching styles - how we teach or are taught - the styles that we responded best to as students ourselves, tutors who really motivated us and the teaching methods that taught us most.

I'm going to do a series of posts about teaching and learning styles and the way I teach.

During my teacher training the psychologist who clicked for me was Maslow - his hierarchy of needs with its emphasis on the physical and emotional comfort of the learner to create an ambience where they are comfortable to experiment, ask questions without feeling foolish and discuss problems, questions, techniques, artists etc etc etc with me and fellow students easily. Maslow felt that this was essential in order for learning to take place.

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/motivation.htm link to diagram and more information here.

Art is quite a scary thing for a beginner. If you produce a lousy history essay, only you and the tutor need know your mark. In art your work is there for everyone to see - no hiding. So it is important to take away the fear factor - anything that doesn't work is a learning curve not a failure - this isn't just empty words to a student but absolutely true and it's so important that they realise this and can then 'go for it' and not expect perfect results every time.

At degree level we learned to do without this comfort :>) crits were tougher - but by then we had learned to take constructive criticism, for someone starting out it's vital I believe.

So step one is to make sure that students know they can ask anything, anytime and I won't think it 'silly' no matter how basic or advanced and will ask for help whenever they need it. Next is that they are all comfortable with each other and will discuss work, pass on information, give each other feedback and encouragement and 'gel' as a group - the common interest in art unites people of diverse ages and backgrounds.

The surroundings are important as well - it's easier to create this group identity in a room where there is room to move and coffee is available so that they can discuss informally at break times. Light and enough room to work is essential.

so that's the very basics - I'll carry on with this in installments in between showing paintings because it's a huge topic :>)

Do you teach or attend classes?


Blog by Jake said…
Hi Vivien. Just over from Wet Canvas, checking out some of your work.


vivien said…
thanks Jake :)
Sue Smith said…
I started teaching last year - small groups of beginning students. Each week we learned a new skill, building on the previous week. The goal was to reinforce positive accomplishments with an understanding of the process. I wanted them to be able to go home and paint on their own without an instructor "holding their hand." I think one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give is to instill this sense of experimentation and confidence at the beginning, so that students trust their continuing efforts. At least that was my primary goal.I think it worked, too, as I had several students continue on in additional classes.
artything said…
HII Vivien!
interesting blog as always, as a mature stident i feel very confussed at tge moment and not really sure about things here....my own work I lnow is good but this past Semester has been well,,,,,,,did ypu see the article in yesterdays Observer from a painter who teaches at Central St Martins,,,,,well he says it 'feels a bit like a wet durvet; thats how I feek some of the time!
vivien said…
Sue - exactly! that's what I try to do - give the tools and skills to paint on without me there, not simply teach them to copy me :)

Artything - keep going - we all hit those periods of self doubt at uni - work through it and all will come together and you'll get a clearer idea of where YOU want to go with your work :)

I didn't see the article - wet duvet??? mmmm???
Lindsay said…
Wow. Some great posts here. I like this idea for your series of posts on teaching and learning. I could not agree more with you about students feeling safe in the class. And of course, those cp drawings are both so different and beautiful. I'm always amazed at how much power a teacher has in a classroom. So important to use it constructively. It's pure torture to be in a class where the teacher abuses that power.
Cindy said…
I saw one of your pieces on Wet Canvas I think or maybe Scribbletalk. Lovely!

I'm looking forward to your posts on teaching. I teach colored pencil workshops. I use to do several weekly ongoing classes, but I found that my "well" ran dry and I had to stop for awhile and rejuvenate.
vivien said…
Hi Cindy

great tomato on your blog :)
E-J said…
Your coloured pencil sketches of rocks and beach are gorgeous, and put me in mind of the exhibition of Monet's pastels and drawings that I was lucky enough to see last year.
vivien said…
thanks e-j

what a compliment! I love Monet's work :>) I'd love to be that good.

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