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Re: [teacherartexchange] meaning as overemphasized...technique held in contempt


From: david gran (dsgran_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Jun 22 2005 - 10:14:28 PDT

Interesting thoughts you pose. My only thoughts in
response is that there is a place for both- as an art
teacher, and as an artist, i try and find a space for
technique and a space for experimentation /
introspective work / whatever you want to call it.
Both are important, it doesn't need to be an either/or
situation. I really enjoyed the paintings that you
posted. Perhaps this specific class isn't teaching
the things you want to learn, but perhaps you can use
this opportunity to try a different direction
yourself. Its good to break out of our own notions of
personal style once in a while.

--- LarrySeiler <> wrote:

> Curious to thoughts...taking risk for some
> discussion here...
> First of all, I read the article Kathy shared on
> teaching Real Art
> Making...and enjoyed it. Much to chew upon...and
> one worth coming back to.
> I just finished some of my masters work, Studio Arts
> with emphasis in
> Painting, tenting it...sleeping on the ground near a
> roaring falls.
> Unfortunately it rained nine of twelve days
> straight!
> My painting as an artist is plein air
>, rain or not I was out
> there. One day, I wore chest waders with my rain
> jacket. Good thing oil
> and water do not mix. Kind of annoying with rain
> pitter pattering on the
> palette...but I've painted in worse, such as sleet
> during winter.
> At any rate...there were about 30 students...the
> majority were either art
> majors taking a summer course or nonart majors
> taking an elective intro to
> painting. Two or three of us were working on a
> masters.
> I can't complain about the freedom I have with a
> very long leash to design
> my program, my directions...but I also have near 30
> years of painting
> experience professionally and am able to push myself
> and in what ways I hope
> to grow. There were times I wondered if I wasn't
> simply tolerated because
> with my age (50 years now) and experience, and
> perhaps thought to be a lost
> cause- set no doubt in my ways; and yet at least
> everyone was quite nice.
> When I appeared at the school, brought work
> in...people were cordial.
> Though one time showing a student some CAO (Classic
> Artist Oils) I had
> brought with which come in 10 fluid ounce caulking
> tubes, and a caulking
> gun...seeing that caulking gun of paint loaded in my
> hands some students got
> excited and thought I was REALLY going to paint and
> be free! They even
> offered to find some larger canvas for me if I
> wanted to cut loose.
> That sorta tuned me in that without so much as
> saying, I was somewhat pitied
> for my painting and how it is interpreted to confine
> and restrain me
> creatively. Not a problem, as I suspected as much.
> Back in the 70's during
> my senior year I was written up in the show as the
> weakness of the works
> entered...was the black sheep. They were squirtin'
> paint in cow manure and
> throwing it at the canvas then, and not much has
> seemed to change.
> Difference now...there is much less hostility. I
> can handle pity and well
> wishes that I'd free long as we yet all
> laugh and respect each
> other.
> I'm curious though as to other's thoughts. Seems
> processing (which you must
> discover yourself), working together, discovering
> ideas is so more the
> importance now. I saw absolutely nothing that
> suggested the teaching of any
> foundations, no demos, no technique, certainly no
> rules of any kind were
> taught.
> ITs not that I want to be critical of this
> I'm thinking this
> is probably how most state universities are, and
> that not much has changed
> since I attended in the 70's. I actually found the
> professor very friendly,
> jovial...but not inclined to instruct.
> Her own art consists of gluing things to the canvas
> and spray painting.
> Typical were works she shared where she goes to a
> nearby beach and burys a
> blank canvas in the sand and then meditates. She
> comes back a week later
> and tries to find it...and whereupon finding and
> digging it up writes the
> names of those that meditated with her on the
> canvas. She then sprays some
> color on it and glues some things that will remind
> her of that day on them.
> I saw little consideration for design...such as
> balance, order, negative
> space versus positive elements. Everything is
> simply cool! Whatever one
> long as one tries, deserves a pat on the
> back.
> I guess it could be argued that each effort of every
> student in this
> environment is attempting to derive personal meaning
> and let the work simply
> evolve.
> I did see students sitting on a drawing horse with
> their canvas propped up
> against it asking each other, "what are you going to
> paint?" and the
> response "I don't know...what are you going to
> paint?" They'd just start
> making marks...and in the end both were laughing to
> tears and somewhat
> embarrassed with their results looking at each
> other's efforts.
> again..its not my intention to criticize here, but
> is this not a grand
> striving for meaning demonstrated here with
> technique and foundation held in
> contempt? What happens on university campuses will
> have effect on art as
> understood in culture, future teaching/instruction
> and so forth, and for
> this reason I thought deserving of opinions from
> folks here.
> Is such emphasis on meaning over foundation not
> leading to championing
> mediocrity? Will not the link to appreciate art and
> masters of the past as
> well as excellent living artists be severed by
> removing from students a
> sense that all these artists have attained a high
> level of skill. From my
> own feeling of being tolerated, somewhat pitied, it
> would seem presumed that
> artists showing evidence of skill and a lifelong
> commitment to hard work
> will infer such artists are lacking emphasis of
> meaning. If in teaching art
> appreciation we were to disconnect that artists have
> long woven discipline
> and hard work into their lives and work, would that
> then be a TRUE
> appreciation?
> I personally think minimizing hard work (which
> requires direction) is a
> crock!
> One area I did touch with the professor, (which then
> got students thinking)
> was to connect and identify with her eco-psychology
> interests and
> meditating, being one with nature.
> I had them imagine how one could stand among the
> rocks of an intimidating
> waterfalls, the drama of light, the moving of
> foliage masses from
> breezes...and by means of painting (which calls upon
> a deeper seeing...) not
> sense an intimacy taking place with nature? A form
> of communing in my own
> manner. For myself...I see such as the handiwork of
> the great Intelligent
> Designer...and it thrills me that seeing intimate
> things comes as a form of
> revealing.
> The presumption may well be that I am lost to making
> simply pretty
> pictures...but, standing before the moment, I am
> engaging the sublime, the
> hidden mysteries of that which has compelled and
> demanding something of me.
> Painting is a vehicle of exploration and discovery,
> and a means thereby to
> celebrate living. Is there not meaning to be valued
> in art as a mechanism
> to celebrate living? Is it not a service to the
> community of man to suggest
> something as worthwhile in painting or viewing a
> painting (or works of
> various art mediums) that takes them outside
> themselves.
=== message truncated ===

The day is coming when an ordinary carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

-Paul Cezanne

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