For the last week, students have worked on finishing their stretchers and their free form color assignments. after they finished building their frames, they stretched their canvas onto their stretcher bars and gessoed their completed canvas. I got the opportunity to teach them how to do invisible corners, a technique I learned from my mother. Something I have enjoyed about shadowing Jennifer is how she always encourages me to speak up if there is something I know that she hasn't mentioned. I'm learning so much from her, but she's also given me the confidence to give my own expertise on the subject. Coming into this experience, I've learned that I actually do know a lot about painting that isn't common textbook knowledge, and I can share it with students. I really appreciate Jenifer's willingness to let me teach by her side. She has made me feel like my voice is important, a very valuable quality in any instructor.
The Students also had their second critique this week. This time, Jennifer gave them the chance to come out and speak on their own without as much structure as the first. Now that they have gotten their first critique out of the way, the second was a bit more intuitive. There were a few quiet moments, but Jennifer gave the students a bit of time before jumping in with suggestions for talking points. I like the way she's easing them into critique. With the first she gave them a very rigid structure that kept them on topic and with the second, she gave the students a bit more freedom while still guiding them when necessary. I have been really impressed with the work the students have been producing. This group of students are both talented and receptive to criticism. I definitely give credit to Jennifer for making everyone feel comfortable in class and with their work, and also for instructing in a way that helps the students to feel confident in just going for it with their paintings. I've been overall quite impressed with Jennifer and this particular batch of students.
This week the students are continuing with the stretcher building process while they work on their next assignment, free form color paintings. This has been a week dedicated to working in class rather than to instruction.
Jennifer typically will introduce new elements of painting with each new assignment. these last two weeks, the focus has been on color. For their free form painting assignment, they have been instructed to use complimentary colors to create a compelling composition having less to do with representation and more to do with the use of color, saturation, and shape to create an overall mood. I've so far appreciated the way she will introduce a new element of painting using slides and examples from art history and then have an assignment tailored to that particular element. This gives students the opportunity to learn some art history, learn through doing, and doesn't overwhelm them too much with either too much information too soon, or an assignment they can't feel confident in doing because they don't have the basics down yet.
While students are working on their paintings, she is having them, one to two at a time, do the next steps in their stretcher building. They are cutting their bars at a 45 degree angle to make two 16x20 inch frames and then having them glue and screw the pieces together. Learning to building stretchers is a very important fundamental of any painters education and it's nice to see it being taught in an entry level course.
This week, Jennifer had students begin the stretcher building process and had them make color saturation charts to better understand their oil colors.
The assigned reading along with the assignment for the week is all about color. For many of the students, this is their first time painting with oils, so it is important that they know how the pigments react to one another. For the color saturation charts, she is having the students create a hue gradient using the complimentary colors, this is a good way for students to learn which pigments are stronger than others and what types of hues they can achieve with the mixture of complimenting colors. She also had them do a second row where they mixed their 5 hues with white to decrease saturation.
While the students are working on their saturation charts, she has two at a time go to a building station to begin the first step of their stretcher building process. they are glueing a quarter round to a 1x2 beam and then nailing it in place using a nail gun. the edge of the quarter round creates a thin contact point between stretcher bar and canvas. This allows the canvas to be exposed to air from behind helping colors to dry and preventing the stretcher from poking through the painting at the sides.
I appreciate the approach Jennifer takes to teaching the class. By having students begin building their stretchers now, it gives them time to work on their experimentation with color while slowly putting together their first stretchers for later projects. having 2-3 projects going at once makes it easier for students who work at different paces to always have something to do during class time. It's apparent Jennifer has a pretty good sense of time management, especially when it comes to teaching art classes. Her time spent in elementary education definitely informs her teaching style and gives her a lot of insight into classroom structure in general that I never would have thought of on my own.
For the past two weeks, Jennifer has had students working on distorted self portraits using only black, grays, and white. the goal of the assignment was to help students distinguish between different value ranges without getting too caught up in the paintings being precise or accurate to source imagery. The results were beautiful. Students showed remarkable variety in their works and an ability to turn a two dimensional surface into a work of art.
Below are a few selected works by students from this assignment.
While the students were working Jennifer and I walked around the room observing progress. I'm a very shy person, but she encouraged me to interact a bit more with the students while they worked. At first I was a bit timid, but I found the more I spoke to them, the more willing they were to ask for my advice. Jennifer is really good about striking up conversations with the students and learning not just their names, but about them as people. I find this helps to build a stronger relationship between student and instructor. It seems to both put students at ease and makes her more open and approachable, also getting to know the students definitely takes a lot of pressure and fear away during critique.
For their first critique, Jennifer had everyone write a letter to a painting of their choice, first addressing the painting by a name they had made up for it. this was a good way to establish initial reactions in 1-2 words. They were then supposed to tell the painting what it reminded them of and how they perceived the paintings mood. this was a great way to establish content of the work, and it helped the students get in touch with the basic feeling and mood the works provoked. Finally, she had them ask the paintings some questions. This was effective in helping the students think critically about the piece asking it why it was the way it was. After the letters were written, they were set down in front of the painting they were about and read aloud.
Afterwards, Jennifer asked the class general questions about all of the paintings (Why some received more letters than others, what about each painting drew them in, how they perceived the paintings that received no letters etc.)
Beginning with the written paragraphs seemed to make the students feel more comfortable sharing their perceptions and opinions out loud and there was seldom any awkward silences. Having sat through countless critiques myself, I was shocked at how engaged and verbal all of the students were throughout the entire ordeal.
I am studying art and hope to one day become a professor of art myself. this semester, I am shadowing a professor, Jennifer, in a beginning painting class to prepare me to teach a 100 level class in the fall. This blog is primarily to help me keep track of the things I learn and to hopefully gain insight into the world of teaching. I hope to learn what works best for myself and the students.
For my first week of shadowing I've, for the most part observed silently. a few things I Appreciate about Jennifer's style of teaching is how she leaves a lot up to the students and grades on attendance, participation, and effort rather than ability or skill. I find this especially important in a studio art class as many of the students have varying abilities and skill levels.
The students first project is a distorted self portrait. they are to look at themselves in a distorted reflective surface, such as a chrome pitcher, or a spoon and paint what they see. They are required to use only black and white so they may focus on value before getting into the complexities of color. I look forward to seeing what the students produce for their first project.
I'm a masters student of art shadowing a professor this semester in order to gain experience and knowledge to teach my own courses one day.