Tag Archives: art pedagogy

Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy-the Apprentice

by Christopher Hutchinson

Note 8- the foundations are the foundations

 

Many students start off with a foundation course with the wrong intentions, perfection being one of them. This idea of being a perfectionist actually slows the learning process and sometimes renders that foundation course useless. The “perfectionist” student is having a philosophical debate about something that actually has linear steps to grow in art pedagogy. The steps of the foundation course cannot be skipped without proper understanding of the previous lesson.

The foundations are repetitive exercises to build the individual artist’s tool bag. Questioning these foundation steps confuses the “perfectionist” student, not the professor. The professor already knows how to accomplish these steps. The foundations are the foundations. These courses are arranged to crescendo based on the previous lessons learned. Foundation courses work much like learning your addition and subtraction math facts. Imagine trying to learn addition and they constantly challenge the previous fact learned. That is the difficulty with challenging the foundation classes, especially when there are so many facts to be learned before a true challenge to the art-making practice can be articulated. In the foundation courses you get the tips and tricks to make the steps easier and gain actual repeatable knowledge that becomes second nature.

 

 

Many of these “perfectionist” students may grasp one lesson and then have a hard time getting the next lesson. The classes crescendo. The stopping and starting, coming late, setup time, and flow of the class have a lot to do with grasping all the facts necessary to move on effectively. These students complete the course and move on to another art class only to run into the same “art facts” skipped in the previous course. These students are choosing to accept only the lessons they feel suit them. This then breeds an incomplete artist with limited experience and low-confidence to attempt things they feel to be too difficult. This person ends up not challenging anything, becomes super sensitive during critique, and ends up quitting or changing majors. Confidence begins with knowing as many foundation art facts as possible. Develop the patience and drive to achieve and exceed every lesson—that is the “perfectionist” that is a joy to teach.

 

Note 9-The Apprentice

apprentice

[uhpren-tis]

noun

1.a person who works for another in order to learn a trade: an apprentice to a plumber.
2.History/Historical. a person legally bound through indenture to amaster craftsman in order to learn a trade.
3.a learner; novice; tyro.
4.U.S. Navy. an enlisted person receiving specialized training.
5.a jockey with less than one year’s experience who has won fewer than40 races.verb (used with object), apprenticed, apprenticing.
6.to bind to or place with an employer, master craftsman, or the like, forinstruction in a trade.verb (used without object), apprenticed, apprenticing.
7.to serve as an apprentice: He apprenticed for 14 years under a master silversmith.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/apprentice

 

Today’s lack of work ethic, required of an apprentice, may derive from the success of postmodern ideals. Ideals that advocate the erasure of craft and praise celebrity rather than grueling art practice. This generation of students wants to completely skip the foundation process and go directly to postmodern conceptual practice.  A real artist would enjoy every bit of every mundane exercise presented in foundation courses.  Only in going through and mastering those exercises will the artist begin to develop a vocabulary that could articulate a postmodern discussion. Postmodernism and conceptual art are only two movements in the history of art already dated.

Once again one may want to have a discussion on postmodernism and conceptual practice but run into the same issues that were not mastered in their foundation.  If students do not achieve smooth transitions in their compositions of still lifes, their postmodern and conceptual ideas will certainly be rough as well.  An artist has to have had exhausted the foundations to begin their art theory practice.  One has to learn multiplication and division before being ready to solve for x or do calculus.  One has to practice communicating successfully before achieving the subtlety of irony.

 

Christopher Hutchinson 2Christopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

 

 

Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color)

by Christopher Hutchinson

“Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist Continued (Color)” is a followup to “Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist.”

 

Note 5-It is not a style and it is not new

(noun) – A tint is a color to which white has been added to make it lighter. Take pink, for instance. Pink is a color, but it’s also a tint of red. Sometimes tints are referred to as “pastels.” While this is technically inaccurate (pastels are a type of crayon), it’s such a common phrase that it’s worth noting here. http://arthistory.about.com/cs/glossaries/g/t_tint.htm

The bad habits developed by so-called illustrators filter into the model for every other pursuit in art. Usually these poor traits, when challenged by a professor, yield a common response: “its just my style.” The harsh reality is that it is not a style and it is not. It is just lazy. The poor understanding of value gray scaling in drawing has been transferred to color. Where color has an even more demand for tint and shade.

Many of these illustrators employ a “style” of the easiest, laziest color palette possible: primary colors squeezed straight out of the tube. This is readily identifiable by artists as remedial, nowhere close to being an original style. Using colors straight out of the tube is not an artistic choice and it does not lead to a personal expression. The only possible outcome is mass marketed expression. For the non-artist all one has to do to see the proof of this is look at the difference between Ford company white versus a Mercedes Benz white. They are not the same. Using a manufactured color off the shelf is the equivalent of identifying with Walmart as an expression of “my personal style.” The most generic as special. This may be the point for instance in Pop art, but if that is not the point, then you have actually achieved a banal, mundane expression about something you care about.

(noun) – A shade is what one ends up with when black (or some other dark color) is added to a pure hue. Suppose you had some green paint and mixed a bit of dark gray paint into it. The resulting paint would be darker than (also known as a shade of) the original green. Think of a dazzlingly sunny day with intense color all around, then picture the way the light and colors change when you place yourself under the leafy shade of a tree.

The opposite of shade is tint. http://arthistory.about.com/cs/glossaries/g/s_shade.htm

The first painting does not use shade, tint, value, or any formal element to suggest a reason for the viewer to entertain this image for longer than a millisecond and then move on. Yet somehow this artist/non-artist is content to present this image as something other than generic.

 

Note 6- Ugly color

It is a misconception that complimentary colors are harmonious. They are actually the violent. All one needs to do to confirm this is look at nature. The most vibrant complimentary colors reside in all the poisonous animals as a warning not to proceed further. Complimentary colors in abundance are actually violent and should be used with the utmost care to make sure your concept is not overshadowed by violence. That violence is ugly.

The attraction to the highly contrasting and violent color schemes by these “artists/non-artists” are directly related to the lack of patience required to master the many levels of gradients skipped over in their drawing practice.

Pedagogy 3

Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue
In traditional color theory (used in paint and pigments), primary colors are the 3 pigment colors that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues. 

Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple
These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That’s why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange. http://www.colormatters.com/color-and-design/basic-color-theory

 

Note 7- Still flat

A plane surface is a flat surface, and any distinct flat surface within a painting or sculpture can be referred to as a plane http://en.mimi.hu/finearts/plane.html

The flatness achieved by the painting above is also achieved by the way the color is applied. Certainly the lack of tint and shade also attributed to its flatness. Here the focus is on application. This flatness can be attributed to the mechanical pencil and the sharpie. The mechanical pencil to pen to sharpie is rough.

If the upper right hand corner and the lower right hand corner of a painting has the same color and color value it might as well be a solid sharpie line around the image. You have successfully flattened the image. If every color is also evenly distributed through the piece from top to bottom you may as well have the background blank, because you have now suggested the entire piece was completed at the same time. Same time equals flat.

 

Pedagogy

 

Many of these students are allowed to keep their bad habits while passing through the high school years and are confused why they have difficulty on the collegiate level. Artists calling themselves artists without ever hearing the term “formal elements of art.” Considering all the formal elements of art are the very basic understanding needed to actually begin to understand your identity, pallet, and purpose as an artist.

 
Christopher Hutchinson 2Christopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

 

Postcolonial Thoughts: Thoughts on Pedagogy of the Visual Artist

by Christopher Hutchinson

Pedagogy

noun, plural pedagogies.

1.the function or work of a teacher; teaching.

2.the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pedagogy

 

This opinion has developed from years of experience teaching visual art on the collegiate level and recognizing that there are an increasing number of  students that want to be art majors–and the majority consider themselves illustrators.   Most of these students come to introduction art classes ill-equipped and advised.  This article is an exploratory investigation into such a student’s attitude and pedagogy.

This trend was confirmed recently during a visiting lecture to a mixed media classroom of high school students that overwhelmingly wanted to be illustrators.  The classroom of students had their portfolios and every student had the same bad habits that they will have to unlearn to become successful in the average college visual art foundation courses.

Note 1-Illustrators struggle in drawing class

 

Many of these high school students believe that illustration is an easier, freer, and cooler path to eventually produce their own cartoon/manga. In the very beginning of a student’s visual art journey, one should be open to many mediums and processes.  Elementary  through undergrad should be a fertile ground of experimentation with everything visual.  Each medium and field has its champion or interest that leads to further development, a development that cannot be fulfilled with just illustration. Any young artist that has not explored these with the same lust for creating is missing out.  Settling on illustration/animation in 9th grade is the equivalent of saying “hotdogs are the best food ever and there is nothing you can say to change my mind.” In the high school years students should become a fan of art and other processes.  They should be open to receive and consume all aspects of art to eventually make informed decisions.  Experiment with everything such as watercolor, etching, oil paint, drawing–especially drawing.

Note 2- Doodles are not drawing studies

In art, a study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes. Studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering subjects and to plan the elements to be used in finished works, such as light, color, form, perspective and composition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Study_(art)

Many of these self-proclaimed illustrators/animators cannot draw and have a very difficult time in introductory drawing classes on the collegiate level. These students often do not perform as well as students who are taking the course as a elective.  The elective students have not built up years of bad habits.  Elective students have not built up years of ego so they have the patience to receive proper information.

 

By focusing on illustration/animation as a student’s initial point of interest, bad habits get ingrained and affirmed for years.  Students are actually training themselves to have extreme contrast as a form of reality, but in reality contrast is not nearly so common.  They end up using super black sharpie markers and mechanical pencils, with no understanding of the many levels of gradation and value there are.

Sharpies and mechanical pencils are not the tools of someone interested in drawing. This problem is evident when these students attempt a a simple value scale.

 

At best, the years of copying their favorite X-Men characters leads to lineweight.  But surprisingly, many of these students’ linework also lacking.

Lineweight is a term that describes the relative ‘weight’ – strength, heaviness, or darkness – of the line against the background or support. It is governed by the pressure on your drawing tool as you make your line – whether this is decreasing or increasing the pressure on the tip so that it leaves behind more or less medium – or altering the angle so that more of the tip is in contact with the paper. http://drawsketch.about.com/od/drawingglossary/g/lineweight.htm

These doodles might as well be scribbles due to the fact that learning the nuances are not learned, rather they are crude lines void of aesthetic.  The doodles of these students are not learning when the majority of what they are practicing is copying a flat image, not looking at life. Those doodles are not studies.

These students’ doodles represent another major problem on the collegiate level: not being able to finish a work of art.  They have many sketchbooks of doodles without a portfolio of large complete pieces.  The work for years without ever completing anything. The point of the study is to learn to finish.  These students end up with a huge ego and years of unfinished work.  Ego comes from completion, not hype.

Note 3- Copying a style is not creative or unique

Students that claim to be interested in illustration/animation are not actually interested in drawing or art making.  They are interested in developing a “style unique to themselves.”  This usually means they want to copy a specific type of style and change the accessories of the character to make it “unique.” Most of these students come with this in mind as a valid pursuit of a career.  This is a huge mistake.  Copying a style is not a creative or artistic choice and definitely not unique.

Note 4-Pedagogy

After a little critique and probing of the high school classroom portfolios, the real reasons began to emerge as to the motivation behind wanting to become an illustrator.  What came up was excitement about the narrative, the movement, and the color of illustration.  Here is where pedagogy can have a huge effect with some additional probing, some additional recommendations, and support.  If a student is more interested in narrative, they need to be more equipped as a writer.  If a student is more interested in movement, then what kind of movement–physical movement or illustrated movement? If color–interested in what kind of color–muted, saturated, color application?

This new crop of self-proclaimed illustrators and teachers have to explore and challenge what illustration really means.  Many of these students, when they come to to the collegiate level, end up changing majors due to being ill-equipped artists that believe the skill of copying is an art form. They are very impatient students and expect quick results. There is a reason art classes are 3-5 hours long. Artmaking is not for the someone interested in quick results.

Christopher Hutchinson 2Christopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

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