I’ve been making countless revisions and taking notes on future strategies to improve this new video project. Additionally, I’ve been picking the brains of my freshmen students at RISD, as well as my RISD Project Open Doorstudents.
I’ve been fascinated by my students’ thoughts, specifically about their efforts to learn art on their own before coming art school. Technology is radically different than when I was their age, considering that I did not grow up with the Internet. Across the board, the students agreed that none of the people doing video tutorials right now have legitimate credentials. They said the current tutorials are terrible, and that they were overwhelmed by having to wade through so much awful content. I’ve come to the same conclusion myself; pretty much every tutorial I watched was by an amateur artist. I found just a few art teachers doing tutorials, and I only found one video from an art school professor. I asked the students if there was one major site that had everything they needed. The students said that nothing like that exists, and that they had to piece together fragments from several sites, which resulted in a haphazard mess of information that was impossible to organize.
One student commented that the existing tutorials all seem to be about teaching you to draw in one artist’s distinctive style, and that none of the tutorials teach basic techniques that could be applied in any way so that you could then develop your own style. They all agreed that their first impulse was to go to Youtube. The students almost never used books because you can’t watch the physical movements involved with a technique, which in many cases is critical to learning how to use an art material. Several students noted that most books and videos frequently left out important steps in the process and didn’t explain what art materials were required.
While my “Ask the Art Professor” advice column and my book were great experiences for me, the written format ultimately has major constraints when it comes to teaching visual art. There’s a huge limit to what you can explain verbally. To really talk about visual art in depth, you need a visual medium to deliver the content.
This video project is finally getting me to go all out. In retrospect, I think the written format was too safe; in an article or book, you don’t have to put yourself on full visual display. Video is the medium that will produce the most complete experience I could possibly offer outside of the classroom. No other medium exists that could provide a fuller experience. The video format is stretching me so much farther than the written format, which is simultaneously exciting and daunting.