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About Traditional Art / Professional Member Clara LieuFemale/United States Groups :iconr-i-s-d: R-I-S-D
 
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“Ask the Art Professor” is an advice column for visual artists, now featured in the Huffington Post.  This is your chance to ask a professional artist/educator your questions about being an artist, the creative process, career advice, etc. Submit your question by emailing me at clara(at)claralieu.com, or by commenting here on this blog. All questions will be posted anonymously, and you’ll receive notification when your question is online.  Read an archive of past articles here.

“I presently enjoy the rare chance to teach drawing in my math class. We have discussed perspective and symmetry so my math students are working on drawing in perspective. After teaching high school math classes for almost ten years, I am more than ready to get out. I would like to teach art or digital imaging at the high school level. However, I feel trapped in this high-demand, high-pressure, test-obsessed field with no room for advancement or creativity. Although I could obtain a certification to teach art in my state, I have never been to art school. I suppose my question is about how feasible this is. Could a math teacher teach art?”

Technically speaking, if you obtain the required certification and degrees to teach studio art, you can do it. However, being an effective art teacher is much more than degrees and certification. A huge part of being a successful art teacher is the ability to draw from your own experience as a visual artist. You can read, write, and analyze all you want about art theory, art technique, art education, etc., but until you have the hands-on experience of actually making your own artwork, your ability to teach studio art will remain superficial. The equivalent would be a soccer coach who reads about soccer techniques, but has never physically played a soccer game.

Teaching studio art at the high school level has its own unique set of challenges. Most high school art teachers teach general art courses that cover a wide range of techniques. For this reason, you need to have expertise in multiple techniques: drawing, painting, sculpture, and more. You have to know all of these processes inside out, which requires many years of working with those techniques through your own artwork. Teaching a course as specialized as digital imaging at the high school level would be rare, usually only private preparatory schools are able to offer a course like that.

Pastel Portrait Drawing Assignment

There are many aspects of creating your own artwork that would tremendously inform your capacity to teach studio art. Troubleshooting is a significant part of creating your own artwork, and you will learn much more from your mistakes than from your moments of success. For example, it took me years of mistakes to figure out a reliable technique for stretching canvases. Despite technical demonstrations by my teachers, I made many errors: my canvases were too loose; I didn’t accurately measure my rabbitskin glue sizing which resulted in cracked oil paintings, etc. It was only after making these blunders that I could see what was required to execute the technique properly. These experiences are critical to being an art teacher because you acquire practical strategies for difficult problems.

So much of my time as a teacher is devoted to showing students how to fix things when something doesn’t work out. Students will make mistakes, and you have to be able to provide your students with options no matter what goes wrong. The demonstrations I give emphasize ways of dodging potential problems. As much as I try to anticipate problems, new issues always arise that you could never foresee. One of my colleagues told me that a student once accidentally ran a pencil through a printmaking press! Since hearing this story, I am adamant about telling students that absolutely nothing is ever allowed on a printmaking press other than the press blankets. Being told what to avoid is just as important as being told what to do.

Making art is usually a very physical process, and seeing a professional in action can be tremendously influential. The individual demonstrations I give to my students can have a greater impact than any verbal description I can provide. In my drawing classes, I often ask students to simply watch my body movements while I draw. I tell them to not look at the drawing I’m making, but instead to see the direction my wrist moves in, the sweeping motions I make with my arm, and to observe the swift pacing of my movements. These physical actions could never be portrayed in a book, they simply have to be experienced in real life and can only be demonstrated by someone who has done it many times before.

Essentially, you have to be an artist before you can be a studio art teacher. Students look to their teachers to be role models, and they need to see that their teachers have active studio practices. This makes the idea of being a professional artist real for students. Initiate your career change by building your own history as a working artist. Collect your own tricks of the trade, and share those experiences with your students. Inhabiting both roles as artist and teacher will enrich your art students beyond measure.

Related articles:
“How do I become an undergraduate art professor?”
“What should I be working on now if I would like to be an art professor?”
“What makes a student artist stand out from their peers?”
“How did you become an art professor?”
“How do I become a teaching assistant?”
“How can I make the transition to teaching art at the college level?”

Final Crit

We’re wrapping up the end of the fall semester this week at RISD.  At the end of the semester, I ask my freshman drawing students to do a written self-critique.  This is an opportunity for my students to stop and reflect upon their experience this semester, and to think about how they want to move forward in their course of study.  I always find their comments insightful and thought provoking. Below are some anonymous excerpts.

“The process of creating a piece of art is more important than I originally thought.”
“Even if I don’t have a great idea in the beginning, I will get better results as I work on my project.”
“I have learned that the farther a project comes from beginning to end, the better.”
“I used to think that repetition and mastery makes you better at your craft and your art but I really saw myself grow when I started changing everything each week.”
“If I really push myself and do not give up, my hard work will be worth it.”
“I am glad I can draw without fear now!”
“It’s okay to shut down an idea if you find it cliche, right from the start.”
“I learned the most from the first homework assignment because it was my first and harshest critique of the semester.”
“I have learned how important it is to get your ideas out on paper, even if they don’t seem like the strongest concept.”
“If I am not completely satisfied with my idea, it is okay to get rid of it and go in a completely different direction.”
“I have learned there are a lot of detours and traffic. There are so many more things you need to think about than I ever imagined.”
“The most important thing is that I am excited about my piece and that I do what I want.”
“I have learned to not be afraid of change and to embrace different opinions in the process of developing a project.”

Final Crit

We finished up the fall semester yesterday in my RISD Freshman Drawing class yesterday. The final crit was based on a two week assignment I give, called “Six Levels of Pain.” Students were given free reign in terms of media and format, making for an incredibly diverse range of projects in yesterday’s crit. You can see all of the student work from this semester’s class organized by individual student portfolios on my Flickr page.

Final Crit

Final Crit

Final Crit

Looking for a gift for an artist or art student?  Try my book, “Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life.”  Purchase the book on Amazon for $8: www.amazon.com/Learn-Create-Te…

LearnCreateTeach_Cover03a




IMG_2754

I gave myself two weeks to rest after installing my two solo exhibitions. Even so, I don’t feel quite ready to launch into making new work yet, I think I’m still mentally exhausted.  On the other hand, I don’t want to stop working altogether. Instead, I’m going to focus on printing editions of the mezzotints for the next few weeks. This task doesn’t require a lot of concentration on my part to do, but it will fill my time and it’s something I have to do at some point anyway.

Printing an edition is all about the technique, and you have to concentrate all of your energy into making perfectly clean, precisely identical prints.  You have to be really fussy about every little thing and not settle for less, even the slightest dot or fingerprint on the paper or image warrants doing another print. When I look back on editions I printed as a student, I’m appalled at how inconsistent my printing technique was. Nowadays I’m significantly pickier and I try to be an absolute perfectionist when printing an edition. The editions for these mezzotints are very small, just five prints, but the process of printing mezzotints is delicate enough that it’s still tedious. For the last edition I printed, I had to print 12 prints before I got five that I was pleased with.

“Ask the Art Professor” is an advice column for visual artists, now featured in the Huffington Post.  This is your chance to ask a professional artist/educator your questions about being an artist, the creative process, career advice, etc. Submit your question by emailing me at clara(at)claralieu.com, or by commenting here on this blog. All questions will be posted anonymously, and you’ll receive notification when your question is online.  Read an archive of past articles here.

“I presently enjoy the rare chance to teach drawing in my math class. We have discussed perspective and symmetry so my math students are working on drawing in perspective. After teaching high school math classes for almost ten years, I am more than ready to get out. I would like to teach art or digital imaging at the high school level. However, I feel trapped in this high-demand, high-pressure, test-obsessed field with no room for advancement or creativity. Although I could obtain a certification to teach art in my state, I have never been to art school. I suppose my question is about how feasible this is. Could a math teacher teach art?”

Technically speaking, if you obtain the required certification and degrees to teach studio art, you can do it. However, being an effective art teacher is much more than degrees and certification. A huge part of being a successful art teacher is the ability to draw from your own experience as a visual artist. You can read, write, and analyze all you want about art theory, art technique, art education, etc., but until you have the hands-on experience of actually making your own artwork, your ability to teach studio art will remain superficial. The equivalent would be a soccer coach who reads about soccer techniques, but has never physically played a soccer game.

Teaching studio art at the high school level has its own unique set of challenges. Most high school art teachers teach general art courses that cover a wide range of techniques. For this reason, you need to have expertise in multiple techniques: drawing, painting, sculpture, and more. You have to know all of these processes inside out, which requires many years of working with those techniques through your own artwork. Teaching a course as specialized as digital imaging at the high school level would be rare, usually only private preparatory schools are able to offer a course like that.

Pastel Portrait Drawing Assignment

There are many aspects of creating your own artwork that would tremendously inform your capacity to teach studio art. Troubleshooting is a significant part of creating your own artwork, and you will learn much more from your mistakes than from your moments of success. For example, it took me years of mistakes to figure out a reliable technique for stretching canvases. Despite technical demonstrations by my teachers, I made many errors: my canvases were too loose; I didn’t accurately measure my rabbitskin glue sizing which resulted in cracked oil paintings, etc. It was only after making these blunders that I could see what was required to execute the technique properly. These experiences are critical to being an art teacher because you acquire practical strategies for difficult problems.

So much of my time as a teacher is devoted to showing students how to fix things when something doesn’t work out. Students will make mistakes, and you have to be able to provide your students with options no matter what goes wrong. The demonstrations I give emphasize ways of dodging potential problems. As much as I try to anticipate problems, new issues always arise that you could never foresee. One of my colleagues told me that a student once accidentally ran a pencil through a printmaking press! Since hearing this story, I am adamant about telling students that absolutely nothing is ever allowed on a printmaking press other than the press blankets. Being told what to avoid is just as important as being told what to do.

Making art is usually a very physical process, and seeing a professional in action can be tremendously influential. The individual demonstrations I give to my students can have a greater impact than any verbal description I can provide. In my drawing classes, I often ask students to simply watch my body movements while I draw. I tell them to not look at the drawing I’m making, but instead to see the direction my wrist moves in, the sweeping motions I make with my arm, and to observe the swift pacing of my movements. These physical actions could never be portrayed in a book, they simply have to be experienced in real life and can only be demonstrated by someone who has done it many times before.

Essentially, you have to be an artist before you can be a studio art teacher. Students look to their teachers to be role models, and they need to see that their teachers have active studio practices. This makes the idea of being a professional artist real for students. Initiate your career change by building your own history as a working artist. Collect your own tricks of the trade, and share those experiences with your students. Inhabiting both roles as artist and teacher will enrich your art students beyond measure.

Related articles:
“How do I become an undergraduate art professor?”
“What should I be working on now if I would like to be an art professor?”
“What makes a student artist stand out from their peers?”
“How did you become an art professor?”
“How do I become a teaching assistant?”
“How can I make the transition to teaching art at the college level?”

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claralieu's Profile Picture
claralieu
Clara Lieu
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
United States
I am a professor, writer, and visual artist. I am a blogger for the Huffington Post, where I write an advice column for visual artists called "Ask the Art Professor". I published my first book, "Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life" in 2013.

I currently teach in the Division of Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the past I have taught in the Illustration and Printmaking departments at RISD, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Wellesley College, and at the Lesley University College of Art and Design. For four years I was the Director of the Jewett Art Gallery.

My studio practice explores isolation and mental illness through drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Recent exhibitions have been at the International Print Center New York, Bromfield Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Currier Museum of Art, the RISD Museum of Art, and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center. I have received grants from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Puffin Foundation.

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:icongraveyardbat:
GraveyardBat Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014
Did you ever do something on how to ship art once it's sold?
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I haven't, but mostly because there are already tons of articles out there on how to ship your work when you sell it online.  It also depends on what online site you're using. If you want to know, Etsy has a lot of information on how to do it. 
Reply
:icongraveyardbat:
GraveyardBat Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
ok ty!
Reply
:iconmiguelopazo:
miguelopazo Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like your gallery, I feel is like a representation of many episodes on my mind
Reply
:icon33m:
33M Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
after vacation I was delighted to see your newest deviations come through....Wonderful work.  I learn very much from your work and your writing.

M
Reply
:iconimfragrance:
imFragrance Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014   General Artist
Your blog is very helpful ! Thank you for your helpful advices.
Reply
:iconodistrait:
Odistrait Featured By Owner May 21, 2014
I just finished going over a few of the post on your advice column and watching a portion of your lecture video. It has been truly inspiring so far and I will definitely share your advice column with the teacher who oversaw my work at the magnet art school I attended in high school, so that other students might benefit from your advice. I hope that's okay.

thanks again,

Jean
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner May 22, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Of course!  I am delighted that you found the columns and video interesting.  Thank you!
Reply
:icongraveyardbat:
GraveyardBat Featured By Owner May 10, 2014
Hey,

Since you used a lot of Dura Lar in your works I've always wanted to try some.
I found some in the art classroom so I jumped at the opportunity to use it. I have to admit, I really like it and I want to keep on experimenting.
 
Here's the work.
graveyardbat.deviantart.com/ar…

I did another work using the paper, but I haven't uploaded it yet.

Have a nice day!
Reply
:iconclaralieu:
claralieu Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Cool, thanks for sharing!
Reply
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