The creative process is characterized by a cycle of behaviors: problem identification, experimentation, and selection of possible solutions, refinement and execution of specific solutions. Critique is an essential bridge that fosters further evolution where a new problem is identified, and the whole process repeats itself. This is an ideal description of the process of molding students into artists. These process however, leave many questions unanswered, including the most telling issue: if working and experimenting are acting to solve problems, then how does one locate a productive problem? My teaching philosophy centers on three key principles geared toward eliciting answers to this question.
1. Skill Development: A successful combination of theoretical, technical, and creative skills produces compelling result. My responsibility as a teacher is to introduce my students to a variety of media and to develop their sense of curiosity about concept development, techniques, and the utilization of tools. My foundational instructions therefore supports multi-dialogue approaches aimed at skill development and the practice of seeing versus knowing, especially as it relates to the comprehension of form, color, historical and critical perspectives. My advanced classes embraces cross-connectivity and hybridism—encouraging students to span time/dimensional formats, disciplines, and domains of consumption with their work. Often times, Instructions and questions should emerge from historical and traditional perspectives and connect them to contemporary working process. For instance, while an inquiry into the process of traditional glazing method in painting may lead us to the work of Johannes Vermeer and others, the discourse will expand to include topics such as translucency, subtractive versus additive colors, and fat over lean, which could be applied to other contemporary discourse and projects. In guiding students towards conceptual growth or contextual choices, they should be encouraged to see process and form as part of content, and not necessarily a function of the final aesthetics. Emphasis should not always be on what they paint or draw (or whatever the case may be), but how visually compelling it is. It is through critical observation, analytical critiquing from the instructor and peers, consistent practice as well as recognition of the individuality in students’ approaches, that the best form of expressions will emerge. In addition, I broaden my class instructions to encourage knowledge of the chemical components in materials, pigments and mediums. This enhances studio safety as well as it increases students’ confidence towards broadening their experimentations and mastery of their techniques. My diverse grounding in traditional and contemporary materials and techniques, safety trainings, and art practices involving objects appropriation, makes me a better fit for this culmination.
2. Creative Freedom: Excessive rules and limitations inhibit students’ creative development and curtail the fertilization of divergent ideas. Students should be encouraged to trust their intuitiveness and be prepared to evolve from ‘failure’ or mistakes. My teaching thus concentrates on students’ efforts, ability to explore new and challenging grounds, and commitment to pushing ideas beyond the rudimentary structure of instructions. Reflecting on their generated ideas will serve to enhance students’ creative and technical know-how, thereby allowing them to move forward to the next level of experimentation. It is through self-investigation and experimentation that students develop savvy critical voices; find new ways of seeing and ultimately solving conceptual problems.
3. Individualized Goals and Curriculum Development: To enhance experimentation and enable broader laboratory of ideas, course syllabus and critiques should be interactive and structured to allow students assessment of their individual work and goals. I believe that an important part of studio art courses should involve helping students to develop their own goals within the precinct of the course syllabus. This allows me to tune the class and instructions to accommodate students of different backgrounds and learning curves. It further encourages students’ participation and engagement in a more productive way. Furthermore, course syllabus and plans combining pictorials with texts, and PowerPoint stimulates a clearer understanding of course objectives, goals, and assignments. Having such syllabus and assignment information posted on Blackboard serve as a constant reference for deadlines, processes, expectations, and participations. These processes ensure that instruction continues in and out of the classroom.
Finally, there is the essential and continual self-evaluation of my own teaching and practice to ensure that learning is taking place regardless of students’ background, skills, learning styles and personal approaches. My goal as a dedicated instructor is therefore to encourage critical thinking skills, facilitate students’ understanding and learning of pertinent concepts that will propel interest in further studies and practice. Through constant feedbacks, gallery and museums visits as well as assigned readings and discussions, students will develop an enhanced understanding of visual language and be knowledgeable in contemporary and historical expressions—Gravitating towards the next level of learning structure and experimentation.
Adéwálé Solomon Adénlé
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