by Janet Glatz
Teaching young art students has been a continuing joy for me. Their pride in what they accomplish each week, and their eagerness to return makes my day.
After I posted on face book this photo of two of my “girls” displaying their work, I got many, many likes and loves; however, there was one comment that struck me as veiled criticism. The poster wrote something like this: “allowing the free expression and individual thought to emerge”.
I know that art teachers in schools design their classes around the exploration of all kinds of art. I also know that they do not focus on any one kind of expression very long. So the students end up with a smattering of experience with loads of art forms over their elementary school career.
This is wonderful! Children need to experiment with and gain knowledge about all kinds of art.
What I attempt to do with my students is teach them the fundamentals of realistic painting: how to paint shapes with shadow and form; how to blend colors; how to create believable depth of field; how to handle their brushes correctly. I alternate between painting landscape-type works with fun and whimsical images so that the kids don’t get tired of painting endless leaves, grass, and mountains.
Yes, these two girls have done the same picture, but they each are a bit different because they not only hand draw the piece, they mix colors on their own, paint with some direction, but independently, and end up with something they are very proud of.
Each lesson they have, no matter what the subject, increases their mastery of paint and brushwork. Their confidence grows with the correction of every mistake; with the realization that they can produce something really nice; and with the knowledge that each week, their work gets better.
I am proud of what I do and how I do it, and I think I should be allowed to do it without snide criticism from a public school art teacher.