Teaching Through My Artwork

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by Clara Lieu

Even though I started this new series of drawings just 2 weeks ago, I can already see that my drawing style has changed quite a bit since the first drawing. These beginning stages of a project are always quite exhilarating because the progress feels so fast and immediate.  I’m not committed to anything at this point in the project, so there’s no pressure to produce to achieve specific results.

My drawing materials have stayed the same since I started this series:  graphite powder, woodless pencils, drawing pencils, eraser stick, and kneaded eraser.  In this recent drawing experiment, (see below) the plan is to create 2 or 3 drawings and layer them on top of each other. I’ll tear each drawing so that the drawing underneath will be visible through the rips of the drawing on top. I’m anticipating that with the multiple layers of drawings, the image will likely be too busy. However, at this point, I’ll learn more when I do too much.  Scaling back and removing things is always much easier than having to reinvent new aspects every time.

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I’ve continued shooting 1 minute process videos which I’ve been posting on my Instagram. (the longer versions I post on the Art Prof Youtube channel.) Usually when I’m teaching in a classroom, I intentionally don’t discuss my personal artwork with my students. I don’t want students to think that I want them to make artwork that looks like mine, or for them to think that I prefer artwork that looks a certain way. (In fact, sometimes I’m more likely to like a piece when it’s not at all similar to my own artwork.  Sometimes it’s the artworks that are so completely different from mine that I’m most attracted to, simply because I can’t wrap my head around making work like that) Instead, I wait until the last day of class to do a slideshow about my work.  At that point, the students know me well enough that I feel comfortable discussing my own work with them.

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Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how teaching online is a completely different story.  The context is not remotely the same as an academic classroom in a degree program.  I have no control over how people will find my work, or in what order they will see my content in. I had never considered this, but perhaps the way I need to approach teaching online is through both 1) teaching tutorials, and 2) process videos of my own artwork.

When I think about it, these 2 types of videos really have the potential to complement each other well. One of my inherent concerns with the teaching tutorials is that the demo piece that is created in the tutorial tends to have a more generic look. In a teaching tutorial, I’m trying to show universal skills that are applicable across the board to all artists, so I purposely try to leave out my own drawing style. The process videos of my own artwork show a level of specificity and focus that the teaching tutorials will never have. On the other hand, the process videos show techniques that won’t be relevant to everyone because of how specific they are, and many fundamentals aren’t addressed.  The teaching tutorials really do provide the core basics, which everyone studying visual arts needs to know.

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I like this idea of pairing the teaching tutorials and the process videos of my artwork to teach online.  I can imagine that in areas where one format is insufficient, the other can fill in the blanks.  I have always thought of my studio practice as being related to my teaching.  However, this is the first time that I have ever thought about my studio practice as being a literal teaching tool. Not sure whether this pairing will work out, but I’m excited about this new initiative, and willing to give it a shot.


Related Articles
My Poisonous Checklist
One Simple Purpose
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments


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