Within the first two to three years of my teaching career, I realized that it was not always natural talent that enabled students to succeed; it was also the passion of the student to learn and the instructor’s ability to present the techniques and theory necessary for improvement. Sure, it’s great to have natural talent, but even I had proven that natural talent was not necessary. It’s simple, if I don’t practice, I lose the skill.
I was fortunate in junior high and high school to have two tremendous art instructors. In junior high, my instructor was Ann Grissett. Being basically a left brained personality, Ann taught me the value of organizing information in such a way that the student saw the simplicity of each step in a technique. An understanding of perspective drawing was Ann’s greatest gift to me. Inez Parker was my high school instructor. She was a forceful, right-brained individual – having such enthusiasm and energy for pushing yourself to succeed. Miss Parker’s “never give up, never back away” motto was always joined with the strategy of always completing a work even if you only hide it under the bed and never looked at it again. The very problem that causes you to want to start over is the same problem that will occur in the next artwork. Even before stepping into college art classes, I had been exposed to the best of two artistic worlds. Demonstration had always been their primary means of delivering technique and theory and was always presented with such importance – that the aesthetics were always considered no matter how trivial the practice seemed, it was always proven to be the key to my improvement.
With this background and basis, I have sought to wrap the student in a relaxed atmosphere, coupled with the needs and “wants” of the individual student. With repeated application of basic techniques, I recognized the importance of always starting instruction at the developmental level of the student. So many instructors choose to concentrate on producing such a stunning demonstration; they sometimes overlook the more basic needs of the student. My goal has always centered on the long range application – and as you would guess – this direction comes from 32 years of teaching on the high school and college level.