I look at the following question: How does a mother-artist sensibility inform my art teaching?
Monday, 7 May 2012
I’ve been teaching art as part of informal education for the past 30 years both in Israel and England. During this time I have accumulated a large body of experience and knowledge. I recognise that it is now the time to articulate this ‘body of experience’ in words.
Just as I taught others (both adults and children), others taught me. I always saw, and still see, teaching as a two way system where each of us is both a teacher and a student.
What art is not?
It is not techniques.
It is not copying.
It is not a formula.
It does not answer the question: How to...?
(How to paint a dog? How to draw a Robin?)
The maternal position witness-participant
The maternal position witness-participant allows you to see change as it unfolds before you, where seeing is understood as a complex action comprises of reflection, meditation and participation.
You need to know many techniques. How many? As many as you find and invent. You can learn about a technique from a book. In your studio you can find and invent techniques by experimenting with different materials and recording those experiments. Sometime these explorations can be frustrating. However, if you allow yourself to go back to the space of your childhood; where you are an explorer and every experiment leads to a new finding; when it is still o.k. to play; then this activity leads to a whole world of creativity, far beyond the realm of a mere technique.
Motherhood can be a highly creative way of living. You practically invent your way, manoeuvring between stereotypical thinking which society around you try to impose on you, and your own conditioning, i.e. – how you should or shouldn’t behave.
Learning to draw from observation is not copying, but making a synthesis between your perception, drawing ability and an object. It is a skill that can be taught and develop. The more you practice, the more you realise that the actual nature of seeing is very complex.
‘The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled’, John Berger Ways of Seeing (2008).
Within this unsettled sphere I reinvent myself every time I draw.
Witnessing and participating in change are interactions with time as a creative process.
Although art is not a formula, there are many methods that can be helpful in building your art work. For example, one method which I find very useful is keeping a sketch-book where I draw regularly. This sketchbook is a place to collect and record small, spontaneous thoughts in a form of drawings. Parallel to it are larger drawings which I make over a long period of time. I use the small sketchbook as storage of ideas, thoughts, marks, connections between one idea and another in visual language. However a sketchbook is more than a storage since it is a space in which time is considered as part of the artwork.