Teachers and artists come from all over the country to take part in our workshop program. We explore many aspects of the creative process and the making of drawing and painting, that directly relate to teaching as well as the challenges of making art.
The primary question that comes up is how do we set about the education of the imagination? How do we impact and encourage creativity? Most learning is based on the understanding that learning follows a logical and predicable pattern of acquiring knowledge. Educators produce lesson plans and structure their classes around measurable outcomes. The education of the imagination requires sustained encounters with uncertainly. It is fostered by affirmation, excitement and experimentation. It is stymied by direction. The question then becomes how do we work this into our teaching of art?
The participants in the workshop are asked to observe themselves in their creative process. To make notes of what fosters it and what diminishes it. We create an environment in which everything is focused on fostering creativity and facilitating the individual participants work. It is used by both artists and teachers. In a way we seek to create an ideal environment from which the participants get to study what best fosters creativity. This has a direct and tangible influence on their teaching. It expands their understanding of creativity and gives them concrete tools to use in teaching.
The other issue that is explored is how to mesh this fostering of creativity with the teaching of technique and knowledge of the visual arts. If you show someone how to make green, it is a technical tool. If they are mixing colors and they find green, it is a moment of extension and excitement. The latter fosters creativity and exploration. The former gets information efficiently taught. All creative activities are a mix of structure and surrender. Artists and students need technical information. How do we work these two concerns together? How do we tie the artists learning to his or her voice?
These questions lie at the heart of art education and our understandings of how art works and contributes to our communities. The workshops are set up to explore these questions in the making of art – to pull from this intensive experience as much as we can that will help us, as teachers, struggle with this dilemma. It is a laboratory for addressing as directly as possible, these concerns.