Approximately HALF of our art class time is spent NOT making art.
A great deal of our time is spent looking at our art and talking about in-progress art hanging on the wall.
We're learning so much by doing this exercise:
We're identifying WHAT we like.
Everyone has different tastes and styles. What are you drawn to? Miss Allison loves the color orange. Miss Sara loves the color grey. Admit it, you've got a color. Maybe it's the one color that you always gravitate towards on the clothing rack, or the home decor items. Maybe you're drawn to paisleys, Or polka dots. These are things that are good to know about your own personal tastes. It's also important to NAME these styles. Ornate, sketchy, minimal, modern, classic, bold, high contrast, intricate, etc. The better we can TALK about our art, the better we can understand it.
We're finding out what "good" means.
Set style aside for just a second. We all know "good" when we see it. Everyone in the class can identify the "good" art. Yes, we make art that isn't good. We all do. That's nothing to be ashamed of or to shy away from. "Not good" art is simply one step towards something great.
But back to the "good".... What characteristics make it "good"? Strong composition. Balance. The rule of thirds. Clear focal point. Tension. Attention to detail. Completeness. Contrast. Harmony.
Breaking down "good" into parts makes it's achievable for everyone. When we can see the components that make-up GOOD art, we can also see what's missing from ours. Where it's lacking. We're identifying the next step. When our class is looking at a body of work, we can more clearly see OUR next step: The direction we need to go. Changes we need to make. Things we need to focus on. It's important that that discovery comes from the ARTIST...it's not handed down from the instructor.
But what about FEELINGS...
One more REALLY important thing...we're not great at critique yet. We don't know all the right words to describe what our brain sees. We stumble over the words and use lots of pointing and gestures. Getting the message across AND being tactful at the same time is just too much to ask.
Because of this, the art on the wall during these discussions is often NOT from the class in session.
Our community of artists will keep their art in their hands. The art on the wall is from a sister class who is doing the same project. Discussions can flow freely when the artists know that the friends who made it aren't in the room. Afterall, they aren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings; they are working to learn the vocabulary to accurately and objectively (and kindly) describe art.
Because that's what artists do.
Orange Easel is an Art School in Liberty MO. Our blog here is written by the instructors at the school.