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I am often surprised when I meet art teachers who don’t make art.
When I say art, I mean art that is solely for the teacher. I’m not talking about classroom examples or other art-related tasks that go along with our jobs. Of course, I don’t think that all art teachers need to be creating and showing art in galleries, but I do think it’s important for art teachers to participate in the creative process at some level outside of working with students.
One reason I feel it’s so important to make your own art is to spend time in the struggle. Creating your own art puts you at the heart of the art making process. This means when your students have difficulty, you understand. You’re better equipped to help find solutions because you get it, you’ve been there.
I get it. Teaching art is a full-time job, and teaching art in and of itself is an art. Helping students to become artists and find their voice requires a lot of us, and takes more time than the school day can provide.
However, I still push myself to find time to create art. I started small my first few years teaching by keeping a sketchbook, and working here and there on my oil paintings. No one typically saw my work, but I was creating. This time with art led me to make art a bigger part of my life, and that change has made all the difference for me and my students.
Don’t think you have to stick to the traditional mediums of drawing and painting! For example, I am a chainsaw sculptor and spend a significant amount of time on my work. Being able to share my art with my students, my co-workers, and my community has changed the way I teach art. It has also changed the way people view me as the art teacher, and in turn has changed how people view art class.
They say it takes quite a bit of time and determination to create a habit, so be gentle with yourself and start slowly.
Here are three ideas to get you started.
Once you have created the habit of having art in your life again, you won’t need to force it. It will simply become part of what you do. Even things we enjoy sometimes have to be scheduled in or they won’t happen. All of this talk about habits makes me think of the Chuck Close quote, “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
If you’re looking for even more inspiration to start up your personal art practice again, join me for the Summer 2016 Art Ed Now National Online Conference for art teachers. I’ll be sharing more about how making your own art can enhance your teaching practice in the After Pass. These are bonus presentations that you can view for up to one full year after the live conference ends!
In addition, check out all of these other amazing presentations that will be available in the After Pass as Well.
Plus, if you’re interested in hearing even more on the topic of making your own art, be sure to check out the recent episode of Art Ed Radio, where host Tim Bogatz talks to guest Andrea Slusarski about how being an artist can inform your teaching.
What are your thoughts about art teachers making art?
Do you teach art and make art? How does it change the way you teach?