Professional Learning

Finding Your Voice in AOEU Studio Courses

finished perspective work

The idea of an online studio course can be hard to wrap your head around. You might wonder:

  • With the studio component, will the content still be relevant to my work in the classroom? 
  • Will I have the freedom to explore personally meaningful topics? 
  • Will I actually get to make any art?

As a Senior Instructor for AOEU, I can tell you the answer to those questions is yes!

We design our studio courses specifically for K-12 art teachers, so they emphasize classroom application.

Each week, participants explore different techniques and tools that relate directly to what they’re doing in the classroom, no matter the level they teach. Therefore, in each course, there is ample opportunity to create instructional tools and develop lessons through open-ended assignments.

That being said, we know sometimes teachers really want to reconnect with their personal art making and reigniting a creative spark and growing personally as an artist can also impact work in the classroom. Therefore, not all of the assignments require designing teaching materials.

Today I’m excited to share how one student from our Studio: Drawing course was able to use her unique interests and skills to create some incredible work.

Liz HeadshotLiz Hayden, a high school Graphic Design and Photography teacher from in Massachusetts, immediately recognized the assignments in Studio: Drawing allowed her to select her preferred media. She wanted to develop digital drawings to use in her graphic design course. I encouraged her to pursue the idea of digital drawing and the results blew me away.

One assignment in the course focuses on observational drawing. For this assignment, Liz generated multiple digital sketches of scissors and then explored the idea of applying and overlapping colors to create visual balance.


If you’d like to take a closer look, you can download her beautifully designed Process Board below.

scissors process board

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In another assignment, course participants are asked to explore various resources and approaches to drawing in and teaching perspective. To fulfill this assignment, Liz chose to incorporate the use of one-point perspective drawing with photographic images.

finished perspective work

Her inspiration came from the artwork of contemporary artist, Ben Heine. You can check this out in more detail as well by downloading her process board below.

perspective process board

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Incredible, right!? Beyond letting me share Liz’s incredible work with you, the process boards created in this course (and in all our studio courses) have many other uses. First of all, students in the course share their process boards with one another, so over the eight weeks, you get to see TONS of amazing ideas to inspire you. In addition, many course participants use their process boards as instructional tools to support students in their own classrooms!

As you can see, we design our studio courses to provide enough freedom to allow all participants to create work that is relevant to them and their students. Plus, we have participants share their work with one another so everyone walks away from the course inspired and bursting with new ideas to try. I hope you will consider taking a Studio course. Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with your favorite art medium, try new things, and connect with other art education professionals.

Share your thoughts on artistic choice and voice in studio courses designed for art teachers.

In what ways have you made assignments your own in AOE courses?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Patricia Christiansen

Patricia is an Adjunct Graduate Instructor at The Art of Education. She is passionate about art education, research, and online learning.

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