January 24, 2020

Teaching Art to Art Teachers

Personal practice: What you create when no one is looking. That is, art you make by choice.

I love attending conferences for art educators.  The air is filled with excitement, creativity, deep reflection, nurturing and possibility.

It was a double bonus for me at the 2019 Massachusetts Art Education Association conference as I had a chance to present my workshop: Art Lessons: Personal Practice, Healing and Joy 

Photo by Amanda Correia of Mr and Mrs Drew Photography

My jitters quickly calmed as my peers responded positively to the material.  The necessity of covering more ground led me to sometimes cut off robust pair shares.  And, in the end, I probably covered just a quarter of my prepared material.

Photo by Amanda Correia of Mr and Mrs Drew Photography

However, taking a risk to vulnerably share my personal art practices that lead to healing and joy resulted in a meaningful experience that was, well, filled with healing and joy!

After the workshop, one participant wrote, "It was helpful to take time to reflect on one's personal practice within a community of art educators who understand the challenges of fitting it into daily life. Presenter's examples and suggestions were useful." Another wrote, "So interesting."

Creative Process - Planning a Protest Sign
I related some of my creative endeavors relating to social justice issues, whether climate change or race and stereotype.

The Oxygen Cycle at a Student Climate Strike
I explained the importance of just taking time to make art, even if it is not perfect. (see above)

I talked about the importance of filling one's creative well by visiting museums for inspiration:

After presenting these explorations, I prompted the attendees, who were paired up: Please discuss with your partner any social issues or political causes that interest you, along the possibilities for related creative expression.  Practical solutions were shared out to the whole group.

Blind Contour Drawing at the Movies
As a way to squeeze creative expression into a busy life, I noted that I sometimes bring my sketchbook to the movie theater.  See: Drawing in the Dark - Capturing Captain America with Pen and Pencil

I packed my visual presentation with images and videos.  However, the resulting large file size precluded uploading.  Here is an abbreviated version that includes definitions and prompts.

How do you jump start the creative process in your life?  I invite you to comment below.  Thank you.

John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com