10 Commandments of Teaching Art

Guest blogger: Janice Tanton

Janice Tanton

Janice Tanton, BP - Big Pig: The Hog of the Forsaken. Oil on Belgian linen, 48 x 96 inches.

1. DO Give as much as yourself as humanly possible to your students.

2. DO Encourage skill-building in every form.

3. DO Share all the secrets that you have.

4. DO Notice what your students notice and ask for feedback constantly on your teaching methods and techniques. You will learn.

5. DO Be confident in your voice as an instructor and guide your students to find their own voice.

6. DO Assume positive intent.

7. DON’T Consider teaching related to your marketing your works. (They are completely separate, and you owe it to the profession of “artist” to pass along what you know to those who do not. We are all the better for it.)

8. DON’T Ever propose just “one” way of doing things to your students. Be open to all the possibilities.

9. DON’T EVER knock another artist or teacher. Guide gently.

10. DO remember that in the past, ateliers were the method by which we learned our craft, passing it down from artist to artist in an apprenticeship form. Instill this in others.

I would never have learned what I have if it were not for the generosity of artists that took me under their wings and into their studios, taught me their techniques, concept, insight and ultimately how to find my own voice.

Janice Tanton is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice explores contemporary cross-cultural relationships. She is also an active member of the Artist Conspiracy on Art Biz Coach.

This post was first seen on this blog as a comment and was too good to be left alone on that post. Write some juicy, relevant comments on this blog and you just might get your own guest post.

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4 comments to 10 Commandments of Teaching Art

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  • Janice,
    As a teacher myself, I appreciate the commandments you have written. All teachers should read these and adhere to them. There are three that are among the most important to me.
    #7. Sales are nice if they happen during a class or workshop, but I find it distasteful if a teacher broadcasts this painting, this demo, etc are for sale.
    #8. There certainly are many ways to do things. Teachers who insist their way is the only way have too big an ego, in my opinion.
    #9. When students tell me so and so teacher said to do it this way, (which is not my way) I tell them there is not just one right way to do things. What works for some artists, may not work best for others. I don’t want to discount what another teacher has said. Besides, you never know when a negative thing you’ve said about another teacher will come back to haunt you.

  • a friend and i were talking about this tonight. i have learned so much from artists who weren’t actively teaching but were generous in sharing ideas or techniques. the best teachers in classes provide skills and encourage students to use their own voice. these artists understand that what you gives comes back multiplied many times and that we can always learn and have our creativity sparked by someone else’s insight. it’s a lovely cycle.

  • [...] language you will use to sell your teaching services will be much different that that that you use to sell your art. But once you have the right [...]