The Art of Teaching Art: A Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Drawing-Based Art

The Art of Teaching Art: A Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Drawing-Based Art

The Art of Teaching Art: A Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Drawing-Based Art

The Art of Teaching Art: A Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Drawing-Based Art


Often the finest artists do not make the best teachers. Many frustrated college students of art know this all too well as they suffer through unstructured classes with inexperienced teachers or graduate student instructors. In these situations, it is easy to blame the teachers. But the problem is largely institutional: most students graduating with MFAs from art schools receive little if any instruction in teaching art. If you find yourself in this predicament as teacher or student, this book is for you. The first book to provide a comprehensive guide for teaching college-level art, The Art of Teaching Art is the culmination of respected artist and instructor Deborah Rockman's two decades of teaching experience. Believing that drawing is the backbone of all of the visual arts, she begins with a complete explanation of drawing concepts that apply to any subject matter, e.g., composition, sighting processes, scaling techniques, and methods for linear and tonal development. She then illustrates these concepts with step-by-step methods that easily translate to classroom exercises. Next, she applies the drawing principles to every artist's most important and challenging subject, the human figure. After an extended section on understanding and teaching perspective that explores illusionistic form and space, the focus of the book shifts to the studio classroom itself and the essential elements that go into making an effective learning environment and curriculum. From preparing materials lists and syllabi, to setting up still-lifes, handling difficult classroom situations, critiquing and grading student artworks, and shooting slides of student artworks, she leaves no stone unturned. The Art of Teaching Art is the guide every new or experienced teacher of college-level art must have. Its helpful suggestions and numerous examples of student artwork from Rockman's classes will impart confidence to the inexperienced and fresh inspiration to the veteran instructors.


Teaching is a noble profession. Webster's Dictionary says that to teach is "to impart knowledge of or skill in; to give instruction." Clearly one must first have a degree of knowledge or skill in order to reveal it to another. Preschool, elementary, and secondary educators not only have apparent knowledge or expertise in the subjects that they teach, but they are also required to receive training in and exposure to a variety of techniques, theories, and philosophies of teaching.

Unfortunately for many, this is not the case for postsecondary educators teaching at colleges and universities across the country. We have all heard the horror stories of the brilliant scientist or mathematician or writer or artist who is awarded a position on the faculty of an institution based on his or her professional performance and accomplishments only to fall miserably at communicating his or her wealth of knowledge and experience to an eager but disappointed group of students.

In general, the only requirement for teaching at the postsecondary level is to have a terminal degree in your field of expertise. In the case of the studio arts, a master of fine arts degree is the terminal degree. While this may provide the aspiring educator with a certain amount of skill and knowledge, it by no means ensures the ability to be an effective teacher. The communication skills required of a visual artist are not necessarily the communication skills required of a teacher of the visual arts.

To complicate matters further, many beginning instructors at the college or university level are thrust into the classroom not only lacking training or experience in teaching techniques, but without an adequate understanding of what information is most important to impart to a student in the initial and formative stages of an education in the visual arts. Many institutions that offer graduate degrees also provide their graduate students with an opportunity to teach foundation-level courses in the undergraduate program. Unfortunately, there is often very little if any preparation or . . .

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