I spent the last week with my nose buried in my work trying to get ready for the Thought Bubble Comic Festival so here’s my weekly post on teaching at London Fine Art studios a week late. More on my experience at the festival and sleep deprived hallucinations later.
My foundation classes had their last class of charcoal drawing and I couldn’t be more ready to move on to oil paint. It’s been ages since I’ve got to get the paint out and I’m starting to realise how much I missed it.
I had to make an intervention with my foundation students this week. A healthy amount of self criticism is good. Students who think everything they do is good and refuse to take a critique are pointless to work with. On the other side of the spectrum, students who are overly self critical never build the self confidence to move forward. I’ve been dealing with a third variety and it’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it.
Often when I approach a student to give a critique they say their drawing is horrible, terrible, a monster, etc. before I’m even able to get a word out. Then follow up each point a make with a reiteration. At first, I thought this might be a cultural difference – Americans are over positive and Brits, overly self-deprivating – but I always thought there was something odd about it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s some sort of ego protection. By dismissing their work, they are separating it from themselves and failing to focus on their process having a problem which created the poor work. This moves the critique away from their actions and on to something that is not them.
I had my limit of ego protection last week so I pulled the class together and told them to leave it at the door. Be self critical. It will enable you to develop but make sure it is in a way that is about aiding progress, not hindering it.
My anatomy class was much more straightforward. We did our last day of skeletal anatomy and will be moving on to muscles this week.
I gave them a pop quiz on the anatomy we’ve gone over so far. Punishment for getting a question wrong was public shaming via the Shame Bell Mobile App. I highly recommend it for motivating students.