Teacher and Artist
Most of us are, or were at some point, artists.
But we are also teachers, and the teaching of art requires a multitude of abilities; intellectual, practical, artistic, social, even bureaucratic.
What does it mean to be an Artist Teacher?
A possible definition: An artist teacher is an artist who has also developed these other skills and is able to activate and inspire a variety of learning experiences that that are catalyzed by artistic engagement.
Make your work
Being a teacher doesn't mean giving it up; we just have to be more resourceful about finding time to make our own work. Most of the best teachers I've had in my life have been practicing artists who are very willing to speak about and share their work with their students
Share your work
invite the students to see your work, whether informally or at a show. Students really respond to this; the teacher becomes even more of a role model, a real artist!
or even better, work alongside them. This isn't always possible or appropriate but there will be occasions in which it is; don't miss those opportunities. It might be during a life drawing session or a field trip or if you are doing an extended workshop with a particular technique that you want to try.
You don't have to impress or be better than your students, really, they won't hold it against you if you do something not fantastic. And you probably will impress them anyhow, just be being willing to expose yourself.
Are you squeezed dry?
However, teaching does take enormous amounts of energy, and we squeeze alot of our creative juices into our students, thinking about their work, thinking about their ideas and how to help them, and then there's the marking and the grade reports, and the exhibitions,and the IB assessment and then....there's just no juice left for own work!
Art Teacher Rejuvenation
I have some suggestions on how to help re- energise your inner artist, which will naturally rejuvenate your teaching as well. These are things that have worked for me.
Claim some space
Make a space of your own, a studio ideally, but if not, a corner with a table will do. Or maybe its psychic space you need to claim, a room of one's own so to speak, space without family, friends or students.
Take a Class
Let yourself be the student for a change. Even a weekly life drawing session or an evening class in a new skill, such as paper making or etching will allow you to play and experiment. It can be a relief to be a student again without the responsibilities of a teacher
Go on an Artist Residency
This can be more complicated to arrange due to work schedules etc, but teachers do have long summer holidays and it's not entirely impossible. It does require some advance planning as most residencies ask you to apply at least 6 months before the desired date. Residencies usually last from 2 weeks to a month with some even longer ones. You can find a full listing at ResArtis, a worldwide network of artist residencies. You must apply for a residency and in most cases submit samples of your work. Some residencies award fellowships and you will not pay anything if you are so lucky to be selected for one of these. There are also paying residencies but they are usually still less expensive than an average holiday. You meet other artists ( great people on the whole), have undisturbed time and space for your work, and a supportive encouraging staff and environment!
Artist Teacher Workshops
La Vigna Art Studios is an artist studio in Tuscany, Italy, where we offer workshops and courses to teachers, students and artists of all kinds.
The Artist Teachers workshops are a unique kind of professional development for teachers who want to rejuvenate and energize both their teaching and their own artistic practice. In this 3-day workshops we focus on the teacher as artist, with hands on activities enriched by site visits, and then look at how this can be carried into teaching. Only one per year, so sign up early!
We also run a one and two week IB art summer course for students