How to Choose an Art Instructor

I’m thrilled to welcome artist and author Jean Pederson to the family of bloggers here at ArtistsNetwork.com. Read on for her advice below and then be sure to check back to ArtistsNetwork.com regularly for more great tips from Jean. Today, she gives you tips for choosing an art instructor that will be right for you. And, don’t miss her newest book, Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques, and the Personal Artistic Journey. It includes 21 step-by-step demonstrations and more. ~Cherie

How to Choose an Art Instructor, by Jean Pederson

Step out and try something new! Participating in art workshops is a great way to acquire information, add to your skill set, connect with other artists, get out of your studio space for a change of pace, and  learn from instructors that you admire.

But how do you choose a workshop instructor? There are so many choices! You have to put a little time into it: research instructors and ask yourself what your requirements are in order to choose a comfortable fit.

how to find an art teacher

Jean poses with a student during one of her art workshops.

Here are some questions that may help you choose.

What mediums are you focused on studying? This is probably the most important question next to subject and style. Know your materials. The exploration of mediums can be done in your studio but often an instructor will have tips and techniques that can enhance your knowledge base, and offer you a different point of view.

Is there a particular subject that interests you? Perhaps an instructor has a unique approach to your favorite subject. For example, one instructor may be interested in realism and therefore the anatomy of the subject, lighting, values, and colors that we perceive will be a focus.

Do you want to develop a stronger personal language of your own? Other instructors may be more interested in interpreting the subject, distorting, or stylizing for example. Interpretation plays into style as there is often a strong personal language attached to less realism.

Are there artists you already admire? Find out if they offer workshops and look up reviews to find out about their teaching style. Is it a fit with your learning style? For example, is this artist known for demonstrating techniques or for using a more conceptual approach facilitating your individual journey within the workshop? Both approaches are great, but consider which would be the best fit for you. Also, ask other artists for recommendations. There is nothing better than word of mouth and a personal referral.

When You’ve Narrowed It Down…

Where is the art course located and what will it cost to attend? Course fees, travel, and accommodations can really add up and reduce your options if price is a consideration.

Read articles and books that the instructor has written. You can often get a good feel for the person and content simply by looking at what they have published.

After you’ve chosen your instructor, go to the class with an open mind. Be an active learner and try things outside of your comfort zone. Use your workshop time to gather information and not as a time to try and paint a masterpiece. Learning requires a few falls, and mastery comes only after hours and hours of practice. Go back to your studio and incubate the information from the workshop. Think about how you can make the new material your own. ~JP

One of Jean’s points in particular made me stop for a moment and think. “Use your workshop time to gather information and not as a time to try and paint a masterpiece.” A sentiment worth repeating (click here to Tweet it)! Sometimes, it’s in those little moments of playing with art that a seed is planted, and brilliant ideas grow from there. Stay tuned–Jean’s next blog will be about artistic style.

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