Getting the Most Out of the Classes You Take

February 8, 2009
I will be offering a new course "Expressive Drawing" at the Somerset Art Association, Bedminster, NJ beginning Feb. 27

I will be offering a new course "Expressive Drawing" at the Somerset Art Association, Bedminster, NJ beginning Feb. 27

It’s important to me that the students who take my classes each get something worthwhile out of the time and money they spend on the course. Regardless of whom you choose to study with, here are some tips I think will help you to get the most out of classroom time.

  • Sign up for courses that truly sound interesting to you and have a clear idea of what you wish to accomplish from taking the class. On the first day of class, a good instructor will always ask each student what they hope to get from taking the course–speak up, it’s the only way the instructor will know where your interests lie and how to best work with you throughout the course.
  • When deciding what classes to take, find out a little bit about the instructor before hand. What style do they work in? Do you like it? Why? What is their teaching style? Do they do demos in class? Do they encourage experimentation? Talk with some of their other students to get a good understanding of what the classes will be like. It’s best to study with someone you are comfortable with, and who teaches in a manner that matches your learning style and level of ability and experience.
  • Once you’ve signed up for a class, be prepared to use the class time as learning time. Don’t expect to create a masterpiece in class, especially if you are taking a course in a new medium or are new to drawing and painting. Allow yourself the freedom to use classroom time for practicing, trying new things and asking questions.
  • If the instructor does demos, take advantage of it! Even if you are an advanced student, the demo is part of the class–you paid for it, you might as well watch. Instructors use demos to illustrate concepts, techniques and ideas, not to show off their skills. Don’t expect a demo study to look like a finished painting–the point of doing a demo is not to create an exhibition-quality painting, rather to illustrate specific techniques and ways to use a given medium.
  • If you are in a large class, please realize that the instructor needs to give everyone an equal amount of time and attention. It isn’t fair to the other students to expect special attention, even if you are at a stage where you really need assistance with something, wait until it is your turn, your fellow students will really appreciate it.
  • Try to arrive for class no earlier than 5 minutes before it officially starts.  Instructors need set up time and time to mentally prepare the material they will be covering. If you arrive early, occupy yourself outside the classroom, get a cup of coffee, look at the art in the hallway–but allow the instructor the time before the class starts to focus on their presentation for the day. You will get a much clearer, concise lecture/demonstration if the teacher has had the time they need to focus without distraction. 
  • If you do need some private time to discuss your work in more depth, make an appointment for a private consultation outside of the class.
  • Last of all, bring a positive attitude with you and try not to get frustrated. No matter what your experience level, art is something that requires practice, patience and an open mind to unleash creativity. It should be a rewarding experience, not a struggle, relax and enjoy the time you have doing something that can be very expressive and liberating.

I hope the above is helpful, with all the stress and busy schedules we keep these days, sometimes we need to be reminded why we do some of the things we do. I want my classes to be positive, rewarding and stimulating experiences for everyone, if there is something I can do to enhance that experience, please let me know.

New Class Offered at Somerset Art Association Beginning Feb. 27

I am offering a new class called “Expressive Drawing” beginning Feb. 27 and running for 3 weeks (Fridays from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.). The emphasis in this class will be on putting more life and spontaneity into your drawings, focusing on form and value, and drawing with charcoal and acrylic. I have 4 spaces open in the class which is definitely running, if you would like to sign up, please call 908-234-2345 to register.