The modern art world has been developing into an individualized arena, an age of artists exploring concepts without the weight of an over-all movement or dominating vision. Although the new advances in artistic concepts are exciting and new, one cannot expect an artist to achieve success without the knowledge of fundamental art theory and execution. This is a challenge in the modern, digital age, and the very reason why I am drawn to teaching studio art and art history. The skills that are passed down from one artist (teacher) to another (student) is the fundamental basis for creating new art in a limitless world.
Art is a visual language. Colors convey light as well as mood. A line can express energy or calm. Form creates movement and volume. This language can be unlocked through the investigation of traditional artistic practice, theory, and history. Working from observation automatically becomes a challenge of translating a three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional image. Flat lines and shapes become representations of objects in space, which evolves into the representation of time. Color theory offers the opportunity for the manipulation of emotion. Forms can find a way to jump out of the picture plane, set back in space, or stick to the edge. Once the student understands these ideas, through practical trial and error of class work, they can apply this language to successfully execute their concept.
The key to developing the minds of the art student is teaching how to view the art of others. As a teacher, I enjoy exploring art and its history in museums, galleries, and the classroom with my students. They can find how the modern artist still uses traditional theory to their means, even if the end product doesn’t immediately suggest it. Explore how they manipulate the picture plane to create the desired reaction from their viewers. Participating in classroom critiques also helps the student to develop their vocabulary, discover purpose, and translate intent from another’s art, which ultimately strengthens their own.