I have worked as an art model for sixteen years. I’ve worked at IPFW, University of Saint Francis and Artlink INC in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve also done some sessions for art groups.
Over those years I have worked with many professors and art instructors. I have gone to many art openings and talked to many artists. I’ve absorbed so many theories about art and art history by listening to all the lectures where I modeled. I know a lot about concepts on an academic level. I just need to learn how to apply them when I attempt do create art. The really talented students make it look SO easy. I enjoy observing the ones who struggle and see them improve over their college career. They really have a lot of ambition and tenacity. I observe how they learn techniques and then try to learn them as well.
There are some students who really struggle in art school. It’s not because they’re not talented. They are very talented. It is because they are very stubborn and have that arrogance of youth. They are so used to being praised as the best in their class from high school and being the best in their high school. When they go to a university, they are no longer always the best. There is a lot more competition. Sometimes they hold onto the techniques they used for their entire lives very tightly. When a professor tries to get them to try another way of holding a paint brush or using more of the edges of a block of charcoal or pastel, they freak out and accuse them of wanting to make them into clones of the professors. This is not true. None of the professors I work with have a desire to churn out Mary Klopfer or Rick Cartwright clones. They were once first year art students and they know that they need to be pushed out of their comfort bubbles.
When I see this struggle happen, I go up to talk to them during breaks. I encourage them to just TRY the new techniques for a bit to see how they feel. I tell them I know that it may be frustrating, but they may surprise themselves of what they may come up with. I remind them that art requires you to have an open mind and experiment a bit. It usually helps and it eases the tension between student and professor.
I know it is frustrating to learn new techniques in any media. I remember when I was a freshman in a creative writing class and locked horns with some professors about trying new writing techniques right out of high school. I, too was used to being praised as being one of the best creative writers in my class and got mighty huffy. I just wish that I didn’t have that really awful experience in grad school that pretty much killed my writing muse. But that was more about certain professors not knowing proper boundaries and getting very creepily personal and probing places where they really SHOULD not go to the point of being pathological. But that’s another story for another day. *shudders*