As I complete my 24th year teaching, I have been reflecting back on what impact my personal artistic journey has had on my teaching practices. My lessons have always been driven more by my personal experiences and discoveries with making Art than relying on past memories of long nights in the studio. I feel that staying with a fresh and creative approach brings a more powerful experience to impart to the students.
For many years after college drawing was always my creative mainstay, a discipline I have actively engaged in on almost a daily basis. Soon to follow was painting, mostly in an abstract format, and that saw me through the ‘80s and early ‘90s. With the advancement of technology and new digital resources available to me, and to my students, I put aside full-time painting for new digital horizons. Although these new digital skills influenced and helped drive my creative expression, I often thought of revisiting my painting roots and stepping back into some old footprints.
Four years ago, I took action on that desire and once again started the process of painting. Instead of the large colorful abstracts, this time I was drawn to the theme of landscapes rendered in watercolor. I have immersed myself in the many experiences that painting can afford an artist. It was a bit of a hit or miss at the beginning stages. I needed to once again find my footing and rediscover old skills and discover some new ones. I now feel I am ready to push forward and see what lies on the horizon for this new series.
My travels in Scotland over the past 20 years have provided me with enough beautifully stunning landscapes to keep me inspired for the rest of my visual arts career. The juxtaposition of the rugged coastal shorelines to the lichen-covered highland mountains is a powerful visual created by the always-creative paintbrush of Mother Nature. When I pick up my own paintbrush, I seek to lay down the colors, surfaces, and structural relationships between the land the sky. I traveled to Arizona a few years back and was taken with the beauty of the southwestern landscape. It visually overwhelmed me. These two different sets of experiences are my visual maps when I create my own landscapes. I seek to blend the experience with what is happening on paper to what is forever burned into my visual memories of these beautiful sites.
One of the extra benefits of all these new studio experiences is that they can now be brought back into my classroom teaching. I can now use my new adventures in painting as talking points with many of my students. The artistic journey, the creative process, the visual decision-making, all of it is part of a process that the students are just beginning to experience and step into as they take their studies in art seriously. I feel in a strange way I too am still on that journey and the act of actively making art supports my own personal artistic journey as it enhances the level of resources, I can offer my students.