Most of us have been making this art business for years, at least I have. At first it was something I did simply for the love of it, then it became a little more serious when college rolled around. When I started using art in the classroom it took on a different life, art teachers separate themselves from teaching and studio time for many reasons – family, work demands, time constraints. Its very different, a different state of mind.
Through all of this we strive to improve; our own professional methods, approaches, teaching skills. Not everyone deals with the teaching skills so their pathway to improvement is different. Teachers never get through going to school, or at least workshops to stay on top of what is trending in the classroom, and what government is telling us what to do and the changes we have to get used to. We have to or we get left in the dust. People who are devoted studio artists are concerned with their own work, its very personal and they work to improve style and technique.
With the advent of the internet all of our lives have changed no matter what profession you are involved with. I was having a conversation with Leigh the other day about how lucky college students are now to have the internet at their fingertips for research. When we were in college all of that had to be done in a library. There is nothing wrong with that, I love the library. But I can’t remember how long it has been since I was in a library for my own research. Kind of sad.
When you teach in schools, they have what are called PD meetings after school, which means professional development meetings. It is during these times when grade level teachers get together to talk about what is working and what isn’t, what they need to do to meet timelines and testing, and curriculum in general. When you are teaching art in a school, chances are very good you are the only one who does this service for the kids. So, there is no other grade level partner in which to commiserate. So, those meetings for us never takes place. Not complaining however, since there is always a ton of prep work to be done for art classes.
Self-improvement for art teachers is tremendous. Not only are you trying to improve your own craft you are staying on top of curriculum, standards, evaluations, and classes of your own. It’s a tremendous job and we have to wear many hats. But, most of us have time in our studios outside of work to do this for ourselves. There is a freeing sense about involving yourself in your own personal work, something you do for yourself that no one else can do for you. This is when we are in our own haven, our own space.
One of the best ways for an artist to focus on improving work is simply to do it. The more we practice at what we do, the better we get. This is true of anything as we all know, but especially in the arts. Working generates inspiration and you will find the more you expose yourself to your own artistic soul, the closer you will move to that place we all seek.
Treat yourself as special and allow time for those creative moments. Even if it is only thinking space that is important too. You will feel differently about your work, more energized and more able and willing to dig in to work.