To Teach or Not to Teach III

Ted Baker Round Playing Card Jack of Hearts
Leo Reynolds / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

There is an enduring fallacy in the art world that believes that you can be an artist OR a teacher, but you can’t be both.

The whole “Jack of all Trades” thing, I guess.

I don’t believe this crap, and have been pretty vocal about it too.

Teaching certainly isn’t for everyone, and there are some legitimate considerations that may turn some potential art teachers away.

However, the most irritating argument that I hear is that teaching art means you’re not serious about your art practice.

I guess the Venetian renaissance was just filled with hacks and amateurs then.

Leonardo & Michelangelo were art teachers

Leonardo & Michelangelo had pupils throughout their careers.

We’ve inherited a rich tradition of pupilage and apprenticeship in visual art, where the master passes his skills to the next generation. I’m sure no one thinks that Bellini wasn’t taking his art practice serious by having pupils.

No one can deny that teaching will take you out of the studio and away from your art and process.

But this certainly doesn’t make it less serious and it doesn’t necessarily make the interruption a problem.

Teaching as Fine Art

There have in fact been academic research papers written about this exact question – how does teaching impact (positively & negatively) and artists creative practice?

In Teaching as a Critical Fine Art Practice, Susanne Clausen found these common results:

  • parallels grew between practice & teaching >> sharing & involving individual practice with in class teaching
  • used their own artworks and process as forms of teaching
  • developed a more collaborative process & practice
  • encouraged their own ability to talk and communicate about their art to the public
  • teaching became a vehicle of communication & change
  • resulted in more community-centred works and collaborative events

The key to success as a teaching artist was the unification of roles as artist & teacher.

The roles were found to be cyclical and complementary with each feeding into one another to produce excellence in both.

Teaching becomes an asset to your art practice – becoming a source of inspiration and a connection to the world and others that can’t be matched by a solitary studio practice alone.

Marianne Broome teaching plein air painting in Ontario.

Marianne Broome teaching plein air painting in Ontario.

Teaching as Inspiration

Ashley Dawn Sweat from Georgia State University came to the same conclusion in her thesis.

It’s not for everyone and some artists benefitted from teaching more than others. For those that can combine the dual roles into a stronger, more holistic art practice – the benefits were tremendous.

Getting out of the studio, connecting with the community and becoming an integral part of the art network opens up opportunities and exposure for your art.

The roles of Artist & Teacher when unified, feed and inspire each other producing excellence in both.

There’s also a very real satisfaction at sharing art skills and creativity.

Supporting and encouraging others on their own creative path often refuels artists and gives them a sense of satisfaction and belonging that they can’t find alone in the studio.

Marianne teaching How to Paint Soft Poppies.

Marianne teaching How to Paint Soft Poppies.

Marianne Broome speaks to this in our Expert Interview “How to Grow Your Art Biz by Teaching”.

They teach – not because they have to – but because they love it.

It’s fulfilling work. It creates an intimate community and audience and it’s just good business.

In “How to Grow Your Art Biz by Teaching”, Marianne Broome and I discuss all the ways that teaching can grow your art biz, grow your audience, exposure and sales.

Marianne talks about her own teaching path, how she’s been able to get past the major hurdles to teaching as a professional artist, such as time from the studio, and the problem of copyists.

If you’d like more info on “How to Grow Your Art Biz by Teaching”, click the link.

Or if you’re ready, you can buy now and get started.

MarianneCoverMarianne generously shares her 20 years experience of Montessori teaching & years of working as a full time painter in our audio class.

She provides 80 minutes of in-depth information on how to use teaching art as a foundation in building a successful art business.


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