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Teaching Philosophy

Jim Morrison stated, "…real poetry doesn't say anything, it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through any one that suits you." To me, this statement is universal for art and teaching. Learning is a means to opening doors, and finding one's own suitable path to success.

In life, each individual carries and gathers personal 'tools,' which provide for survival and growth. As a teacher, I want to to help fill my students' bags with valuable tools, but let them find their own paths. I present guidelines but expect other choices to be made independently. I teach that that making mistakes is part of the process, and that sometimes they can be corrected. In both art and education, personal creative exploration, encouragement and discipline provide an optimum environment to flourish. I seek to give my students structure, confidence, and practical, developmental experiences that advance them to new personal heights.

Each learner is different, and I enjoy getting to know those I teach. Sensitivity to one's discipline and medium, technical skill, and the ability to conceptualize ideas from start to finish are core tools for success. Whether I am working with a large or small group, I try to find ways to penetrate and provoke my students through language, stories, visual and physical examples, readings and projects designed to capture their attention. I aim to show students how to bring their own intuitive voice to their work while emphasizing the development of a personal creative process through sketching, research, planning and execution. I believe in encouraging them to stretch the limits of their own ability while remaining on task.

I tap into my backgrounds in publishing, illustration, graphic art, fine art and digital mediums for course lectures, demos and discussions. Formal art foundation concepts are also core, and I make it my goal to align lessons wherever possible to what is going on currently in the world. I try to include maximum individual attention and often, group projects. A favorite assignment is in Design I, when students select an influential and inspirational graphic artist or movement. They research a topic, give a presentation, and design a functional prototype of a book jacket reflecting the personality of the material. This is enjoyable for them as they study design history, identify images that interest them, and consider how they were made. Research and investigation evolves to the technical challenge of piecing an appealing, functional sample together, and concludes by summarizing and sharing the individual process with the group.

I have never really thought of teaching as work. Time passes quickly sometimes effortlessly when I focus on others, and the reward of helping others grow propels me. I see teaching as a significant responsibility. When I Iook back on how I came to be where I am today, and the many teachers who helped me to get here, it affirms that the acts of educating and inspiring are the greatest of gifts. And so, like Morrison, and some of my own past and present educators, I want to point out the doors, and tick off the possibilities.