Teaching

post-it-party-thumbFor the first time, I am teaching a regular class on sketchbook journaling and, it is some thing I really look forward to each week. I have an awful lot of students (25 or so) and our classroom is a less than inspiring place, but each Tuesday night we talk about drawing and journaling and the wide world of art, then we draw and write together for a couple of hours. Many of the folks in class are new to drawing but all are plunging in with courage and enthusiasm. Some have become instant sketchbook addicts, while others are still hanging around the shallow end, getting their bearings. This week, one of our exercises was to break an object into abstract parts and explore each one deeply. I then combined all of the individual drawings and revealed what we had been looking at collectively: a picture of our new President-elect. There was wild applause and excitement when the group mind came together. Teaching a class is forcing me to really think about what drawing is and how to communicate what I have taught myself over the years. It is is very challenging but the support and pleasure of my students inspires me mightily.

ImageIronically, this morning I was called out by a professional art teacher, here on my blog, who questioned whether I was disrespectful of art education. I hastened to explain:
Hi Danny. The book looks great, but I have to admit, upon viewing the little videomercial, despite the beautiful imagery, I was a bit turned off by what I perceived as a slight jab to my profession . As an art educator, I work my butt off day in day out turning kids onto art. The smiles on their faces when they enter the art room say it all. Their work says even more. I know too many good folks who are on the same boat as me who would feel the same. Am I overreacting here, or being slightly too sensitive? Maybe so. Still, in these trying times, when school budgets are getting cut left and right, and art educators (or,as we called them back in the day, art teachers) are either finding themselves out of a job, or not being able to find a job, the last thing we need is someone dissing art education. I’ll certainly buy the book – how could I resist something this good? Still, please talk me down and tell me why I’m getting my panties in a bundle over a tiny, little sentence (or don’t waste your time on me at all).
Steve

Dear Steve:
I hear you. Let me unravel my thoughts. First of all, I believe art education is vital to both children and adults. My son goes to a high school that specializes in art education and he takes two hours a day (!) of drawing classes. We have put him in several summer and after-school classes to develop his love of art too. So, I am all for art education … when it is done well.
I was deeply scarred by my art teacher’s abusive and derisive comments when I was a boy. I receive so many emails and letters form people who had similarly traumatic experiences when they were young too, dismissive or overly rigid teachers who made them feel they could never draw, would never amount to anything. These teachers are the exceptions in a profession that takes a lot of self-sacrifice and commitment, besieged from all sides by budgets and support for the football team.
So, while I do not diss art education in general, there are without question times when it is poorly taught. A bad teacher might be careless with comments, or overly programatic and rigid, or create a negative environment. There are people who are second rate in all professions but the ones who are incompetent or indifferent at art education can have long and deep impact on the very people who come to my site and books looking for a way to repair their creative instincts.
I realize that this may not be the answer you sought. But please know that a) my book contains work from fantastic several art educators (Rama Hughes, Roz Stendahl, Kate Johnson, Brody Neunschwander, Kurt Hollomon, Gay Kraeger, Christina Lopp, and more) and b) that I consider much of my mission to teach people to teach themselves art so I am also a sort of an art educator ( In fact, I am currently teaching a class here in New York).
And finally, Steve, I am often careless myself in the way I express myself here and elsewhere. I appreciate the rebuke, gentle though it was, and the opportunity to clarify.
I hope you enjoy An Illustrated Life: and that it brings ideas and inspiration to you and your students.

Your pal,
Danny Gregory

ImageI hope this seems like a fair and valid answer. I really don’t want to add art educators to the long list of people I piss off.

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jack-shoes.jpg Speaking of insanely great art teachers and students, here’s a drawing Jack did in class last week. ImageSeveral of the students in the class have been blogging about their experiences on Tuesday evenings. Check out Seth’s first hand reports.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers

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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers is my newest book, a collection of illustrated journals from 50 different artists. It’s 272 pages of four-color inspiration at an amazing price! Buy Now From Amazon

An Illustrated Life Podcast 013: Christine Castro Hughes

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My editor tell me that in a week or two, I will be getting the first advanced copy of my new book, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled.
I’m also excited to be starting up my podcast of interviews with the contributors to the book again after an inexcusably long hiatus.
Today we will be talking to Christine Castro Hughes in Los Angeles. Christine is a wonderful designer and an avid illustrated journalista. She and her husband Rama are the hosts of the Portrait Party, among many other creative endeavors. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.
To see more of Christine’s work, visit her site.
And listen to our conversation here. The episode is 33 minutes long; perfect to listen to as you draw in your own journal.
I am very happy that Christine will be represented in my upcoming book due out in a month or so from HOW books ( though you can pre-order it today).

Please stay tuned and consider subscribing via RSS or iTunes* to this weekly feature until the book comes out this Fall.
See all previous episodes on my podcast home page.

An Illustrated Life Podcast 012: Melanie Ford Wilson


Melanie is a wonderful illustrator and designer based in Ontario, Canada. I first encountered her work through her blog and was enchanted by the sweetness of her perspective and by the lively way she writes.
We had a length chat about all sorts of things but I was particularly intrigued by our conversation about the ups and downs of being a popular blogger and the group of women illustrator/designer/bloggers of which Melanie has been a part for the past few years.
See Melanie’s work here and her blog here.
And listen to our conversation here. The episode is 63 minutes long; perfect to listen to as you draw in your own journal.
I am very happy that Melanie will be represented in my upcoming book, An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers due out in October from HOW books ( though you can pre-order it today).

Please stay tuned and consider subscribing via RSS or iTunes* to this weekly feature until the book comes out this Fall.
See all previous episodes on my podcast home page.

An Illustrated Life Podcast 011: Seamus Heffernan


Seamus Heffernan is the youngest person in my new book but his work is mature and inspiring. He hand makes his own journals and paints and draws in them with enormous style and beauty.
Seamus grew up in New England and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He recently graduated with a BFA in painting from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and did a semester abroad with the Aegean Center of the Fine Arts in Greece. He is a freelance illustrator/ painter/ comics artist and is working on a graphic novel about the Revolutionary War. See excerpts from the novel and his journals at seaheff.com

You can listen to the episode here. It’s 47 minutes long; perfect to listen to as you draw in your own journal.

I am very happy that Seamus will be represented in my upcoming book, An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers due out in October from HOW books ( though you can pre-order it today).

Please stay tuned and consider subscribing via RSS or iTunes* to this weekly feature until the book comes out this Fall.
See all previous episodes on my podcast home page.

An Illustrated Life Podcast 009 & 010: Roz Stendahl

May 10, 2008


Many readers are probably familiar with Roz Stendahl and the incredibly useful advice she dispenses as a member of the EDM group. You may also remember that she gave me a special correspondence class in watercoloring a few years back that transformed my journal pages. On this special double episode of the podcast, Roz and I talk about all sorts of things drawing-related. We managed to blather on for a full two episodes worth of stuff and, frankly, could have gone on for hours more.
Part One can be found here.
Part Two is here.
I am very happy that Roz will be represented in my upcoming book, An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers due out in October from HOW books ( though you can pre-order it today).
I am posting both installments of the interview today; they are perfect to listen to as you draw in your own journal.
Please stay tuned and consider subscribing via RSS or iTunes* to this weekly feature until the book comes out this Fall.
See all previous episodes on my podcast home page.
Next episode: Seamus Heffernan.

An Illustrated Life Podcast 008: Paul Soupiset


On this week’s episode, I talk to designer and San Antonio native Paul Soupiset. I first came across Paul’s work last year when he posted his Lentenblog. I loved his watercolors and the interesting way he was approaching his faith through art. When Paul visited New York, I invited him to visit us at home. Patti, Jack and I were in the middle of trying to make linoleum prints and I took some time off to sit with Paul and talk about Art, Life, God and the rest of it.
Spend some time at Paul’s site as you listen to our chat.

I am very happy that Paul will be represented in my upcoming book, An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers due out in October from HOW books ( though you can pre-order it today).
The whole episode is 24 minutes long; it’s perfect to listen to as you draw in your own journal.
Please stay tuned and consider subscribing via RSS or iTunes* to this weekly feature until the book comes out this Fall.
See all previous episodes on my podcast home page.