How to Paint:Teaching Philosophy

I started teaching art classes in painting and drawing for youth and adults in 2003. Shortly after I realized two factors that came up continuously and that prompted me to rethink my way of teaching.

The first factor was fear. Most of my students were very afraid of making mistakes, afraid of not being able to make a "good painting or drawing" and especially fear of criticism from friends and family. Because of fear of failure they did not dare to take risks, did not want to experiment in class. With that attitude they did not enjoy what they were doing, and their artwork was technically well-done, but in my opinion with no personality.

The second factor was the lack of creativity.

After analyzing the situation, I realized that both factors were very closed related and that I had to change my my approach if I wanted to continue to teach art effectively.

With that in mind, I started designing my art classes following my intuition, not knowing exactly how it would work. I decided to focus primarily to increase the creativity of my students. Where should I begin? I learned to gain their trust. Creating an environment where they felt free to make mistakes and when that happened to learn from them. I know it sounds a little obvious, but actually the most obvious things are what we often overlook.

So at the beginning of the course, I made it clear that I did not care for the results that at the end of the class we were going to burn all the paintings and nobody will ever see them (It was fun to see their faces). Our primary goal here is to experiment and to enjoy the creative process.

This shift in my approach was the best changed I could do. When they began to enjoy the creative process, regardless of the final result, everybody lost their fears, gained confidence and worked passionately on each challenge. Students of all artistic levels felt less pressure to have to do something "perfect" and therefore they were able to experiment and take risks. The results were fantastic, lively artwork, bold and unique. My students learned more with "accidents" that with thousands of different art techniques. Finally, what I was looking to find in my classes, without knowing how, came out with such a force that transformed my students into a dedicated artists, original, and full of enthusiasm.

I have been teaching creativity and artistic expression successfully in the United States and Spain. My classes are not conventional. I do not do teach to paint or draw in a traditional way. I teach to experience and enjoy the creative process, to express visually your own personality.

PS: We never burn anything, on the contrary. Some of my students have won awards, many are selling their work and almost all continued creating art.