In light of this, and with the enthusiasm and encouragement of the students' parents, I decided to explore the possibilities of online teaching. I have taken a number of courses myself through, for example, Khan Academy and Coursera, and acquired some very valuable and useful knowledge through those organizations. I am also a great fan of youtube as an education resource and a means of sharing information and skills in an accessible, informal and discursive way.
One of the most helpful aspects of youtube teaching is, for instance in art or music demonstrations, watching problems happen during the making process, and then seeing how they can be solved. In professionally published lessons or demonstrations, I feel there is too large a gap between the starting point of the project and the finished product, where the end result seems to just magically happen without effort on the artist's or musician's part. All the thinking, searching and discovering, which takes place through the making and confronting of mistakes, has been erased, and what is left is a rather slick and uncreative method of making which relates little to the student's own experience.
A student encounters all kinds of obstacles during the creative process. Each mark is a problem that needs to be solved, and it is in the finding of solutions where the battle lies. Things such as how to hold the pencil or brush, what direction to make the mark, how hard to press, how long to make the stroke etc., are problems, and there are an infinite number of choices as to how to solve them, which can make the student (or even the processional artist) feel overwhelmed and incompetent.
A major cause of disillusionment when learning to draw or paint is not realizing how long it takes to make something work. In art, I try to encourage my students to do many reworkings. Every reworking is a note to oneself; a discovery of what does and does not work, and through the reworkings, an artist can get closer to not only how to draw and paint to their own satisfaction and vision, but also the grow that vision at the same time. It can take weeks to arrive at a happy conclusion, and often artworks can look worse after two or more hours of hard work than they did at the start. This is to be expected, and should be approached patiently.
Coming back to my original point, I tried two group art classes on google+ with the intent of becoming more active in the online world of teaching. These virtual classes did have their hiccups, with images disappearing or freezing during the lesson, and the image resolution being quite low, and so not much detail could be seen. The students seemed to gain quite a bit from the lesson, nevertheless, and it definitely has its possibilities.
The lessons were around an hour long, and I demonstrated all the time, which was quite hard work! (I am very used to having the pleasing experience of watching other people draw for an hour or two). We got some good drawings out of the lesson, and here are some examples of students' work.
I will be offering around three more free art lessons through Skype or Facetime through the end of June 2016. These are offered on a first-come-first-served basis. Please contact me for details.