Here’s a quick watercolor demo I did for one of my students yesterday. As a professional, I tend to forget how much my students need to learn at this level. I am really having to think about every facet of making illustration and how to convey that clearly to a group. I am also spending a lot of time in my head remembering how it was for me as a 19 year old beginning in illustration who had no clue whatsoever what illustration was. I loved to draw and paint and tell stories, but didn’t understand how that related to my major. I didn’t understand how to begin an illustration and I definitely had no regard for developing a process for myself.
Knowing this about my own journey is really pushing me to think about how to help my students gain respect for the process. It’s important for me to explain why I am giving an assignment so that they can connect the dots when they are at home working on projects.
Yesterday after class, I spent about an hour and a half doing a quick watercolor demo in my office for one of my students. He was having a hard time understanding how one goes from thumbnail to finished drawing, to finished painting. At first I scratched my head in disbelief because the process is so common in my everyday working life, but remembering myself in college, I always traced from photographs on a projector (showing my age). I just didn’t understand that it was okay to draw on my own. I didn’t understand how to build a drawing from multiple pieces of reference and though my teachers told me to draw all of the time, I never really understood why it was so vital. I passed my classes, but not because I really grasped concepts of using reference and technique. I did what I thought my teacher wanted without thinking about “why” I made certain choices.
So, in class, I spend a lot of time asking my students “why” they make certain decisions in their work along with making them talk about their process. Reflecting on the last three weeks, I think I need to assign more homework that addresses the basics, like color, lighting, using reference, and drawing and painting technique. So far so good, but we have a long way to go.