What makes a great teacher of painting? I believe it’s the same answer if I just asked, what makes a great teacher.
A few years back I observed a master teacher-painter explaining to a student why her painting of three lemons next to a ceramic pitcher wasn’t working. The lemons looked like they were pasted up against the side of the pitcher. I could plainly see that space and cast shadows were missing but just loved how the teacher what she needed to do. It went something like this. . . Have you ever been sitting at the bar minding your own business when some guy who has had a little too much to drink sits down next to you? Mind you this student was in her 70’s so I wasn’t sure if this approach was appropriate. She went on to say . . . this guy starts hanging over you breathing down your neck and touching your arm. You tell him to move over because you need your space. Your lemons are just like you at the bar. They need their own space. She then proceeded to show her where a better placement would be. By this time everyone was listening and the group chuckled at the end.
Now my point here from a teacher’s point of view is she had the student’s full attention and made a connection that was not only relatable but also memorable. Using humor and emotions plus the story makes one remember what was taught. Every time I place objects next to another object, I check to see if they have their own space.
At the Weekend with the Masters, David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw showed themselves to be real masters of teaching!