In February of 2017, at the age of 23, I was able to add a new title to my list of professional endeavors: art teacher. A peculiar mix of confidence and doubt arose before I assumed this new role. On the one hand, I had been learning drawing and painting since the age of 10, so I definitely had some valuable experience to share; on the other, I had always been a student, I was used to receiving knowledge, so how could I be sure in my ability to pass it on?
Well, first, teaching pushed me to be an even better learner. Soon enough, I was re-reading passages from art books I had forgotten or neglected all together. I became ever more concerned with the solidity of my knowledge. I learned that the effective sharing of it could only be improved with practice, just as any other skill. The crucial element is an enthusiasm for what is being taught. Even if I might not have always had the right word or the exact visual material to express something, I’m positive that my passion for the subject was coming through and that held all the bits of knowledge in unity like muffin dough holds its raisins.
The human element of teaching keeps me driven. Personal growth is essential but seeing the “aha!” moment in someone’s eyes or hearing a compliment about your teaching efforts is a priceless source of encouragement. Students, from my various classes, range from being less than half my age to being more than double. Yet, if the person is enthusiastic about the subject, all other parameters matter very little.
Of course, a balance between teaching what I know and pursuing my own artistic endeavors has to be found. Teaching shouldn’t cast a shadow on creativity. “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Right? So, I haven’t found the perfect equilibrium yet. Every day, I think about how teaching a rigorous drawing method might affect the out-of-the-box thinking an artist needs for self-expression. I know, ultimately, the path will only be created by walking.
In the end, I think there might not be an actual distinction between student and teacher. We are rather “more experienced students” and “less experienced students”. We’re two parts of the same hourglass in which knowledge is dripping and the purpose of the whole enterprise, just like the purpose of life itself, is to keep the momentum going.
On the whole, I feel very grateful for this opportunity.