Thursday, 23 June 2016

Dropout of Art School Prevention: NEET Risk Factor in Further Education Art Students

Studying for an art diploma, degree or A level can be as stressful as any other subject, despite first impressions. Art students have to possess more autonomy than students of other prescriptive subjects such as History or English Literature.

A Degree in Fine Art, Graphics or similar in the Visual Arts demands creativity, independence and a knack for inspiration. With little guidance from teachers or lecturers, art students are expected to come up with the goods. This can be quite a shock after following a structured curriculum at school. Art is not an easy option and in fact sees a high risk of dropouts compared to other subjects.

Exclusion from Art Education

But just like other subjects, the reason for dropping out of art school needs to be explored, which must begin with the basics.

Art students’ behavior might be governed by unresolved conflicts during childhood, leading to emotional and behavioral dysfunction. Such issues often become a barrier to learning but can also be used as a means for expression within the context of creativity. Many great artists centered their works upon emotional dysfunction such as Francis Bacon and Vincent Van Gough. The German Expressionists explored mark-making and color in order to convey a particular mood, such as Kandinsky and Miro.

Keeping Art Objectives Simple and Achievable

However, negative experiences will often kill inspiration, leading to a drop off of productivity. Lack of motivation can be the biggest killer of creativity of all.

What Does NEET Mean?

NEET stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training. This happens when a student drops out of university or college and becomes excluded from society. During my term at Art University, I saw many art students drop out of studies, only to find it hard to get a job or to embark upon another course. This can be soul destroying.

Becoming NEET is more likely in certain individuals than others, including:

Students from broken homes, negative parenting styles and drug abuse. Furthermore, males more than females are likely to drop out, as well as those from minority groups or has a special need in learning.

Those who fall under the under the 18 age-group may call upon The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), which is part of Special Education Needs (SEN). ChildLine can also be called upon for emotional support. Every college or university must have a dedicated counsellor to help resolve problems. Sadly however, many vulnerable art students slip through the net.

So what can the art teacher do to prevent art students from dropping out?

Every Child Matters has put in place strategies the teacher may use to preserve student attendance in art class. However, in my teaching experience, I have found the following guidelines apply also to adults.

1 Place emphasis upon effort rather than merely achievement.
2 Practice good listening skills. Demonstrate the student’s views are important.
3 Give the art student responsibility.
4 Observe body language and tone of voice. These convey more than the words spoken. Practice open and positive gestures.
5 Praise. This is most important.

Praising Student's Progress
Differentiation is also vital. The student must experience success. This means tailoring aims and objectives that suit the student. Low motivation stems from low confidence. Ensure objectives comprise small increments that are always achievable. Simply making a few marks on a page can be a great achievement for a student who has suffered lifelong criticism.

Confidentiality in Art Class

If the student discloses of a personal difficulty that could become a barrier to learning, the teacher can advise and refer to the appropriate agent. But it is up to the student to follow up this advice.

A student under 18 who opens up about child abuse means the teacher must inform the Child Protection Officer (CPO). This means the teacher cannot promise confidentiality. Records must be logged with dates and signatures.

Lack of Art Student Graduates

The prospect of becoming NEET must be avoided at all costs, or the student will become more vulnerable. In my experience, retaining a routine of going to college and keeping up to date with deadlines formed a safety net against becoming a drop out. The dropout of art school is likely to exacerbate a downward spiral of self esteem.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Color Wheel in Art Books is Sometimes Wrong: Myths of Art Pigments Dispelled

Art students may be frustrated when muddy colors result from a box of pigments purchased from an art shop. Often the true primary colors are not included, and worse, the color wheel shown in some art instruction books is not correct.

Not every red, yellow and blue produces a clean violet, orange or green. In fact the mixture can be muddy and dull. The reason for this problem is simple: the true primary colors are often not displayed in certain artbooks nor are they included in a typical beginners box of art pigments.

The Color Wheel Myth

Not any blue pigment is a primary color, and often contains other pigments in small amounts. Ultramarine, for instance, is a vibrant blue, but contains a lot of red, as this blue has a violet slant. Cadmium red is a vibrant red, but actually contains a lot of yellow. The true primary colors are in fact those that resemble the pigments of printing ink, which are magenta, yellow and cyan. Art colors that resemble the pigments of printing ink would create clean secondary colors.

Useless Pigments in Art Boxes

Although the following pigments are useful, can actually be surplus to requirement when one considers that they can be achieved by the mixture of other pigments. However, the true primary colors cannot be attained by mixing two other colors.

So the non-essential pigments are:

Yellow ochre, sap green, cadmium orange, Prussian blue, raw sienna, raw umber, flesh tone, Naples yellow and others. These pigments contain various amounts of opposing pigments, which means they contain a lot of impurities.

However, the following pigments should be included in every beginner’s art set of pigments:

A large tube of titanium white (not a tube the same size as the other pigments).
Lemon yellow, permanent rose and cyan blue (or Pthalo blue). These pigments are quite close to the appearance of the fundamental hues of printing ink.

Essential secondary colors that I would include are: viridian green, French ultramarine and cadmium red. Vibrant pigments can easily be toned down by the inclusion of opposing colors (for example, blue can be toned down with a little red and yellow or an earth color). But somber colors cannot be made more ‘vibrant’ unless these bright pigments are included within the artist’s kit.

In other words, somber colors are not as vital as vibrant colors. A mixture of vibrant colors can create somber colors, but a boxful of somber pigments cannot create a vibrant color. Such restrictions upon the artist can be frustrating.

My YouTube Clip Explaining the Basics of Color Mixing

Beginners’ Art Pigments

So let’s look at the common terminology used when mixing pigments.

Primary Color: is one that cannot be made from other color mixtures. The primary colors of paint are those that resemble magenta, cyan and yellow of printing ink.
Secondary Color: is produced by mixing 2 primary colors. These are violet, green and red (not orange).
Tertiary Color: is achieved by mixing a primary and a secondary color. Mixing red with yellow will create orange. Green and yellow will produce yellowy-green.
Black is created by mixing all three primary colors in similar quantities.

Bright colors: Courtesy of Joseph Busby

Color Mixing Chart for Beginners

Understanding the basic laws of color will result in more satisfactory color mixes. Look for art boxes that contain clean, vibrant colors, not an array of earth colors and black. Pigments that resemble the fundamental colors of printing ink will produce many clean secondary colors. I find lemon yellow, permanent rose and cyan blue (pthalo blue is a darker version) quite close to the mark.

Vibrant secondary colors such as viridian green, French ultramarine and cadmium red will also come in handy.