While many of you know that I like to poke fun at certain ideas that I think are problematic for art education, I hope that you all know that my aim is only to improve the chances that aspiring creatives have the best information possible so that they may manifest their ideas with the greatest success and fulfillment.
Within an exchange with a fellow educator yesterday I had forwarded along this walk-through so as to better communicate one of these issues. I wanted to share it with you all so that you many better understand why I am critical of certain ideas. If you are an art educator you may quickly recognize this scenario:
Let’s say that an aspiring artist in your painting class is extremely timid with color. With each class project, the struggling creative consistently gravitates to the same 2 or 3 colors on their palette, barely touching any others. As one might suspect, they are often disappointed that their resulting work lacks the depth and vibrancy that he or she observes in the efforts of others. You, being a clever instructor, decide to diminish this undesirable behavior by issuing a “policing-rule” that requires the student be attentive to very specific color use. You state that for the next assignment, the student MUST, regardless of any other variable, apply 10% of this color, 20% of two others, 30% percent of another, etc. The ratios, percentages, or metamers are not important–but you are introducing a rule that is intended to disrupt a recurring habit that is affecting development. If they succeed in the task, both you and the student may agree that the result “more successful”, or even–more “beautiful”. This is the point where many may make a significant error in logic. The ratios of the specific colors were issued as a policing variable to influence behavior (in this case–to disrupt an undesirable habit). It does not mean that the specific ratio of colors represented a global heuristic for beauty or depth–even though the application DID result in something that both you and your student were more pleased with. "But!” one might counter, “I can find 10,000 master works that have that SAME ratios of visible colors.” However, in truth, you can most likely find just as many, if not more, that do not. In addition, there is a good likelihood that just as many “bad” paintings can be found to hold similar ratios of those specific colors.
It is important that we, as educators, carefully explain these issues to our students so as to avoid the replacing of an undesirable habit or skill deficit with a limiting or problematic heuristic.
I hope this better communicates my perspective on these issues.