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How Indian art teachers are different from American art teachers? Blog 4

How Indian art teachers are different from American art teachers?(Part 1 of 3)

(Disclaimer: This article is based on my limited exposure to the world of art and interaction with teachers in the two countries. I admit it does not represent the universe and someone else’s perspective could be far from what I have narrated here. Use of “She” is just to avoid mentioning both the genders)

The casual Indian approach to everything in life permeates to the world of art as well. This is what I experienced while taking guidance from art teachers in India and America. My observations can be described under the following topics.

1. Supply list

2. Specifications of supplies

3. Attention to details

4. Explaining the technique

5. Critiquing the works

6. Demonstrating

7. Explaining while demonstrating

8. Cleanliness

9. Painting by students

1. Supply list:

An art teacher in the US would list out the items that a student must possess while coming to the class. It would be a printed document with no scope for ambiguity. An Indian teacher would verbalize and keep changing the list each time she talks to a student with the result that the student is invariably ill prepared to paint.

2. Specifications of supplies:

An art teacher in the US would specify each item so that the list of supplies is not only complete it is of specifications suitable for the painting exercise that is intended.

Take the case of paper – the most important constituent of a watercolor painting. She would specify the watercolor paper in entirety-the size (22’x30” or….), the weight per square meter (300gsm or….), the finish(cold pressed, hot pressed, fine, roughor…), the brand (Arches, Fabriano, or…), and the configuration (loose, block pad or….). A teacher in India would either not even know the details of the paper and which type is used in which case; or she would hesitate to share the knowledge with the students. I have seen students in India using bond paper or cartridge paper for watercolor painting. No wonder they feel frustrated with results and give up too soon.

Coming to the brushes, a teacher in the US would prescribe what size, what shape, what length, what hair and what brands. A teacher in India would harp on Sable hairbrush without realizing that its price is just impossible to afford and moreover, the fact that Sable hair is not available as it is banned.

Next come the paints. An Indian teacher wouldn’t know or talk about the color fastness, the meaning of different series, the degree of transparency of different watercolors and how to deploy that property. Even the list would be incomplete.

Then comes the water for painting. I have seen students in India using a tiny, flimsy, and dirty container for watercolor painting, whereas one should be having at least a 1.5 liter pail. My teacher in America would recommend not one but two pails, one for cleaning and another for taking fresh clean water.

(To be continued in next blog)

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