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The Art of Teaching Art

A Guide for Teaching and Learning the Foundations of Drawing-Based Art

Deborah A. Rockman

Publication Date - November 2000

ISBN: 9780195130799

340 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $45.00

An invaluable guide for teachers and students of college-level art


Often the finest artists do not make the best teachers. Many frustrated college students of art know this all too well as they suffer through unstructured classes with inexperienced teachers or graduate student instructors. In these situations, it is easy to blame the teachers. But the problem is largely institutional: most students graduating with MFAs from art schools receive little if any instruction in teaching art. If you find yourself in this predicament as teacher or student, this book is for you.

The first book to provide a comprehensive guide for teaching college-level art, The Art of Teaching Art is the culmination of respected artist and instructor Deborah Rockman's two decades of teaching experience. Believing that drawing is the backbone of all of the visual arts, she begins with a complete explanation of drawing concepts that apply to any subject matter, e.g., composition, sighting processes, scaling techniques, and methods for linear and tonal development. She then illustrates these concepts with step-by-step methods that easily translate to classroom exercises. Next, she applies the drawing principles to every artist's most important and challenging subject, the human figure. After an extended section on understanding and teaching perspective that explores illusionistic form and space, the focus of the book shifts to the studio classroom itself and the essential elements that go into making an effective learning environment and curriculum. From preparing materials lists and syllabi, to setting up still-lifes, handling difficult classroom situations, critiquing and grading student artworks, and shooting slides of student artworks, she leaves no stone unturned.


  • The first book to provide a comprehensive guide for teaching college-level art
  • Includes examples of student artwork from Rockman's classes

About the Author(s)

Deborah A. Rockman is Professor of Art in the Foundation and Fine Arts Department, Kendall College of Art and Design.


"In thirty- six years of teaching all aspects of drawing to students aspiring to become artists and teachers, I have labored my way by trial and error to conclusions Deborah Rockman outlines so very clearly in her THE ART OF TEACHING ART. With high tuition costs, students have the right to demand sensitive and informed instruction even from teachers just beginning their career. This comprehensive compendium of the arcana of studio teaching is invaluable. The special difficulties of revealing the possibilites and limits of perspective are well presented; insights I thought all my own I find in this book."-R. Richard Gayton, Drawing and Painting Professor, California College of Arts and Crafts

"A much-needed guide to the teaching and learning of important areas of foundation drawing. The book's explication of sighting, scaling, and perspective methods is particularly useful. Also, the emphasis on teaching methods of visual measure and the need for a translation process between 2-D and 3-D seeing is welcome. The focus on these issues will encourage many teachers to go into much greater depth than is the usual practice. Rockman provides enough information and detail to aid teachers in creating classroom assignments and for students to practice these techniques without a teacher. I have always believed that, particularly in art and design, teaching and learning are intimately interrelated activities and that one important way of leaning a subject matter is to teach it. The Art of Teaching Art encourages teachers to be students and students to imagine being teachers." --Bill Fasolino, Foundation Chairperson, Pratt Institute School of Art & Design

"Rockman demystifies the process of perceptual drawing by comprehensively providing practical methods and strategies for measuring visual experience. The book includes lucid explanation of proportion, perspective, composition and metaphor to space. An excellent, clearly illustrated introduction to the teaching of the visual arts, The Art of Teaching Art is a pleasure for artists, students and teachers who are interested in the project of approaching representation of nature. In fact, the well-organized treatment and wealth of information, illustration and defining vocabulary may well become a handbook for professionals working in this arena of the visual arts." --Thomas Cornell, Professor of Art, Bowdoin College

Table of Contents

    A Philosophy of Teaching
    Drawing as the Backbone of Visual Communication

    Chapter 1
    Essential Skills and Information

    What Every Teacher and Every Student Should Know about Drawing
    Sighting and the Use of Sighting Stick
    The Principles of Composition: Theory vs. Application
    Suggesting Space or Depth on a Two-Dimensional Surface
    Line Variation and Sensitivity
    Working with Value Structure
    The Technique of Scaling
    The Golden Section
    Setting Up an Effective Still Life

    Chapter 2
    Teaching Essential Drawing Principles in Relation to the Human Figure

    The Human Figure
    Gesture Drawing or Rapid Contour Drawing
    Enhancing the Illusion of Volume and Space in the Human Form
    An Introduction to Portraiture
    The Figure and Anatomy

    Chapter 3
    Spatial Thinking and Visualization

    Teaching the Essential Principles of Perspective Drawing
    An Introduction to Perspective
    Perspective and Cubes
    Using Perspetive Grids
    Increasing Complexity in the Perspective Environment
    Mathematically Precise Cubes in Two-Point Perspective
    Constructing Ellipses in One-Point and Two-Poing Perspective
    Using Measuring Lines for Regular (Equal) and Irregular (Unequal) Divisions of an Area
    Inclined Planes in Perspective
    Geometric Solids and Transparent Construction
    Three-Point Perspective
    Suggested Perspective Homework Assignments

    Chapter 4
    Establishing the Classroom Environment,
    Conducting Critiques, and Assigning Grades
    The Classroom Environment
    Group Critiques
    Individual Critiques
    Diagnosing Problems in Student Work
    Key Questions for Critiques

    Appendix A
    Classroom Documents and Other Teaching Aids

    Preparing for the Classroom Experience
    Determining Course Content
    Preparing a Slide Library

    Appendix B
    Preparing Students for What Lies Ahead

    Career Opportunities in the Visual Arts
    Building a Resume
    Preparing a Slide Portfolio
    Writing Letters of Recommendation
    Graduate School Checklist

    Artist Index