SchoolArts Room

Thoughts on Artistry

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Oct 9, 2016
Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, states that it takes approximately ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. How does this work? Gladwell says that deliberate practice plays a major role in success. Though it is definitely not reasonable to expect such extreme practice in our art students, we can have high expectations of them and encourage them to develop artistry and skill to the best of their abilities.

Nancy with Jim Dodson, Visual Art Director of the Tennessee Arts Academy.
I have found this to be true in my own experience and asked our contributing editors to share their thoughts on developing artistry in their students:
I feel like my students do their best work when they take ownership of the artistic process by connecting to their own interests in way that is intentional and directed. I make sure to include both rich conceptual and technical learning objectives but choose subjects that allow them to make connections to their own experiences, feelings, and perspectives.    - David Gran
As a high school art educator I have found artistry in the classroom is multifaceted. Students finding their artistic voice need confidence in art production and this comes primarily with teacher encouragement, planning, researching, and having a willingness to accept criticism. Although it is wonderful to have students who have artistic talented, looking for that student who is willing to risk-take, rework, and have passion for the process creates the most wonderful art outcomes.    Nicole Brisco
Artistry is defined as having the personal vision, high level of professionalism, and thoughtful execution of ideas and materials. Students at Sheboygan North High School are taught that developing artistry is a result of understanding how a work of art is created. Part of this practice is exhausting possible ideas of addressing a certain issue/topic, determining what the best way to achieve desired results, and figuring out what materials will be best to represent their intent. Artistry cannot exist without having a voice. Students must be heard.  
Frank Juarez
Every assignment has a clear, measurable objective aligned with a scoring rubric. Each rubric row specifies the performance to be demonstrated while the rubric columns specify the degree to which each performance is scored. Providing a measurable objective and scoring rubric in advance of an assignment assists students with meeting criteria of exemplary work. This applies to artwork as well as written work.    - Pam Stephens
In another approach, I was reminded of the importance of personal artistry to art teachers at a recent workshop I gave in Nashville at the Tennessee Arts Academy. I was tremendously impressed with the artistry, creativity, and focus of the art teachers on their own work, and with the guidance of the TAA visual art director, Jim Dodson.
Artistry is also addressed under the artistic process of Creating in the new National Visual Art Standards as Refine and complete artistic work: Artists and designers develop excellence through practice and constructive critique, reflecting on, revising, and refining work over time.
All together, great guidance for us all.