Artist and Teaching Residency for West Nottingham Academy - Part 2

By Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012) 

My experience at West Nottingham Academy has been one of learning in many regards.  Along side my time working in the studio, I teach two high school courses-an introduction to drawing and studio painting.  To teach is to become firm enough in your artistic practice to share it.  It calls for a re-examination of formal and conceptual principles and applicable history.  Art is such an ancient and expansive field that it is hard to imagine any other mode of thought not relevant to its understanding, i.e. science, literature, music, mathematics, religion, etc.  To say the task of infusing its vast wealth into young minds is daunting is to not dabble in hyperbole. 

West Nottingham Academy embeds its pupils in a program that teaches the values of creative art, exposing them early on to the richness of the practice. Students in my introduction to drawing-freshman and sophomores-mostly came in as clean slates, with little to no guided study. My task became setting a precedent of enjoyable learning.  I wanted to make it rigorous yet fun so that the children might become converts to its ways and not end up with future disjointed memories of art fused with disinterest.

The first lesson, and one of my favorites so far, was a practical study in analytic and synthetic cubism.  Cubism is a 20th century art movement, the visual equivalent of a parallel advancement in the sciences-relativity.  Advancements rarely populate single territories, but spread across all of the humanities; there are cubist poets as well as modern authors who used verbalization to express similar revelations of the period, just in different mediums.  To help my pupils grasp an abstract concept, I created a studio exercise.  Each chose a partner and cycled between posing for and drawing one another for ten minute sessions.  After one round the original pose was again taken, but each artist worked from a new viewpoint.  This second perspective was layered upon the previous, thus illustrating multiple vantages of a single object, effectively fragmenting its stability.  This is the nature of analytic cubism.

After several rounds of perspectival layering, the students then collaged words and images on top of their works.  Like the synthetic cubists, the students playfully mixed and matched the medium of text with that of drawing, collaging together various modes of thought and expression.

Each week we work on a new project, and included are pictures of some of the most successful works.  (I have also included a photo of the painting I am making while my students work.)

My painting students have had more experience, being juniors and seniors who have taken several semesters of art.  Most of them, however, have not had much experience with oil painting.  I designed the course to teach the students the principles and craft of oil painting from start to finish, through canvas construction and surface preparation to indirect and direct painting application, all based on various modes of historical practice.  The students work on a single composition throughout the course; so far they have created the surface-gessoed canvas on stretchers, composed the drawing, painted the drawing achromatically, applied generalized dead palate color, and are now working to finalize the image with multiple glazes and layers of full chroma.  I asked that each composition include a subject and environment and elements of the imagination.  This course is far-reaching in that it introduces and explains painting material and its history, the principles of design and composition, tonal structure and drawing,  intensive color-theory, and the use of oil medium directly vs. indirectly.  

Each student is asked to meet painting progression deadlines, contribute during critique of one another’s work, and present analysis on old master compositions of their choosing based on all of the formal, material, and historical information we cover. 

We have a way to go before the class concludes with a student organized show in the school gallery, where we can celebrate everyone’s achievements.  I must say, all the work is definitely paying off; I have included some shots of the paintings in their current states.

I am having a wonderful time not just teaching, but learning daily from my students.  Each subject they choose to represent sets me on an experimental hunt alongside of them to find the clearest, most luminous way to embody it.

##Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012) will be blogging here throughout his artist residency at West Nottingham Academy, Colora, Maryland about his experience.  If you have any questions for Jacob, please leave them in the comments section of the blog. 
All photographs taken by Jacob Hicks.


  1. Great awesome all the picture.I like all the picture.Really this is so nice picture.Many many thanks for your this blog.

  2. This is the ultimate self-esteem corrector. Thank you for your post; it is a very important distinction 

  3. This is the beautiful art work of every pictures and it should be made by the dedicated designers.
    Web Design Companies Bangalore

  4. Its really amazing designing and each pictures had been unique in the way of attract the people.I really glad to getting this blog.
    Web Design Companies | Website Design Company