I'm teaching a fantasy art workshop for teens next week and thinking about what to present. I think the best thing I can do for the students is to give them some perspective and hope to motivate them for long-term self-learning.
Being a good artist is a lifelong journey of continual improvement. There is a misconception among non-artists that "talent" and ability are innate and an artist is just a person with inborn abilities. We all know that's "total crap" (see previous posts), so I'm going to show my students my own work when I was their age to demonstrate that my current skills have been a slow climb from the same place that they are in.
When I was in school, I always had the expectation that every year I would get better. The yearly routine of going through successive grades provided me with obvious signposts to my development. I expected to be better in grade 11 compared to grade 10, etc. I kept all my work from grade 7 through college, and its fun to pull it out once in awhile to see exactly how "bad" I was at a certain point and the slow progression that took place. I was no prodigy, but I was quite a consistent worker and was experimental with different media and techniques. (probably because I didn't really know any sound procedures) Even early on, my love was in the finishing, shading, and coloring and not so much with the drawing. That is consistent with my current skills.
Digging into my big box of old art, I've taken out a few pieces from high school to show my students. They can compare this to their own work and see that they are fundamentally the same as me, with the same potential. In hindsight, I can point out things I wish I knew then and show them how the work could have been better. Time permitting, I'm going to do some sketches this week to show how I currently would have tackled my high school art for comparrison. Here is the first I just did...
Grade 9 Spiderman
Suggested drawing method: 2010
Students today have many more resources for learning then I did in the 80s. All the books, DVDs and websites out there are making todays young artists learn much faster than was possible back in the day. Hopefully this perspective and comparison of student to professional in my work will breed some confidence and hope.