The Creative Learning Process

Loosely defined as “a person who expresses herself through a medium,” the word artist is also used to describe a person engaged in an artistic practice.

Whatever the chosen medium, I encourage my students to consider their education as an artistic practice by following the creative process of an artist:

“to experience the world (ideas, objects, people, nature), interpret this experience, express/share it with others, and then… sustain the process.”

Drawn from 20 years of art practice and 15 years of educational commitment and service, I have developed a few guiding principles that characterize my learning and teaching methodology and my approach to the development of creative ideas, objects and experiences in the studio.

Defining and sustaining a personal creative process leads to life-long learning and a successful, inspired practice. The form this process takes will be unique to each student, however the main elements I encourage include:


Learning to solve problems and developing a sense of excitement when faced with a challenge requires the ability and skill of experimentation and freethinking. Giving students the freedom to experiment breaks open binds and allows the rush of possibilities to flow in. Taking risks and embracing failure on the road to success is encouraged as an acceptable form of accomplishment. The “gray-area” of ambiguity or contradiction is also discussed and debated in the classroom to encourage insight beyond the boundaries of black and white.


Working in groups or in collaborative environments is an essential experience and skill for students in any area or medium. If students are to excel in diverse local networks and in our global ecosystem, learning cross-disciplinary thought, vocabularies and skills are essential for effective problem solving and communication among people of different cultures, values, and skill sets. Collaboration also focuses the interpretation of new ideas and experiences, helps to narrow the possibilities derived from experimentation, and produces results that speak to diverse audiences.

Craft & Communication:

A respect for skillfulness and aesthetic values in technical and applied areas, as well as conceptual and critical spheres, enables students to effectively articulate and communicate their ideas. Students learn that even the most brilliant inspiration can fail to be communicated if the delivery is flawed or not skillfully realized. Communication of learned ideas and personal interpretations is at the core of a successful creative practice. Students may be developing a particular skill or craft, but they must also learn to communicate through multimodal languages, verbal, visual, aural, tactile, and written.

Curiosity & Determination:

Inquisitiveness and internal motivation are difficult notions to teach, and in some students they are either instinctive or they are not. However, initiating projects centered around topics that my students feel strongly about helps them to develop peer debate and the realization of deep values. Projects that focus on and encourage discussions of ethics and principles often stir the sleeping dragon of curiosity, which is the catalyst for learning independence.