I like to think of art as an adventure to be embarked on, fearlessly. I believe in taking risks, undaunted by the new challenges I constantly impose on myself, pushing ever forward towards uncharted territory. If I can instill this sense of excitement in my students I feel I will have achieved an important goal. I do not ever want them to think of their work as unsuccessful, merely in transition, on its way towards completion. Patience and diligence are key to making advances in art.
My ambition is to help my students build confidence in their abilities, even if they are beginners. They need to understand that paintings evolve gradually and often need to go through phases of destroying parts in order to rebuild the whole. This is a hard lesson to learn, but once they do then they will be confident about exploring new approaches fearlessly.
I teach this philosophy by going around to each student while they are working, listening attentively to their difficulties, and discussing possible solutions. This might include demonstrating how their work might greatly benefit by altering areas in their painting which, in their opinion, are very successful and which they may be reluctant to destroy. Once they see that the unity of the whole picture is more important than its parts, they are then more willing to take chances towards finding solutions.
I also find group critiques very useful and encourage students to critique each others' work and learn by looking carefully at different artists' approaches and styles. By asking pointed questions and not merely supplying students with easy answers, I hope to arouse their curiosity and sharpen their perceptions.