Tomas Oliva Jr.
7730 SW 137th CT, Miami,Florida 33183  Phone: (206) 235-4367    WWW.TOMASOLIVAESCULTOR.COM

Pedagogical Philosophy for Teaching the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Art Student

My main goal as a teacher of the developing artist is the expansion of the student's visual and conceptual literacy through an understanding and mastery of a variety of procedural and aesthetic schema.  My extensive experience as a practicing artist, and my mastery of drawing, painting, and sculpture techniques on multiple materials places me in a privileged position to employ a “hands-on approach” to teaching art classes, where I can directly supervise the student’s progress. This direct involvement I believe is nowadays rare yet essential. Through studio activities, I expose the student to a variety of materials, stylistic mechanisms, critical discourses, and processes of creativity.  While lab and studio activities will dominate art courses, the student also participates in diverse methods of learning including: lectures, demonstrations, audio-visual presentations, selected readings, library research, critiques, small group discussions and fieldtrips.  Active participation and collaboration in learning are a part of my teaching philosophy.
At the heart of this philosophy, at the center of classroom activities, there are two objectives:

1. The first deals with the presentation of the accumulated knowledge of the subject being studied.
2. The second attempts the awakening of the creative spirit in each student.

​For the beginning student, analytical studio experiences investigate structural and formal problems. At this level, problems familiarize the student with materials and techniques that enhance technical skill.  Conceived sequentially, all lessons build upon past studio experiences.  Slide presentations, group discussions, and selected readings examine these lessons from the social and historical perspective.  In this manner, varied learning activities provide ample opportunities for the student to combine intense studio practice with the ability to think abstractly and critically.  At the completion of such a course of instruction, the beginning student is armed with a vocabulary for self-expression.  This vocabulary encompasses an awareness of different art styles, distinct techniques, various materials, and diverse approaches to the solution of creative problems.

The intermediate art student advances in his/her ability to alternate between exploration and focus.  Intermediate assignments push the boundaries of methodology, and challenge the mastery of tools and techniques.  Absorbing tasks develop a more profound understanding of composition and conceptualization.  This approach leads to greater proficiency in self-expression.  The intermediate student works with some independence. At this level, the dynamic of group critiques intensifies, pushing the intermediate student to initiate critical discourse, articulate personal ideas, and discuss the work of others with greater sophistication.
Due to the creative needs of the advanced student, I therefore allow for a maximum of independence in artistic expression, while assisting in the mastery of craft and professional preparation.  Seminar discussions on contemporary theories, on art practices, and on the expanding role of the artist in society generate a diversity of discourses and aesthetic expressions.  Through conceptual and technical control, in addition to a historical understanding of his/her own work, the advanced art student prepares to confront the realities of the art world and the disciplined isolation of the studio.