If you've never experienced teaching art to adults, you probably are thinking, "What's so difficult about that?" After all, adults usually aren't wild hooligans who squirm and can't sit still or find other uses for the art supplies that don't apply to the project at hand. The challenge of an art instructor teaching adults is being able to overcome the preconceived notions the students have about their abilities to create art.
Create a Positive Experience
Choose a stress-free, positive learning environment that will encourage student creativity and ideas. Students should feel comfortable and at ease from the moment they enter the classroom and during the class. This begins to facilitate a teaching atmosphere that will focus on the creative process, which is more important than the final product. Unfortunately, by the time they reach adulthood most people have been programmed to believe that they have little or no artistic talent and ability. Creating a nonthreatening learning environment is the first step to helping them overcome their preconditioning.
Choose easy, fun art projects to begin with that will have an almost guaranteed success rate. Adults tend to be self-conscious about their ability to create art successfully. Starting with projects or exercises that a student can successfully complete will begin to build the student's confidence in attempting more advanced techniques and assignments.
Demonstrate each step or technique a project might involve before students attempt to create their own interpretation. The majority of the adult population do not think conceptually and must have visual aids to comprehend something. Understanding this and providing the visual aids to the students will make the student less self-conscious about their artistic abilities and will increase their motivation to learn.
Encourage and give positive reinforcement to the students during the process of creating art and at the finish. Stress that in art there is no competitiveness or comparing to others, no right or wrong way to the creative process, and there are no mistakes. It is the creative process, not the techniques, that make art "art." If you choose to do critiques of final projects, make the comments positive, offering a way to improve.
Allow the students to discover more about themselves as they create art. Creating art will develop focus and concentration, encourage the student to make decisions and solve problems, and develop better hand-eye coordination. Creativity helps in everything that someone does. Whether it's art, music or drama, all are about expanding a person's perspective and taking an idea to a different level.