Technical excellence, while admirable, should not be an end in itself. It is simply a tool to help the artist effectively express his or her personal vision. Therefore, while meeting the essential need for every student to acquire sound technical skills, SARA also actively encourages students to develop and exercise their creativity and imagination. This is very important, because it is only these qualities that can elevate a painting beyond mere technical excellence up to the level of work that is original, personal, and meaningful.
A student’s creativity, as well as their courage to express imaginative ideas, can suffer from the prolonged and intensive study of technique and continual striving for accuracy. For this reason, SARA balances the mastery of technical skills with the practice and development of creative skills. Non-technical subjects, such as composition, expression and mood, are touched upon throughout a student’s training but are more thoroughly addressed in assigned creative exercises. For example, three times per term, a sentence, subject, or a fragment of an idea is presented as a starting point from which students must imagine and create a drawing or painting in any style or media. The finished sketches are presented, discussed and a new starting point, or “seed,” is assigned. Also, to inspire and encourage students to think creatively, the school plans museum visits, sketching trips, symposiums and lectures, continues to expand its art book library and displays original artwork throughout the school.
Beginning students are not required to participate in the creativity exercises, but they are encouraged to do so. Although it is a serious and valuable exercise, it is also an opportunity to have some fun.
Below are a few examples of images created for various seeds. Note how different students interpreted the same seed. How might you have done it?