AAC Instructor Portrait: Stephanie Lane
Last month, we introduced you to instructor Jennifer Wilkin Penick, in the very first AAC Instructor Portrait blog. Today, we’re continuing the series by highlighting another one of our great instructors, Stephanie Lane.
Stephanie has garnered an impressive following of students, recently dubbed by AAC’s director of exhibitions, Karyn Miller, the “informal, but fervent Stephanie Lane fan club.”
Over the past three years, Stephanie has taught a variety of painting classes at AAC. And this summer, she’s teaching Drawn to Paint, a class designed collaboratively between her and AAC education & outreach manager, Samantha Marques-Mordkofsky.
For some time, Stephanie and Samantha mulled over how to improve students’ painting skills. It was decided that an avenue to learning basic drawing skills must also be included in the lesson plan.
Drawn to Paint isn’t your traditional drawing or painting class, instead students will begin each class with drawing exercises that will focus and enhance their painting. This is especially helpful for those who are intimidated by drawing! Read the Q&A below to learn a little more about this unique class and about Stephanie’s practice as an instructor and an artist.
AAC: Can you tell us about your teaching philosophy?
Stephanie: My goal is to help students recognize their unique sensibilities and to express them in a meaningful way. The exercises and projects in each of my courses introduce students to a variety of methods that help them realize the freedom they all have to build their confidence through individual expression. I try to help them discover what they already have and then show them how to express and cultivate those qualities through their work.
AAC: What exercise or project are you looking forward to the most in your Drawn to Paint class?
Stephanie: I think the Draw What You See – Draw What You Feel project has almost everything in it. It really helps with personal expression, by involving the artist emotionally in what he or she is drawing, and helps him/her realize that feelings can be drawn. All of this can be done in both representational and abstract work, which something that I allow in all of my classes.
AAC: You’re a painter, so why do you think it’s still important for artists with other preferred mediums to understand or even master drawing?
Stephanie: There is a very close connection between the artist and the work while drawing with dry material such as charcoal, graphite, or conté… the artist is working with the least amount of medium. Because there are fewer variables to control, I believe it is the fastest way to develop focus, seeing, interpretation, and skill. Dry materials can be used as a direct extension of your finger, or hand. And being so direct, a drawing shows the artist’s temperament and energy in even the smallest mark. One line can say volumes. It is important to make that line say as much as possible.
If you can do that, the better the drawing and the better you express yourself. A good drawing shows more than the surface of things. It can also evoke powerful feelings. As you draw more, you will begin to see differently and not only discover new things in the world, but also in yourself. The more you discover, the more inventive you can be, in any medium.
AAC: We love that! Now, we have one final class question. What has been your favorite class to teach to date?
Stephanie: My favorite class is the one where I hear a student say, “Wow, I never knew there could be so much freedom.” Thankfully, that’s usually every class.
AAC: Alright, enough about classes, can you tell us a little more about your art practice?
Stephanie: I believe there is a place, a bridge, between the metaphysical impetus of an object, idea, or feeling and its resultant physical manifestation. A transformation occurs at the bridge. In my current body of work I try to express the action that occurs at the bridge to effect that transformation.
AAC: We definitely see that idea come across in your classes as well. Can you tell us some of the contemporary artists who’ve influenced your artwork?
Stephanie: Cecily Brown, Wolfgang Laib, Alex Kanevsky, Karla Black, and Ian Whitmore
We’re so grateful to Stephanie for sharing this information with us, so we’re ending this post with a shameless plug for Instructors Select, an exhibition on view through June 29 that explores transmission of ideas and techniques from instructors to students.
Stephanie and a number of her students are in the show. We hope you’ll stop by to check it out, and then (of course!) register for her class!