Showcase Interview

Andy Ducett talks about teaching drawing.

Andy Ducett

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Andy Ducett teaches in UW-Stout’s Art department. He teaches primarily foundation courses. Andy was the first Multimedia Design major at Stout, the guinea pig for the major. During his third internship at a design agency in Minneapolis, however, Andy had an epiphany; he really didn’t want to work designing corporate websites. His art teachers at Stout were terrific, and he found he was spending more of his time in the painting studio where he could choose his own path. He switched to Studio Art, graduated, and went onto receive an MFA at the University of Illinois. Their program was a three-year program having the students teach the second and third years as the instructor of record, not a TA. This was excellent experience. He teaches Computer Imagery, 2D and 3D Design, Drawing 1 and 2, Aesthetics and Professional Practice. His favorite course is Drawing, as he likes to watch the ‘light bulb’ go on. “I like to start students with traditional methods of art and design, so they can ask, ‘What do I have to offer? What are my resources?’ I want them to become students of the world and decide not only where they can take their practices but how they can bend the rules and learn from contemporary approaches as well.”

To help Ducett’s students “get it,” he tries to follow the advice from one of his own teachers: “Don’t treat them as ‘just’ students; they are human beings with different experiences, talents, and knowledge.” Andy gives them an overview, demonstrates it, and then has them duplicate it as he goes around the room, one-on-one, seeing each student at least twice. This way he learns who they are so that he can make the assignment as relevant to them as possible, incorporating analogies, examples and metaphors. Andy also shows students his work so they can see where he is coming from and understand the experiences shaping his work.

Andy doesn’t think computers are completely the “answer;” his rules are strict about computer use in class, but he does think computers are as much a tool as a pencil or a pen.

At the University of Illinois, Andy taught Life Drawing and worked on Gesture Drawing with the students. He used sports, movies, and any means of showing figures in motion for students to study. Through his own experiences sitting on a street in London drawing people as they moved past, Andy wanted his students to capture gesture by being in the moment, in an environment. Seeing a string band perform at the Menomonie Farmer’s Market, Ducett hired the band to play in his class. His students heard the music and drew gestures of the performers. The music was essential in capturing their pose, as Ducett tried to help his students understand that the two elements are inseparable; to feel the pose, they have to feel the music.