To Draw a Horse Almost Perfectly (1 min read + Video)


After recently watching an emotionally charged and somewhat american centric YouTube video entitled Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? by one Cindy Foley, i began thinking back to my educational up bringing in the Arts, and how my experience of navigating the murky in-precise world of Art & Design at college and then later Fine Art at University due to its academic nature – had us approach these subjects in a certain precise manner.

Foley brings up a great point at 4:44 where she presents an image of what schools and so parents consider being creative today; a somewhat atomically accurate drawing of a horse with a merit badge next to it.

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With this (merit badge) information, parents are able to judge whether their child is sufficiently creative yet, and more importantly is the school doing its best to facilitate my child’s creative potential. 

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These formula for teaching Art are both unhelpful and destructive to the creative process, when we focus on repetition of representation of reality through the various mediums we cut off the branch of brain activity that could be utilised in the childs true creative potential.


These types of approaches also serve to exclude those that belive they are not creative because they cannot draw a horse almost perfectly, as a child this emotional exclusion repeats itself throughout the child’s education and can end up with the child believing they are not creative and that probably never will be. This is further made an issue by parents and adults in general making statements that reinforce the idea you are somehow born creative, this of course is nonsense.

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Part of creativity, as Foley states in her video, is wrapped up in the individual’s desire to know, to keep searching and researching for what it is that interests them, and then take that research and cross examine it again other disciplines, what Foley calls transdisciplinary research or research that serves curiosity.


Foley makes the case that Art’s critical value is to develop learners that think like Artists which means learners who are creative, curious, that seek questions, develop ideas, and play. By focusing on three critical habits that artist employ:

1. Comfort with Ambiguity

2. Idea Generation

3. Transdisciplinary Research

There is one more habit i would like to add to Foleys list:

4. Comfort in Failing

Why? because there is a hell of a lot of it along the way, in my opinion conditions set out by schools which repeatedly penalise failure in creativity are missing an important opportunity in the creative process. Those schools that encourage students to find comfort in failing will churn out the next creative potential.


Although this video is relative to the state of the American system for teaching creativity, i do see some resonance with the British system, i was not schooled in Sweden however i have done some substitute teaching in a local school as an Art teacher. What i saw was similar techniques being used that Foley describes in her video, almost factory like conditions; and thats not to blame the full time teachers in which i substituted for, but perhaps the Swedish system resembles the American system more than we might have imagined.


I highly recommend watching the video (Link below) and please leave your comments in the comment section below. I would especially like to hear from Art Students, Art teachers, and indeed Artists themselves on how they would like to approach this issue.

Artwork from Video: Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

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