PMAC: What is your teaching philosophy?
Roger: I have enjoyed sharing my knowhow with others as far back as I can remember. I get great pleasure seeing others excel, whether students or colleagues; to see a sparkle in their eyes when they absorb a new piece of information or skill. I have always been open, sharing tricks of the trade. I believe in nurturing and have never been a big fan of the ‘paying dues’ method of teaching.
I remember my first experience in a formal teaching setting at the University of New Hampshire. I was just out of graduate school, and I was hired to teach per semester in either introductory drawing or painting. I was keen on sharing my personal breakthroughs with these students; overcoming the fear of the white page, embracing fearlessly the messiness of process (and enjoying it), learning ‘what to do with all the lines,’ while drawing and the search to find ones voice. I was surprised at how much psychology was involved wtih teaching in the classroom. My biggest challenge was to make each student feel at ease, comfortable with taking risks, making mistakes and messes and to teach them to trust in me, themselves and in the process of making… to relish the creative process and find satisfaction in hard work, trusting that no-matter-what, the result would be positive.
My approach is to nurture students, meet each one at their own level, to help them feel at ease and to find solutions to the challenges in front of them on the easel.
PMAC: You created a program called In Ears and Eyes. Can you explain what that is?
In Ears ‘n’ Eyes is a creativity workshop designed by me and Matt Langley that builds upon two truly American art forms: Jazz and Expressionist painting. In Ears ‘n’ Eyes explores the common language between visual art and music, offering students and professionals in all fields, hands-on experience creating artwork based on my visual jazz approach to painting and improvisational jazz music.
As In Ears ‘n’ Eyes art and music educators, we stir participant’s imaginations with the process of invention as they work collaboratively to develop conversations in painting and music. By balancing extemporaneous improvisation with structured creative play, In Ears ‘n’ Eyes engages the creative instincts of all involved while using the process of collaborative art making to build self-confidence, trust and respect for each other.
Participants are led in discussions about creativity and will explore their own creative processes through hands-on experience. They are guided in ensemble activities as they explore the audible and visual language of communication through imagery, color, symbolism, composition, rhythm, and sound.
In Ears ‘n’ Eyes students will strengthen their skills in creative thinking, leadership and self-expression as they work together with peers and adults, composing paintings and scores, and conducting ensemble activities. The creativity experienced in an In Ears ‘n’ Eyes workshop strengthens life skills that each will carry forward into their daily activities.
The In Ears ‘n’ Eyes creativity workshop is open to ALL students of ALL ages. We offer creativity workshops in schools, communities and corporations.
PMAC: What is important about the relationship that music and visual art share?
All art and music genres are avenues of expression. They communicate ideas, moods and feelings. The arts have the power to create lasting impressions in our minds while satisfying our souls. All arts are examples of shaped releases of our innate creativity.
My art making is based on improvisation and through my love for jazz music I came to call my work visual jazz. I realized that my paintings and jazz share qualities; color, shape, texture, movement, rhythm, tempo, tone, mood, form and the list goes on and on. Exploring this relationship has exposed me to a wonderful world of collaborative art making. I have a hunch that ancient cultures didn’t separate art forms like we have done in our day and they were once one language. Why not explore conversations between visual jazz and jazz music? The combinations are limitless!
PMAC: To you, what is the most rewarding thing about creating art?
Making art and music is what I was meant to do.
PMAC: Who was your favorite teacher?
Roger: As a youngster I didn’t enjoy school. I found it dull. I kept pursuing an education none-the-less. While having been disappointed by many teachers in my day, I have many favorites, some contemporary: Matt Langley, Chris Klaxton, Zach Lange; some from the distant past: Wally Barker, Wally Bothner (two Wally’s), John Laurent, Margo Clark, Mara Witzling, Charlie Leighton, Mr. Barbieri, Mrs. Morrisette.
PMAC: How did he/she influence how you create today?
Roger: Each of these teachers inspired me to work to my fullest potential, brought joy and enthusiasm to their subject matter; saw in me abilities that I often didn’t realize I had.
They helped me build self-confidence and to trust in my abilities and intuition.
They saw Me.