Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire

Teaching Art Students to Be Creative

by Susan Thompson

lynnAs much as she is an artist, Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire is also an art teacher. She started teaching art right out of high school as a summer job in St. Albert, doing a weeklong program here and there on the side.

“I realized I enjoyed teaching art so I just kept going. I went into education and majored in art,” LeCorre-Dallaire says. “I think the one thing that has helped me a lot as a teacher is my diverse training in the arts, first graphic style in college, and then fine arts in university. At first I used to say to myself, ‘I can’t make it as an artist because I’m all over the map, I want to do this and I want to do that,’ and I did a little bit of everything. On one hand, it’s a hindrance for being an artist, trying to develop a body of work and trying to hone your skills, but it was a huge asset for teaching.”

LeCorre-Dallaire has now been teaching for over 25 years, and has helped art students of all ages develop their skills and creativity.

When she teaches, LeCorre-Dallaire focuses heavily on design theory and creative problem solving skills. She approaches those two aspects of instruction by first breaking the myth that creativity is completely open-ended.

“They say paint whatever you want, and you draw a blank,” she explains. “Creativity comes when you’re given limitations.”

In college, LeCorre-Dallaire learned design fundamentals through projects that were set up as design problems for students to solve.

“I try to give that kind of concept to my students,” she says. “Okay, you have to draw a house but you can only use geometric shapes. You can draw an alien but you can only use organic or curved shapes. I always give specific limitations to every project to force them to push their boundaries of creativity. I start off with a problem I give them, but in the end it opens the doors and everybody comes up with something completely unique.”

The second way LeCorre-Dallaire helps her students build their skills is by teaching them that mistakes are not necessarily failures.

“Mistakes happen,” she says. “Those are what I call teachable moments, when something didn’t work out or somebody spilled paint on somebody’s work—those things are always going to happen. A lot of kids, and adults too, get easily frustrated. You want to throw in the towel and start over; you want to crumple up the piece of paper because you think it’s ruined. I never let them.”

Instead, LeCorre-Dallaire helps her students come up with a creative solution or fix for the mistake, incorporating it into the artwork. Often, what seemed like a catastrophic mistake can be incorporated so well it seems it was never there. And sometimes, a mistake can take a piece of art in an entirely new and exciting direction.

“It pushes [my students] further to another way of completing something,” LeCorre-Dallaire says.

Ultimately, however, LeCorre-Dallaire feels she is still learning herself by teaching others.

I guess I’m still like a kid who doesn’t want to stop learning,” she says. “I enjoy being a student as much as I love teaching.”

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