Stephen Felmingham: Putting It Into Practice: bridging the gap between learning and doing

Plymouth College of Art logoThis paper will propose that whilst there are established strategies relating to the acquisition of craft skills there are fewer that deal with their autonomous practice, provoking a gap or discontinuity in studio pedagogy. The paper will argue that a useful model for teaching creative practice can be gained by considering the role of intuition. Using drawing as its exemplar, the paper sets out to unpack what we might mean by ‘intuition’ by examining the Aristotlean concepts of techné, mêtis and kairos, an expression of creative thinking that:

‘implies a complex but very coherent body of mental attitudes and intellectual behaviour which combine flair, wisdom, forethought, subtlety of mind [and] resourcefulness…applied to situations which are transient, shifting, disconcerting and ambiguous..1

The paper will argue that the gap between the learning of a set of skills and their subsequent autonomous practice represents a problem that is often solved tacitly or by implication in studio teaching, and that a greater understanding of the mechanisms of creative thought are essential to informing those pedagogies that will engender the “understanding of uncertainty, ambiguity and the limits of knowledge”2 in the makers of the future.


1. Detienne, M. and Vernant, J. (1991) Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society trans, Lloyd, J. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, pp3-4

2. QAA Art and Design Benchmark Statement Section 1.4 p.10

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