In the beginning Art I classes, I try to introduce my students to the elements of art and principles of design first. I believe that 'good' art is directly related to a well defined understanding of these elements.
I am a big believer that the ability to draw well is not the only contributing factor in being a successful artist. I see many students who feel discouraged by their inability to draw a photo-real picture. Although I do believe drawing is the basis from which we work, it is not the only defining factor of an artist. I think that art also is beneficial in that the process of making it is important to the students.
I also try to introduce my students to a different media. One can only do so much pencil drawing before becoming quite bored with it. I believe an artist skillfully creates art in several media.
We also have experimented with all elements of art. We started with contour drawings and blind contour drawings. We worked on composition skills using magazines to make collages. We have made prints out of cardboard and more recently out of rubber blocks. We tried our hands at dealing with art with a 3-D medium when we made masks from paper mache and plaster. We also experimented with wood carving.
I have tried to give the students a wide range of exposure to different ways to express themselves by experimenting with several different ways to visually convey a message. I believe art gives a student the freedom to speak their mind in a non-verbal, creative way.