Tyler Alpern: Teaching Philosophy

  Art is full of "yeses" and possibilities. There are a myriad of correct answers and different wonderful ways to do things so I help students find the individual solutions that work best for them.  I guide my students to higher levels of artistic achievement as they learn the mechanics of paintingor drawing and the vocabulary of visual expression.  I have learned that the higher my expectations I have for my students, then the stronger their work is, especially from beginning classes. Students are often amazed by the quality of artwork and enthusiasm for art making from novice artists.  I design my classes so students acquire skills in a logical order, yet early on have the independence to develop their own ideas and styles.  I stress learning the skills, theory and materials of the craft but also expect students to find an artistic voice. I want students to be excited by making art even while they are learning technique.  Mastering technique liberates the creative possibilities and maximizes the opportunities for self expression. 

MURAL PROJECT!  http://vimeo.com/29806403


References From Students

My students know me as a teacher, better than anyone else. Here are some of their emails to me:


...I just thought I would thank you for that amazing experience! I learned sooooo much and I learned a lot about myself as an artist. Sofia



..I didn't get a chance to thank you in person Tyler, but I do want to take the chance to tell you what a great teacher you are. I've probably been in an art class every year since middle school, and you really are just great at what you do. Not only do you completely know in and out of what you are talking about, but you aren't afraid to tell us exactly what we need to know to improve our skills. - Casey



...I just wanted to write to let you know how good of a job you are doing there at FRCC.  I have been kind of bored here at CU artistically and have been thinking of how great your classes were.  I just applied for some scholarships using the portfolio I built in your classes,  and I received four of them.  I owe most of that to you,  I feel like I built such a strong eye in your classes that it doesn't matter if the classes here are not so great. 


... I'm doing great here in Providence.  My favorite thing about the city is the wealth of untouched Victorian architecture everywhere - so grandeur and elegant, a worthy trade off for the mountains I try and tell myself. I am very busy, but loving every bit of it.  Its a little strange being the oldest one in all my classes, but certainly palatable.  Too bad Tyler isn't here though!  He is better than any professor here.  FRCC is extremely lucky to have him. 


...In case you don’t remember me, I took Drawing and 2D Design from you in 2002.  I finished up with the Multimedia Technology degree last May.  And, yes, you were the best teacher that I had at FRCC.  Everyday as I go about life I have an appreciation for my surroundings - the designs, the colors - and you are the reason that my thinking will never be the same.  Perhaps I need to take another class from you.  I wanted my son, who is 17, to take your drawing class. Jill





...I want say that your class had a huge impact on me.  Not only did I learn more than I could have imagined, but your class was one of the first art courses in which I was able to express my creative side. More than anything, I greatly appreciated the fact that you never made me feel bad about my work and that you allowed me to learn through making mistakes.  You encouraged me consistently while maintaning high expectations. ...I trust your judgement and would be most grateful for your guidance. Niki



...Thanks again for all your help this semester. I seriously appreciate your passion to teach it comes across. I have never learned and seen improvement the way I did this semester with you. Thanks. Ruston





...I just interviewed someone looking for a marketing job who said she was taking a painting class. I inquired where, and it turns out she's a student of yours and thinks you're the greatest art teacher on the planet. Anyway, small world department. Bob Morehouse



...I don't know if I've told you but you have been one of my most influential teachers in art. I especially appreciated how good you were to me in 2D class because I was just beginning and at that stage where getting the wrong teacher (McIlhenny for example) would have crushed me. You helped give me the courage to keep moving forward in a new a scary place. Patti



...I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your class.  I love that you were always honest with everyone and you weren't afraid to say when you

didn't like something.  That only makes you a better teacher.  You really helped me with your advice, especially on the cat.  I'm sorry to have become so frustrated and unable to work, but sometimes that happens, right?


Anyways, thank you again for being an incredible teacher.  You are someone I will not forget. Michelle


Here are some student comments taken from course evaluations:

This was an outstanding class – the best on the subject I have had and far superior to other art classes I have taken at CU. Tyler is not just an artist, but a very effective, prepared, experienced excellent teacher. He struck a perfect balance between structure and freedom. Tyler taught me to accomplish drawings that amazed me – everyone’s work seemed to improve dramatically over the course of the class. Great individual attention. Very clear, encouraging and helpful while also “demanding” in a very positive way. Get this guy to teach more (Drawing 2)!

Tyler was a good, I mean great teacher. He taught me how to utilize my fullest drawing skills. I learned more from him in the first months then I ever learned with any other teacher in my life that I have ever encountered.

One of the best instructors I had while at this university was Tyler. He was very attentive, very patient and helped me improve my drawing by leaps and bounds! Not once during my tenure in the Environmental Design School did I receive such thorough instruction.

The teacher is a great person! I’m glad I had the chance to be his student. Tyler is a great teacher. I learned a lot from Tyler.

Tyler was amazing at helping me understand all of the little rules of art. The lessons were well thought out and he was always willing to help without a lot of pressure. You didn’t have to be an amazing artist…as long as you tried hard and attended classes.

Great class! Tyler is a wonderful teacher, and I’m glad I had the chance to take a class with him.

I learned more from this course than many of my other courses! I loved seeing every student improve throughout the semester.

Tyler obviously has enthusiasm for the subject and that excitement is getting projected to and shared with us.

Tyler is a very talented artist and very organized instructor. I have bragged of everything I learned in this class to my peers and instructors.

Tyler’s method of teaching is very effective because every assignment led to the next...I would definitely take more courses from Tyler.

Excellent class, great learning experience and very challenging also. One of the best classes I have taken at FRCC.

I learned a tremendous amount in this class. I took the class as requirement that fit my schedule but have been delighted with the class. Tyler does an excellent job of teaching, challenging the students and creating enthusiasm. This man is a natural born teacher who has a wonderful command of his subject.

Tyler is a great teacher who is very passionate about what he teaches. I learned a lot from him not just about the subject matter, but about being actively engaged in a classroom that requires a lot of interaction. He has an excellent sense of humor...Him and his artwork...have been a great influence. I have had a wonderful semester.

This class is awesome! And the instructor teaches it very well. The techniques that I have learned in this class will last a lifetime.

I really enjoyed the class. Tyler managed to teach a lot of different things without getting stuck on one thing. He gave us a great overall view of design.

This class has been challenging yet very interesting. I have learned a great deal in this class and Tyler is an excellent instructor. He genuinely cares that his students understand, learn and excel.

Tyler is an incredibly motivating and dynamic instructor. The class was exciting and we were encoruaged to produce excellent work even though it was a first painting class for most of us.


The instructor was one of the best I ever had.


The class was one of the best classes I have taken in my college career.


Tyler is an awesome instructor.


Tyler’s teaching style is an exciting and refreshing change. His exercises are direct and helpful. His wit and skill are greatly appreciated.


Tyler is a great and dynamic teacher, ready to help and answer your questions.


Tyler is a great instructor with an excellent sense of humor and a great overall attitude.


Excellent approach to the course.


As an instructor - he is an incredibly inspiring individual.


Tyler is an excellent instructor - having been at Metro, I have to say he is head and shoulders above most of the others I have encountered.

Creativity was strongly encouraged.


...Tyler’s relaxed atmosphere and the way he allowed us to learn at our own pace without pressure.


Very good class, helped me to learn at my own pace.


Time to paint what we wanted instead of strictly assignment based compositions.


A clear schedule of work, great assignments.


The instructor rules!


Tyler Alpern is a wonderful instructor and he presents the class with a series of assignments that are diverse and challenging. He assists the students according to their individual needs and is flexible and open minded. He encourages students to try things that are out of their comfort zones.


The instructor encouraged creativity and did an excellent job of encouraging me to push my ability to the limit.


This was my second class with Tyler Alpern and I will jump at the chance to take another. He is an excellent teacher and made learning things fun.


Got to be more creative than in other classes.

Fun. Fun. Fun.


Press Highlights:

From Edge Boston by Alan Ilagan, Feb 23, 2008:


Alpern utilizes time-honored painting techniques while portraying a modern-day sensibility. He is a Picasso of the Pop World, reveling in and condemning our celebrity-obsessed culture and all of its colorful shortcomings. He also poses timely questions on identity, gender, and beauty in his work, challenging long-held notions on what is pretty, and turning traditional representations of male and female forms on their heads.


Each of his pieces tells a story, often many stories - spinning off one another, ricocheting back with new ideas and slants, and creating an ongoing dialogue within and without the work itself. Under Alpern’s touch, the simplest of scenes lend themselves to grandly elaborate tales, replete with psychological back-stories and symbolic gestures of stunning accuracy. He adroitly captures moments of human interaction, invoking those fleeting connections we make as we fumble through life ~ the awkward laugh of a suitor, the seductive glint of an eye, or the vaguely mournful gaze of a solitary bystander...


He showcases the freaks of the world ~ our everyday grotesqueries ~ and his genius is the way he manages to simultaneously criticize and celebrate their uniqueness. His way with color highlights the gaudy and garish nature of many of his subjects, serving to challenge the eye and question where real ugliness begins and superficial delights end.


He will sometimes present a gross distortion of form and figure, yet the expressions and stances remain accessible and universal, and he finds beauty even in his most hideous imagery. The bored countenance of a dinner party attendant or the attention-getting antics of a budding drama queen - these are brilliantly conceived and executed. It’s the eye for clever detail and minutiae of subtle visual cues that may be Alpern’s greatest asset. CLICK HERE to read the whole article'




By J. Gluckstern, Camera Visual Arts Critic

August 17, 2003

It may, indeed, be a digital age, but the art of painting perseveres — even thrives — for one big reason: Paint is a sensual medium that stimulates both eye and mind.

That's part of the premise of "aLpern + CarilLi = Line + Color," an exhibit of new paintings by Tyler Alpern and Catherine Carilli now on display at the Canyon Gallery in the Boulder Public Library. It's also what makes this show worth a look.

Alpern takes a more narrative approach, often filling his subtly suggestive scenes with stylized caricatures. "10 of Hearts Was Good," for instance, captures an entire menagerie of social card players in their least flattering and most garish moments. In "Isaac," part of his "Falling" series, a woman tumbles down a flight of stairs, heels over head, while the pearls from her broken necklace fly in all directions.

While the ostensible "stories" of these paintings might veer toward the unpleasant (and, in the case of "Bar Scene," even the grotesque), the paint itself is luxuriously applied, a seductive dance of color and texture on the canvas.

This is particularly evident in "Coppertone," an oil that depicts a white woman rubbing suntan lotion on a black man's back. It's easy enough to read a sexual tension into the relationship between these two characters, but what's more satisfying is how Alpern renders the scene. The rich and variable blues of the water shimmer and collide, the flesh tones mingle and merge with the sand, and Matisse-like patterns blossom throughout the composition.



By J. Gluckstern, Camera Visual Arts Critic

October 26, 2003

While the concept of innovation probably has some bearing on virtually any occupation these days, it's been an integral part of being an artist for centuries. But, especially in a gallery situation, viewers are seldom given an idea of the specific technical and aesthetic hurdles an artist may have had to overcome in order to produce the work on display.

That's definitely not the case in "Technically Speaking," the current exhibition at the University Memorial Center Art Gallery, which presents not only the recent work of eight local artists but also some sense of the individual breakthroughs involved in the creation of each piece ... the show offers some interesting insights into process that even non-artists should be able to appreciate.

For example, painter Tyler Alpern, who also curated the show, demonstrates some intriguing and unconventional methods of representing depth, contrast and contour in several pieces depicting the Maroon Bells.

Article in Edge New York