Technique confusion . . . What is it and do you suffer from it?

December 15, 2023

A student recently told me that she thought that she and some fellow botanical artists in her group were suffering from “technique confusion.” She defined technique confusion as too many teachers with too many techniques and no one apparently able to address anything but their own technique; nobody able to help a student develop their own technique. In other words, a technique that works for the student.

In theory it might sound like a good idea to attend workshops with different teachers in order to experience a broader perspective. In practice though, if those teachers only demonstrate their own technique, thereby implying that the student should adopt it as demonstrated in a my-way-or-the-highway approach, technique confusion is inevitable and will only be compounded with each such workshop attended.

So what is a student to do? Well, the first thing to do is inquire about the teacher before signing up for a workshop. Establish whether the teacher is in fact a teacher or just a demonstrator. A demonstrator is someone who may be an accomplished artist but is not trained or experienced in teaching. If they instruct by demonstrating their own technique and neglect to discuss or demonstrate alternative techniques, you would be well advised to spend your instruction budget elsewhere.

What you should be looking for is an instructor who can help you find your own technique because until you do, you’re not going to realize your full potential. Trying to incorporate elements of techniques with which you’re not entirely comfortable, will ensure that you’ll never be entirely comfortable; you’ll always suffer from technique confusion.