“My journey to becoming a RISD CE instructor began when I was asked if I could adapt my abstract painting class into an online format.

Setting up asynchronous courses was a challenge because I had never filmed myself doing demonstrations before. In the classroom it’s easy to see if an exercise is getting across to students and if it’s not, I can change things on the fly. I asked some friends and former students to serve as guinea pigs to test out some of the exercises.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how committed the students are to improving their craft, and their dedication to their craft. I’ve had students with a wide variety of skill levels, from beginner to advanced, but they all have the desire to improve their skills and to learn more about all aspects of art making, from the basics to more advanced concepts.

One student kept detailed notes about their studio practice, about the way they interacted with each exercise. They kept a journal about how their exercises developed each week and throughout the module. They even put together a little slideshow for me with images and text, walking me through their thought processes and the progress of their artwork as they worked through the exercise. I was so touched because I’ve been making slideshows for my students throughout my teaching career but this was one of the first times a student made a slideshow for me!

I stay inspired by looking at a lot of art (mainly online) and trying to find things out in the world or in the environment to keep me moving forward. I also try to stay focused on the things I really care about, artwise. I return to the same books or artists that inspire me and try to forge a deeper connection between them, or try to understand why I’m attracted to a particular artwork or work of media and then stay with it and uncover all the layers within it.

I would recommend taking my classes. I have fun doing them and I think my students are having fun too.”

—Tim McCool, RISD CE instructor, Painting and Abstraction and Painting from History: Representation and Abstraction in Mid-Century America

Are you a RISD CE instructor who would like to be featured by #risdceSPOTLIGHT? Fill out this Google Form or email cemedia@risd.edu to learn how.

Gallery of Tim’s artwork