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What students say about Terrence Coffman


Nikos Kazantzakis said, “A great teacher builds bridges for their students to cross, having facilitated that crossing, the teacher happily collapses so that their students will be able to build bridges on their own.” I seek to find the strengths of my students and then channel their abilities to be self-assured, confidant, skilled and committed to become a practicing artist."



Comments about Terrence's approach to teaching from former students:

RITA MARIA, Alum Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and independent study in Coffman's Jefferson studio: "was able to work with terry today at his studio and i could not wait to get there! it had been a few weeks and i was really missing it. terry's energy and kindness always comforts me and helps me feel more confident. also, it is nice to leave my studio and work somewhere else for a change. no computer or phone to distract me. i am easily distracted. i don't know if i've said this already to you, but just in case...if you are an artist, writer or anyone trying to pursue a talent of yours you really need a teacher or mentor. i remember really praying for one just because i felt so lost. i needed some direction and feedback. i prayed to have someone in my life i respected and looked up to that i could go to about my artwork and it just hit me today when i was driving back home from his studio. terry is that person for me now. that wasn't my intention when i signed up for his class, but that is the relationship that has evolved. i don't even know if i could put into words how much his lessons and friendship have influenced not only my artwork itself but the way i feel about myself as an artist. if you know my paintings you can see the shift that took place ever since i started classes with terry in jefferson. i could never have done that on my own. i it's amazing how prayers are answered at the time they should be."

PAMELA ANDERSON studied at the Jefferson Studio. A few years ago I participated in an Open Painting Session with several artists. I had just started working, painting again after having been away from my art for years. I knew that I wanted to create something bigger... digging finally into my inner recesses to find the artist that I had always hoped I could be. Terrence Coffman was painting right behind me. I watched him all day and night creating a work that blew me away. I knew that somehow I had to paint with this artist because in just those few short hours I knew where I wanted to go with my art watching him work.

Working with him in his classes and studio has opened me up. My work is flowing taking new directions and has given me confidence to paint from my heart not my head. My head can tell me to be more detailed....to doubt, to be careful. So many things can impede an artist. Terrence will not hold your hand and tell you what you want to hear. He will tell you what you need to hear. He inspires...talking about his experiences, his stories. Finding the simple joys in music, writing, etc that colors his world translating and bringing inspiration, joy and heart into your work.

His classes have taught me more about being me, my work more than anything else I have ever participated in. I have always had the artist in me. Terrence just helped me to find her.

SIMON BAYLISS, BURREN COLLEGE OF ART: You were a great help to me at the Burren and I miss ouR chats. You helped me to give meaning to the paint itself so that my paintings took on a painterly life of their own. This is now an imperative vehicle for my ideas as an artist.

ASHLEY BRAVIN, Burren College of Art & Carnegie Mellon University: "My time at the Burren College of Art would not have been complete without having met the enthusiastic, supportive, and wonderful artist and mentor that is Terry Coffman. His enthusiasm and passion for art is contagious and, not only do his tutorials leave students inspired, but you also can't help but crack a smile or two. Terry's uniquely engaging approach to teaching is a breath of fresh air, and his treatment of students as equals is rare, but incredibly valuable find in an undergraduate setting. He tailors his teaching to suit each individual artist's directions and needs - an amount of attention and dedication to which few students are accustomed. Terry was certainly one of the most enjoyable and inspiring teachers I have ever had, and he will surely leave a lasting impression on any student he comes into contact with."

DEANE NESBITT, Alum American University and the Maryland College of Art & Design: "His enthusiasm and passion both for making art and teaching it was contagious among faculty and students. For Terry everything and anything in life is grist for making art. He encourages constant risk-taking and experimentation. His sense of wonder, joy and faith in the creative process itself and what it can achieve has opened doors for even the least confident and most self-doubting students."

CAMMY DRAHIEM, Milwakee Institute of Art and Design: "There are 2 kinds of teachers. The first teaches rules, just doing their jobs. Terry Coffman is the second kind. He is passionate about art. He inspires you to ask more questions. With Terry, I feel safe to make mistakes, which actually helps the painting become more unique. The questions I ask are never dumb to him. My confidence came only after his sensible yet not harsh critiques. I am not a "master painter". I do see things in a different way as I put it on paper. And when in my "zone" of painting, my world is not so dark. It is filled with a palette of colors that would not have been there without Terry as my teacher and mentor."

DEBBI (HARRYMAN) ROLIG Alum of Maryland Institute College of Art and the Maryland College of Art and Design: "Terry Coffman was my very first painting teacher. I had no idea then how much he would impact my life as an artist, but over the years, I have found myself reflecting on his valuable lessons and ways to approach drawing and painting. Terry recognizes and respects each student's unique ability and personally works with them to develop what they do best. He ignited in me a passion for painting and to approach the canvas without fear. I think the most valuable lesson I learned from Terry was to allow myself to be vulnerable - to go ahead - make the first mark! After all, it's only paint....!"

MICHAEL CASEY: Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design: "Terry has been a very positive influence in growing my career as an artist. Several years ago I was privileged to be juried into his advanced painting class at MIAD . In this small class of 6 or 8 we each were given individual direction. Terry helped me see new approaches and the freedom to expand my style with techniques that I continue to use today. My career has really grown. I had my first one-man show last fall at a gallery in downtown Milwaukee. Five pieces were sold. Terry continues to be a great mentor for me."

WILL FRY Alum Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design: "I've never felt more alive -more in tune with what it means to be an artist- than in the presence of Terrence Coffman; he molds capriciousness into a physicality. Terry's class is what kept me sane during a year long melt down, and it was Terry himself that kept me grounded. Focused. "Translate this to art." I became a fiend under Terry: life amounted to a paint bucket and a canvas and if I was deprived of that conversation I'd shrivel away. But Terry himself never got in the way, never said anything to hinder me, never made me stop, and so I worked harder and harder, not for him, but for myself. In many ways it was that experience that defined my college education, and, truly, my transformation into an artist: to have that drive, that lust for the paint, to be able to just paint and comprehend it in real terms. That's what makes Terry a great teacher; he is a thoughtful, compassionate human being first. He understands you and translates that to productivity. If you have that drive, that passion, Terry will bring it out past the point of exhaustion. That's when, when your finally drained, tapped, he'll pull you away and help you understand what just happened."

ALBIN ERHART studied painting in Coffman’s studio: "To make a long story short. It was fun, fast, furious, productive and completely blissing.

What I liked:

• The working with other artists in a group, the discussions and feedback during work and during lunch breaks.

• Terry's compassion for details, for formless forms, and for using complementary colors.

• The weather in May in Jefferson.

• See other artists work grow and change.

• To start from nothing and find something in the work.

• To work the "other way" bypassing the cognitive filter in the beginning.

• To stay abstract and focus on colors, shapes, balances, composition.

• Revisited DeKooning and found more commonalities than many years ago - but his figures are still appalling to me.

• Discovered Diebenkorn and like his play with proportions - the slim, the square, the birds eye view.

• Discovered Franz Kline when Terry saw my third piece - and I must say I like abstract expressionism.

• The Hamburgers from down the street, great, greasy and handmade, the works.

• Terry's oil sticks rock.

• His huge canvasses in the entry hall and in the dining area."

JIM DEMSKI MIAD BFA graduate wrote: "You were one of my teachers WAY back in 1995-ish.... you were one of my Freshman teachers. I don't know if you know how much you influenced me back then, but I thought I should take this opportunity to tell you how much you positively influenced me. I remember working on whatever we were working on as a class, and as we all worked, you walked and talked.
Honestly, that was the most interesting thing for me... and I looked forward to it! You really helped to open my mind, and pushed me to keep myself open to new things and believe in myself. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence back then, and your talks helped me with that. I've remembered your classes ever since then, and I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed them, and how much they impacted me... even to this day. I believe I only had you for one semester, so it was only a tiny blip in my experience from then until now, but the influence it had on me was great."

STUDENT PENINSULA SCHOOL OF ART: "Working with him in his classes and studio has opened me up. My work is flowing taking new directions and has given me confidence to paint from my heart not my head. My head can tell me to be more detailed....to doubt, to be careful. So many things can impede an artist. Terrence will not hold your hand and tell you what you want to hear. He will tell you what you need to hear."