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Edward A. Burke

Teaching Philosophy


My teaching philosophy emerges from personal experience as a struggling grade school student and a remarkable teacher's ability to guide and motivate. This life lesson was the genesis of this teaching philosophy. Teaching is more than the delivery of curriculum measured by standardized testing. While these components are essential, an educator can and should be more. Teachers need to inspire, encourage, and mentor students. Teaching is, in a way, a performance, an art form in its own right, and that model must transform as circumstances arise to meet the needs and expectations of the students.

The art teacher must cultivate a non-intimidating and encouraging environment that fosters participation and self-expression. This cultivation requires a balance of pedagogical content, skills practice, and flexible responsiveness to the classroom environment. It seeks this balance in teaching and interacting with the class and individual students.

The place of learning (classroom/studio) and its physical and emotional environment are essential in adequate art learning, as in no other discipline. Rearranging the classroom/studio for a specific lesson or exercise can impact the study immensely. It is akin to a theatrical stage where set changes transform scenes. This flexible environment allows for a lecture, demonstration, and practice simultaneously.

Setting this environment helps students find a path to think and live as artists in and outside the classroom. Most importantly, students must understand that art's evolution and advancement are like a living organism. From kindergarten art teacher to Picasso, each new artistic endeavor is an element in art progress. Every student, teacher, art lover, and master artist is integral to that evolution.

Experimental Drawing lesson by Edward Burke Creating a monumental abject form a small object (Popcorn Drawing) and Drawing with Tape.

Student Testimonials

“I went into the Experimental Drawing class a bit apprehensive, having not been actively drawing and sketching for many, many years. However, Ed's gentle manner and calm encouragement quickly won the day. The class exercises he selected expanded our creative thinking and fostered our creative expression, which was his intent. In fact, it was 3 weeks into the course that I had a personal epiphany. I did not realize that I had so little artistic confidence. I came to see that this mindset had overshadowed so much of what I'd done - or rather, NOT done - throughout my life. I came to Ed before one class to show him a business idea I'd been working on that involved my drawing skills. I was actually afraid to show it to him. Once he looked at it and gave me simple honest feedback - and some more encouragement - I felt like a new man, invigorated. I'm no longer embarrassed to show my work or enhance my artistic technique. We learned that all we do is a "work in process"; there is no perfect piece of art, and there are many ways and methods to express ourselves artistically. We tasted this throughout the course. I for one, needed to drink it in and I'm grateful that Ed created the class.”

--- Roy Gilwit

“ a semi professional,....making my living for the last 30ish years from technical drawing, that went from old school graphite based technology to the digitally CAD, I took your course based on the description in the catalog in hopes of shaking up my own connection to making "marks on the page"... and.....I could not be less disappointed!

I know that using a double negative can be perilous for both the sender and receiver,...but in my mind, your course.... not so much promised what I wanted, but ended up being deliciously surprising to me as I walked a way excited about rethinking or thinking fresh the tools that I already have.... this is indeed a gift, and I thank you. I can only think that your syllabus has been deftly honed over the years to jog us from one thing to the next so that we all think/see anew...excited about "marking up" our next page.”

--- John Davies

“I took several semesters of painting with Ed Burke at the Westchester Community College - Peekskill Extension. He created a very open and easy atmosphere in his class, which worked extremely well for me and I think I did some of my best work in his classes. Ed was always thinking about innovative exercises that would stretch and challenge the students. He also took a personal interest in their work, which would help keep us all motivated.”

--- Thomas Kuehl (Artist)

In June 2010 I took a drawing class with Ed Burke given over 5 Tuesdays. This was a wonderful experience for me. Not only did I learn a great deal and have a lot of fun but the end result is that I want to draw and I am drawing!


As a novice, with essentially no drawing experience and in a class which included people with significant drawing abilities, he made me feel valued, important and skilled.

I retired in 2007 and one of the things I wanted to do was to learn to draw. I took a course in Jan 2008 at the NY botanical garden and it froze me in my tracks! In contrast, this course with Ed was amazing. He had us doing some of the same exercises as the previous class but what a different attitude! He always sees something positive and helps one to focus on that. He communicates well and his lessons are incredibly creative. Who would ever think that drawing a piece of popcorn would make one focus so precisely on looking, seeing and then translating the vision onto a sheet of paper!


His exercises take one to the next level as well. The last drawings we did in class were from a photograph of a woman. First we drew freehand looking at the photo, then we drew the photo upside down and finally we used a grid. The differences in the drawings were very significant with the upside down better than the freehand and the best being the one with the grid.

Ed talked about the history of art and showed us works by different artists, known and unknown that brought a new depth of vision to me. His philosophy and attitude were as important as his skill as an artist and his ability to teach. He is a truly gifted teacher. I would highly recommend a class with him to anyone with any level of experience or skills.

--- Katherine E Elwyn, MD

I have been privileged to study experimental drawing techniques with Ed Burke in his evening class at Westchester Community College.  I say privileged, because I am also an art teacher, and I really felt inspired by his teaching and feel that I have been able to add greatly to my own repertoire of experience.  I am always looking for ways to challenge my students, whether they be high school students, young children, or adults, and I loved Ed's projects and find I have been able to incorporate a number of his ideas into my own classes.  Not only have I benefited, but my students have as well.

--- Sally Aldrich, Artist / Art Teacher

Three years ago I enrolled in Ed Burke's oil painting class to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine.  His systematic, hands on approach gave me confidence to use the tools of paint, brush and canvas correctly.  I recently took an experimental drawing class with him and truly appreciated his description of our assignments online along with examples of many artists approach to the topic.   Ed's class reflects his great love of art and his well-honed skills.

I have been in his class with career professionals as well as beginning artists and Ed clearly respects each person’s talent, style and desire while encouraging and challenging each one with pointed direction and humor. Each person’s artistic vision was expanded under his tutelage.  I look forward to the next class he teaches and will continue to practice what "my" teacher, Ed Burke, has unveiled for me.
--- Mary Foley

"I took Ed's 5-week drawing workshop this summer just to try my hand at something new. I am a total novice in drawing and I did learn a lot (especially about "No More Tight Ass Drawings"). More importantly, immersing myself for three hours a week on a creative activity was hugely beneficial. Ed is a wonderful and passionate teacher and is totally responsible for my very positive experience. My only complaint was that we tried to pack too much into 15 hours. So it's great to see that Ed will be teaching the same material over an eleven week period - I intend to take the course again!"

--- Tilak Agerwala

I met Ed about six or seven years ago when I was a first time student of drawing at WCC and he my teacher.  My experience there was without a doubt one of the most enjoyable ones in my many years.  Never having been real interested in the art world, (except for those things that I could create as a silversmith, or as a very good craftsman, putting a pencil or piece of charcoal in my hand to draw was foreign to me and not something I ever thought of doing.  My world changed with my first drawing class.

Ed, with his knowledge, patience and straight forward teaching advised me and the other students of when things were right or were wrong.  Ed has a great sense of humor, knowledge of his art world and is always eager to help when you have a question that needs an answer.  Even now, he's available to his past students.  I was so bitten by my new experience as an art student that I became a student for two other classes.  I took his painting class and became a painter working in oils...which I found to be very interesting, frustrating and rewarding all at the same time.  
Taking a class, whether it is drawing or painting with Ed Burke will be a great addition to any one's life.  He will teach you something wonderful and perhaps change your way of viewing your surroundings that I promise you. It will be great fun, a great learning adventure, and perhaps a chance to create something you couldn't have imagined you could do.
Ed is a great teacher and advisor and his classes are a terrific learning experience for the young, old, beginner (like me), the pro and the "in the middle" artist.  I look forward to seeing what classes he will be teaching at WCC in the future...perhaps we'll meet there.
--- Kathryn Lounsbury, Silversmith at Leonore Doskow Inc

When I met Ed Burke, he was a gallery owner in addition to being a fine painter.  I was a returning artist after a 35-year hiatus, and I noticed that immediately Ed took a keen interest in my work.   Later on, as a student taking several classes with Ed, I noticed that he would take a keen interest in any artist's work whether they were an expert, amateur, or even a free spirited child in the early years.


Fantastic advise, and valuable informative feedback has proven to be most valuable in studying under Ed.   To this day, his words still help to guide my oil painting work; "Defend your edges. Bring out more some contrast. Plain air painting is the best way to absorb and paint".  And, Ed keeps a momentum with his classes through the entire course - He structures a class quite well too.

--- Kent Patterson, Artist

Ed Burke is the kind of teacher any student would be grateful for. He concentrates on helping you learn principals and techniques that you can apply to your own style. In other words he doesn't tell you how to BE an artist, rather, he helps you BECOME an artist.

--- Terry Lennon

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