Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist


The Enduring Impact of My High School Art Teachers

My Artistic Foundations

My high school art teacher, Doug DePice, made five 20-minute art lesson videos (available below) during the pandemic in 2020 in partnership with the Secaucus Public Library from my home town. And I only discovered them recently. He’s been teaching art for 45 years now!

These videos bring me back to when I saw my HS art teachers every day for four years in the 90’s (that’s me in high school). It also reminds me of the hours I spent quietly honing my skills under the guidance of Mrs. Bartoszek, Mr. DePice, and the Art Department head, Mr. S.

Eric Rhodes in high school, cir. 1995

Mr. DePice also opened my eyes to the interdisciplinary relationship between art and other fields of study. I was among his first-generation of students in my junior and senior years to participate in what would become known as “The Palette Paradigm” program.

This was an invigorating and eye-opening revelation at the time. It was like some secret knowledge had been passed to me, a door unlocked, and much of the world suddenly made sense. We explored and experimented with the symbol (art) as metaphor (english), structure (science), and proportion (math). These were early lessons in open-mindedness and critical thinking through the lens of art but I had not realized it yet.

Today, almost 30 years later, the process of exploring the interdisciplinary relationships between seemingly unrelated philosophies, subjects, ideas, and more continues to be a significant part of my art practice. Beyond that, viewing the world through an interdisciplinary, openminded but critical lens has impacted my life in even more profound ways outside of art. It has helped to drive decisions about academics, hobbies, interests, career paths and more.


The Palette Paradigm Program

At the heart of my early educational experience, we’ve got The Palette Paradigm, a visionary approach developed by artist and educator Doug DePice. It was later detailed in the book, “Interdisciplinary Education: Art & Social Studies Across the Curriculum,” (2013) he co-authored with Social Studies educator Amanda Jones. The program aims to break free from the usual educational mold and mix up the rich, varied colors of academic disciplines into one vibrant, unified vision of learning.

Why Was It Developed?

DePice created The Palette Paradigm because he noticed something was off with the traditional education system: it’s organized into separate subject groups, which doesn’t really reflect how ideas are experienced in the real world. He saw an opportunity to make learning more holistic, helping students see the ties between art, science, math, and the humanities. The program’s aim? To spark a sense of wonder and discovery, teaching kids not just to learn, but to connect and create.

What Are Its Intentions?

The Palette Paradigm is all about:

  • Fostering Interdisciplinary Learning: It’s about mixing up subjects so students can see the connections across different areas, boosting their understanding and sparking innovative thinking.
  • Developing Critical and Creative Thinking: The idea is to beef up students’ skills in thinking both critically and creatively, using Problem-Finding Questions (PFQs) to challenge them to identify and explore new problems, thereby prepping them to come up with cool, innovative solutions to tricky situations.
  • Encouraging Lifelong Learning: With its focus on mixing disciplines, The Palette Paradigm kindles a love for learning that goes way beyond the classroom walls, getting students ready for a lifetime of curiosity and exploration.
  • Preparing for a Complex World: By seeing knowledge as a big, interconnected web rather than isolated bits, students are better equipped to deal with the complex world we live in.

In short, The Palette Paradigm isn’t just an educational framework; it’s a rally cry for educators and students to think outside the box when it comes to learning. With its holistic approach, it’s all about not just educating, but inspiring, setting the stage for a future where learning knows no bounds, is deeply connected, and driven by an endless curiosity.


Lessons by Doug DePice

Mr. DePice’s teachings, soaked in the wisdom of the Palette Paradigm, are timeless. His videos welcome anyone, from newbies to experienced artists, to dive into or revisit art’s basics. For those who’ve followed my artistic journey, these videos shed light on the early influences that sculpted my creative and personal identity.

Lesson 1

Doug teaches how to re-see the possibilities of line in order to create a free form work of art.


Lesson 2

Doug teaches the basics of creating trees.


Lesson 3

Doug shows you the basics of printmaking using easy and simple techniques.


Lesson 4

Watercolor painting and floral studies


Lesson 5

Watercolor painting and landscape studies.


I hope you enjoyed these art studio lessons from Doug! Here’s a bonus art history video for you on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Originally posted on Twitter/X as a thread.


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