I launched a Guided Studio Class in January on Saturday mornings and it has been even more fun then I hoped. We have nine adults enrolled and most of them make it every week, bringing their diverse projects and their open hearts, and ready to try new things and take new risks.
I have one person working on learning to draw, another working with a pen & color-wash approach, and the rest working in acrylics — but those 7 acrylic painters all have different levels of experience, confidence, and interest, so I get to have 9 totally different strings of conversation throughout the class.
And of course, like any good teaching experience, I am learning from my students. One has me dabbling in water colors for the first time; another has me looking closely at paintings she admires to figure out how the original artist rendered the magic she did on the canvas, so that my student can, in turn, learn how to set up that feel for her viewer; and I am struck by how differently each of us approaches making an image.
It’s a joy working with people who want to explore and learn, who want to try new things in their lives, and who are ready to see challenge as an opportunity and not an obstacle. It’s energizing to find common interests and experiences with people who were previously strangers (or nearly so). And, oh, what fun it is to come over to one of paintings and hold it a ways out in front of the artist — to give them a sense of what it would look like if it was on a wall. When students get that perspective, suddenly they can see their work the way others would and they see what is good about it, not the flaws. Their faces light up and their shoulders settle and there’s a glint of pride in their eyes.