Sunday, May 17, 2009

First workshop: How it went

I finished teaching my first workshop today. This was the title:

Painting Fabulous Textured Abstracts
(or why the hardware store is your best friend)

(Later it occurred to me that I shouldn't have used the word "fabulous." No man would take a workshop with that in the title.)

Two people signed up for the workshop. On the one hand, I'm bummed not to have had a full group. On the other hand, it was nice to have a small, intimate group, especially for my first workshop.

Both days were hot. Saturday, Day 1, the German restaurant next door was having a beer garden in the back parking lot, so there was a lot of oom-pah music plus partying people. It was also a local open studio tour. So, on the whole, pretty busy. In fact, a bit overwhelming. And I hummed polka music for hours. Sunday, Day 2, was even hotter, and we agreed to start a half hour earlier. It was much quieter, and I played some Hawaiian slack key music on my iPod (no oom-pah!). Mostly we all developed the projects we started on Day 1. I did a demo that actually came out well! This was one of my fears: I can't always guarantee that I'll be able to create something good. Both days, people kind of ran out of gas an hour or more before the nominal end time. I can understand this; I've felt kind of overloaded at all-day classes. And the heat was really hard.

I learned a lot. There's one explanation I know I need to improve. Like, it's really hard to estimate how long things will take. Also, even when I give students the composition and the technique for applying paint, they can come out with really different paintings. And we did a few group discussions: One of us would want to talk about a painting, and we'd set it up on an easel and gather round. I loved those. They weren't critiques, per se, since it wasn't about what was wrong, but rather about what they wanted. I don't want to give students a solution, but, rather, give options or remind them of the color or composition guidelines.

And nice students! Willing to share experience and knowledge and enthusiasm. One of the students said she'd been looking for a class like this for years, and wants me to tell her if I ever give another workshop. That's really encouraging.

I'm content. I asked the students if they had enough information to take home and work with on their own, and they said yes, they did. This was good to hear, since at the end of Day 1 I could tell that not everyone was feeling successful. That was a bit hard. I really want them to feel empowered by the class. But Joyce Faulknor, one of the other artists at my gallery and also a teacher, said something that helped: All you can do is give them all you got. Then, even if it doesn't work for everyone, you know you did all you could.


  1. Hey, congratulations! It sounds like it went well. I'm sure the first workshop is as much of a learning experience for you as it was for your students (in terms of teaching). And I would guess that they got a whole lot out of the class. I'm sure word will spread and you will have more students next time.

  2. Thanks so much, Kim. I always appreciate your comments: encouraging but grounded. :)