Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hearts to Valentine

Last weekend I enjoyed teaching a wonderful group of students at a workshop in Valentine Nebraska.

I use the word “student” loosely, some of them have ribbons from national awards hanging on their studio walls. More accurately, perhaps, I stood in front of them and demonstrated my painting style and talked through my color choices and methods, while they sat patiently, watched, and asked probing and intelligent questions before going to work at their easels. I was more guide/entertainer/host than teacher.

Workshops are tough. There are visitors to be dealt with and table-mates to befriend. We’re out of the comfort zone of our personal work space and don’t have the usual access to the coffee pot, the fridge, or the proper radio station.  Lunch comes unexpectedly. The day wraps up too quickly – or not soon enough.

My first demo, based on Labor and Plenty, a painting in which I'd already figured out some of the problems I wanted to address.
Each of us has a problem we want addressed, or a question answered, a method explained - or simply left alone to work out problems on our own while keeping half an ear on the conversations around us. 

Often the problems and questions we set forth as students are not answerable to our satisfaction. How-to’s are very personal to each artist. Simply receiving information does not qualify as experience, and it is the experience that gives us the answers we seek. I believe strongly that the teacher can only point the direction, then step out of the way.

And, to be quite honest, we want to have some fun. Not necessarily belly-laughing fun, but a warm camaraderie we’re-in-this-together kind of fun.  Painting in private space is one thing, no one else watches while you wipe off your painting for the 3rd time. The potential of being observed while making mistakes is not for the faint-hearted. It was natural for the group to enjoy watching me stumble around while I attempted a demo using a long forgotten photo of a wooded shoreline with long reflections in still water while they relaxed awhile. Yike.

Second sweat, I'll paint it into submission one of these days.
I’ll show them. I’ll give that demo some concerted effort in the privacy of my studio and show them what several layers of paint and hours of work can do to rein in a wayward painting. Wink wink.

Thank you Valentine area Sand Painters for a really great experience. It was an honor to share work space with you. Huge thanks to my personal host Debby, who treated me like a dear friend - which we now are. 

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