teaching in my studio
A week and a half ago I held the second and last of my scheduled Oil and Wax Studio Workshops for 2011. Six artists (pictured above) came here from Vancouver, BC, California, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We all painted, talked and shared information for three days, and had some good laughs too. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and very satisfying. There were some very nice paintings underway at the wrap-up sesion at the end of the third day, when the photo was taken, but just as significant was that everyone stretched and pushed beyond their initial ideas and efforts. And as always, there were ideas generated during the class that were new to me--including the "stomp on it in the driveway" technique (interesting gouged textures...)
I have decided that due to the success of these classes held in my studio, I'm going to shift my emphasis to this format starting in 2012. I do love to travel for teaching, and certainly don't plan to cut that out entirely--I've had a great time visiting various parts of the country since I began teaching in 2009. It's fascinating to interact with artists on their home turf, and to see what the art life is like in various locales. Though there are almost always some people who travel to attend, the majority of artists in my "away" classes live near the workshop venue, and this makes the class affordable and convenient for them, which is a huge plus.
But I am starting to appreciate some unique aspects to my studio classes that go beyond my own convenience (which I admit prompted the initial idea to hold classes here.) Obviously, there is no place like my own studio for feeling entirely at home and at ease...my studio is just steps from the back door, we eat lunch at my kitchen table or at the picnic table in the yard, everybody meets my husband, dog, cat, and obnoxious parrot, and in many ways it is a pleasure to share my environment with the artists who travel here. But there are other bonuses, both social and educational, to holding class in my studio.
Probably in part because they do travel, I've noticed that the folks who come here tend to bond and form friendships quite easily. Although there are some who come from areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota, many students fly in from a distance (and a few have come from quite far away, including Sweden and Brazil.) At my other workshops around the country, many of the artists who attend live nearby--and while there is, without fail, a wonderful camaraderie in class, people understandably tend to head home at the end of the day. Here, most everyone stays at the local hotel, and the small town near me offers very little for entertainment or distraction. So, the workshop artists often choose to eat and socialize together after class. At least one recent group bonded strongly enough to continue email correspondence after they went back home, and are talking of plans to re-unite next year for a Level 2 workshop.
Another reason I love teaching here is the wealth of resources at hand--everything I need is available. I can easily pull out a painting in progress to illustrate a point, or grab a book, sketchbook or some seldom-used supply that adds something to the moment.
Finally, based on feedback from the artists who have come to my studio workshops, there is added value to the experience of demos and watching me work. In every class I teach, I work on my own paintings throughout the three days--a sort of ongoing demo. Many students have told me it's valuable to observe a painting develop through various stages. In my "away" classes, I use small 12"x12" flat panels, which are supplied as samples by the Ampersand company and are easy to transport, and they work out very well. But in my own studio, this ongoing demo comes closer to my actual working process--I can use larger panels, hung on the wall, and can also pull various panels together in the multiple-panel arrangements that are typical of my work. I also have lots of panels stacked around in various stages of development, and students are free to look through these and ask questions about whatever they wish. These incomplete panels are also handy when I discuss various techniques and approaches in the layering process, since some techniques work better on drier panels.
For 2011, my scheduled studio classes are over--I have a very busy summer and fall ahead. But if you are interested in coming to my studio sometime in 2012, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a request to join my mailing list, and I will send out my schedule in December or January. I can take six students at a time and hope to hold 5 or 6 classes throughout the year.