Today I received a kind handwritten note of appreciation from one of my level Two students at Cullowhee Mountain Arts
, and her words led me to think about all of the expressions of gratitude I've had from artists in my classes since I started teaching workshops four years ago. Lots of emails, and cards, notes, letters, and photos; art supplies, wonderful and unusual art books, shells and rocks; deeply thoughtful small gifts, handmade objects and paintings. Many kind gestures and offers to help, and coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks on numerous occasions. I've been hosted graciously for days on end while teaching, and urged to visit various former students when I'm passing through. In my last class, two of the artists, completely unprompted, made cash donations toward the supplies I bring to class. People often express appreciation verbally on the last day of class; once, a woman with whom I had scheduled a one-on-one critique said that actually she had requested the time to simply say "thank you." I expect none of this, and I am moved by all of it.
The generous spirit of most of the artists in my workshops tends to be very clear not only in their kindness to me, but in their interactions with one another. At the end of class, people always remark on what a good group it was, how generous, how supportive. Working intensely for three days or more in close proximity, members of my classes have to at least be tolerant and respectful--but typically they operate at a much higher level, with open, encouraging attitudes toward people they have never met prior to the workshop. So often, I've seen class members offer one another just the right words, a blob of a certain color of paint, a pertinent suggestion or positive comment. This can make all the difference in the general atmosphere of the workshop, especially for those students who arrive with less experience; a bit nervous in the beginning that they will not be accepted by the "real" artists in the group, they tend to leave with a new sense of their own potential, and knowing that they have made valuable contributions to the class.
Good friendships sometimes form...groups plan to return for advanced levels of class together...relationships among the artists in class grow and flourish in unexpected ways. Above, my recent level two class at Cullowhee Mountain Arts.