Classy!

As you read on, you’ll find the focus of this blog entry is about art classes!  Please excuse the preamble or enjoy it – whatever you wish, depending on who you are, and your relationship to me. 🙂

So I’ve let this blog go a bit, and have been focusing on my teaching blog a bit more.  Let’s recap the past few months:

– got transferred to a school an hour from home … the drive is long, dull, and expensive! But, the kids are great, great, GREAT! I love them to pieces, and they make me laugh everyday.

– have been suffering the winter blues – just feeling a bit uninspired in terms of everything, but now that’s it is light out a bit more, and a bit later, I’m feeling less drained.  Okay, that’s a lie – I’m flat out exhausted but I’m feeling more hopeful.

– have been trying to make some life-impacting decisions regarding career, home base, and focus on hobbies … as in, when can I find time to write? Where can I find time to dedicate to the arts? How can I stay consistent, and still kick-butt when I teach?  It’s a hard balance to achieve.

So with my draining drive and busy teacher schedule (planning, assessing, teaching, meeting with shareholders – parents and kids – and general classroom maintenance), I decided it would only make sense to add to it … I’m teaching art classes again!!  I’m teaching them in a different city from where I teach during the day (the city I taught in last year), so Tuesdays are long and involve a lot of driving, but I have great, inspired and cool kids who are true artists developing their style and really interested in learning their own craft.  The lessons were asked for by some of the older students, who missed our weekly meet-ups.  I had to give in!

Today, lesson 2, we focused on line.  During each session, I give the kids a variety of art exposure … when you are young, I think it’s the best way to go.  The true development happens when you practice, and since I need to teach SOMETHING in these lessons, I pick either an approach, a technique, a style, an element, or a principle of art and use it as the cornerstone of the activity.

So tonight, we drew vases.  For over an hour.  I’m not kidding; the four year olds toiled away on their vases, just like the 12 year olds.  It was amazing!!!

I gave a brief lesson on how to get started with pencil, and then how to go over it in ink.  We worked with different lighting.  We talked about lines and shapes.  And they worked.  But, there’s something magical about having a drawing pencil as opposed to a regular pencil, a white gum eraser instead of the one on the pencil, a sketchbook that’s all yours, and a fine-tipped Sharpie.  It’s not just work – it really is magic.

I had set up 2 very different vases, and a water bottle, on blue wavy cloth.  The students could opt to attack just one of the vases or the bottle, a couple or all three, and some included the fabric while others didn’t.  They all chose what they were interested in, with some prodding and encouragement from me as I circulated.

The exciting part came when their work really started taking shape.  Seeing the stipple and crosshatching form is exciting as the teacher, but is thrilling to a kid who has been trying to figure out how to “fix” their unfinished looking art!

I can’t believe how much improvement has been made in my regulars and how much progress was made by the newbies.  And when I asked them to point out what could be added or fixed, they always knew.  It’s my underlying belief as an artist AND as a educator that when they’re engaged, they know.  When they own the work, they know what needs fixing.  And they know what works.

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So I watched a load of styles emerge tonight.  Over the course of an hour and ten minutes of the class dedicated to the vases, not only were the kids interested, but they were honestly upset when I stopped them!  It’s a good sign when they’ve been working on a vase for an hour and then say, “But, but … I need to finish this!!!”

With a growing interest in lessons, including a sort of “franchising” into the school community in which I currently work on top of the ones I’ve got going, I’ve had this fairytale notion set in motion again: wouldn’t it be amazing to open a shop where I could sell my art and provide supplies; visit schools as a travelling artist-in-the-classroom, and teach lessons in the evenings?  The time I could dedicate to the craft while still teaching and expanding the minds of young people would be amazing!  I could even focus on writing!!

But then again, there’s that reality called bills.  Maybe when I retire?

In 26 years, I’ll invite you to my new business …. “Arts for Farts: Down to Earth Art for & by Young People.”  Will you come???

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