Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Worst Workshop.

 

"Had Enough"
Original Watercolour by Jean Haines

I thought I would share a smile that artists who have been on workshops may recognise.

"That Workshop!"

Over the years we have all been on workshops at some point or another. Many inspire us,some we are disappointed with but we always without fail learn something from them.

In many cases you have heard of an artist, admire their work and contact them to book a place. You are thrilled to find they have a slot and you book accomodation making arrangements for your stay and then eagerly look forward to the event.

You plan your route and get there in plenty of time to set up and meet the fellow artists attending. And then in this case you wait and wait for the grand entrance of the main star who finally walks in, coat over shoulders  with a curt nod to the class.

The " How lucky you are to be in the same room as me " attitude fills the air!

The artist then comfortably sits at  their demonstration area and the vast class has to huddle around for a chance to peep through arms or over heads to get a glimpse of the brush hitting paper. Here you realise being six foot tall could be a terrific advantage. Or possibly having the build of an  all in wrestler could help to push others out of the way.  I have neither height nor build! Standing on tip toe I still can hardly see but gradually I manage to get a  position where I can and we all watch mesmerised for the first  thirty minutes. After an hour concentration started to obviously diminish. After an hour and a half everyone was feeling eager to have the chance to paint too. The initially interesting "life story" was fast losing the groups attention and  I was certain that the two gentleman to my left were falling asleep on their feet!

Suddenly the door to the room opened and someone who had got lost on their journey arrived with a red face of  embarrassment and apologies for being late. They tried to explain there had been a car crash but at this point our " star" was furious and told the latecomer off suggesting they sit quietly at the back of the room until the afternoon session. The latecomer was almost reduced to tears and an uncomfortable silence fell on the studio.

We had almost twenty minutes until lunch where we were finally allowed to paint and the "star" disappeared.

This was where chaos began. With our elbows touching we were physically crammed into spaces to work. The light was so bad everyone raced for the only section of the room with windows. Those who could see what was about to happen raced to the back to get more space assuming they could do without light but needed elbow room! This was like a comedy show but without laughter!

Tip: Always ask how many will artists be in a workshop and what the facilities are like!

During lunch we all imagined what we would be painting that afternoon. So fully rested after our break we  headed back to our positions and  picked up our brushes. This is where the demonstrating artist eventually appeared and started walking around the room "correcting" paintings to the point they were now completely beyond recognition of the attending artists own work. But they did get to leave with a free painting! However I discovered as the demonstrating artist came nearer to me I found I was beginning to feel rather possessive about my work.So like a child in primary school I almost huddled over it when they arrived thrusting a scrap of paper in their direction asking them to show me how they would  approach my  subject without letting them touch my own which I was really pleased with as it was!


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I could turn this into a marathon post as a blog entry but I will simply add that a few of the artists left  before the first day was over and several did not return the following day. They had " had enough" like the above painting. They disappeared into the sunset never to be seen again. 

The  demonstrating artist although brilliant at painting was not a natural teacher. There is a mix between getting ideas across and encouraging others to paint. There is also a way to be inspiring whilst demonstrating.

It is an art in itself which not all artists possess or even wish to possess.

For me? I learned a lot this day. 


I learned how NOT to teach!


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5 comments:

Mimi said...

it is true that the attitude/approach taken by the teacher towards a 'student's' piece, be it for a course or a workshop, will be important in determing whether he/she will return ... we don't want to 'just hang in there' because we want to finish the course and/or workshop, we want to enjoy, feel relaxed enough to motivate us into continuing ... we know we aren't perfect and that we will forever be learning something ... but to totally make one feel like you are so bad ... why would we want to be there? This happened to me with a drawing teacher i had ... looking at other work i had done, she completely demoralized me and i only attended 2 of the 10 classes the course had to offer ... i lost my money but i did not like the teacher's attitude/approach. as in anything in life, diplomacy and psychology are very important factors ...

Mimi said...

it is true that the attitude/approach taken by the teacher towards a 'student's' piece, be it for a course or a workshop, will be important in determing whether he/she will return ... we don't want to 'just hang in there' because we want to finish the course and/or workshop, we want to enjoy, feel relaxed enough to motivate us into continuing ... we know we aren't perfect and that we will forever be learning something ... but to totally make one feel like you are so bad ... why would we want to be there? This happened to me with a drawing teacher i had ... looking at other work i had done, she completely demoralized me and i only attended 2 of the 10 classes the course had to offer ... i lost my money but i did not like the teacher's attitude/approach. as in anything in life, diplomacy and psychology are very important factors ...

Billie Crain said...

Unfortunately these types of instructors find their way into colleges and art schools as well. I know from personal experience. Not everyone has the ability to teach, no matter how talented they may be.

Mimi said...

yes Billie, i agree. not everyone has the ability to teach and others are amazing. i have only come across one such individual and have been blessed with various fantastic teachers. my family and friends have also been very encouraging and supportive of my work. it keeps me going, yearning to learn more and more.

Vickie said...

Wow. What a workshop. I can only imagine the disappointment of spending the time and resources to attend a workshop and have the instructor, no matter how famed or brilliant, behave so distainfully and intrusively to his/her students. I think this is more than not being a natural teacher, but a person I wouldn't care to be around under any circumstance.

Art is a very precious and beautiful expression of the person inside, no matter the level of skill, training or practice. We are always learning, ever changing and discovering more about our own style. If we all painted alike, what a dull and uncreative world this would be!