Putting on Paint

by Lisa

     Bill is back in town, and we can all look forward to more of his plein air paintings like the one’s below. I’m personally wondering whether or not he behaved himself at his workshop and how many of the 40 people were ready to strangle him by the end of it. Fess up Bill.

     And so begins another term at the California Art Institute for me this week. I will be teaching four classes this term, so it’s a busy one. I have a number of brand new students coming in. They are my favorite kind. I like to teach them all of my little habits so that they are easy for me to work with (see my May 18th entry under “Art Instruction” and go to “Previous Entries” to find it). So often when students come in with painting experience, they are not interested in learning my technique. I sometimes wonder why they are there, since I cannot help them very well with a different technique. Yes, some rules apply across the board, but they are certainly not taking full advantage of me and what I have to offer. So I like them green. I feel more accomplished, and those students usually seem happier with the class in general.

     New students are also usually very nervous coming in for the first time. Painting class is a scary situation on day one. I often hear people talk about how fearful they were to even walk into the Art Institute to look into taking a class. Why is that? Maybe the word “Institute” sounds scary. Very serious. Baloney. We are a business like any other, trying our best to recruit new people all the time, and everyone is welcome.

     I do my best to dispell that fear from the very beginning since it is so shackling to creative progress. I will never forget a young woman student I had in Nashville who was so nervous the first day of class, that every time I came around to help her, she became faint, and I had to pull a chair up for her several times because she thought she might pass out. She did not last beyond two classes. Bless her heart. I hope she did not go on to have children, or travel by air. For the most part, once my students experience my classes they realize how laid back they are, and how EVERYBODY struggles with the “simple” matter of putting on paint.

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2 Responses to Putting on Paint

  1. Chris Page says:

    Hi Lisa;
    Glad to see you’re posting again. I had almost given up. For me, the fear of painting (or drawing for that matter) comes from few things, the biggest being self judgement, thinking that we’ll never be as good as _____ (fill in the blank), and so sometimes it’s even paralyzing to start, and certainly easier NOT to (perhaps it shouldn’t be, but there it is). I remember back in 1998, I went to CAI and dropped into a head drawing class (I think Jeremy was the teacher). I had had some experience drawing but NOT using the quasi-classical methods taught at the institute. After I saw what I was “up against,”-my level of skill compared to those around me, added with what Jeremy was trying to teach me, added to my own self-doubts, I ran away screaming as fast as I could, and actually didn’t darken those door again until 2005. Talk about intimidating! I think that possibly the most important thing a teacher can instill in their students is patience, and that art no matter what kind, and no matter what the level of student, is a never ending process of growth. It’s always a process of becoming. It is craft, and skill, and these things can be learned by anyone who is willing to take the time to learn them. Thanks!
    xoxo Chris

  2. lbtowers says:

    Thanks Chris. Words of wisdom from the student perspective are always very interesting to me. I may be quoting you if you don’t mind. PS – I like your avatar.

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