A guest post by Sue Pelletier
If you teach—and it does not matter if we are talking adults, kids or dogs—one of the most important things is the comfort of your students. Now I am not talking comfort like a big chenille couch with an ottoman, although there is something to be said for that! By comfort, I mean that your students are comfortable in their space; they are comfortable to create art. Students of all ages (particularly if it is a group) should feel the space they are in is non-judgmental, conducive to taking risks and experimenting, a place where laughter is encouraged and dancing is fine. Ohhhh and cake, cake is fabulous! Art is You Art Retreats is well known for their cake. You go, you take an evening class or listen to a panel discussion, and there is cake. And I do not mean large sheet cake from the grocery store, although there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I am talking red-velvet-butter cream-frosting cake. Along with cake, you’ll find laughter, energy and spirit. There is a really good chance if you are an artist—beginner or experienced—you will find your tribe at one of these retreats.
I had the fortunate experience of teaching at a couple of their venues this year, one being Nashville, Tennessee (yeehaw!) and most recently, Stamford, Connecticut. One of my classes was called “The Art Case,” where students create a 3-D journal. Students had the option of working on a vintage suitcase or a canvas. The mission of this class is to encourage students to work on individual little snippets of paintings and then put them together in a cohesive way. I tend to work a lot like this with sections and layering. It seems less intimidating to me. Your paintbrush and your creativity jump around your piece as you are working on it.
My class was with eight amazing woman—all ages and from all walks of life—with a common thread being their love to create and learn techniques. We began by playing with very loose simple images, using inks, modeling paste and layers of fabric. From there we began adding areas of color to our pieces. Simple blocks of color using acrylic paints, which we would later add water-based oil pastels to, to add depth. I love that some people choose to work on a canvas and others a small suitcase. Flexibility is key. The people working on canvas chose to work on a 16″ x 20″ canvas, which is one of my favorite sizes to work on. Once their small pieces or mini paintings were created, they layered with them like a puzzle, moving them around their substrate until they were pleased with the way their piece looked.
But back to the whole comfort thing. If you feel comfortable and safe in a non-judgmental zone, it is amazing what happens. People begin to get playful, experiment with their work, talk about their work and encourage others while they were working. Art retreats allow you to have an opportunity to create fearlessly amongst your tribe. As the students in my classes finish their pieces I am always amazed at how different they come out—same instruction, totally different vibes.
The photos here show some of my students’ work in my Art Case class. The group photo is part of the 72 women who took an evening class, as I did, at Art Is You, based on Loose Woman and the article in the fall Somerset Studio issue, as well as the Loose Woman stencils from Stencil Girl Products. The group shot is amazing to me because everyone’s work is so different. I think they were comfortable. It could have been the Marvin Gaye playing or the cake. Most likely it was both.
Please visit Sue Pelletier at her blog at www.suepelletierlaughpaint.com where she banters about life and art, and has online classes encouraging RAW and LOOSE PAINTING. Find her on Facebook as Sue Pelletier Art.
You might also enjoy Stencil Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils by Mary Beth Shaw.
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