It’s been several years since I have taught a class or a workshop. Early this year Frank, the workshop chairman, for Carlsbad Area Art Association asked me if I would teach. Without really thinking, I heard, “sure, Frank” come out of my mouth. The possibility lay quietly, but not exactly silently in the back of my mind for a long time. I wanted to teach, I’ve taught a lot over the years, I like to teach and I don’t like to teach, I have a lot of experience and I don’t have enough experience, I have worked hard, not hard enough, and have learned a lot I can share. I had my doubts that anyone would be interested in my quirky ways of creating, and I doubted that I had the physical stamina. Sometimes I listen to my critical self yammering in my mind. Round and round the thoughts went but the creative spirit (The Holy Spirit) reminded me that I had said I would teach and that whatever I have to offer would be sufficient.
Then I encountered a Lubbock artist who asked me about teaching, and encouraged me to offer a class. Within days she had spread the word that I was considering a workshop in Carlsbad. Other artists called saying they would come. I set a date in September, chose a title: “Innovative Watermedia/collage Workshop” then vascillated between cancelling and pulling it all together as I witnessed the enrollment numbers rise.
On September 10, 11, 12 the class became a vital, creative, moving reality. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of 15 diligent artists who listened to my suggestions and worked with such intensity. We all checked our critical selves at the door and let the spirit flow. From day one when I asked them to paint along with me and put paint randomly on the paper, keeping it in light to middle range of values we progressed through painting-along to experimenting, and into a variety of explorations and demos with discussion. I offered techniques and materials and suggestions to play with. The move of the creative spirit was obviously dynamic whether the students were grappling in confusion, happily creating stamps, gingerly painting tissues for collage material or testing their eyes to see what might be showing up on the papers.
Experiment by Carol Hammond
It’s a non-rational, intuitive way of operating that comes out of a part of the brain and heart that is absolutely trustworthy. Learning to trust it is like no other experience…..it has no language, no system of orderliness, is usually not logical. Often, and dramatically so among beginning students, it feels like chaos. It is pulling images confidently from our histories, from our heritage, and sometimes seemingly from no where. Sometimes the paints begin to show us recognizable representative images and sometimes the colors challenge us with abstract shapes that intuitively communicate wholeness. When we become like children and play with materials we allow ourselves to paint the worst painting in the world without judging whether it is a keeper or not, and we also allow ourselves to paint the best painting in the world.
Experiment by Renae Winters
Experiment by Laurel Weathersbee
Experiment by Judy Lanier
I would love to publish more of the student experiments here but alas, I neglected to take pictures when we put our works out on a common table to share what we had accomplished. I have put out the call to the students to send me pictures but when students leave the classroom, life envelopes them and the demands of home and work and play rise to the forefront and sending pictures to the teacher drops to the bottom of priorities.
Collage by Grace Lipps Collage by Carol Hammond
Below is a demonstration painting I worked on in the class. I will post other pieces I started with my students as I get them completed and photographed. They will be on the pages of this website.