Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect. You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect. Read more… A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella – Painting in the style of Monet
Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.
When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.
These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.
I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.
I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.
I had a great group of students. My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84. There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art. We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork. Then, we go on from there. Skills have no age. You can learn them at any time. The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery. You need to create without fear. What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes. The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences. Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you. What you create will always be unique. What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.
This is what I have learned from my students. They have taught me more than I can ever teach them. Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others. Remember this fact.