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Smile and encourage workshop

I made sure I turned up at the art workshop with Ticknall Art Group I had been booked for in plenty of time because you never know if you’re going to be delayed due to traffic (or tractor!) along the way. As it was the roads were clear and I arrived ten minutes before I had planned to, no matter, I’ll wait in the sunshine in the carpark, and then realised there was a car already parked there, and tried the door on the off chance, and found it to be open. I walked into the hall, one that I know very well from attending art workshops there many times, to find a woman and some strange items set out for the day. I asked her if she was the woman I was due to meet, and no, she wasn’t, she was there for the playgroup, and had pre booked the hall for it. Okayyyyyy….. I said, but I had been booked to do an art workshop also today, and it was also supposed to be there. I decided I’d wait outside and see what occurred. Five minutes later, another woman appeared and asked “Jackie?” as she saw me, ah, yes, this was the person I was supposed to be meeting! I explained about the confusion regarding the hall, and she smiled, and said her art group always have the smaller committee room since there are only eleven members. Ok, I said, with a smile, glad that I didn’t have to go home and got my stuff from the car and set it up in the smaller room. Various members came in whilst I was setting up my stuff, and I said hello to them, and by 10am we were ready to go. There were only six members there due to ill health and holidays, so a small select group but no matter, it made it easier to remember their names.

I started by introducing myself, saying that I’ve been an artist all my life, and had my first commission at 13, was proficient in watercolours, oils, acrylics, pastels, pencil, pen and ink. And that I painted all subjects from landscapes, figuAcrylic paintsres, animals, erotic, life drawing, surreal, realistic, abstract and camouflage art. I showed them paintings that I’d done to illustrate my art, and talked about my paintings hanging on walls in USA, Canada, and all around this country, and was a member of Ashby Guild of Artists as well as the Guild of Erotic Artists.  So, that told them that I was established, and had experience, and was a professional artist. Then, I went on to explain to them what acrylics were all about, since that was the subject matter I was teaching, and only one of them was proficient in acrylics, the rest were either watercolourists or oil painters, and I explained that acrylics were between the two in that you can use them like watercolours to do thin washes, or like oils to do thicker textures of paint. But the thing to remember is that it is plastic, and the second it sets (and it sets quickly) it sets solid and nothing in the world can unset it. So either, keep it moist all the time, or only use as much paint as can be used in 20 minutes, making sure that if you go off and answer the phone, or have lunch, to clean your brushes thoroughly because you’ll have to throw them away if the paint sets on them. After that, I could do my demo to show them the various ways to use acrylics, having chosen a horse to show the way to do short fur, and long hair of mane, meaning that if they want to do any other animal they would know how to do it, or if they painted hair on people, they would be able to learn the best way of doing it (think of “S”s and diamonds! – the elongated “S” shape to show the hair highlights, and the elongated diamond shapes being the shadows in the hair). I did the demo in just over an hour, answering questions along the way, which gave them a good four hours to work on their own paintings, with full advice to them all as I went around the room, perpetually. The only time I sat down was for the morning coffee break, the ten minute lunch break, and the afternoon tea break. And I made sure that each of them had equal time from me, although they all worked at their own pace. I didn’t want to do a workshop where everyone does the same painting, I wanted everyone to put their own interpretation and creativity into their painting, and although they all did a horse, they all did different horses. Two of them finished them on the day, two of them did three quarters of their painting that they could complete at home, and two of them were a bit slower and could finish their painting over the next few days or weeks if they wanted to.  And as I said regarding the acrylics, you can’t really go wrong with them, because they are so forgiving, you can paint white on black, you can paint light on dark (unlike watercolours) and can paint quickly as they dry so fast (unlike oils) – you can’t go wrong, you just keep going, and it doesn’t matter that the paint might be an inch thick, because the paint can take it. I was also pleased to be able to demonstrate painting an animals eye, which is difficult, and they had a go at that, to good effect, so that was a success too!

The afternoon was more peaceful than the morning, since rampaging toddlers in the room next door create their own background noise “You put your left leg in, your left leg out, in, out, in, out, shake it all about” and the sound of tears being soothed by an adult voice, and bangs and scrapes being constant and not exactly condusive to quiet adults painting. No wonder the woman who ran the play group had no idea that an art group was next door, I thought with a smile! But in the afternoon it was a lot quieter as the rumbustious  toddlers had been dragged off home for lunch, and we all got on in peace and tranquility and at the end of the session, each member put their painting up on my easel so they could see what they had done, and seen what each of the others had done, and I was able to complement them on what they had learnt, and achieved, and done, and they could see their own artistic achievements in their work.

A lovely day, a lovely group, and most enjoyable.

And this morning I received lovely emails from two of the members…..

I wanted to say a special ‘Thank You’ for yesterday. I really enjoyed your method of teaching and friendly approach, still not sure about acrylics, I do enjoy my watercolors! But always open to new ideas and techniques. I am just sorry that the workshop wasn’t better attended for you.


Thank you for this morning, I was not looking forward to coming but for encouragement, skill and the way you demonstrated and talked to us won me round quickly. Thank you for that.