Skip to content

Unknown quantities and fish breath

When you agree to do a workshop for a local art group, most people would think you just turn up on the day and, well, teach. But, its not as simple as that. You have, for a start, to know what exactly you are teaching – what the subject matter is, and the medium. And it helps if you know how many people you are teaching, and if they are beginners, or adept artists, or a mix of the two.  And when that is known, the artist has to be able, within an hour hopefully, tell the group about themselves by saying more than “ER, well, er, I can ,er well, paint, and er, I like painting cos my aunties best friends hairdresser thinks I did I nice painting of some flowers, like”. And you have to tell the group about why you like the subject matter, and why it inspires you. Then you have to tell them about the medium and the paper you’re using, the paints, the colours of the paints, and the brushes. Then, you have to paint a picture in-front of them, without it taking more than an hour hopefully (cos they get bored and twitchy) in a way that they can paint, talking about techniques, and making it as easy as possible for them to do the same thing themselves, regardless of whether they are beginners or experienced artists. And you’ve got to make sure they don’t get frustrated whilst painting, and that at the end of it, they may well have a beautiful picture that they love, but they are more likely to have a painting they are half happy with that is unfinished, but they will be armed with information, tips, and will have learnt new things along the way. If they enjoy it, and have a laugh as well, that’s a bonus.

But, when the artist walks through the door of the venue for the workshop they have no idea of the standard of art the artists can do, or can’t do. And, no matter who the artist likes or dislikes as a character, or as a pupil, they should all get equaElliot (2)l time from the teacher. Because they have all paid the same amount, and expect equal time and effort.

So that is why I am spending time making sure the picture I shall do at this workshop of an animal, is of a horse, because horses have long and short hair which shows different techniques, and I’ve been asked to demonstrate it in acrylics which is a good medium because you can paint it thin like watercolours, or thick like oils, and I can show both of those in the demo. And I have to paint that picture quickly and easily, and talk, and smile, and interact with them, and answer questions whilst I’m doing it. And, most of all make the picture look good.

And that’s before I take pictures along to show them, and cards to sell, and any information that will add to the experience, and business cards, and spare paint, paper, brushes in case anyone wants to borrow any.

And sandwiches for my lunch. And that’s not as simple as you’d think, I love tuna and mayo but can’t have it because I’ll have fish breath all afternoon, and I can’t have anything with onions or garlic in it cos that would be worse. Mmmm…. cheese I think, its safe!

Plus, the workshop is actually of “Farm animals” so because I am doing a horse, doesn’t mean the rest of them are, so I’ve also got to be proficient in painting cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, and of course pigs as well!