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Lessons learned…

In mid-October, I took a class at the Sitka Institute for Art and Ecology. I had taken a previous class there with really fantastic results and I was looking forward to this one. At this time,I was also coming from, marrying my youngest off the day before so my emotions were in a tizzy. I loaded up my car and drove my way to the beach to do art for 5 days and to have “me” time.

In my former life I was an educator, for 38+ years, all levels and types (general ed to special ed to alternative ed) - so I had lots of experience working with other professionals and students. I’ll say it right out, art and teaching is nebulous. It’s always changing, sometimes you get on with the person, sometimes you don’t AND sometimes people just don’t click.

Did I learn anything from this experience? Yes. Was it pleasant? No. Was it enlightening? Possibly.

What I figured out from this, was something I learned through experience, is to make sure everyone has the same vocabulary and background knowledge at the onset. Also, even if I don’t click with someone doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from them.

I’m a self taught artist. I’ve been drawing / painting since I was a toddler. I’ve taken a few classes here and there, learned from them and moved on. I’m like a lot of people, YouTube - has been a game changer in working towards vocabulary specifically and background knowledge. But, I’ve always enjoyed learning. What I didn’t enjoy during this class was the fact that I didn’t have the vocabulary to support the background knowledge that I had. I also didn’t enjoy the implied comments of “how I should know this”, when I did but didn’t know the vocabulary. I also didn’t enjoy the feeling of being inept or not “good enough” or “you're doing it wrong” or “you don’t have the right kind of colors to work with”. Ugh!

I knew techniques through trial and error but did not know what the technical terms were. I knew the painting effects, again through trial and error, but I did not know the terms.

When I did paint, it was an image of a sunset that I had taken the day before. I really didn’t have anything specific to work on and I really liked the effect of the lights and darks of the water, sky, clouds and sun peaking through. I wanted that erytheral look of the sun coming through, hitting the water, seeing the turbulent ocean crashing on the shore.

So I started. This piece became the bane of my existence. I started it multiple times, trying to get the effects that I wanted, and nope. I had even scraped it off a couple of times, got a new canvas and started over again. I’d get to a point where I could use a little suggestion, the suggestion would frustrate me because I thought that was what I was doing - and no. I hated it. I’m still not excited about it, but that doesn’t mean that I will not finish it. But I also look at this as an opportunity to work through my frustrations and have a nice piece come out of it.

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