...serenity in motion
Teaching wasn't something I was going to do when I first moved to Spokane in 2018. Professional artists are teased with the statement, "Those who can do; Those who can't, teach" At least that was what I heard growing up in the art market. I have a feeling, those professionals who taught; quietly laughed into their beer and paid their bills. When I was granted the residency, part of my contract was to teach at least one class a term. I quickly found that classes paid my bills and that my students liked what I had to show them. It also taught me about my own process and I became a better artist. Instead of doing everything by feel, it became a real ability and skill.
When I moved back to Sandpoint for a short few years, I started teaching at the Joyce Dillon Art School. That school has also recently moved into a new facility, and we no longer need to schlep our materials up steep ancient stairs to the 2 1/2 floor. I'm very pleased. I keep teaching there and at The Spokane Art School and picked up classes at The Jacklin Arts and Culture Center as well. I love my students and their dedication to pastels and other mediums. Because of the reach I have been meeting new people and have become amazed at what they are doing in and after my classes. A few send me photos of what they are doing and it surprises me.
Sometimes, there is a small voice that says, "Like I need that kind of competition?" When it comes down to it, what they are doing isn't really the same as I. I tend to encourage students when they are doing something that is different but works. One of my students reminds me of Van Gogh and another does these lovely goats in very enchanting color schemes. A third student sends me photos of her work all the time and I am shocked by what she is doing and how well she is doing it. I can still give her pointers and now I am offering an open studio class for her and others so that they can all work on their styles and not be influenced by my own techniques. I don't really want to make more artists like me, I want them to like being artists and trying to get them to do exactly like me can infringe on their enjoyment.
Is it hard to see your students doing so well? Yes but no. I am looking at the whole picture and what I see is more people enjoying pastel which is a good thing. Am I making my own competition? perhaps, but in the end; I don't really look at other artists as my competition so why should I see my students that way? There is a collector for each person's efforts and we need to find a way to put our work in front of them. I'm okay with that. I'll even help my students with that as well. I love artists, I want there to be more of them and I really love teaching. The other thing to consider, for every 10 students that I come across; only 1 or 2 of those will ever be good enough to create art to sell. Out of those, maybe only 1 out of 20 might be willing to do so and even less of those want to fight the fight of being a professional. I will help my overachievers with that if they want, I don't mind.
What I am getting out of all of this is friends. I know that Olympians can compete and be friends but I am not like that. So I'm going to teach, help and hopefully; have people who want to get together and paint. Wanna come join us?