Thursday, May 8, 2014

Society of Decorative Painters: Class Is In Session

Are any of you going to the Society of Decorative Painters Convention in San Diego next week? I would guess, if you read this in the United States, you are either a member of a guild or the society or have at least knowledge of the group.

I joined mainly because it was just as cheap to join as pay the convention fee to take classes. I hear that they are having "hard" times and well, there could be some very salient reasons why. We can discuss that at another time.

I have a hunger, yes, truly a hunger for classes. Why you might ask? Because there are always new products and techniques that make painting of either crafts or fine arts easier but more importantly, BETTER. They give you the ability to concentrate on the subject NOT the object.

A  stint in a rehabilitation center to re-learn how to walk in 2013 caused me to miss the Las Vegas Painting Convention to the tune of $200 - sign up and failure to show teaching classes fees.

In 2013 I signed up yet again to teach a class in 2014, only it was after prostrate cancer surgery, something I didn't know about a year in advance when I submitted items to be considered for classes. Life just gets in the way. I simply couldn't imagine standing, four weeks after surgery, for 6 hours teaching a class. I canceled as there were only 3 students signed up.

Artists, of any stripe and ability always need to take classes. If they are good, they want to TEACH a class. I can't even begin to tell you the potential for learning when you teach. There are techniques, new technologies out there that I need and want to learn! I would be the first to admit that.

As a teacher for two years during my two year stint in the Peace Corps, I realized that I had learned more teaching elementary classes, 5 - 8th grades,  than I had learned during my entire education - K through a BS in Journalism. Why? Because, as I quickly realized, everyone learns differently. I was in the middle of the jungle and the only resources I had were a few books and myself. I had to find a way to teach my students with the limited resources I had. On our few trips to Monrovia, Liberia, we would literally raid the USAID office grabbing anything we could to work with our kids. I managed to get a SRA Kit, a reading teaching tool for kids. They read, take a test and if they pass move on. I got a whole bunch of books for them to read based on the number of words in English they knew. So we had books with 1,000 words, 2,000 words up to 6 or 7,000 I think. I had all boys my first year, some older than me, and after reading a Mark Twain book, I had a class of 12 Injun' Joe's. Really.

It was only I got home that I learned my 8th grade class not only passed the national exam to enter high school, but half jumped two grades, one three and the rest started out as sophomores.

Teaching can be a valuable tool, just as important as the latest brush, the newest paint, or book filled with ideas. A good teacher pushes us to stretch our talents. So I am hoping that this is exactly what I am going to get. The classes left (registration was already closed) hopefully will do just that. I am hoping to get a balance of craft and fine art painting. I love both and want to improve my skills in both. The three years I attended in Las Vegas did just that. My style changed so much I found that my teacher and I needed to part ways. Currently I am at another crossroads. I need to find someone that will take me to the next step or, if I follow Malcolm Gladwell's advice, complete my 10,000 hours to become a master painter. It could happen!

I am in the process of dividing my stores so urge you to continue visiting for crafts and birdhouses. I am adding items all the time. My new store, will have all of my paintings. Please visit there as well. Thank you for reading and I may see you in San Diego!

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