Thursday, July 16, 2015

Teaching A Class At Last

When word got out that I painted "crafty" items such as birdhouses here at the home, I was asked to create one that I could teach to those interested. So, looking over what they had, the activities director and I went to Michael's to get  and complete sets of what we needed. We needed decent brushes, cups
Beginning to paint.
to put the paint in and a few new colors to replace those all dried out  paints plus of course, birdhouses! With coupons in hand and on smart phones we roamed the store. You must do that you know, you just never know what else is available. Other than the victims, the birdhouses in this case, everything else was re-usable.

I got busy one day a month ago to try my hand on a new birdhouse, my first in quite awhile. I wasn't all that pleased. Colors didn't work quite right, the pattern was artist being a critic of his own work. However, the director was overjoyed and so that would be the design. Grabbing the birdhouses we bought that day I used a pencil to outline the pattern on each one and we put them away for the class.

Class day arrived and I was reading a book for my book club when I heard an announcement from the Activities Director inviting all to come to crafts class at 10:00 am. 10:00? Because I am doing something else a few days later at 10:30 am I looked at the clock, jumped up and looked at the calendar. Goodness it was 10:00 today! I got dressed, grabbed my apron and headed down to the Activities Room. I wanted it all set up before the class started and I still had 15 minutes. I hate going to a class and nothing is ready. Trust me, the paints were out, the 6-cup trays for their paints were in place with a choice of brushes, cups with water and lots of paper towels. Once we had determined who would paint and who would sleep, we got started.

Birdhouses lined up with the master.
I had everyone paint the roof red and the heart on the front and sides of each birdhouse. Well, lets say they painted. I held hands with brushes in them showing them how to paint a stroke. It did help I swear. They tried to hold the item in front of them to paint. Sort of freehand style. I stopped that urging them to hold it again themselves, yes we had painting bibs on, or to hold it against the table. I can't paint just holding an item in front of me. Once they did that, they were more successful but with an average age of about 80 we had no budding Monet's though they did look like rather impressionistic versions of Pennsylvania Dutch design and one Kandinsky inspired. This, for everyone of them, was something they had never done before. Its not like conventions I've gone to where everyone is probably more experience that me! I think next week before we do a thing I will practice strokes again watching them as I realized they had never been taught to paint. There's going to be a lot of hand holding. We will do that again on scrap paper. There are some designs where you flatten the tip of the stroke and then pull up for a point. I don't know if they can do it but until we try, we will never know, right? Practice makes perfect.

The Dutch Master and a Kandinsky version.
One of my complaints of conventions is that teachers use so many colors. Everyone is upset if they don't have the color they need and at times, the tension is palpable.They are trying to create as exact a copy as they could. No worries here! They grabbed one of six colors, those I actually used; with that  color painted away until some got too enthusiastic and I had to pour paint back into a bottle and take the rest away. One resident is very cantankerous but wants to be involved in everything. She just painted away and ended up with what I can best call an abstract painted birdhouse. (See left). Actually, certain sides of it are very abstract and appealing. The Pennsylvania Dutch would never recognize it and probably say she was haunted by demons!

We spent an hour working on this and some were eager to continue. They use thick coats of paint so I told them they had to let it dry. Acrylics dry fast but not that fast. We would finish the birdhouses next week. I know that today I was finished.

After lunch, I got back to my room and slept hard for at least an hour if not longer. I have heard favorable reports of this class so I may gain more students for the second project. We shall see. We plan on finishing up next week and I will post those finished birdhouses.

This had been a learning experience like being a Peace Corps teacher. You don't know what their skills might be but I DO know you can refine them, no matter what the age.

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