Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Teaching A Class, Second Lesson

Learning New Strokes
After an interesting class last week, I decided that my students needed to learn some basic techniques before we finished their mini birdhouses. So with plenty of scratch paper, brushes and paints in hand, I had them practice first the down stroke to be used for the flower petals and commas for the leaves. Granted they are all elderly seniors and none have done this kind of art before but the big discovery was that not only did you show them how to do something, you had to go to each one and many times use their hands to show how a stroke was done. What a world of difference from a painting convention! I was the one that needed the handholding. They were better after practicing and some made real progress. However, the idea that they could use these same strokes on their birdhouses just alluded them. I was patient and praised  them all especially those starting to get the hang of it. At first glance you might think it wasn't worth it but the looks of pleasure and the concentration on their faces made every moment a wonderful memory. It was truly an ah-ha moment!

Real concentration
We had pretty much put three of the colors (of 6) on the birdhouses last week so we put on the green leaves, the white flower petals and the yellow centers achieving some interesting results. Even though the lines were there to follow, they rarely used them. Look at the concentration though! Considering this was their first ever project like this, I realized I had made it too hard. However, I was told later that two of people in my class never came to crafters so it must have had something that attracted them.

Next we moved on to putting in shading, giving depth to the white petals with a light wash of yellow and a lighter green on the edge of each leave. Last to go on were the white dots using the end of their brushes. This was one of the hardest things to teach. Every single one tried to paint dots on with the paint brush bristles. Once I showed them to use the other end, dip the brush end in paint and them make nearly perfect dots on the birdhouse, they couldn't stop!

The variety of backs
We weren't really done. The bases needed to be painted, I thought I might add highlights with a Sharpie, but the hour was up and I did't want to drag this out another week.  Several students were done in their minds too and well, we were.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are the finished backs. My sample is on top. It was my first original birdhouse since I came to the home; not my proudest creation. I didn't think it would be hard to do. Wow, did I have a lot to learn!

Every single birdhouse had the same outline as my birdhouse (I drew the same pattern on every blank birdhouse) but as you can see in the five samples below mine, what they painted is very, VERY different.

I looked at this and realized this was how art evolves. Someone, somewhere, had an idea and the next artist, in his mind, improved on the concept. Most art is built on something that happened in the past. Some of my students had more skill than others but as I have always maintained does that make their less talented art any less? All were proud of what they had done. The one on the middle right is stunning! In her mind, this was what she saw in those outlines while never using them.

After I got over the fact that they would never follow my design and offered only their interpretation of it, I began to really have fun. I was there to teach them some basics, guide them with techniques they could try, they were here to see what they could create.

I was given a bunch of plastic flower pots and after finishing this birdhouse project realized I needed a simpler, less detailed item for them to work on next time. We shall see. The best part is that I don't need to prepare a thing!

Check out my other articles. There are some amazingly gems in here! Thank you for visiting my blog.

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