I finally got smart and started taping up a welcome sign to the entry of whatever building I'm giving my workshops in. It's eye-opening how many students have mentioned being glad to see the sign! It's printed out on my computer then slipped into a plastic page protector. I fasten it to the door with tape which has one end folded over to make a tab. When I take the sign down I fold over and press the sticky part to the plastic envelope, so that the next time I want to use it I only have to pull up the tab, the sticky area comes up, and I have an instant sign hanger. Click on the image to see a bigger version
While I was photographing that welcome sign, I also took a snapshot of my Basic Sketching Workshop gear in front of the building. The wheeled pack in front is my Drinks Caddy. It has a pullout handle, and contains my electric teapot, instant coffee, teabags of all kinds, hot/cold paper cups, and creamer. It gets quite a bit of use in some classes, in others it is barely used ~ except by me! At least, now that I provide the opportunity for drinks, I don't have to feel guilty about sipping hot coffee in front of them.
The long-handled caddy with the two plastic boxes contains my display books, supplies, and workbooks. The black and white boxes carry things to sketch ~ in this case, weathered sticks and seashells. I try to provide a good selection so students can sketch something that really pleases them. It usually requires two trips to the car to carry everything.
The Drinks Caddy remains the same from class to class, but for other classes, different things end up in the plastic boxes and I bring different things to sketch. I'm trying to compartmentalize all the classes so that I can just pick up a set of containers filled with everything I need for the class at hand.
On January 10 I had a REALLY small class. I need to figure out just why that is. I think I discussed this in a previous blog ~ maybe I'm just offering so many classes that I'm competing with myself in this area's small population, especially during this economic slump. Well, no matter, I love teaching so I took the class on anyway with just three students, Valerie, Randy, and Jacob, who is ten and homeschooled.
I mention the homeschool part because I don't think I would have accepted someone so young except for that. Homeschooled kids tend to be better behaved and interact better with adults than their public school counterparts. And they tend to have longer attention spans. I KNOW that is a generalization, and there are exceptions, but it fits my experiences so I'm happy to go with it. In Jacob's case, it was well founded. My lower limit is officially twelve.
Jacob turned out to have a great sense of humor, and we all enjoyed working alongside him. He got his first experience with tortillons (blending stumps used for shading pencil) during the first day's class, and was so intrigued that he went home and created a number of large ones out of different materials so he could experiment with what works best. You can see his assortment on the table in front of him here.
In case you are a bit puzzled at Jacob's headgear, that is his invention: an Airbag for Pedestrians created from a grocery bag, which he demonstrated during a break. Never a dull moment!
As usual, the students got right to work ~ here's Valerie's sea shell and Randy working on a leaf. Our first critique illuminated what worked successfully and what could be done to improve the drawings. Critiques make useful breaks, giving students a chance to stretch and refresh at the "drinks bar."
Randy turned out a particularly nice shell, using many of the techniques we had just learned about shading and reflected light.
Our final project for the day was to draw a wild turkey feather, and the students turned out some nice drawings. Here's Jacob at work on his.
We turned to landscape basics to give the students the confidence they need to go outside on their own landscape sketching trips.
They practiced contour drawing in the workbook, working from a redrock photo, to give them a handle on how to tackle an outdoors scene, which can intimidate even seasoned landscape artists. Then they drew common landscape items -- dead sticks, shrubbery, foliage, and tree forms.
With such a small class, I didn't want to hang over their shoulders, so while they worked on their landscapes I sketched them at work, using a modified contour drawing technique in ballpoint pen.
Valerie took this picture of me sketching, and here's what they looked like from my viewpoint, hard at work. I admit to crowding them elbow to elbow for the picture. In actuality, they had a bit more space for working.
They were all working on their final landscapes when I drew this.
Here Valerie is at hard work on her landscape, and below are the landscapes they all produced. Valerie did the redrocks, Jacob produced the waterfall, and Randy drew the rocky canyon. As you can see, they came a very long way for beginners, and I am very proud of them all.
Next weekend is my Nature Illustration Techniques class, but so far I only have three sign-ups for that class, too. But even if the numbers don't reach five for this one, I think I will hold it anyway, even at that low enrollment, since I want to run the new material in the reworked curriculum past some students.
Reworking two classes at once got confusing even to me, and last time I blogged I was thinking my cattail session was for basic students, but it's actually for the intermediates and I am eager to try it out. I think they'll love it. Cattails are WAY cool to sketch.
In the meantime, I'm now working on the Watercolor Pencil Painting class revisions. It is shaping up nicely, and I've created some new materials for the workbooks. This page from one of my Costa Rica journals is in the workbooks, to serve as inspiration for those trying out the watercolor pencils. It's one of my favorite journal pages.
I'm hoping to get a good signup for the February 7-8 class ~ several have signed up already, so perhaps it will grow a bit larger.
Today was the inauguration, and I watched it with a great deal of interest. What a marvelous panoply (had to look up the spelling on that one!)! I was positively entranced.
Enough! Back to work on the watercolor pencil class workbook. I have to get the .pdf to my brother's printing company in time for him to print the workbooks up and FedEx them to me before the class begins, and I haven't finished the second day's workbook yet!
I'd love some feedback if you have a minute. Are these entries getting too repetitive and boring? I love to showcase my students' work, but if there is something more I can write about that you want to know about, let me know.
How about something on dealing with students with Altzheimers?
To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.
My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!