With the pandemic shifting a lot of things in people's lives, teaching art classes in person has been harder for me to do. I've been thinking a lot about what I want my approach to be in teaching art classes, and the underlying theme is that I want to make art accessible to everyone. Sometimes that means teaching specific techniques and challenging skills, but more often than not, it's helping people realize their artistic ability even when they think they can't do it. And most importantly, it has to be about enjoying the process.
I've had so many amazing opportunities to teach here in Colorado, and I've found myself giving the same advice to people in all my classes. So maybe if you feel like you have no ability but you want to try something new, now is your chance. Here are some tips to get started and explore your artistic creativity.
1. Don't be afraid to put the paint on canvas - after all, at the end of the day, it's just paint and canvas. So many people (including myself as times) approach art with the idea that they are expected to create a masterpiece on their first try. They are afraid of judgement and often judge themselves instead of embracing the practice and enjoying the creativity that comes from it.
2. Pay attention to what you see and the inspiration around you - art is less about learning how to paint and more about learning how to SEE. Pay attention to colors around you, the shapes, the shadows. The shades of green in a tree are more varied than we realize. A cloud is not really white, but a multitude of colors and shades. Pay attention not only to the details of what things actually look like, but look for inspiration in the objects and scenes you see around you every day.
3. Throw away the drawing rules you learned in kindergarten - much of what we learn to draw in grade school art not the way those things look at all. Flowers, trees, and houses can be so much more dimensional than the little outline drawings we do as kids. But I'm not just talking about making paintings look more photorealistic. Thinking outside the box is part of art too. Be creative and flexible with your interpretation of what you're painting. Art is about finding your own style and running with it.
4. It's not a competition. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. There can sometimes be this attitude from professional artists that we're all trying to be better than each other. This is perpetuated by art shows that give awards and promote winning prize money. While there's nothing wrong with these shows (I participate in them too) they can diminish the reason we're all creating art in the first place and really what art is supposed to be. So many times I see art students compare their work to those around them either as better or worse than theirs as if there is some kind of sliding scale for what good art is. What if we saw the work we consider better than ours as inspiration and art we consider worse as creativity?
5. Don't expect it to come easily. It might look like other artists get beautiful masterpieces with minimal effort, but that's just not true. It take a lot of work and effort to get to the point of looking effortless. Don't be discouraged if the results you want don't come easily or if you make art you don't love sometimes. Embrace the challenge to stretch and grow in your art skills.
And most importantly, have fun with it! While you're working to improve your skills and learn new things, don't miss the joy that the process itself can give you. Grab some supplies (don't worry about having the fanciest and most expensive materials), set up a little space to play, and start creating. Happy painting!