Monday, May 30, 2011

Teacher, Teacher!

Looking at my viewer counter, I noticed I have reached the ten thousand mark for the number of hits my blog has received.  So, not counting the number of times I have checked out my blog, that means twenty seven other people have looked at my blog too!  How exciting... 

For those who wake each morning in eager anticipation of seeing a fresh and new Maine-ly Painting post, I apologize for slacking recently.  But, hey-- I've been busy!  I just got back from the Philadelpia, Pa. area where I made a quick trip to deliver some paintings to a new gallery that will represent me.  That was cool.  I've also been giving some instruction to a nice guy who wants to learn how to paint-- NOW!  I feel bad for him, because when he asks, "How do I paint that tree?"  I say, "Keep putting paint down 'til it looks like the tree."  Drives him nuts.  He still thinks there's a direction sheet for painting.  Like putting a swing set together;  Screw A goes into nut G after tightening bolt Q.  That kind of thing.  He doesn't quite get that no matter how good you are, painting is still trial and error.  Granted, if you're really good there's less error, but everyone scrapes off a mistake now and then.

Learning any new skill always reminds me of learning to write.  We spend years in school learning how to form letters, then how to spell words.  Finally, we can write our thoughts without ever thinking about the mechanics of forming letters.  All we care about is what we're trying to say.  My poor student (let's call him Steve, even if his name is Jim...)  is chomping at the bit to write War And Peace, but he hasn't learned how to make letters yet.  So I can understand his frustration.  It also dosn't help him when I say things like, "Make the brush think it's the ocean, " or "Move that brush like it's the cloud."  Quite often when he asks something like, "How do I paint that rock?"  I'll say, "The same way you paint a tree."  Actually, I'm trying to get him to think about values, and highlights and shadows.  He just thinks I'm insane.  Wish he was wrong...

I've given lots of training and instruction throughout my life with the various jobs I've held.  The hardest part is that I'm a bit of a control freak.  I hate to see people suffer when I know how it should be done.  But I had to fight the overwhelming urge to do it myself, and just let my poor trainee do it for themselves.  Trust me, it was harder for me than it was for them.  Learning from mistakes is an effective way to learn.  Steve is always asking for me to paint a passage so he can watch how I do it.  He hasn't caught on that I will do the easiest part, then hand him the brush to finish the harder part. 

I try to not think about the old adage about those that can-- do.  Those that can't?

They watch others suffer and call themselves teachers!



Susan Roux said...

Ok I confess I'm the one waiting daily for the next Maine-ly Painting post. And with good reason! Your sense of humor cracks me up.

Congrats on finding a new gallery! Pennsylvania, wow! There's a hike. Teacher? Oh you're poor student, I'll call him Bill... Will you let him paint or force him to stay tight and detailed?

Kay said...

well seems at least 2 of us tune in to get a giggle everyday! Hi Susan! I did enjoy teaching..but I have decided that teaching keeps me from doing. I was watching Sam Gilliam on The Artists Toolbox series on PBS. He mentioned a time he taught and decided it was a profession that kept him from advancing in his art! I totally understood where he was coming from, But I hope you have a good time with your poor student!