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Teaching painting

(Valerie Bassett) #1

Can anyone offer advice about teaching painting to beginners. I’m sure there are approaches that work better than others. I have a tendency to want to fix their work for them so they are happy with their work. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

(Nancy Paris Pruden) #2

Yes I teach painting to adults and have for many years. I start them out squaring up a Rubens portrait and then doing a grizelle underpainting of the portrait. Then they add color the 2nd class. This helps them see drawing, value and color as separate parts of the whole.

(Sunny Avocado) #3

Probably by watching someone teach on youtube, thinking about what makes you a strong painter and incorporating those things into your own teaching style.

Personally, I don’t understand people wanting to be teachers! I’d rather be the one doing the painting, it’s a rare breed that can teach well…I’ll leave teaching to capable people. :wink:

(Valerie Bassett) #4

That sounds like a good way to teach beginners. They struggle with color so best to start with monochrome. I usually have them do a thumbnail drawing before they attempt to paint. Some of them can’t draw well so we use grids. One of the biggest challenges is getting them to practice in between lessons. They like to save their art time for class, which hinders their progression. Practice truly does lead to improvement. Thanks

(Valerie Bassett) #5

Yes, there are some good you tube videos on the basics. I try to follow the basic method of layout and blocking in values. It does require a lot of patience on both of our parts. When they get discouraged about their skill, they tend to quit, so I am tempted to assist them with the actual painting, so they leave happy. I guess I need to give up that concern and just let them make a mess, lol. I am also a nurse, which helps when it comes to dealing with people. I probably should be doing art therapy instead!

(Peggie Hunnicutt) #6

For starters a value study comes first. Do that as an underpainting first and paint over it. Or, if its watercolor do a small value study, choose your colors and stick to those values in your enlarged painting.

(Valerie Bassett) #7

Thanks… Do you ever give them hands on help?

(Nan Johnson) #8

Part of what you teach depends on how many sessions the teaching will run for. Is it a single session of x # of hours, or a few sessions over the course of a few weeks. The more sessions & time allotted, the more you can break out the parts you want to cover. One thing I disliked with some of the classes I’ve taken, I did not spend money to go to a class to watch an instructor work. An example or demo is good, but a few instructors took most of their sessions to show what they could do (and how they do it). Hands-on is one of my requirements!

(Valerie Bassett) #9

Thanks. I don’t do demos but perhaps I should. I usually walk them thru every stage of the painting, helping them with all aspects of its creation. The students who stay with me for a few paintings usually ween off the close guidance by the third work. But I have a few who won’t do anything without help. I’m trying to evaluate my ability to ween them more effectively. I don’t want to foster dependence. Their work often ends up looking like I painted it, which isn’t good.

(Catherine Kauffman) #10

I’ve taken classes from instructors who would paint on my work and have others who did not. I learned more by NOT having someone else do the work for me. I learned the most from teachers who would come up and see what needed to be done on my work, point it out and then demo hw to fix it on a separate canvas or paper and then let me copy what they did while they supervised it. Sometimes I needed to see how to hold the brush differently, or how to mix the paint differently, or see how the colors were juxtaposed or the values needed to be pushed… but I needed to actually do the work myself on my own canvas so my brain and hands and eyes could coordinate together and learn together. The cost of teaching this way can be a bit more for the materials (you obviously need an additional painting surface), but I found it to be worth the extra few bucks.

(Valerie Bassett) #11

Ill give that a try, thanks!

(Diane Hutchinson) #12

I have been teaching watercolors to adults for many years. I find that it does take some people 5-6 classes before their hand /eye corrdination develops enough for them to be really happy with their progress. I only paint on their work when they ask me. I have the entire class watch because this becomes an opportunity to teach something to all instead of only one. I give lots of encouragement and point out the things done correctly, and help explain the things that went wrong. Also if you give homework it encourages them to paint at home (very necessary). One last thought,no one wakes up knowing how to play the piano or speak a foreign language. To learn it takes time and practice. Stress that the first paintings are not expected to be masterpieces. They are only to learn brushwork and how to use the materials. Enjoy the process.

(Valerie Bassett) #13

Thanks for the great advice. Sounds like you are a very good instructor. I will incorporate some of your tips. So many people just quit after their first attempt. I guess that’s ok.

(Sue Dion) #14

I have also been teaching for many years. I find it helpful to work with beginning students on a group project. I typically hand them the drawing and let them transfer it to watercolor paper using graphite paper. I talk about composition and design but I also understand that they are there to learn how to paint. I then work through the painting with them - step-by-step. They learn a lot of techniques along the way and it’s always interesting to see how different each of the “same” paintings are when we are finished. I typically like to have a student do three “project” classes before advancing on to the open studio class where I am then able to work with them individually on their own pieces. Best of luck in your classes.

(Jim Moyer) #15

You might google Dianne Mize and see how she is handling on line teaching. There are a few others but this lady is the best organized.

(Dorothy Woolbright) #16

I taught in the classroom for 20 years. Best practices in the classroom and for teaching painting should include these for steps. Teach, model, practice, and apply. Each lesson should be limited to one concept. You teach that concept in a brief 10 to 15 minute lesson. Then you model the concept for your students in a 10 to 15 minute session. Then you give the students an opportunity to practice that concept and that will require more time. They need plenty of time to practice the concept, and learn from their mistakes. To apply that concept they will have many more opportunities with other paintings. However, learning only takes place with lots and lots of practice and reinforcement of the concept. I tell my students that when they come to class it is only for instruction in good foundational skills for painting. Later on as they progress we will begin to apply these skills to other paintings. I too have been in classes where the instructor takes up most of the class time doing her own painting and it is discouraging for students. A good teacher gives hands-on help when needed. Sometimes students do need you to show them by demonstrating either on their own painting or on a separate canvas. However, the goal is not to go away with the completed painting after two or three sessions. The goal is to learn how to paint.

(Valerie Bassett) #17

Thanks. These all sound like good techniques for group classes. I teach in my home studio and often have only one or two students at a time. Most of them prefer private lessons, so group assignments aren’t really applicable, but I like the idea of everyone working on the same picture. There is a local watercolor artist who teaches like that and he is highly regarded. I find it difficult to ween my private students, who have studied with me for many years. They save their lesson time for painting and don’t have much desire to work in between classes. Many of them are too busy. I can never understand how one can treat art like its not a priority, but they do. I work 6 hours a day on my painting when I don’t have other obligations or students. I also work on my painting while they are here. That seems to take the pressure off of them so I’m not hawking over their shoulder the entire time. Some of them require so much guidance that I don’t have time to sit and work myself. I’m trying to understand how to get these particular students to work more independently. This seems to be my challenge right now.

(Catherine Kauffman) #18

Valerie, it sounds to me like your students do not have a studio of their own in which to paint and so they are basically renting space in your studio. Maybe you can offer a class that includes a field trip to visit the homes of your students and you can help them set up their own space. I think many beginners do not understand that you can paint in the corner of a bedroom or kitchen and produce on a regular basis by squeezing in 15 minutes here and there (depending on the medium as clean up alone with some can take 15 or 20 minutes). Sometimes, it requires standing up to a spouse who does not understand your need to create and doesn’t comprehend that this is a career move and requires a time commitment. If they can “escape” to their art lessons with you, they don’t have to worry about the spouse, the kids, or the pets making demands on their art time.

(Valerie Bassett) #19

Thanks! You are correct about that. I’ve been asking them to take their work home between classes and that is at least making them think about their process more. Most of them use my studio to escape reality. I will suggest working at home as well.