How changing my instruction style helped me teach oil painting for beginners better. WAAAAY better!

posted in: Painting workshops | 3

First things first. Let me give you a little history. I started my workshops in the following format: 4 students, each choses their own picture, I give personal instruction and show what to do using their canvas. It’s pretty unique concept for an art class and it worked because:

  • It’s pretty cool to be able to choose your own picture THE FIRST time you are painting. Usually art schools start you off with tons of theory, drawing, colour mixing exercises and you need a lot of time, patience and money to get to the point where you can actually paint a painting.
  • You are able to start with what you like and what you want on your wall – waves, trees, fall trees etc.
  • You WOW all you friends and family coming out of your first art class with a good looking painting (yes, good looking, like art. Seriously)

As great as it sounds, there is a downside:

  • Since you are the only one in the class painting that subject, I have to show you stuff on your canvas. That means I actually paint parts of your painting. That means it’s not 100% your painting.
  • Since it’s your first (or second or third) experience painting I have to explain A LOT to every student individually trying to cover the basics like colour mixing, cleaning the palette. It can get overwhelming at times for both of us.

Why I still want to keep teaching painting workshops where you go home with a painting even the first time around? Because IT’S FUN!! It’s rewarding, good for self-esteem, creative spirit and more. And because I was bored out of my mind during 80% of art classes I took. Painting 23 colour charts, grey scales, drawing 50 boxes – can anyone survive this? What if art is a hobby? Do I really have to draw 50 boxes (it is an actual assignment – I’m not kidding you!)? My answer is NO! The only thing you really have to do is to love your life when you are painting. That’s all.

So I tried a different format trying to keep the fun, but reduce the amount of new material you have to battle with and my involvement in your painting.

This is how it goes: we collectively select a theme and I select a painting for each class. Last class students wanted to paint sunset and water, I found a picture of a beautiful beach sunset. I paint the same picture on my canvas and you repeat after me. So we gather around I start the painting and do a few first steps. Then you go and recreate it on your canvas, while I’m walking around and helping you, addressing individual needs that arise. Then we go back to my canvas and take it to the next step. Here is what we manage to improve doing the new way:

  • Instructions first shown and repeated when you do it were clearer and taken in faster
  • My hands on involvement in your painting reduced A LOT. I will still show you, if the concept doesn’t want to sink in, but it’s a lot less than before
  • The quality of students paintings went up – my opinion
  • Overall atmosphere is more relaxed, because nobody is overwhelmed (or almost nobody)

Here is the paintings from last class. One of them is mine, but not everybody can correctly guess which one. Can you? Put your guess in the comment!

photo photo 5 photo 4


3 Responses

  1. I think the first one is yours but honestly not sure.

  2. I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your information.
    The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your
    blog and keep checking for new details about
    once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

  3. Keep on working, great job!

Leave a Reply