This week has been the beginning of my Summer semester of classes I instruct. In some cases the classes represent the first contact these adult students have with their chosen medium. There is the tendency to look around the room and take stock. That often includes the surprise that some students in the same class are advanced painters. The next emotions that are triggered by that realization are "fear", "insecurity", and perhaps the desire to flee... quickly!
How remarkable each of these human beings is that he/she is willing to undertake a completely new venture later in life (which is most typically the scenario). Often the individual has retired, or their children are grown, or a spouse is ill or has recently passed away. For some it is simply the desire to fulfill some part of life that they would have pursued if they could have, years before. Now, whatever has spurred them to this point, will bring to them the realization that they CAN DO THIS new enterprise, much to their surprise. some will realize that they need better drawing skills in order to paint. Others, painting with acrylics or oil paints, will find that within a semester they have learned the rudimentary things necessary to indeed put down an image on canvas in a pleasing manner. Others tackling watercolor painting will realize that what looks easy and breezy, is going to take a longer time to learn, perhaps 3 or 4 years to be producing good quality paintings on a regular basis. Any of these directions will surely be a test of patience, confidence, tenacity, and the drive to succeed.
Those who immerse themselves in absorbing lots of information about what they are embarking upon, and who become involved in the possibilities of creating art, will also spend time, drawing or painting on their own time, to find out more about how this all works. Therein lies the KEY. It takes the personal investment of one's self intellectually, emotionally, and physically to become a true part of this process.
Many people in my classes continue attending them for many years beyond their initial tentative jabs at "maybe this could be interesting". One does become somewhat addicted to the process of creation that comes from within, and in seeing how they do actually advance.
For me, the process of watching the growth, watching people progress from crawling to walking, so to speak, is so satisfying. The gift I hope to give each person who enters the portals of my classroom is the gift of finding a part of themselves, gaining confidence, and sharing the wonder of creating something beautiful or moving that is their own. To get to this, so many steps will have been climbed, so many new ideas will enter their searching minds, so many skills will have been developed.In continuous small steps, they will accomplish what they have set out to achieve.
Their gift to me is that I get to initiate this process, nurture it, give it momentum, educate them about art in general, as well as a historical beacon from the past, and participate in the excitement of going from "square one" to the "nth degree". I get to make this trip WITH THEM! Aren't I lucky?