Who would benefit from these classes?
While more advanced artists may often glean things from other artists, my classes are particularly aimed at children (aged 10 years and up) and adults who are either beginning to develop their artistic skills or are partway along in their journey and would value some extra advice and guidance.
Are the child-focused classes suitable for all children?
As much as I would love to be able to cater for all children, my approach to teaching art will best suit a particular kind of child. A child with the following traits should do well in my classes:
Eager to learn
Shows maturity in behaviour and thinking
Enjoys learning about and discussing art history and theory
Able to concentrate
Has an appreciation for traditional/representational art and design
Has a sense of humour :)
I'm certainly not expecting "perfect children" to come along (we all ebb and flow in our levels of concentration and motivation) but I think this will help you to discern whether your child will be a good fit for these classes or whether you should explore other options. Some children might prefer to just explore art materials and techniques and have fun making a variety of craft-focused projects and there are plenty of online and face-to-face workshops that cater for this.
Can anyone develop strong skills in art or is it just for the talented?
I believe that almost anybody can develop strong skills in art just like almost anybody can learn to drive a car, ride a bike, grow plants or bake cakes. Too many people give up on making art because they don't believe they have the talent for it. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying "Genius is one-percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Albert Einstein said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." And Vincent van Gogh said, "If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Sure, some people seem to be born with a head-start or natural flair when it comes to art but others can catch up with the right training and a good dose of practise. In her classic work, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain 1, author and art lecturer, Betty Edwards, teaches that almost anyone can learn how to draw. She writes, "...we know now, from knowledge of brain plasticity and from decades of work by me and many others in the field, that drawing is simply a skill that can be taught and learned by anyone of sound mind who has learned other skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic." Edwards believes that "perception" and art go hand in hand and that the key is to learn how to truly "see" what is before us. When we are able to break up an object, person or scene into its various shapes, parts and components then we are better equipped to capture it on paper, canvas or in clay.
1. B. Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2012, USA, p. XXI.
What if I lack confidence?
Confidence comes through experience and repetition - in other words, lots of practice. It helps if we can separate our God-given worth from what we know or don't know and what we have or haven't achieved at this point in our lives as we enter new territory. A person who is nervous about picking up a paintbrush or pencil may well become a highly accomplished artist by persevering through the inevitable mistakes and fumblings that come with learning any new skill. I have attended many workshops for art teachers and the majority of people there, including myself, inevitably expressed feeling nervous and apprehensive as we sat ready to learn a new skill - and we were seasoned teachers!
Some people exude an air of confidence, seemingly breezing their way through life and the different tasks at hand but this might have more to do with their mindset and the way they see themselves rather than the reality of what they actually know and are skilled in. You've probably met people like this who seem very sure of themselves but their skills, when it comes to the crunch, don't quite match up to their bravado. In my mind, true confidence comes with experience - persevering through many setbacks, failures and small successes - becoming that little bit more sure of your abilities each time you pick up a brush or pencil - and it's a lifelong process. Courage is more important than confidence, for courage builds confidence. Better to approach things from an apprehensive but courageous mindset than to stunt your growth because your ego gets in the way.
Being a "perfectionist" doesn't help the situation either. We can put far too much pressure on ourselves to perform perfectly every time. The more we can remember that mistakes are a necessary and helpful part of the growing process, the easier it will be for us to relax and simply take the plunge. Jordan B. Peterson says, “If you are not willing to be a fool, you can’t become a master.” I often feel apprehensive when starting a new piece of art so it's not just the beginner that can feel that way. If we can shift our mindset from "performance mentality" and rather think of ourselves as "explorers, investigators and learners" then I think we will find that making art becomes much more enjoyable and productive - mistakes and all! Our worth is not based on our performance but rather in who God has made us to be and in what He has already accomplished for us when He sent His Son, Jesus, to give His life and His worth to us on the cross two millennia ago. As a Christian and an artist, that is where my true confidence and worth comes from - freeing me up to go and learn new things and develop new skills knowing I am loved and valued, despite my mistakes, by the One Who loves me most of all.
"I started painting as a hobby when I was little. I didn’t know I had any talent. I believe talent is just a pursued interest. Anybody can do what I do."
― Bob Ross