Taking art classes as an adult can be tricky. An adult student doesn’t seem to need to be directed to the learning process. Adults choose to take a class. There is no grade to encourage you. The class or classes are for enrichment or professional development. We sometimes take classes in different disciplines of art to receive more knowledge and to learn specific techniques. This can be very rewarding but it can be frustrating when we discover that we can’t paint or draw like the instructor. We sometimes blame ourselves, the instructor, our tools, the people around us, or even that the weather was too cold or too warm. But we don’t need to put ourselves through all this when we want to take a class. We just need to follow a few steps before the class and keep reminding ourselves what this class is for.
1. Have an Intention
When I say what it’s for I don’t mean watercolor landscapes or acrylic abstracts, I mean what the class is for, for us. Each one of us takes classes as adults to hone our craft or learn a new technique and enrich our art in some way. Ask yourself why are you taking this class? How do you think this class will add value to you and your art practice? Is the class really something you think you will enjoy or can be of support to you and your art practice?
2. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
When we enroll in a class we hope it will be like no other or that we will become enlightened with the force like Luke Skywalker was with Yoda. But this rarely happens. So why are we so disappointed durning or at the end of the class that we can’t paint like the master teacher? We put so much expectation on the class and instructor and maybe we are taking the class with friends that we hope will be supportive, and also have some fun learning together. Right? But does it happen? Let me give you some assistance with this. I know it very well after living it oh — so — many — times. If anyone says that they are an expert and have the secrete to create paintings that will, “sell like hot cakes,” or be the answer to everyone’s dreams, run the other way. Why? Because 99% of the time there isn’t an art class that can do that. We hold ourselves to that idea that this will be the silver bullet, but it won’t happen. What does happen is we blame ourselves, instructor, people around us, and — yes — even the weather. But — the blaming ourselves is what does the most damage to ourselves and our art. I know this because I see it in my students. I have seen it in me, too. I shoot myself down and lose much ground in where I want to go as an artist. I lose the ability to paint for months after a long workshop. I will never get back the precious time I lose because I think I am not an artist and that I know nothing. I get so wrapped up in classes and hoping for the silver bullet that I don’t create any art.
I’ve been asked, “Why do you paint?” Sometimes people ask, “why do you create?” I’ve always answered, “I can’t not create.” But, I think there’s more to it. I think I’ve been holding back from my collectors, students, and people in general.
I’ve been thinking about so many things this past year. Thinking about our world situation and watching the news has sapped my energy and made me feel like a panicked mess. I haven’t wanted to think about art, let alone paint.
I played some with some of my old favorite tools and mediums, and signed up for some online classes that were not me at all. I wanted something to drive me forward and help me back to making art even if I wasn’t really feeling these new classes.
I started thinking about my students and how much I missed them. So, I taught myself how to create virtual classes on Zoom. I pushed myself to build content to engage and inspire my students. I took a few more classes and fell back in love with watercolor. I created more content and lessons that I could launch online for groups of people. I felt that even though we couldn’t be together in person, I could still offer my students good quality classes.
But what about me? What got me creating? What did all those classes do to get me going? And, why am I still feeling I’ve lost my way?
From the Greek, from euphoros-healthy. From eu+pherein, to bear-birth, deliverer,produce.
euphoria…a feeling of well being or elation
To be marked by elation by high spirits
Enthusiastic…filled with or marked by enthusiasm
From the Greek, enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein, to be inspired
Enthusiasm…1. a belief in special revelations of the Holy Spirit. 2. A strong excitement of feeling
There’s a feeling I get. It’s a happy, elated feeling. Something’s coming, but I don’t know what it is. It feels good, and I get very excited at the thought that I might be on the verge of something grand.
“Pending euphoria” is a tool that you can use to get your creative nectar going. In general this feeling doesn’t have a checklist of behaviors that can be diagnosed. It’s just a good vibe that, if left unnurtured, fades and withers like a tender, unwatered seedling. When the pending euphoria hits, it may feel like a brick thrown through a window. Or sometimes, it’s like a gentle breeze tickling my skin saying, “Hello Sweetie… I’m here. Something’s coming.” That’s pending euphoria.
At the beginning of the year, I created a vision board. I’ve been creating one or two a year for about five years. This one was all about what inspired me. There were things I thought I’d like to make and colors I was drawn to. It didn’t stay that way for long. In March, my vision board did not reflect how I was feeling, but most of the colors stayed the same. Now, nature inspires me. Going on little walks and wandering in my own backyard made me feel that all I needed was to be in nature and experience all its beauty. I made a small vision board that reflected this renew love of the outdoors.
I love flowers, trees, and mountains with creeks and streams in and around rocks, covered by mossy slime in the most vibrant greens. After I created my nature vision board that I call “The Dirt”, I had dreams of making art with dirt and mud, rocks, and brick dust in a muddy stream that made me want to cry with joy. I hung these works on a clothesline under a freeway overpass. I’m not sure why there was a freeway in this dream. I have had this dream a few times and think that I need to explore its contents.
We are still artists, and we need to create now more than ever. I want to encourage you to send me photos of your work and or questions as you create. We will make art and work on lessons to feed us through this time.
So here’s a lesson for you to try. Get your color wheel out. If you don’t have one, find one on the internet.
This is my color wheel.
Pick two complementary colors (complementary colors, using any two colors directly opposite each other on the wheel.)
I chose blue and orange.
I used watercolors, but you can do this with acrylic paints also.