This time was different. I have more painting skills, know what to pack and what to leave home, know that my best work will come after the workshop, not during it. This time my husband came along. I convinced him that the colors would be at their peak, that he could bicycle all day while I was in class, that we could go out on Sand Lake, listen to loons, watch for eagles, and eat out at the "up north" supper clubs at night. And I was excited about learning more about painting with acrylics from Robert Burridge. I can't remember how I discovered his web site about three years ago, but I had been reading his newsletter, taking notes, and I liked his energy and style.
In Bob Burridge's August Artsy Fartsy newsletter he has a checklist of things people who teach and mentor young people should strive for in their instruction, and I'm borrowing from that newsletter here, because these are the things that I look for in a teacher for myself.
Discard everything that is unnecessary.
Aim to be simple.
Relax, abandon yourself. Fear nothing.
Compress time. Aim at succeeding, don't waste an instant.
Don't take yourself seriously.
Don't hurry, don't rest.
Don't be afraid to be a little foolish.
Have endless patience.
If faced with overwhelming odds, occupy time with something else.
Have endless capacity to improvise.
Bring abstract ideas to concrete form.
Assume that students enjoy learning.
Believe that children (any learners - my word choice) are perfect, and we're just building on their strengths.
Support everything with a visual aid.
Insure no possible way to fail.
A teacher must be upbeat and positive.
If the goal is only to learn facts, then we lose the chance to know that learning is very exciting.
Bob Burridge is certainly an entertainer and self-promoter, but under jokes and a light approach, he has real skill and passion as a painter, and a temperament that allows for and embraces a wide variety of personalities and skill levels in his workshop participants. He is organized, patient, and comes with many examples of painting approaches and printed handouts for students to take home and read after the class has finished.
All that, and he plays good music too.
I hope I can internalize some of his philosophy, move ahead with my artwork, and take another class from him in the future.
I would love to hear from other people who take art workshops. Who are some instructors who have made a powerful positive impression on you? What qualities do you look for in an art teacher for yourself?