The workshop I taught this week-end went very well and everyone enjoyed it. These are some of the paintings and drawings that were done, some in an unfinished state. I wandered around photographing things as they progressed, since every stage of the works are fascinating to me. As always, I was truly amazed at the accomplishments of the people who attended. They came with very little experience with painting portraits, afraid of trying to capture a likeness. Even worse, the thought of painting themselves intimidated them all the more. Many of them had not used charcoal at all, or very little. Even though they were all artists, this was all new territory for them. Bravely they dove in, with wonderful results, and left feeling accomplished and happy. Justifiably so. I had a good time, as well. There was a definite feeling of energy, camaraderie, and the common interest and endeavor that workshops provide for people of like mind. Hard work, exhilaration, defeat, pride, disappointment, trepidaton, laughter-- emotions run the gamut with everyone understanding what everyone else is feeling.
My own role is that of an orchestrator, a conductor of the symphony. I scan the room and look for the scowl, the furrowed brow, the sagging shoulders. I flit from one to the other, offering what I can to relieve the tension, to look for the good, to give the encouraging word. I watch the movements of arms and hands, I look at the size of brushes and piles of paint on palettes. It is timidity that I have to correct. Little brushes, little dabs of paint, small movements, tiny marks. Never have I had to say, "Don't be so exhuberant!", "Don't be so wild!"
It is amazing that so much of a teacher's job is to point out to people how good they are.