Permission To Be Passionate - Teaching in The Atelier Method

"The virtue of an atelier school is its complete authenticity, its appropriateness to the purpose it serves. There is no compromise. For the study of art, it provides an artist’s domain and involves the focus on work which is an artist’s way of life. "  I recently ran across this article on Frank Hobb's blog and found it amazingly readable and worthy.

I'm sure my thoughts will be a pale comparison to what Mercedes said but here goes.

Tesia Blackburn's Painting Group at Ghost Ranch
One of my painting trips with students to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico
Teaching for me, as an artist, is about learning.  I learn from my students as much as I impart to them, maybe more.  It also keeps me on my game in my own work.  After all, how can I blather on about composition in front of my students if I'm not thinking about it in my own work?

Secondly, or maybe firstly, many of my students are people who are coming to art after another career or in conjunction with another career.  There is a certain stigma attached to being "of a certain age" and starting an art career, especially at an art school.  If you are amongst a group of 20-30 year olds, it can start to feel like you're out of the loop and can hamper your joy with making art.  Let's face it, we all want to belong to the group, right?

 But what if you are really passionate, longing, craving to make art?  You have a full time job or maybe some kids still at home. Where will you find the time? How can you make "real" art if you don't have an art degree?

You just start. Twenty minutes here, thirty minutes there. I wrote an entire book about it. 

Many of my students, most in fact, don't have art degrees and make beautiful, moving, authentic work.  They have shows and sell their paintings.  They take classes with me, either in the studio or online.  They come every week, sometimes for years.  They want to know color, shape, texture, paint chemistry and much more. 

And I can help them.  Do you have any idea how good that feels? It's the highest high. It literally makes my eyes fill up with emotion.  When a student sees the painting come together and gets that immense feeling of satisfaction, I get to witness it! That's my job!?!

In small studio classes, in the old "atelier" method - outside of the mainstream of academia, I teach people to paint.

But what I'm really doing is giving them permission to be passionate.