If a student showed interest they were encouraged to enter competitive art shows. Both of these paintings won a second place award in their categories. The painting on the left is acrylics on stretched canvass and the one on the right used a combination of pencils and watercolor.
This student was from India and as with many students either permanent or visiting she missed her home land and especially her family. I never asked her about the importance of the imagery in the above painting, but I just accepted that it was a representation of "culture shock". The painting felt like a representation of her missing something so at the core of who she was that she felt disjointed. A great painting for a young adult.
Emily could paint portraits for a living. Her mastery of techniques, materials and subject developed early. Often I would struggle to get a student with that kind of ability to experiment. Not with Emily. I feel like she slopped the paint on and developed her idea from what was there. Some areas seemed controlled and some seem chaotic. I loved when a student was confident enough to create that way.
The students could draw instead of paint, I always directed their attention to some definition, label, concept, or technique but, I never forgot the importance of just letting them go, discover, fail, and build again. "Embrace the struggle" I'd repeat. That is what makes it fun "THE CHALLENGE" I came to learn that no matter what level the student was at, that concept always applied.
My "At The End Of The Day" art program ran for years. I donated time and the students came year after year. It was so rewarding watching them grow as artists, discovering the power of a restricted palette, was one of many such discoveries.
I remember a student named Angela, she was from China. She would be a first generation American. Angela was a great artist and for the 6 years she spent in my program she used the same palette every year. At the end of her last year she came to me and asked if she could take her pallete. I took notice of all the traces of marks, scraps, cleanings, and mixings. it was like a painting with a rich history. Holding back my tears I said, "Yes, absolutely"
Students only visiting for a year came through my studio doors. English was not their first language, but we always found communication in the examples and demonstrations of a common visual language.
Some of the greatest instructor/student victories came from the ""I can't do that students". He was an athlete, big, burly, front linemen. I bet he still has this painting.
Some students were always challenging my sensibilities of what it "meant to be creative". He was more comfortable painting with a ruler in hand than a paint brush. This was a great lesson for me: despite his awareness of his own limitations, he knew how to have fun while he learned and to share his joy with me.