On Saturday 27th July I’m running a perfume making workshop from 11am – 1pm at Exchange Place Studios, Sheffield, as part of Fronteer‘s Botanicals exhibition. For £20 the workshop provides a fantastic opportunity to learn about the art of perfumery and make a perfume of your own ready to take home. I’d love to see you there! More info and tickets here:
So, I’ve finally gone and done a bit of teaching. I have finally imparted whatever remnants of wisdom I have onto others, which they can apply to their own artistic endeavours. How did it go? Well, rather bloody well actually. And I am very grateful to Cupola Gallery for their hospitality and for thinking that a paint making workshop was a good idea in the first place.
My workshop seems to be pretty solid ‘straight out of the box,’ with only a few tweaks needed for my next gig at Bank Street Arts. 5 people attended, which was perfect because I was able to conduct the workshop with a sense of informality. It felt more like a few friends with like-minded ambitions that came together to chat about an artistic endeavour, which was lovely, as I was instantly able to feel at ease.
I started by introducing myself and my practice and showed examples of my paint applied to a surface. I then proceeded to conduct a working demonstration of how paint is created before the attendees had a go themselves: A pretty simple yet effective workshop model. However, whilst I knew more or less what to expect, what I hadn’t bargained for was how I would feel afterwards. A palpable sense of accomplishment engrossed me as I knew that those who attended had gone away with something useful, tangible and captivating.
However, my workshop was by no means perfect. Hare a few things that I will tweak for the future:
- I need a few more props and materials. – I didn’t bargain for the volume of work that would be created. Bringing too many materials would be more beneficial than bringing just enough. I ran out of eggs part way through – though that was easily redeemed by nipping to ASDA. I also ran short of canvas board. Which was less redeemable, but I got round it by supplying paper and acetate. I also think that a hand-out, describing and imbedding what I said throughout the workshop, would be valuable for attendees to take home.
- I need to remember that there is value in what I have to say – I felt a little awkward initially adopting the role of a teacher. What I do as an artist is quite idiosyncratic and intuitive: But I think that if what I do can’t be imparted in some way, allowing people to apply it to their own way of thinking, then it is useless. Workshops are a good way to share experiences, and the reason why people attend a workshop like this is to learn. Embracing the teacher dynamic with confidence may make for more coherent and engaging workshop in the future.
So, with this, and my experience in mind, I will now strive to make my Bank Street Arts paint making workshop every bit a success.
If you’re interested in attending my paint making workshop at Bank Street Arts on 28th September, you can find details here – https://www.facebook.com/events/649424818409817/?ref=22
Why paint making should be for everyone.
Teaching. It’s a concept I have entertained since watching my year 7 art teacher painstakingly render an accurate yet grossly unnecessary drawing of a dentist’s chair and thinking ‘pfft, I could well easily do that.’
Not that I could draw a dentist’s chair with the same precision as him. In fact, in hindsight, the guy was probably a frustrated yet brilliant designer. But, even as an 11 year old, I did think briefly that the idea of teaching a craft looked fun – you got to do what you loved doing and you got to communicate with others the value of what you are doing.
Of course, what I was witnessing at the time was the teaching of school pupils under a structured syllabus. And I have taught before – In 2009 I belted out a few lectures about the history of British art to summer-school students who, frankly, would have rather been outside than in a stuffy lecture theatre being bombarded with information that they’ll either forget instantly or won’t even listen to in the first place. What concerns me in earth year 2013, however, is the idea of teaching people the practice of making paints: I envision this to occur either in the form of workshops or through guest lecturing.
It is practice steeped in rich history, yet its appeal is diminished with the ease at which paint can be purchased. Yet I believe that it is important to develop a relationship with your materials: materials purchased from a shop contain no presence of an artist. They are joyless, and can be applied to a surface with dispassion, flippancy and disregard. They are a consumable product – untouched by an artist’s hand and, as such, without integrity or passion. If a tangible affinity with materials is established, then it will enable an artist to richly engage with a piece of work on a physical, tactile level. Further, it will considerably develop an artist – allowing a more coherent communication to occur between artist and material and consequently, artist and subject matter.
I will take a conceptual approach to the teaching of paint making and communicate the idea of seeking new directions to achieve an established process – In similar vein to how I extract pigment from food in order to achieve a re-imagining of still-life. Indeed, the practice of producing your own materials is an art in its own right – it contains within it subject matter, craft and can be considered as a concept. I believe that the idea of communicating this and allowing people to engage with their materials has the potential to be extremely valuable and absorbing. Now all that’s left to do is the tiny matter of finding someone who’ll have me teach…