Friday, May 23, 2008

Student of the week! Terrible idea.

I had this idea, which I thought was good at the time to get people to this blog and also maybe provide a learning lesson, to choose a 'student of the week' painting "study" from either my still life or portrait class. 

With the benefit of hindsight, this was not a good idea at all. First of all, there were many good paintings in the class for different reasons at varying levels of his or her art journey.  Secondly, as a teacher, the moment I announced this idea to the class, I felt awkward not wanting to pit people against each other, or themselves, in a learning environment.

 I sheepishly got my camera in from my car and felt immediate regret. Uncomfortable actually. For one thing, I had missed someone who left early and dropped her painting on the way out. That would have been a good SOTW candidate. For another, a favorite former student returned to my class, and I kind of wanted to giver her SOTW because I was so darn happy to see her. Then there was the guy who I adore, a very intelligent former surgeon, who had been painting on fire the whole day. Then there was the student who bombed in the morning and pulled it off in the afternoon. Definite SOTW material. That is the hardest thing to recover like that and not leave in tears. I know! Then there was the student who brings in fabulous baked goods made by her daughter each week. And she works hard, following my instruction to the tee. Another perfect SOTW! And then there is my oldest student (with me from very early teaching) who deserves SOTW for not only improving in leaps and bounds, but also for putting up with me and the same old jokes/lines.

Lines can get crossed and choices!

 No matter how much I hate to admit it, and dislike myself for it,  I have been in workshops where my competitive antennae is up. Who is doing the best job?  Who is going to get the teacher's gold star? And trust me, I have been at both ends of that spectrum. Doing absolutely great (not for long usually) and absolutely terrible (for much longer) . Terrible, far too recently  in fact that it still hurts. 

For workshops I prepare. Practice my drawing harder a few weeks before. Then you just have to trust and leave your ego at the door knowing that you can still have a very "off" day and not show the teacher what you wanted to. It is just the way it is. Just follow the teacher like a pet poodle. Watch, watch, watch and you will learn. 

But I have decided in my own teaching class, naming a student of the week is counterproductive to the type of teacher I want to be. We are lucky to spend the day together, us teacher and students.  I am reminded of this every time I drive to my studio in downtown Oxnard through the farming fields observing people doing back-breaking picking work, rain or hot shine. How lucky and privileged are we? Let's just get together for the learning experience and forget about the rest. Ok?



Marian Fortunati said...

Good reasons, all!
We love you for it, Johanna.
I enjoy my learning experience every week and there never was a SOTW or whatever it is.
Hope your holiday is going well.

Peggi Habets Studio said...

I give you a lot of credit for trying something new, but even more, for recognizing when something isn't going to work for you. I've always thought that it's not whether or not you make the mistakes, it's how you handle things after you make them. At least, that's what I keep telling my kids!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks! We are all a work in progress. Our work and ourselves.