Encouragement is the key!
I want to share a bit of my story as an “artist-teacher” with you today. I have had many teachers in my search for years to find my niche in the world of art. Some good, some excellent….this is the example of how a teaching method almost made me put my pastels up for good and it can be translated into your classroom.
I was eager as a child attending my first pastel lesson. I came with the wrong easel, the wrong pastels and no clue as to what I was supposed to do. Through the next two years, I diligently tried to please my teacher and did not please myself with my efforts. I did good work, even passed on to the Master Class and carried that title as an artist.
Sets of pastels can be very expensive; the paper that we were required to use was expensive. I am at a stage in my life that I have to work full-time and every penny counts. I fell farther and farther behind my fellow students who could afford the more expensive and truly beautiful colors of the costly pastels. I was told that all my green pastels were wrong, the paper was not the kind that I was supposed to use to succeed in my class. Finally, I had had enough. I quit and put my pastels up and turned back to acrylic painting for over a year.
One snowy day, I braved the icy roads and came to my grandchildren’s house to bring a break in the boredom of being shut in due to the weather. I dug out my pastels and began to teach my students the basics of the art of pastels. And I found out that they loved the lesson and our art class was born. We started with a plain and easy beach landscape, and the children were instantly pleased and excited with their results! A couple of straight lines with different colors and a masterpiece was born! (The very first chalk pastel tutorial: A Path to the Beach).
I teach students ranging in ages from 16 to age 5. That is a BIG difference in skill levels. I was caught up in their enthusiasm for the pastels, and began to praise every single line, and curve that they painted. The 16-year-old could of course produce more of a true concept of the lesson, but the 5-year-old’s paintings were colorful and he was a born artist of mixing colors together! This is the key! Simple, simple praise over all the painting efforts! Praise that purple tree; praise the sunflower that has an orange stem instead of a green one; praise the placement of the “sky that is darker at the top of the paper;” praise them when they remember that a tree needs some ground under it and not just “left floating in the middle of the white paper!”
Yes, folks, it is just plain old praise for our efforts. Children are born with artistic gifts, and we are here to coach, praise and teach those efforts into a joy of painting.
Your job is to make them believe the motto of our art class: You ARE an artist!
The rest of the story goes like this. We shared those family times with our readers in tutorial form. When our readers asked, we created an ebook of chalk pastel tutorials all in one spot.