I'm looking for a new place to teach on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, I've started working with individual students again. These are things I did as demonstrations last night for one of them, a vibrant and creative woman whose confidence got eroded away by the same currents that get to us all sometimes. I broke out the watercolors and crayons, because it's been my experience that the road out of I'm Too Scared goes right through the playground.
The student in question has been caught in a quandary: She's an abstractionist at heart. She makes these bold, joyful, colorful compositions that look accomplished enough that if I saw them on a gallery wall, I wouldn't question it.
But she wants to learn to draw what she sees. So, how to learn the intimidating drawing part without losing the joy of the thing she truly loves? I decided the answer was: Start playing with the abstract forms and patterns in the world around us. I have a collection of photos of this kind of thing, so I printed up a few and that's what we did. The bird above was a demo about applying watercolor in an imprecise, fun way (relating to the way she already uses color, but watercolor is a new medium for her). Below, I got the crayons out and did a much more abstract demo from the shapes and colors of a branch of fall leaves. This is that crayon-and-watercolor thing you did in grade school, and yes, that's regular old Crayolas I was using.
For an artist who'd felt as if there was a great wall between "abstract" and "real", this was a revelation and freed her up to find subject matter in the real world, without having to make it realistic.
For me, it was a chance to play again and do things I'd never otherwise have done. I like my abstracted leaves well enough to want to make more, and there's no way it would have ever happened if I hadn't needed to help someone else learn to play again.