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Creating Mixed Media Musical Birds: A workshop teaching experience

Saturday I had the pleasure of making the beautiful drive out to the Leighton Art Centre in the Foothills, south of where I live in Calgary, Alberta.

I've made this drive many times, and it never gets old, however this time instead of making the trek to take a workshop, participate in a show or attend an event...I was teaching.

I love teaching. I regularly teach workshops to kids, I've taught yoga, environmental education and even private lessons. But this was the first time I taught an art workshop to adults.

I was nervous. The kind of nervous that gives you butterflies and keeps you up the night before checking and re-checking your notes and your supplies that are all packed and ready to go. The kind of nervous that has you second guessing yourself.

Why was I nervous? Well, adults come with a much different attitude when it comes to creating an art project than children do (trust me I'm one of those expecting adults, so I know). Children come with no expectations, they are completely focused on the process (not the product, although there are a few exceptions to this in every class), and quite frankly, they are just super excited that you showed up with paint, paper and a storybook. t

Adults often come with expectations of creating a masterpiece. A gift or something to hang on the wall that they would like to look a certain way. To get adults out of the "perfection" or "judgement" mindset and into focusing on the process of creating can be challenging. As adults we put so much pressure on ourselves.

However, the butterflies subsided as I got to the sweet little historic schoolhouse I got to teach in for the day. As I laid out supplies and warmed up the class I just felt grateful. And it turns out I had no reason to be nervous. The 6 ladies that showed up to create were all incredibly lovely. And while there were some moment of frustration (fair enough as most had never painted in acrylics and one student had never painted at all), we moved through it, and I think overall they were happy with their day and their results. I was certainly proud of them!

The highlights for me were getting to run the workshop (having enough interest), seeing the different ways that the students used the mixed media techniques, how kind everyone was to each other, and getting a beautiful sunny break in the weather to sit outside and enjoy lunch. I was also pretty lucky to have two wonderful friends sign up to support me, so having some familiar faces in the class was a nice way to ease in.

I can't wait to do it all over again in July!

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