Posts Tagged ‘watercolor classes’

2018 Watercolor Classes

Monday, January 1st, 2018

A new year marks a good time to take a fresh look at the methods and approach I will be taking in teaching my watercolor classes this year, as well as to redefine my goals for them. I look forward to starting my new 5-session series of beginning watercolor classes next week in both the Verandah and Pelican Preserve communities here in Fort Myers.  I want to give my students more than bragging rights for a “refrigerator magnet” style one-time souvenir.

Instead, I have two goals.  The first is to provide my students with the basic understanding of the medium, technical know-how, and confidence to be able to begin painting in watercolor on their own, from an unlimited choice of subjects, for the rest of their lives.  The second is to instill in them a joy in painting so they want to continue developing their skills and understanding, increasing in both confidence and satisfaction in their ongoing efforts.

"Still Life with Ixora Blossom" by Charlotte Mertz (171207w detail)

“Still Life with Ixora Blossom” by Charlotte Mertz (171207w detail)

As I review my course syllabus, I know the information to be covered in each class session will lay a groundwork upon which any further learning can be based.  But more important than that is the enthusiasm I hope to express as I talk with my students and demonstrate my own joy in painting.  Enthusiasm (or lack of it, unfortunately) is contagious.  So I want my joy to always be apparent both in my own work and in my attitude toward the students and each topic I present, so each group of students bonds into a supportive community, enthusiastic and encouraging toward one another as we learn from both our successes and that inevitable “School of Oops,” from which few of us ever entirely graduate.

Art is one field in which we can never “know it all.”  It’s a wonderful subject for those of us who consider ourselves “lifetime learners,” because it poses a never-ending challenge to exceed whatever our current level of skill and expertise might be.  No matter how innately “talented” we may be even without instruction, or how developed our skills become through extensive education, there is always room to learn more.  But without a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction we will probably feel little impetus to maintain a long-range drive toward excellence.

So that is my primary goal for these beginning classes—not that I necessarily start my students on a road to becoming great artists, but that they feel motivated with an inner sense of pleasure and satisfaction to pursue their budding interest in watercolor painting and carry it as far as they will.

While maintaining an atmosphere of camaraderie and encouragement, my subsequent 5-session series of Continuing and Intermediate classes in both communities will continue to build on the basic skills learned in the Beginning classes.  The Continuing and Intermediate classes will focus more on general artistic principles, which contribute to a sense of perspective and reality.  Although my classes will address how artistic principles can be applied specifically to watercolor work, understanding them can enhance compositional design in any medium.

Will you be joining us as we begin our classes next week?

New Season Classes

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

This month I’m looking ahead and preparing lesson plans for the classes I’ve committed to teach in the new year.

These “Snowbird Season” classes, taught at the Verandah Community in Fort Myers, FL, will include both a beginners’ 6-session series, beginning January 10, and a subsequent 6-class “continuing” series, beginning February 21. The second series will be for both students from the first sessions who wish to continue and for others who already have some background in watercolor who would like to pursue their interest further.

Milky Way Over the Bay (#160802w)

Milky Way Over the Bay (#160802w)

I always enjoy introducing new painters to the mysteries of watercolor painting. And I also find it gratifying to be able to encourage and guide more advanced artists to explore the possibilities that watercolor provides. Not only do I invariably make new friends, but the very nature of our classwork means that we have a common interest and creative drive. This means that we generate a special kind of excitement and motivation to advance beyond our current skill levels.

We all learn from one another’s efforts. Yes, I continue to learn, too, as we discuss strategies to produce the best possible work, analyze the cause of specific problems, and figure out how to overcome or at least minimize them and, preferably, avoid them altogether in future paintings.

Whether or not you are close enough to join one of my classes, I encourage the artist or art connoisseur in you to find or form an association with at least one other person with whom you can discuss your views and insights. It doesn’t matter if you use or appreciate the same medium. The fact that you mutually strive to visualize the world through artistic eyes with the goal of expressing or enhancing your vision of it will stimulate your continuing development and pleasure.

But most of all, whether you’re creating your own or appreciating others’ artwork, have fun, and share the joy!

I wish you a safe and satisfying holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.

The Pleasures of Teaching

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

I love to teach. Sharing my own pleasure in painting and helping other adults find pleasure in it as well excites me and keeps me motivated to improve my own understanding and skills. Sometimes it’s a real challenge to keep ahead of my students. But that’s satisfying, too, because it means they have been benefiting from what I’ve taught. The challenge keeps me studying, delving into the “why’s” and “how’s” so I can explain more clearly what we see happening on the paper. Understanding the theoretical principles and physical phenomena more deeply, myself, gives me greater control over the medium, and thereby improves my own skills even as I help my students explore their capabilities.

But more important than any of that is developing my students’ confidence, teaching them to relax and enjoy the very process of painting.

Class

This month marks the beginning of a new teaching season. Because of the transient nature of our community, some students may attend only a few class sessions, some a weekly class for a month or two, and others may attend all twelve weekly sessions. Some of the students will have never painted before. Others will be returning students seeking to hone their skills. Yet others may be experienced, well-trained artists who are looking merely for encouragement and motivation to return to painting regularly. While I feel that one of my responsibilities is to teach beginners the basics of watercolor application, without overwhelming them, I also want to provide enough fresh information and guidance to keep the more advanced students interested, motivated, and challenged. Because of returning students, I avoid repeating projects from year to year, so I’m always on the lookout for fresh subject matter for our exercises.

Difficult? Stressful? I’m tempted to toss off a casual “No prob!” But the fact is that planning for such mixed classes takes considerable forethought and preparation. It forces me to establish clear goals for each session, and then provide appropriate projects that can be approached with a wide range of degrees of difficulty to meet those goals at a variety of skill levels. But once we get into the classroom, I tend to adapt each lesson to the specific students attending, the questions that arise during the demonstration and work sessions, and to suit the unforeseen needs of the situation. That approach keeps us on track while keeping everyone relaxed enough to enjoy our time working together. And yes, we do have fun!

It’s always exciting to meet a new group of students. Some are eager and full of questions and observations, some quietly focus on mastering the skill of the moment, while others are gregarious and regularly share their frustrations and successes with friends seated nearby. Each mix of students is different but represents to me an ongoing opportunity to grow as an artist, a mentor, and a colleague. I can hardly wait to meet this season’s mix! Will you be joining us?

I’m also available to teach private classes in SW Florida. Email me (Charlotte@charlottemertz.com) for further information.