Archives for posts with tag: Teacher

An early show, after I'd recovered from school.

This morning I found myself reminiscing a little about things that art instructors have said to me that stuck in my memory. I was probably doing this for a few reasons:

I taught a class last night in which a student (who is also a teacher) mentioned “you are a good teacher”.

there was a lot of strong light pouring in through my closed blinds.

I was thinking about character and strength of it.

I recall a drawing instructor who went over the idea of Chiaroscuro. This method of modelling, using dark and light to create form, was invented or at least defined as we know it during the Italian Renaissance. My instructor truly “went over it” in that we didn’t practice or learn anything about this technique. Well, he did make this (paraphrased) statement: “This was important for artists in Italy to learn, but it’s not important for us. We have different light. It’s not as harsh, it is a soft light.” Then we went back to drawing leaves and stuff.

At least he mentioned that Chiaroscuro existed, so that I could read about it later. One thing I gleaned from the thirty-second lesson on Chiaroscuro, is to pay attention to different kinds of light. I’d not really thought about it before, only simply accepted while observing. It was true that where I lived then had a hazy, blue light that meandered over objects and made them sort of softly glow from within. Beyond artificial light, there were normally no harsh shadows or light effects.

However, when learning the fundamental basics of drawing, one should learn all that one can. It is unrealistic to expect one’s college-aged students to stay in their small city for their entire lives, painting outdoor landscapes and nothing else. At least not all of them.

I got an A+ in that class.

Chiaroscuro actually works well in any type of lighting, in that you can form the object, and simultaneously (or after the fact) paint the shadows and light effects too. So, for example, say you have a sphere. It is round. The middle comes towards you, and the edges recede. By this theory, the edges are darker than the middle. However, if there is any sort of light source, that would have a highlight/shadow effect on the sphere. Ambient and atmospheric lighting play a part, as do reflections on the sphere. Try painting an egg. You’ll see what I mean. Actually, an egg will be one of the things we will paint in the “How To Paint: Stuff” series.

Painting is what I love to do best.

Another memorable moment during my time as an Art College Attendee was when a painting instructor (who I admired greatly) reduced me to tears when I dared to critique an exhibition of paintings. A famous artist was showing in a major gallery, and I was finally able to see her work in the flesh. My instructor and I talked briefly about it. Paraphrasing:

She: “Did you see the So-And-So exhibition?”

Moi: “Yes I did. I found her brushwork to be too careful. It looked un-natural and laboured over.”

She: “You and I have VERY DIFFERENT IDEAS about painting… ”

Conversation stopped. Closed door.

What did I learn from this experience? Students will take what a teacher says seriously, and students sometimes don’t express themselves as clearly as they would like. If you are a teacher, and one of your students says something you disagree with, or even find offensive, ask them a question about it rather than making a statement and closing the door to communication. Also, sometimes people we look up to have bad days and say nasty things too. Don’t always take them to heart, if you can help it.

I managed to get a B+ in that class.

Cast Over, a painting from way back in '99.

An Art History instructor told me (in front of his equally well-known and somewhat famed friend) that I would “need to learn and memorize names and dates of paintings so that I would be impressive and knowledgable at parties”. Paraphrased. He nailed directly on the head one of my biggest combo-insecurities.

I am terrible with names and dates, and I don’t like looking dumb at parties. I learned from this that I should not care so much what others think.

I got a C- in that class. 

2157 Trees. In 1999 I painted an imagined tree pattern on the imagined drapery and then used a rough calculation to describe how many trees there would be here. I also counted the ones depicted "outside".

I’ll finish with a really good thing that my Book Arts instructor told me. Paraphrasing: “Be ready for success. Don’t get stuck and depressed. People will simultaneously want you to produce what you’re well-known for, and be disappointed that your work isn’t developing.” She thought I would be famous, knew some people who were famous, and famous famous famous.  Famous etc famous. Basically, I had to stay true and genuine to what I needed to make, to my forms of expression. My muse is a changing thing.

Should I stumble upon a super-successful trick, I shan’t remain a one-trick pony! Oh, and I got an A+ in that class.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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Guest Contributor Beata Sobolewski shares her transformation from a person who takes yoga classes to becoming a yoga instructor.

A few weeks ago I finished a course to become a Yoga Instructor. This journey, which spanned five months, would open my mind to a world of possibilities. From the lessons I learned to the people who I met, I have walked away with a grander meaning of life. I did not have much yoga in my life prior to the course, but now it is part of my daily living.

Yoga showed me the union of mind, body and spirit. Yoga introduced me to the things around us we cannot always see but greatly influence our lives; Einstein and other great philosophers spoke about the great-interconnected world in which we cannot always perceive with our five senses. Yoga allows you to tap into this world of potentiality. I’m beginning to understand that as a human being each one of us is an energy being of pure potentiality.

We have been conditioned from childhood to believe that we are not powerful beings and are meant to live a mundane life of 9-5 five days a week. Throughout the course and what my instructor quoted as “the Unlearning Process”, I began to shake off some of these beliefs. If I had learned some of these attributes in my earlier years, I feel I would have greatly benefitted. However, I still greatly appreciate this knowledge. It is never to late to learn if one is open-minded and willing to stir up some beliefs.

The greatest thing yoga did for me is to allow me to have an open mind. I’ve come to realize that not one person has the answer; this is a journey of self growth. We all have our own interpretations of situations, but by being able to listen to everyone and not always judge, we are beginning to change some of the programming of the Ego self.

The Ego, I learned, is the greatest illusion in our lives. “We are the same being in different disguises” is a quote spoken by my instructor that I always review and keep in my mindset. This quote is powerful, and when repeated frequently changes self-perception and perception of the people around us. The Universe is a living organism with full awareness of itself. The five senses allow us to have the illusion that we are all separate individuals when we are really all interconnected in a web of life.

I’ve learned that life is holographic and when you affect one part of the hologram you also affect all the other parts. We can see the pain, insanity and chaos in the world around us. This is due to the fact that people are lacking self-love and knowledge of who they really are. If we knew, then we would not be harming our planet and ourselves. We are a global family and a new system needs to be implemented to fix some of our errors. I feel Yoga is a tool that can help heal the world we have created through our misperceptions about our reality.

I believe our world is a reflection of what we have inside of ourselves. When we begin to purify ourselves, we begin to purify our environment and everything around us. Yoga shows not to repress our pain, but to acknowledge, accept and forgive it. Truly we are Energy, and energy cannot be destroyed. We are infinite and timeless. It is only the identity in our life that creates the world around us. I began to learn this is for a higher purpose and it is part of the one divine mind. This false ego keeps us trapped in our own delusions and blocks truth from the “real self”, which is not of the physical world. Yoga has allowed me to reclaim some of my true self beyond the physical means around me. We are more than the job, car, money, bank account, and title in society. Beyond the things we think make us happy lies a world of truth. Life has a natural flow and we must give to receive, love to be loved and care to be cared for. Our fears, anxieties and confusions are created due to the lack of knowledge about our true identities. This reality of our true self is kept purposely from us in order for us to rely on a system built of fear of our world and ourselves.

Within five months of my Yoga journey I am beginning to reclaim some of the power I have within me. However, this is not an easy process, it is a life-long work. As human beings on a physical journey, we have many layers that need to be undone and cleansed. I have greatly benefited physically and mentally on my journey to become a yoga instructor. A reward is that once I have started to find my own inner peace, I may then do the same for the people around me. It is a great gift to be able to teach people about this metaphysical world they may not have been previously introduced to.

I will forever be grateful for this experience, and now know the journey will not end here. The choice is ours about who we decide to be in the world, and I am grateful that yoga is allowing me to get to know my true self.

Montreal, Canada 

Painting from Koehler's Medicinal Plants (1887)

Salvia officinalis

This is a sentimental entry as well as somewhat of a departure from the typical ‘Fleurbain concept’.

In the last few days, I have thought about the folks who have got through to me.  These people have been my teachers.

I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the people in my life who have not seen knowledge and skill as exclusive, a commodity, a rare resource.  Instead, they have had the energy and time to teach me.  They were able to teach me things I did not even imagine prior to knowing these things.  I feel rich in my experience.

I have a positive outlook, most of the time. Other times, I can be stubborn and have my doubts.  I think this is a good thing; it means I have a brain and I have an opinion about my reality.  In the end, however, I feel lucky when I look back and see that people have stuck it out with me and have helped me adopt new understandings or take on new skills. They helped me out of my mud, the sticky clay fixing me to ‘what I know’, and they did this even when I may have been initially filled with doubt that there was anything new in a particular direction.

These people have confidence and skill.  This helps in keeping my attention.  They care about people and they are not afraid to share.  They are not threatened by others having these skills and information.  They want me to know, because they care that I succeed.  They also don’t act like they own me just because they taught me something. They are happy to pass it on for the sake of passing it on.  I like that.  I hope that I can do the same.

Here is a tea that will help you stay alert and ready for new information while you are with your teachers.

Mix together:

1 part green tea (Camellia sinensis promotes a calm mental focus)

1 part peppermint (Mentha x piperita is excellent for nervousness, anxiety, mental fog and lethargy)

1/2 part rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis is a well known memory aid and circulatory stimulant)

1/2 part sage (Salvia officinalis. I occasionally add sage and drink the tea cold when I want to stay cool and alert while under pressure.)

Put one teaspoon of this mixture in a teapot or mason jar.  Add two cups of freshly boiled water.  Steep for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

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