To Teach Or Not To Teach
I love to teach. I love to make art. Sometimes I can’t seem to make the two jive. If I’m teaching, it seems to gobble up so much of my available art time: devising classes, making samples, then proposing them; making lists of supplies for students to purchase, making lists of what I’ll provide and need to bring. Then there is the endless and constant promoting. I love providing a class packet with handouts, again time-consuming to create and assemble. When class time arrives, there are boxes of supplies to pack up and schlep to the site of the class, the reverse when the class is over, pack everything up, take it back to the studio and put it all away. Time. Such a valuable commodity.
I took off all of 2012 from teaching. I didn’t teach a single class and I didn’t offer any sessions of The Artist’s Way. Instead, I focused on creating art. It paid off. I had a solo show in Silverton at Lunaria Gallery in August of last year, and as a result, was invited to join the gallery as a member. I also had a solo show at Portland’s Guardino Gallery in March of this year, a dream come true.
As 2013 approached, I started thinking about teaching again. I decided to offer a 12-session of The Artist’s Way and it filled immediately. I was approached by The Art Department in downtown Salem about teaching a couple of classes and I came up with two: Layers of Memory (a plaster and painting class) and Oil and Cold Wax: Abstracted Play. The plaster class sold out immediately with a waiting list; I offered it again a couple of months later and again it sold out (with another waiting list). The oil and cold wax didn’t sell out, but since teaching it, I received many e-mails from people asking me when I would be teaching it again. I was contacted by The Art Department about teaching classes again over the next couple of semesters. I paused. I needed to decide if teaching was where I wanted to put my focus. I always come away from my classes energized and full of satisfaction. It is gratifying to share techniques and nurture others on their creative journey. But something was causing me to hesitate.
I chatted with my husband, a huge supporter of my art, whether teaching or creating. His preference has always been for me to concentrate on making art, not teaching it, but if I chose to teach, he’d be right there schlepping boxes for me. His advice was to back away from teaching and focus on making art.
I made the decision not to teach any more classes this year. I’ll most likely offer a 12-week session of The Artist’s Way again at the beginning of 2014 as that is a different type of offering, less about teaching and more guiding, facilitating, and nurturing.
I sometimes have pangs of regret about my decision. When I see someone else teaching what I had proposed or what I have been teaching, it causes me to second guess my decision. That’s why I’m writing this blog post. I thought if I revisited my decision, then shared it publicly, it would remind me why I made the decision I did. Right now, I’m focusing on a show I have in August at Lunaria. I’ve made a proposal to a favorite venue in Portland about a possible show in the future. And I would love to have another show at Guardino sometime in the future. I’m always looking for new opportunities to share my work. But to create a body of work, to explore and grow and express myself through my art, it means devoting lots of time in the studio.