Friday, 1 December 2017

My First Art Workshop - How it Went and What I Learnt

Last Saturday I hosted my first Art Workshop in the cosy village hall in Hoylandswaine, Yorkshire.  I thought I'd pop in and write about how it went and what I learnt.

Before that though, you might have noticed an absence.  I haven't blogged since mid October and that wasn't planned.  I actually had big plans in place to blog every week, and intentions, as well as a desire, to write a lot.  I felt as if I had a lot to say and then I got ill.  I don't mean for you to worry because it isn't a serious illness, only a virus of sorts but it has hung on and in fact hasn't properly gone yet - it is one which fills the body with aches, a nasty cough which makes the lungs sore, awful congestion, headaches and an overwhelming fatigue.  And this tricky virus hung on for a good three weeks, leaving me feeling very run down
I had lots to do in preparation for my workshop, and lots of Christmas goodies to create and so I stepped back from Blogging, and I felt a bit sad because I truly love writing, but I felt as if I didn't have much to say, and it all felt like rather too much.

But here we are, the first day of December, cruising in a somewhat chaotic manner (in that I'm terribly unprepared) towards Christmas.  And this leads me nicely back to the topic of conversation with you today, my Christmas Workshop and all about what happened.  And today, I do feel like writing, so here we go.

My mini pop up shop

I arrived a couple of hours before the event to set everything up.  I was a little shocked actually at the huge amounts of stuff I was taking to set up!   I somehow managed to bundle it all in my car and set off across country, looking at the snow topped Pennines in the distance and hoping that my two ladies who were travelling over would make it across safely (they did).

At just before 1pm, the first of my students arrived, I must say, it truly was the nicest group of women to be blessed with, ranging in age from just 13 and up.  They were a friendly and good natured bunch who made my first class such a good one - thank you all for that.

The afternoon went so well, some of the women hadn't picked up a paintbrush since school, and acrylics were a new medium for some.  They all did so, so well - I really was so proud of what they achieved in those three hours.  

Along with some delicious cakes and bakes, and a selection of drinks to help things along the afternoon was a nice, relaxed affair with plenty of chat and laughter.  I remember showing them how to flick snow from the flat end of a wide brush, using watery white paint and proceeded to cover my heart with the biggest blobs that all but anihilated the design.  Things like that aren't planned of course, but it made everyone laugh! 

So what did I learn from hosting a workshop?

Planning is the absolute key!  I did pretty well at organising myself, and in planning the way I wanted the afternoon to unfold, but I think next time I would make a few tweaks to make it easier in places.  For example, it would have been a good idea for me to take a drying tool along, as some of the paint took a while to dry and people were waiting around which I felt bad about.  Signs on the doors to guide people into the workshop room (which is at the far end of the hall) would also have been helpful.  
I think I would spend time creating a nice, clear welcome speech too.  I had an idea of what to say but was caught in such a rush of nerves as I suddenly realised I had a room full of ten students that I think I forgot most of what I wanted to say, and rambled on a bit about other things instead!  Talk about tongue tied! 

I remember Louise Hay once saying that when we do something new, it's easy to come away and beat ourselves up about all the stuff that went wrong, or that we felt wasn't good enough.  She encourages us to be kind, to say 'well done, you did your best' and then think about how you can do it even better next time.  With that in mind, I am proud of what I achieved that Saturday, and will strive to make my next event even better.

I think I would love to do more things like this, despite the nerves (which I think are a natural part of stepping out of our comfort zones and into new territory).  I'm wondering about a full day painting course, or perhaps in time, a weekend retreat!  I think the best bit for me was being able to actually work with people, and to teach them what I know, to pass on skills and share that.  Watching their designs come to life after the different layers and processes was astonishing, they were brilliant!

Now it's back to work, but I'm going at a much more gentle pace so that I can finally shake off this virus and feel better again.

I'm putting the last few bits and pieces into my online shop now, so if you fancy supporting and buying Hand Made this Christmas, why not take a peep?  There are some lovely hand painted decorations (the last few, I won't be making anymore this year), as well as original art, prints, cards and mugs.  You're welcome to browse by clicking here.

I wish you a lovely day.

Julia x