The Quiet Teacher

David Marty is a local to our area artist that teaches two-day classes in Edmonds at The Cole Gallery and sometimes once a week for six weeks on Bainbridge Island at The Winslow Art Center.  I have taken four classes from his so far with two in Edmonds and two on Bainbridge.  It is always interesting to see the level of the painters at the two different environments.  In Edmonds, there are usually a couple artists that are quite accomplished blended with more with little or no experience. I always learn at least one tidbit that helps to improve my own paintings.  Bainbridge classes are often comprised of many of the same artists that I have taken other classes with, and most all have been painting for several years.

Dave’s work is not quite as loose as some other Plein Artists, but it is always beautifully done. Coming from an illustrators background, his drawing is always “right-on'”. I have improved my drawing skills taking his classes and doing Urban Sketching with a group on Bainbridge Island.

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In David’s classes the entire class paints from the same photograph.  It is so interesting to watch throughout as the artists turn the photographs into beautiful paintings.  If you were to look at the finished pieces you realize just how differently people see. I love watching the artistic process as many of the pieces transform as they are painted.

In the classes on Bainbridge, we were always given a homework assignment to work on at home and bring for critique the following week. Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first piece we worked on in class.  David would do a demo in the morning, then we all painted the rest of the afternoon and put up our work for a critique at the end of the session.  This class was to work on water receding in the distance.  I walked away content with this piece.

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The second was a scene of a lake and the challenge was to show the lilies on the surface without making it look speckled.  The one above is mine.

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We next worked on the reflections and lighting in this lake scene.

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This was painted from a photo with a row of flowers.  I did not love the photo, so I reversed it in Photoshop and added a little girl picking the flowers in the front.  Once finished I thought and think it looks a bit trite.

Then we started painting a couple of roads, which I thought was great fun. Painting Class 5.jpg

I can always tell when I enjoy the topic we are painting, as I most likely will be happy with the result.

 

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How to make a wall of trees look interesting was a challenge and it was a homework assignment.  I did feel this was successful as it has variety and keeps your interest.   David never says anything negative about your work, but makes quiet thoughtful suggestions on what might improve it.

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Making rocks look like rocks is always a challenge and how to get the right color, so they look real but beautiful at the same time.  This was hard to capture, but I think it reads as rocks.

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Another road with the task of making the road appear beautiful and interesting while receding believably into the background.

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Painting the Night Scene of a city was fairly new to me.  I went with a little whimsy and fun and more abstract than real.  David liked how I did the lights in the background and thought he might change his to a little more like mine.  Boy, did that make me smile.

 

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We all painted “The Red Barn”.  Growing up on a farm, I have always been attracted to barns and have painted several over my life as an artist.  This is a small 8 x 10 inch with a bad glare in the photo, but it was fun doing.

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Homework assignment to paint clouds.  The tidbit I learned from this exercise is that clouds are always parallel to the earth at the bottom, so they are flat at the bottom.  Not my favorite painting, but it was a very simplistic photo.

 

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The homework assignment was to capture the clouds in a painting from a photo of the clouds.  Mine was a good as anyone else in the class, but nothing I would try to sell.

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Everyone in the class liked this, but I sanded it down and repainted the canvas.  The wave looked more like a ledge than waves to me.

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Beach walkers One.

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Beach walkers Two.  I did not like the first rendition, so I painted it a second time.  Not sure that I like either of them.

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From the sea, we moved to snow scenes.  I painted the one on the left in class, but it left me feeling unsuccessful, so I painted the one on the right.  It is a fun exercise to paint the same photo more than once and in slightly different styles.

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With the next homework assignment of snow, I painted the first horizontally and the same scene vertically.  Working on composition helps you see the same thing in a different manner.

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I brought in a photo I found online of Port Gamble, so we all had a take on this.  Port Gamble.jpg

In this case, I have the photo and thought it might be fun for you to see my translation of the photo.  I left out the tree in the foreground.  I do love the mist of the photo and feel at least I captured the essence of the mist.

 

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We were to paint this stream for homework.  Often when I look at a photo, I wonder what would be the best way to try to make this come to life.  When David showed his homework, it was mostly in browns, and I must admit that his rendition was more appealing than my greener version.

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One of the students brought in a photo of Madronas on her property, and while they are lovely, it was a test of sorts to make an interesting painting.

 

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Here is the photo. 2.jpg

First version

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Finished version adding more darks.  I often do not go dark enough, so this was a great lesson in contrast.

The next class I took from David was at Cole Gallery and the class was about learning to paint moving water and how to draw your eye to the water.

 

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I was pleased with the first painting but got my reflections off on the second.

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This was the final painting in that particular class.  I do see water and color in a different way than before, and everyone in the class liked this painting.  I am not so sure that painting just water is my favorite.

Every time I do take a class with Dave, I learn at least one thing.  I enjoy watching how he holds his paintbrush to achieve the look he desires.  Every stroke is thought out and it important.  There is not scrubbing!

The Quiet Teacher

The Man From Australia

My last class, and probably the last one I will take for a while was from a well-known and respected artist from Australia.  Colley Whisson came to teach a four-day class at The Winslow Art Center and people from all over the country came to take the class.  He was funny and told great stories and talked a lot!  And talked a lot, but taught a lot too!  He paints a wide variety of topics and creates beautiful paintings from very simple photos.

The first day he did a demo for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We were then given a photograph of the painting he had previously done from the same photo.

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It was a very simple beach scene which did not seem exciting, but using the brush strokes he showed us and the limited palate, I was very pleased with my finished piece.  I think I was one of few in the class that he did not “touch” my canvas.  He made one suggestion but seemed to like my work.  (Yippee!!!)

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Day two was an old cabin and it was interesting to see in a class of twelve or more that were no two even similar.  Mine featured the smallest cabin. Once again, he did not jump in and work on my painting and made one or two suggestions.  This is a small canvas and I liked using a larger brush than I had in the past.

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Day three after the morning demo he set us free on copying his painting.  Other than saying I should move the chicken or the fountain, he seemed to like my work.  He did make one perspective change that was right-on.  I am getting used to using the bigger brush and like the look.  I would never have selected this view to paint, but I think it turned out pretty fair.

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The fourth and last day we painted Plein Aire in the garden that used to belong to a friend of mine. I had not been in the garden since she sold the home after her parent’s passed away within months of each other.  It is a whimsical and beautifully lush garden.  As I walked in, I loved the contrast of the blue pot in the distance and the bright pink flowers close-up.  After I came home and looked at a photo I had taken and what I had painted I darkened the background for more contrast.  At his suggestion, I added more paint in the foreground and I think the effect is quite positive.

Colley is an excellent teacher that does beautiful paintings and makes his living selling his art in Australia.

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I love the simplicity of his work along with the beautiful brushwork.  One thing he said that will now remain a constant in my work going forward is that you need to have a quiet space to contrast the brushwork.  Brilliant~

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Simple composition with beautiful colors and brushwork. And I really do not like blue, but like the work overall.

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I call this elegantly simple, but fascinating.

 

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As you can see from the four examples I shared of his work, it is colorful, but controlled and beautifully painted.  I would definitely take his class another time. There were many little jewels that I learned from this master artist.

The Man From Australia

Art Classes

This summer I took quite a few Art Workshops with different painters. From some, I discovered new ways of seeing art. From others, I had a good review of the basics of art, something all artists should think about from time to time.   As would be expected, I enjoyed a couple of my classes better than others.

I am not a floral artist, but I took a studio with Stanley Bielen where we painted small florals, vegies or anything we selected from a table full of fun objects.  My first was a copy of the demo he did for the class. Stanley 1.jpg

Being happy with that, I found a small white teapot and put together a rather whimsical painting with the teapot.  All of these pieces are 6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″, a size I had not done much work in before, so small was a little challenging to me.

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The class lasted three days and each day I discovered something new or different. Stanley is a funny and intelligent instructor that kept the class laughing with stories and kept our interest by sharing facts and information about other current artists that he has met.  The class had students from all over the United States and Canada. It was fun being in a class with such dedicated artists.

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Going searching the table for the next object or objects to paint I spotted this beautiful turnip and loved the contrast of the bright orange peppers next to it.  Purple and orange are two of my favorite colors, so this was fun to paint and I was pleased with the composition.

Day three and a lot of the flowers on the table were starting to look a little limp, and having had such fun painting the turnip, I decided to do another vegetable – a Bok Choy. Bok Choy.jpg

I loved the floppy character of the Bok Choy and felt I “captured” the essence in this little painting.  By the last day in the afternoon, I was getting tired.  I was enjoying the class, but my energy level was down a bit.  I often think I am better in a two-day class. The last painting of the class was my worst of the series. yellow.jpg

I started too high on the canvas so I was not happy with the composition and composition, even of small paintings make or break the work.  I think I finally just cut off the bottom and repainted shortening the stems.

Being inspired by painting small, I took the concept to a slightly larger canvas and painted plants with pots from our local nursery.  I am pleased with the result and hope to do a few more of these in the future.  Pink flowers.jpg

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Stanely Bielen’s class at The Winslow Art Center was informative, fun and made me look at smaller objects in a new way.  This was not the first of my Summer Classes, but one I truly tried something I had not attempted before and was quite happy with the result.

One other lesson from taking many classes in too short a period of time is that every successful artist believes their paint color choices, canvas finish, and style is the best way to paint. What you should take away is that there is no one style of painting and that you can incorporate, some but not all that you gather from each professional.  Take too many classes and it becomes confusing.  Take classes from too few instructors and will realize that your paintings start to look like theirs.

I took art class once a week from the same instructor for twelve years.  One day after they opened a small local gallery and I was taking a hiatus from painting I walked by the gallery and my youngest son (in his thirties) said to me: Why do all the paintings shown here look the same, even though there were four or five artists represented?”  It was at that moment I decided to take classes from a variety of different professional artists.

Art Classes

Another Weekend of Art Class

This last weekend I took another three-day class at The Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island.  Martha Jordan brings in wonderful artists from all over the country to teach workshops.  This last weekend, Stanley Bielen came in from the East Coast to teach beautifully simplified small paintings to a group of fifteen from all over the country.

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We all had individual vignettes set up around the room.  It was so fun to see what people selected and then what they painted.  I learned a lot from the teacher and from watching the approach of other artists in the class.  I started to say “students”, but for the most part, the class was full of very accomplished artists.

I stopped to talk to a friend downstairs and by the time I returned after the morning demo, the only spot left was the one where Stanley had painted the demo, so I decided I would give it a try.

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These are small paintings at about 6″ x 8″, so this is even a little larger than the actual painting.  Being pleased with this I moved on the next day to a set-up of my own.

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This is not quite as loose as what Stanley was sharing, but it was fun and I felt good about it, which is not always the case.

In the afternoon, I looked at the choices available and found this beautiful little teapot, and thought it would be fun.  Laughing a little, I placed a quince bough in the spout and had fun painting this. Stanley made a couple of painting strokes, that really made a difference in the painting.

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Keep in mind that I am not a “flower” painter.  Ever since I was in Art School in the ’70s, and the teacher in one of my first-semester art classes said, after I produced a three foot by three foot abstract, that he was surprised, as he always thought I would just be a flower painter, I have kind of steered clear of flowers.  If you look back in your life, I think most of us would be amazed by the power that a small quick comment may have had on our lives. Teachers have more power than we often think.

Feeling good about my little teapot (short and stout) I returned to the “table of treasures”, as I called it with lots and lots of flowers, some fruit, and vegetables and tried to figure out how I could avoid painting flowers.

Ah, the Bok Choy.  One other artist painted it laying on its side, but I thought: “Let the Bok Choy stand tall”. Not sure it came out as tall, but at least it does look like a Bok Choy.

 

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That was the end of the second day and I have to admit I was a little tired. My sweet husband suggested we just go out to dinner.  I thought that was a great idea and had a few glasses of champagne with dinner, came home and had a couple glasses of wine.  I awoke with a not so happy headache but took some ibuprofen and was off to class.  Arriving at class, I realized I was tired and not really “on”.  I discovered that day that how you feel makes a difference to your creativity.  I did two more small paintings, but walked away, not liking either one of them.

One of the women in the class brought in a vase of amazing Camillias, so I thought: ” Humm, they are big, maybe I can paint one.”

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Stanley liked it, but it does not “sing” to me.  I might try more flowers just to see if I can do it more successfully.  The last painting of class should be your best effort, but I find I am usually more tired at the end of the class, so don’t think it is my best.

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I realized as I finished this, that the flower was way to close to the upper left corner.  The nice thing about working on panels is that you can cut them.  So I cropped it in Photoshop and will have my husband cut it down.

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So I will have him chop off the bottom, and I will repaint the bottom and then I think I may actually like it.

It was a very wonderful workshop and I feel lucky I was able to take it with old friends and now some new ones.

 

Another Weekend of Art Class

Old in Art School

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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

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The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.

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As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School

The Choice of Direction is always yours.

Looking up to Pink

Picked up my paint brushes for the first time in six months.  It felt glorious.  This painting has been sitting on the canvas half done for over six months.  Life got in the way, and that should never happen to an artist.  I truly enjoy selling real estate, but was with a team that wanted you to work 7/24 and cold call people whenever they signed online to look at houses.  It made me feel like I was “Big Brother” watching what people were doing.  I don’t like it when I get email for months when I was interested for a short amount of time, or now on Facebook anything that you have viewed online or in Amazon shows up on the side bar, till your next choice of searches.

Pink & White FriendsWhen I finished this painting tonight and photographed it, I could not decide which I liked it best.  Horizontal or Vertical.  That is when I started thinking we all have choices to make every day of our life.  Today I chose to paint after having a wonderful lunch with my beautiful God daughter.  She inspired me to get back to what I love doing.

Not that I am not going to help people buy and sell houses, I am just going to take some time for me to do the things I love.

So you choose, which way do you like it better?  Vertical or Horizontal? Life is so full of wonderful choices, just take one and get on with it.

The Choice of Direction is always yours.

Port Gamble

Port Gamble Church in Color Port Gamble Church Port Gamble Water Towers - colorPort Gamble Water Towers

Out and about buying fabric to make Easter Dresses for my three Granddaughters, with camera in hand, Port Gamble is such a lovely piece of our local history.  Originally built as a sawmill town, there are rows of houses built for employees and managers of the Port. the Walker Ames House, which I drew last week was the owners original home.

In the next week or so, I will be drawing the General Store, owned by friends of mine with some of the best food in the area.  The fabric store Quilted Strait is often one of my favorite stops, as they have a lovely and varied selection of cotton, more designed for quilts, but work great for “Granddaughter” dresses.

www.dianakingsley.net

Port Gamble

Pen & Ink

Bad Trailor Green House Old House Point No Point Rowboats

This last weekend I had the pleasure of taking a pen & ink & watercolor class with a well known artist.  Pen & ink has always captured my attention, especially after writing my book “Hand Drafting for Interior Design”

Book cover

Working on the drawings for many days, I found pleasure in the hand drawn line and taking this class I got to put to use all the drawings and techniques I shared in my book.

The group of people that came together for the class were talented, funny and made the weekend such a pleasure.  But the drawing was just pure delight, and learning a new way to add a tad or splash of color to the drawings, made me want to draw, draw, draw and water color a little.

www.dianakingsley.net

Pen & Ink

Testing the Extent of Your Power

About six weeks ago I took two different painting classes from talented young women.  I realized in taking the class that even though they are quite knowledgeable, I didn’t relate to their style of painting, so had a hard relating to the teachers.

One teacher said about a hundred times during the first day of class “Does that make sense to you”?  By the time I heard it about 50 times I lost interest in the class, did not hear what she said and did not go back the second or third day.

The other teacher could do nothing but find fault with any thing I did in the class.  I have honestly never had that experience before.  My colors were muddy, my composition was bad and it seemed I was the only one with this lack of skill.  As I have forward going watched a few shows she did, I realized that I appreciate her art style, but really personally do not like it.

Then I heard this phrase: “Testing the Extent of Your Power” and it made me think of both the classes.  The teachers were young, most of the students were older and I think they had to feel empowered to think they were teaching you something.  Teaching should be about giving your students the power to think they will succeed and grow better.  It is not to make you the teacher feel better.

Since I took the two classes I have not painted nor drawn anything.  Today it finally dawned on me why.  My ability was questioned with no positive input.  I could do no right.  I will start painting again soon, as I know I should not respond to someone else testing the extent of their power in a negative on me.

Teachers should always find something good, even if they don’t love your style.  There may be something creative done in a way different from what they would do.

Testing the Extent of Your Power

Nude with Glasses

Nude with Glasses

Decided to try using new water soluble pencils with pens in our drawing get together last night. The pens are SO unforgiving and after my last weekend my art confidence was at an new low. This is the only drawing that was even presentable

Next week I am back back to charcoal and will try new things in the privacy of my own studio.

Wonder if any of you have ever gone through a period where one or two people say something slightly degrading about your art and you believe them enough to let it set you back a year or two or day in your forward progress.

Teaching should (at any age) be a positive experience for the student and make them feel better about themselves. Share your opinion. What do you think?

When I taught interior design at The Art Institute of Seattle, we did a lot of sketching in our classes and I always thought it was important to say more good than bad about anyone’s work. I watched so many of my students grow in ability and confidence.

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