|Photo by Ruth Ann Sturgill|
Over the centuries, most painters have taught. Back during Leonardo's day, painters took on apprentices to help with the dirty work of grinding paint and cleaning the hearth, but they also took care to teach the apprentices a thing or two. This happened in the French academic period, too, but instruction was more formalized with a curriculum that lasted several years. In the last century, plein air painters like Charles Hawthorne and William Merritt Chase set up schools that became very popular. You may have seen some of the historic photos of students lined up like lemmings at the ocean. And today, of course, you'll find many excellent plein air painters who teach, some only in their home town, but others who range across continents.
Someone once asked me, When do you paint for yourself? Although I schedule a great many workshops, I also make sure to schedule long periods of time for myself. It's during these times that I'm researching techniques, exploring and trying to grow as a painter. Those weeks are precious to me, and I wouldn't give them up. I want to continue to be painter who teaches - and not a teacher who paints.
Painters teach for two reasons. First, to butter their bread when painting sales are down. Second, because they enjoying sharing the craft and their vision. But I've found a third reason to teach. I also teach for friendship. Over the years, a number of students have become not just good painters but good friends as well. There's a camaraderie that develops when students come back again and again, getting better each time. And it's very rewarding to have students follow me in my teaching travels.
Don't forget that I'm teaching in Sedona this winter: www.PaintSedona.com. I have other workshops, too, so click here for a full schedule.