Why Teach Notes
An artist asked me to talk about why to teach for a bit.
The first reason is of course, money. Many of the big named painters teach constantly. Many of them have to, to survive. They have priced themselves out of the market and can’t sell anymore. It’s a bad position to be in. They are making a living off DVD’s,Books, and teaching. That has become their primary business and painting is secondary. It looks glamorous to other painters with trips to Europe and Spain, and other exotic places, but in reality, I want no part of that. It is grinding work, with little time to grow as a painter. It is also very easy to get caught up in the money angle and become completely dependent on teaching rather than painting.
I know several painters who teach 3-5 classes a week and their whole life revolves around selling supplies and teaching. Most of their sales are going to their students, which is good, but that is a low end income stream. They are locked into the routine and have no time to pursue other marketing possibilities. They must also constantly recruit students as others fall off.
The same happens for full time workshop teachers. Endless workshops, travel, and little time to paint for themselves.
Another reason to teach is to grow in stature. Many painters want to build a name for themselves. When the word gets around that you are a good teacher, your name recognition goes up considerably. Unfortunately, that is mostly among other artists, not collectors. You see there are two separate paths to recognition for painters. One is through collections, galleries, museum shows, the other through other artists and the art community, by teaching. I believe the biggest mistake new painters make is in not understanding this. They pour all of their efforts into belonging to the arts community, gaining acceptance and recognition from other artists and their “betters” in the artist pecking order, and ignore the collectors community, which is the real world. Somehow they believe that becoming accepted and recognised in the arts community will launch their career. Truthfully, artsy folk are far less likely to buy our art than the doctor, engineer, lawyer, or farmer, down the street.
Now we come to the main reason I teach and write this blog. I don’t teach a lot anymore, 2 or 3 one day workshops a year and one day a month for my regular students.
I like research and Development a lot. It helps me to grow as a painter. I like to study painting, reading pages and pages of technical info about paints,mediums,brushes,supports. I develop exercises which I give to myself and my students at workshops. I do the exercises regularly myself. All of this work is important to good teaching and frankly, there are few painters who are willing to work that hard to teach. Some of my students ask me why I’m teaching college level art techniques for so little money?
I could never be a full time teacher or workshop teacher because I don’t work hard at the business end of it. I don’t charge much, and I give away way too much in materials and knowledge. I’m a painter, not a teacher. The teaching I do is to spread knowledge to others and to help them achieve their top performance.
Teaching should be fun! Full of joy and anticipation. Don’t teach if you don’t feel that sense of wonder and satisfaction. There are many easier ways to make money. You have a huge responsibility to the students you teach. It is to be taken seriously. They have saved their money to give you and should get something out of it besides an ego trip for you. Know your subject and what you are talking about. Do your research. Know that students learn in several ways. Some learn by reading, some by watching, some by hearing. Give them a variety of ways to learn and be genuine. There are far too many workshop teachers who show up, do demos and then stand around while you are painting. You learn nothing for all the money you have spent. Be a real teacher and invest in your students.
You can see that there area variety of reasons to teach and many not to. If you plan to teach seriously, I suggest that you be far more diligent than I am about the business side of it. Invest in supplies to sell to students including framing, paints, brushes and so forth. Have paintings with you to sell. (I often forget that.) Produce a few DVD’s to sell. Actually make some money off teaching! :>)
One of my favorites and beloved by all who live in the South
3/4 c self rising white corn meal
1/4 c flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 T sugar
2 T chopped onion
Mix it all up and drop in hot oil. They will rise to the top when done.