Step 1. Embrace the Logic

If you’re a working artist who loves making things and who has little patience for other pursuits why would you want to run art classes, workshops or retreats? Won’t they cost you time and energy that you’d rather devote to making art? And don’t first-rate artists focus on making things while second-rate artists teach? Isn’t teaching both a distraction and a little beneath your dignity?

No. It can prove enormously worthwhile to run art classes, workshop and retreats. You may run them to make money but their central value is not that they may make you money. Their central value is that they provide a rich human experience that you can’t get standing in front of a canvas. If you approach running art classes, workshops and retreats as a helping, healing, and enriching sort of thing and not as a bossy, officious teacher sort of thing, you may end up numbering them among your most important life experiences.

Often art teachers at art schools don’t really want to be there. They end up teaching at an art institute because they need the money and enjoy the prestige. Because they don’t really want to be there, don’t really want to be of help, and more want to show off or lord it over students than really teach, they are likely to provide precious little instruction while acting out cruelly. If you’ve been a student in such a class, teaching won’t seem very attractive to you! But we are not talking about bad art institute classes that are worthless or worse. We are talking about something very different: about creating experiences that are as valuable for you as they are for the people who attend.

It may prove important to run classes, workshops and retreats because the money they bring in helps you survive and permits you to continue living the artist’s life. That would be reason enough to consider doing them! But their value goes far beyond that. They can prove the place of connection for you, your best way of being with other human beings, and a place of real excitement and satisfaction. Once you embrace the idea that running classes, workshops and retreats might be something you actually love and not just a revenue stream and a way to help you cobble a life, you may feel your enthusiasm grow. And a place of actual love they can be!

More next week.


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