Creating Personal Connections with Watercolour Workshops

I'm home again after a week in Saskatchewan, visiting family and teaching a two day watercolour workshop. Last year I was approached about teaching a workshop near Tisdale, Saskatchewan, and my first thought was, "But there's nothing THERE!" Tisdale is a small town, even by my standards, and the workshop would take place in the country about 45 minutes away, so I knew it really would feel like the middle of nowhere. My host Beth assured me that she could likely fill the workshop with her arts group alone, and that she was more than willing to offer her barn studio to host the workshop and help me with the details, so how could I argue with that? We did fill the workshop, despite a few late-hour cancellations, and I'm still coming down from the post-workshop euphoria.

Workshop Methods

Let me tell you a little about my workshops. First of all, I always include a little gift for my students. I love being able to surprise them with a few watercolour goodies; who doesn't like free stuff with a personal touch? I used to go to scrapbooking workshops, and they always included a gift bag, and I don't think scrapbookers should have all the fun!

When I'm given paint tubes to review, after I've filled a palette to sample the new hues, I set the rest of the tube aside for my workshop "paint buffet." It's an opportunity for students to try colours they've only heard about, and if I mention a certain colour during the workshop that wasn't on the supply list, it's usually in the buffet and you can grab a squeeze to try out for yourself. New colours can sometimes awaken a spark of fresh creativity!

Finally, I just love to laugh, interact and listen through the course of a workshop. There's always an inside joke that seems to crop up through the workshop and have us all laughing, a personal story that helps us relate watercolour to life (I keep thinking of the moment last week when I grabbed my "mummy tummy" to explain how we should focus on how our painting looks as a whole, rather than fixating on one aspect we consider a problem area!), and a magical painting moment where I almost forget about my class as I chase a beautiful idea and we all fall in love with the result. And there's usually one demonstration where everything I want to teach turns into a big mess and the idea of embracing mistakes gets really personal! All of this makes a few days together an unforgettable time of learning, laughing and making friendships through watercolour.

People are the Best!

I often say how much I love the community I've created through watercolour. Many of my students who have connected with me online are people I may never meet, and yet we share love and camaraderie because of our common ground in watercolour. So when I am fortunate enough to teach a workshop, at home or away, I treasure the opportunity to put faces to names, and build relationships to a greater degree than I can online. In my years of teaching, do you know I have never met a student I didn't like? There is always something that connects and bonds us, even when our personalities, backgrounds and beliefs might not mesh perfectly, and I love that I can enjoy each person I meet for their unique characteristics.

I think it's this enjoyment of people that gives me that post-workshop glow. I don't make a lot of money when I teach outside my home, but making those personal connections adds a level of value that is worth the time away from home and family.

Because my young family does prefer me at home (I'm a pretty good cook, after all!), I only teach a few workshops a year. Check the current workshop schedule here to learn more about my Vancouver, Canada workshop in November 2017, Ireland (Sept 2018) and Jasper, Canada (June 2018, date TBA). Visitors passing through Dawson Creek, British Columbia can inquire about private lesson in my home studio by emailing me.