teaching art, learning lessons

Photo taken by Charlie Colwin.

Photo taken by Charlie Colwin.

This might be news to some of you, but apart from doing my own art, I am also an art instructor at a “paint and sip” studio. This May will be my fourth year of holding this position. I’ve taught with the same paint and sip franchise at three different studio locations; two here in Arkansas and one when we lived in Florida. 

Participants in my classes range from first timers who have never held a paint brush to those who enjoy painting as a diligent hobby. These years of instructing painting classes have taught me a lot when it comes to approaching new things. These are now lessons that are carrying me through this first year of being a full-time artist. I thought I’d share three of the top things I’ve learn with you!

The first lesson I’ve learned is that trying new things always involves fear.

That may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how easily people forget that. Fear gets a bad rap, but it’s actually a natural response. I mean, when you purposely put yourself in a situation where you have a good chance of not succeeding the first time or that your painting will not look EXACTLY how you imagined, fear is very natural. If we are honest with ourselves, no one wants to try something they might “fail” at. I put the word “fail” in quotations because not meeting your own expectations should not be seen as failure. I would say that 90% of my guests do better than what they believe. When they don’t believe it, that’s when they think they’ve “failed”. And letting your perceived failure overshadow what you have achieved will only serve to slow you from growing and learning more.

If you follow me on Instagram, I often talk about the fears I experience with creating art and running my small business. I talk about it because I never want someone to look at my work and think that I have it all together or believe that I am in some way perfect. That’s just not reality. 

The second lesson I’ve learned is that you (and I) won’t get everything right the first time.

It takes practice! I love talking to repeated guests! I love it when they share with me what they’ve learned since their last class. Whether it’s learning to hone a new technique or to control their brush pressure, these are things that are achieved with time, practice, and patience. They don’t usually happen on the first attempt, (but, oh, how I sometimes wish they did! Even for myself!) 

Photo taken by Charlie Colwin.

Photo taken by Charlie Colwin.

Here’s an example from my own work: prior to the last year and half, my only experience with watercolor was one semester, in college, ten years ago. That’s about it! It has taken a lot of practice, and I’m still learning every day, but now watercolor has become my main medium for creating art. You might be thinking,”Well, that’s because you have talent, but I don’t.” Friends, regardless of how much talent anyone has in a given activity, that talent is useless without training and practice. That’s how the nurses, accountants and teachers who attend my classes got good at their jobs, and that’s how I’m getting good at mine. These jobs are earned with training and time. So when you’re trying something new like painting or starting a new business, try not to be hard on yourself when you don't get it right the first time.

The third lesson is probably the most important, and that is to enjoy the process and remember your Why.

The first two things I learned always occur naturally when learning to do something new. When you understand that it’s ok to have fear and to not get something right on your first attempt, you can be free to enjoy the journey to come. Because, if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, then it’s not a hobby or a passion, it’s just work. Also, remember why you began in the first place. Whether it's to add to your skills or simply for enjoyment, you need to remember. When fear hits or your attempts fall short, your "Why" is what's going to keep you going. Being a watercolor artist and a small business owner is still a new journey for me. It comes with a lot of fear, self-doubt, and failed attempts, but the joys that I have experienced throughout this process are something I would never trade away. My encouragement to you is to not let fear and the trial runs keep you from enjoying something new.


If you're looking to try something new and want to explore your creative side, here are a few suggestions!

- Try a “paint and sip” class! Find a studio location here.

- Try a workshop! You may be surprised to find all the fun workshops in your area. If you're around the NW Arkansas area and looking to try watercolor, my friend Leana of MayWeFly has a free tutorial on her website, as well as some amazing upcoming workshops

- Look for classes at your local creative centers like this one here in Fayetteville!

I hope these lesson encourage you! Let me know if you're trying anything new this year that I can encourage you in! Simply comment below! I'd love to hear from you! 

Tram ColwinComment