After years as a translator in the Japanese corporate world, I think I know what it's like to feel stressed at work! That's why I love to help my students feel relaxed and inspired in my art workshops.
Powerpoint presentations, endless emails and unrealistic deadlines (and for Japanese workers....'humble' language and 'respectful' language where verb endings change completely) can seem a world away once art calls your attention.
I work hard to make sure my workshops are fun and have very achievable goals. But in order to achieve these, participants quickly find that the mini targets ahead of them require a kind of quiet focus.
When their hands are busy, there's no way my students can be making calls or checking their messages! In fact, often there's barely enough time to take admiring photographs of the process.
I choose background music that is lively but not energy draining. I sprinkle some essential oils around and I make sure my home studio is uncluttered and inviting. Hence more excuses to buy decorative batik textiles to scatter around...
I encourage my students to take a good break between carving and printing. I'm not joking when I say they need to up their blood sugar levels ahead of power printing!
Getting ready for printing is like giving a concert - a lot of things are put in place before you even appear on stage. In fact, most of the preparation is done long before the class even starts!
Knowing your destination - clearing a space for your freshly printed images, lining up all your tools, having your paper ready at hand. These somewhat boring considerations are all essential once you get printing. But it's these points that help my students feel confident and calm.
It's great when participants have fun mixing up colours and trying new things! Everyone is so different. Some people have a very clear idea of their goal and others just work it out as they go along.
Unexpected lines, wonky alignment, a few finger prints...that's the nature of the handmade print. Perhaps it shows how much we have become accustomed to perfectly Photoshopped images!
Since I started teaching, it's increasingly obvious that art has benefits beyond just creating beautiful pictures. I'm so glad when people have the courage to explore this often neglected part of themselves. And I feel inspired when I see my students doing new things that I hadn't thought of. To teach is to learn!
Physical health, mental health - taking the time out to explore your creative side is also a great way to make new friends, learn new skills and find out something about yourself!