I recently had the pleasure to talk to the Clinton County (Kentucky) Middle School and High School students regarding my artwork. I like talking to people even though I feel very introverted at times, so the invitation to come speak to the students in the art class was welcomed.
This was the first demo I would perform for a school system, so I was excited and a little nervous. I thought I could talk to these kids about my paintings with no problem since they were in art class and had some idea of what I do.
Just to make it clear, this was a volunteered demo, i.e. no pay. Which is totally against all advice I have ever seen regarding doing a demo. Even though I had heard many times to never do something like this for "exposure" I chose to forge ahead and do it anyway. I mean, a little exposure really couldn't hurt, could it?
Before the date of the demo the school system decided to expand the demo to include all students at both the middle and high school. A little more pressure but nothing I couldn't handle. In fact, I was looking forward to speaking to the kids, even if there was going to be lots of them. I wrote out a short guideline of topics I wanted to touch on, and prepared myself to tackle very quick demonstrations for each class.
I took 4 display easels, 2 charcoal portraits, 8 paintings ranging from 5" x 7" up to 30" x 40", my outdoor easel, paintbox, and supplies with my backpack, charcoal supplies and paper, a large dropcloth, and some blank canvas.
I got to do about 5 minutes of charcoal and maybe 10 minutes of oil demonstrations for each group.
My schedule looked like this...
8th Grade, then 7th, then 6th at the Middle School. About 40 minutes for each class.
Then Ms. Miniard (the art teacher) and I made our way to the High School. We set my stuff up there, this time with a camera and digital projector in play to project my demos on the big screen at the end of the gym. I didn't mind this at all, but it did require me to set up under one of the basketball goals instead of front and center. Looking back on it, it's probably a good thing I wasn't so up close and personal with these high school kids. Teenagers can be a sullen bunch. ;) About 40 minutes first group and 30 for the second group.
After the demos at the High School we were off to the Middle School again to finish up the day with the 5th grade class. At the end of this shortened class, another 30 minute demo, there were so many questions I couldn't get to them all before the bell rang. As the teachers told the kids to leave for their next class I was inundated for business cards and gave away all that I had. I also garnered some great sketches from some very talented students. Thanks girls, I love the drawings!
My favorite question of the day was "Are you married?" Not sure if the 8th grader was looking for herself or her mom, or grandma... I thought it was a funny question though.
Tired, a little sweaty, and a tad bit hungry was how I left the school on Friday. Extremely satisfied with how things went, I couldn't have asked for better support from the staff at both the Clinton County Middle School and the Clinton County High School. The gift card and note of thanks were very much appreciated.
The experience was a gratifying, learning one. Taking all the things that went into play on Friday, I think I could do something like this again, without as much stress and work.
Here are some photos of my day at the schools. Hope you enjoy them.