Tag Archives: Private Lessons

Private Lessons

Teaching is an active profession. Filling my time in the classroom is never a problem, I’m always moving from one student to the next; fetching supplies, showing new techniques, and discussing what the kids are creating. Sometimes it’s hectic, but I enjoy my students’ creative enthusiasm. It suits me and contrasts nicely with the quiet time I spend making my artwork.

Then there are the private lessons. In the beginning, I had doubts that I could quietly observe and guide only one person. What would I do with all the spare time? It turns out that these hours are some of the happiest of my work week. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people and share their artistic successes.

Self Portrait, Age 12

Self Portrait, Age 12

Above is a self-portrait by one of my favorite students.  She has just turned thirteen and is smart and creative, and we have an excellent rapport. She challenges me but also respects my advice. We first met when she was nine and I’ve been working with her for a little over three years. She may want a career in art and I want to give her a good start; lots of basic knowledge balanced by her interests and curiosity. One of the ways we’re marking her progress is that she periodically paints a horse.  

Horse painted in the 4th grade.

First Horse, painted in the 4th grade.

It was one of the first images she painted with me and repeating it was her idea.  She’s serious about her artwork and is willing to take time to build a strong portfolio. This first picture, above, is well composed and the pink horse is delightful.  For the latest depiction, I wanted her to create a grayscale painting and use glazes to add the color.  It’s an old technique, but the understanding gained was worth all her hard work.

Grisaille underpainting.

Grisaille underpainting.

The final painting.  Glazes of color were used over the underpainting.  The musculature of the animal shows through sheer color.

The finished painting. Glazes of color were applied over the underpainting so that the  musculature of the animal shows through the sheer color.

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Her lastest painting is a watercolor. It’s a wonderful tribute to a dog friend who passed away. Much love and care went into making this special work.

I’m amazed at how her technical ability has grown over the past three years and I’m looking forward to seeing how her talent evolves.  She has the intellect  and the drive and her portfolio is off to a good start!


It is with great sadness that I write this post, one of my painting students passed away last week.

About twelve years ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted to come to my watercolor/acrylic painting class and paint with oils. I said no. I explained that I hadn’t used oil paints since high school and wouldn’t be able to help her. She came anyway! And boy am I glad she did! If she’d listened to me I would have missed meeting a generous, thoughtful, sensitive woman, who spoke her mind without apology.

Classes come and go, and I was no longer teaching adults when I got another call. Could I come and work with a small group in her home studio? Of course I said yes, and three years ago I began what her son called “Tuesdays with Laurie.” Laurie referred to the group as the “Golden Girls,” three unforgettable women, all with different painting styles, and all dedicated to supporting each others efforts.

Laurie painted places she had visited and cared about; pictures with meaning and memories. She appeared to have no angst or fear about starting a new painting and worked to make each canvas the best it could be, even reworking paintings she had done in the past to get them just right. She was always on the look out for inspiration and loved the look of laundry hanging on a line.

When you work with people over a period of time you get to know them; where they grew up, the places they’ve lived, the people they love, and how they feel about life. I’m lucky to have gotten to know Laurie. She was irrepressible. I will always remember her joy, laughter, and curiosity.  Laurie Chamberlain, you will be missed and I will remember all you taught me!