As a working painter, I have always tried to avoid teaching. When I taught in the past I always had too many students, inconvenient schedules, and found my own work suffering to the point where I was having trouble meeting my commitments with galleries. This year however, after getting married, I decided the stable income wasn’t such a bad idea and I began taking students again.
The difference this time however is that, working for myself, I have taken them in very small numbers. From 1 to 3 students at a time, and I work alongside them. This summer I tried it out in the countryside with landscape painting and just basically dragged the students to the spots where I was already working and let them set up alongside. I would do demonstrations and give regular critiques, but I found that it didn’t affect my work at all. In fact I ended up painting more this summer than I have in the last few years. More importantly though, the steady (though small) income took off some of the pressure of the gallery production grind, so I was able to work at a much slower pace. In the end I think my work actually improved due to the teaching. The students, of course, appreciate the small class size and get a lot of information in a short period of time.
This winter I intend on continuing with small numbers of students in the studio. At the moment I’ve begun portrait projects with one student at a time, sharing a model.