Ali Foot's Design Narrative: Mixed Media Workshop – Clavell Tower, a Dorset Landmark

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Alison Foot
25 March 2018

Title:
Mixed Media Workshop – Clavell Tower, a Dorset Landmark

Narrator:
I was the tutor and facilitator of the workshop.

Situation:
The workshop took place in my own purpose-built art studio that provides students with facilities to learn creative techniques through access to tuition and materials.

The workshop was described as taking place between 10:00 and 16:00 to allow for the project plus social interaction and critique.

The participants were a variety of skill levels, 90% of the class were known to me as they had attended a workshop with me previously, however one student had not visited the studio before and was travelling some distance to get to me.

Many students were known to each other with the exception of the student who was travelling from further afield.

All were attending in order to learn the techniques stated in the description of the session (watercolour & ink) and to leave the session with a completed painting of Clavell Tower.

Task:
My aim was to introduce all participants to the materials needed to produce the painting, revise techniques for those who had previous experience of them and introduce those who were unfamiliar with all aspects of my work and tuition.

It was also my intention that the workshop be fun to attend, relaxed and informal in order to put everyone at ease with his or her project. The creation of a painting can sometimes be testing/stressful if it doesn’t go to plan due to the unpredictability of watercolour paint and the high expectations that many adult learners have.

The measure of my success was such:
The workshop was fully booked, indicating that both the subject and the techniques proposed were of interest.

Each participant left the workshop with a completed painting.

Each participant also had techniques that could be applied to future projects of their own.

Participants stated that they had enjoyed the day and it had been full of inclusive chat between all parties, particularly that of the new attendee.

 Actions:

  • Advertising and taking bookings for the course through my own website, social media and public appearances.
  • Making resources available to the participants before they came to the session such as the reference material for the subject (a photograph) and the preparatory work required (a line drawing), along with a materials list. OBSTACLE: All information emailed but one participant does not have a computer and therefore requires information on paper through the post.
  • Creating a Pinterest board for the participants to access prior to the session.
  • A reminder email/telephone call two weeks ahead of the workshop with a revision of what was required.
  • Making sure that all participants knew where to come and that the new attendee had accommodation/directions.
  • On the day, welcomed the attendees, giving time to socialising over coffee so that everyone had a chance to get to know/renew friendships.
    OBSTACLE: One attendee unwell so making sure she knew I had received her messages before the session started.
  • Introduced participants to an outline of the day, shared the Pinterest board again for those who had not yet accessed/did not have the facilities to access it. OBSTACLE: One participant does not own a computer and therefore can only view online materials in class
  • Made sure all participants had the required materials. OBSTACLE: Not everyone was familiar with the list of materials and I therefore had supplied extras for them to use.
  • Issued each participant with a note taking system so that they can annotate the techniques in their own words.
  • Worked through the painting in a step-by-step style, demonstrating each stage which can be viewed live by watching me at my drawing board or if there are issues with mobility within the studio, they can be seen via an overhead camera and television screen.
    OBSTACLE: One participant was severely deaf and therefore has to lip read me at all times and so I have to ensure that my face can be seen in full view throughout all instructions and repeating actions when they take time to write them down.
  • At the completion of each person’s piece, gave them the time and opportunity to see their work from a distance/through the live video feed and receive a supportive critique from myself and their peers.
  • Gave each participant the relevant notes, support material and reinforcement of techniques to take away with them for use on future projects.
  • Followed up the session on social media by sharing the end result both on my professional page and with a ‘Learning to Paint’ closed group that I manage. Unexpectedly popular post but helped by workshop participants commenting on their attendance.
  • Also followed up by messaging the attendee who was unwell with photographs that I had taken during the process and an overview of what had been covered, assuring her that I would give her time for feedback for when she was well enough to try at home. OBSTACLE: Difficulty in describing what had occurred in great detail as the session had been six hours long. However, the attendee is well known to me and I will endeavour to catch up with her at another session.

 

Results:
Providing attendees with preparatory material is always a struggle to get them to acknowledge receipt of the materials that adds extra time in to the process but saves time when they arrive and provides confidence that they know what to expect from the session.

 

One attendee being unwell so close to the start of the session means that I feel obliged (as each attendee has paid for the tuition) to make the session available in some other way. This was not expected by the attendee but very much appreciated after the session.

 

Not all attendees were satisfied with their final painting but this is the nature of leisure painting and skills are encouraged to be repeated in the participant’s own time or used in an alternative project. Every attendee is encouraged to keep in touch after the session both with the tutor and each other via the social media platforms so that further feedback can be acquired.

 

Attendees have all booked on to further sessions (without exception) and therefore would like to learn more about painting styles and to further their own skills.

 

Reflections:
One attendee’s absence made me consider what other materials could be provided after the session. The video camera records the session in real time from above but would take considerable editing so I possibly need to consider filming a time lapse during the workshop and make it available to all participants afterwards, thereby giving revision of what was covered and further tuition if a session is missed.

 

I have also considered producing a sheet of techniques or a glossary of terms to be given out during the session, which would assist attendees who have not experienced my style of painting before, understand the terms I am using. It would also provide revision for those who are having trouble with a skill and give written instructions to go alongside the practical/spoken activities.

 

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