Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mixed Blessings for "Mixed Messages"

What if I ask my customers when they would like my watercolor and mixed media classes to be, four people agree on a particular time and tell me, I schedule accordingly, and then no one signs up for class?

What if I ask which days are best for their children to attend, I schedule accordingly, their children come one time and don't come back?

What if people ask for information about art education so they can look at art more knowledgeably, I plan a 1 hour per month series that lasts for a year, and the people who requested them don't attend even one session?

My first inclination is to be annoyed at the inconvenience of planning for things that are requested and then not attended or followed up on. Another normal response would be to question my abilities and/or performance because people don't show up or don't continue to attend after beginning. But I know I am well-prepared and generous with my time, knowledge, and materials so I don't take it personally though I always welcome suggestions for improvement.

After over a year of experimenting with class schedules, topics for study, lesson plans etc., I've come to the conclusion that people have very hectic lives; gaining personal satisfaction from making art or learning about art is pretty far down on their priority lists. The action I've decided I need to take is to formulate ways of sharing with them (and showing them) how art can improve their lives, their self-image, their health, and their environment. I'm going to work on figuring out ways to do that by providing multi-sensory experiences that give pleasurable feelings that they would like to replicate.

The "mixed blessings" that have come to me as an artist and business owner have come in the form of unexpected surprises, connections, relationships, and friendships that have developed because I did something that I might not have otherwise.  If the above-mentioned "catalysts for change" had not suggested I do something a certain way or at a certain time, I might not have done it at all. And if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have met some wonderful people--adults and children alike--planned some lessons that led me in a direction that I might not have followed on my own, thought about some issues or subjects that were certainly not on MY "To Do" list, and even changed my own art making.

So, to those of you who asked for something specific and then didn't respond when it was provided for you, thank you! You've helped me learn to make my own schedules, lessons etc. based on past experience and my own needs as well as yours. Sometimes, people welcome NOT having to make decisions--they like someone else to take that responsibility. I'll try to be more sensitive to the needs of students and customers, seeking feedback from them, and experimenting until I find just the right "fit" here at "Mixed Messages" ART Studio/Gallery/Classroom.

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