Flirting With the Arts – Fearless Portraiture
On February 9th 2014, twelve artists each led thirty minute mini workshops in the Queen Street Commons cafe in Kitchener, ON. The event was organized by fellow artist and creative extraordinaire Meg Leslie. In her words, the aim is “to engage people in the creative process, help people find their passions, encourage them to try new things, to explore, to play”. The basic format is “like speed dating with the arts”. Attendees choose between six half-hour workshops out of a total of twelve, led by creatives from a wide range of disciplines.
The class I led was “Fearless Portraiture” (self portraiture). My aim was to gently guide and instruct the participants (most of whom had never painted previously) to compose a self portrait in a 30 to 45 minute time frame. We used water soluble crayons as our medium, which aided in the process of easing everyone into the mark making before we brushed on water. The water intensifies the applied colour dramatically. The most wonderful surprise as a facilitator was the opening and healing that accompanied this evolution. Participants began with varying levels of apprehension, and with encouragement, were able to move through their reticence and express themselves creatively. Group members created stunning works to take home on high grade water colour paper.
Because of it’s success in moving participants through their nervousness and self doubt into the beginnings of creative freedom, I have since applied the basic structure of this workshop to other classes and workshops since. It is always a wonderful revelation to experience the results.
“I had a such a great time and met so many wonderful people. As scared as I was to do a self-portrait – it was probably the best session. We certainly laughed the most! I do hope you do it again next year – although I can only imagine the time and energy you invested. It was a success though – and I wanted to truly thank you for having the courage to pull it all together! Many people have ideas… but seldom to they see them come to fruition!” ~ Deb H.
“As our very first workshop of the morning, myself and my peers were super excited to get started but I also sensed some hesitation from the other women, who didn’t think of themselves as artists. Kathryn didn’t pick up a pencil to draw the shape of their faces but somehow a few minutes later we all sat looking at our portraits and I think I heard every person along the way say “wow, I surprise myself!”. Kathryn had all of the steps worked out perfectly and we finished our projects in time. She was quietly supportive, well prepared and it created a wonderful workshop and we laughed a lot. Takeaway: A self portrait and encouragement for me to stray away from the colour palette that I am comfortable with.” ~ L.F.
- Photo credits to Photo credits to Darin White, Laura Peart-McBride and Deb Halbot (among others) check out Darin's blog on Makebright. Darin is a brilliantly talented maker, photographer and community story-teller.
- Client/Recipient House of Friendship, Kitchener