Teaching and Learning New Things

written by Sophie | Sophie’s Studio

January 2016

Sitting around the kitchen table, cup of tea nearby, everyone is concentrating on their drawing. It is quiet for a moment. I am teaching one of my art workshops which I started offering last year.  Don’t be fooled by the moment of silence; there is often plenty of chatting going on during the day. Our small group is relaxed but is working hard.  ​


I have a fairly large kitchen which can function, or so I have decided, as a small art room. Ok, it is probably a tad small for an art room, but there is a lot to be said for teaching art in the kitchen. It is homely (I hope) and informal, it can only take small groups, there is endless tea or coffee, and my studio is in the next room where you can freely wander in, peek and chat or ask questions. And the view of the garden is not too bad either (I can’t take credit for that – my husband is the gardener)  I can drag out any books or materials that we might need and can’t use the excuse of having forgotten to bring anything.A year ago I decided to offer workshops in my kitchen and see how things go. It has been an interesting experience. I have learned a lot, not only about the difficulties of getting enough students into this small town in Gloucestershire (my marketing skills are being tested!) but also about teaching. There is so much we can do in a group but I must put it into bitesized (day-sized) chunks that make sense. Thankfully the feedback I have received so far has been wonderful. People seem to really appreciate the informal atmosphere and small groups. And apparently I was able to convey some techniques and tips and students felt like they had indeed learned something. Wonderful to hear.


In all of the workshops I start with an introduction about the topic at hand. We then dive in together, and in the portrait drawing workshops for example, I draw and the students follow me step by step. For the less technical workshops (such as the pastel or lace painting workshops)  I will show my approach and talk the students through it and then let them have a go. They can take up my approach or try their own.To keep things easy I try to provide all materials. That way nobody has to wonder about what to bring. Only for the lace painting workshop in oils I give the choice of own materials or provided materials.


The workshops are for all people who are interested in art and take their art seriously. The portrait drawing workshop is an introduction in the classical drawing method (which you can use for any subject, not just portraits) and so especially suitable for beginners and intermediates who want to explore realistic drawing.
The pastel portraits workshop  is really for anyone who wants to have a go and see which techniques I use. For both portrait workshops we work from photographs. Not only is that less daunting for beginners but there is simply not a lot of space for a model.

The lace painting workshop is for anyone who dares to tackle this complex subject matter. Of course the subject is detailed and refined but we can explore different ways of tackling this. We can work on drapery and big shapes or we can take on repeating patterns in a 3-dimensional form. Whatever approach we take, a day won’t be enough, I am sure. But hopefully I can get you to make a start in figuring out how you would handle lace in paint. With a bit of luck we’ll end up with some wonderful studies of lace in oils.

The Portrait Painting workshop is a short day where we can tackle working on a portrait ‘alla prima’ (wet in wet or in one go). We will work on proportions, colouring and likeness as well as atmosphere and mood.

If you have any questions about my workshops (any at all), please do let me know. I am grateful that I am in the position to share some of what I have learned over the years but also for the opportunity to keep on learning something new myself.  I look forward to my next lot of students in February.

Published: January 19, 2016

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