Returning to the basics, or learning them for the first time

18 02 2013

BCCC © 2013 Rebekah LukeThe child got up from her chair in the middle of class, twice, sat on the floor in the lotus position, closed her eyes and ohm-ed audibly. In the bucket-list painting class, an adult began to doze. Out in the landscape I wondered if my suggestions were simply going in one ear, if at all, and out the other.

I don’t have a Hawaii fifth-year university teaching certificate, but I do have a few years experience in the field under my belt and consider myself in the “working professional” class of faculty, like the teachers who taught me—desirable by a top art school I know and distinguished for excellence from the rest.

But in the first Saturdays of February, I see I can still learn something about human nature and various styles of learning. I’m finding it a challenge. And I like challenge! Like DH who’s developed an immense respect for mothers since taking on the role of caregiver for his two granddaughters, now ages 3 and 1, since their birth, now I have a huge respect for classroom teachers.

We each come to “class” with different paradigms, different backgrounds and existing points of view, and previously learned behaviors. Somewhere, sometime, I hope the twain will meet.

If I may generalize, there are two approaches to teaching/learning art. One is by beginning with the basics and then allowing our abilities and talent to develop. The other is for students to freely express themselves, uninhibited, and color “outside of the box” right from the beginning.

I advocate starting with the basics. By learning the basics, what follows is so much easier. In visual art, much is about the logic of light. In life, much is about kindness, gratitude, and respect.

One of the reasons I decided to offer art lessons to kids in the neighborhood is that the public schools allegedly do not teach it anymore. It appears there is more than art that they aren’t teaching anymore, i.e., I see what other educators describe as “out of control” in my own studio. The other reason is I want to pass on what I know how to do and give something back to my community in return for what I have received.

There are two adult students this semester who wanted to join an advanced class without taking the basic courses. Before giving the okay, I asked to see their portfolios or that they enroll in Painting I—in fairness to the other students who have done the lessons in sequence and to have everyone on the same “page.” I am so glad I did because it prepared me for their added and different energies, and to spot what is missing.

Both my youth and adult classes are designed with the same curriculum, but the lessons naturally vary. For the children, who are bright youngsters, I know I must change the activities often to accommodate their attention span and high energy, as well as to challenge them so they don’t get bored and act out. I give them individual attention, rest breaks, and try to make the time fun with surprises. They really keep me on my toes!

As for the adults, I understand that we are older now and perhaps our brains are starting to slow down, so I will be patient and offer reinforcement, such as assigned chapters to read in the textbook in addition to demonstrations. I’ll encourage them to remain open and to try something new, even though they are used to doing things in a familiar way.

Colds and flu have been reasons for absences already, but, yes, please stay home if you are ill and you can catch up later. We will wash our hands when we first arrive, just as we learned in early ed.

I wish we would all get a good night’s sleep on Friday and eat breakfast before coming to class. Do meditate first. Then, please show up with your tuned senses. I am happy to share what I know. And as your aunty and kumu (teacher), I am so very grateful to learn from you.

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

The energy of collaboration

5 03 2012

So, dear reader, the new energy I’m talking about has to do with the comings and goings of new friends and old friends at the studio—my healing space, my brick-and-mortar studio, and a unique gallery space.

In February I held a Reiki Level I training class in the Unlimited Reiki System of Natural Healing with Reiki Master Teacher Lori A. Wong, who attuned and certified three students. The island country setting is well suited for meditation. We plan to continue with Level II and Master Level training. What a day. Wow. When we channel Reiki, or universal life force energy, we heal, harmonize, and balance our minds, bodies, spirits and emotions! It was great!

I also started teaching adults how to oil paint, after the method my own teachers Vicky Kula and Gloria Foss taught me, and everyone is enjoying it. My students, just three ladies for now, attend class once a week for most of the day. (Although I promoted both offerings widely, three seems to be the magic number from the Universe. ;-))

Studio painters

With the combined lecture/demo, hands-on painting assignment, homework and critique each time—starting with the basics and then having each lesson build upon the previous learned knowledge—they understand there is a lot to learning to paint.

I, myself, am enjoying the refresher from developing lesson plans and doing the assignments. I don’t have all the answers, but the students are very clever and are full of new ideas. We laugh a lot, and I learn from them too. A bonus: They bring food and recipes for lunch, and, believe me, they can cook!

I’m happy to share what I know how to do. It’s surprising that it has taken so long for me to have enough confidence to do this. I think I just wanted to be sure I could do it well.

Pi‘ikea and Vicky relax in front of “Morning Destination: Kalaeokaoio Beach” — Photo by Rebekah Luke

Yesterday’s open house event of a renovated Kailua home that is on the market was a chance to see 15 of my paintings displayed in a residential setting.

The students came and brought lots of good energy to the property. It is a different experience to see an original oil painting up close and properly framed and hanging rather than to see a reproduction.

The colors are true. One can view paint strokes and textures. It is easier to imagine what the art piece will look like in your own home or office.

Other fans of Rebekah’s Studio came to support the collaborative project efforts of Realtor Associates Ruth Sinclair and Karyn Shaunnessy who invited me to be their guest artist.

Me and members of my fan club at the special showing, left to right: Noella, Rochelle, me, Pat, Karen, and Pi‘ikea. The lei po‘o (the beautiful yellow floral wreath of native and tropical flowers on my head) is a gift from Vicky, and the sweet white ginger lei is from Nani (who came earlier and left before the photo op). — Photo by Karyn Shaunnessy

Collaborators (from left) Ruth Sinclair, Rebekah Luke, and Karyn Shaunnessy. — Photo by James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

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