3 Tips for the Social Art Class Attendee
Attending a social art class is not the time to bring out your inner art critic, boast about your work, or take down others. It's about having fun.
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Let me first say that as a professional artist, I’m a little biased about my love for painting. With that, I’ve taken both professional and social painting classes, so I'm simply going to put aside my passion and focus on how to properly conduct yourself in a social class setting. See, that’s the beauty of social painting classes: they're not about having the “perfect” painting (as some may argue), nor are they catered to top levels of “expertise.” All you need is the desire to paint and maybe a glass of wine, too.
However, some people think painting classes are a contest, or a time to bring out their inner art critic. Either of which is surely not the way to approach a painting class. So, before you rant and rave about your work not looking like something the Renaissance masters would hang in a museum, check out my top three quick and dirty tips for painting class etiquette:
Tip #1: Don’t Critique
Last week, I attended a painting class with an amazing company called The Painted Palette in Baltimore, which unites people of all levels and makes for a fun (wine-filled) night of painting together. Whether you’re proficient in the arts or someone who stresses out over the mere thought of painting a smiley face, social painting classes don’t use labels; they're just about being social. With that, in these classes, attendees are encouraged to walk around to see other painters’ canvases, but not to critique. No, the reason for this exercise isn’t to get exercise or work off your wine buzz, it’s to see how others interpret the class and also inspire creativity in yourself. Like, “Wow, I love how you used that shade of blue … It turned out great!” Needless to say, with such an atmosphere of relaxation of places like The Painted Palette does not welcome or tolerate amateur critics who want to bring the vibe down of other painters in the class. So, when you attend a social painting class, the very last thing you should do is parade around like an art critic from the New York Times, rudely proclaiming other painters as out of touch and “amateur.”
As I said earlier, my background in art has allowed me to see the art world from a different lens. With that, I’ve seen critics, both those who make a living at it and those who simply wish they did, rudely spouting their opinions as if their words are the very backbone of what is good. Seeing how critics work in real life, with professional artists, you should never take this concept to social painting class. If you want to “go pro” with your critique, do your time in the industry and focus on major shows … not a social painting class. If you bring a snotty, snobby, and arrogant attitude to the class, no one will respect your opinions. They’ll just think you’re a colossal jerk. And yes, it’s mannerly to refer to someone as a prick if they have the gall to analyze the works of people who paid $20 to attend a painting class with their friends. However, for those of you that wish to ignore my advice of this tip and insist on rudely professing your views on others, do so in your mind only. Do not let your words come out. A painting class is not the place, and you are not the voice to be declaring anyone’s work “sub par”.
Tip #2: Chill Out, Dude
While at the Painted Palette I asked one of teachers if anyone ever got stressed out about their work, as many professional artists do. He told me the hilarious of story of one guy raising his hand and upon being called on, said, “Excuse me … mine’s terrible!” We both had a good laugh, but not at the expense of someone who thought their work stunk. We laughed because this man was so tense about their work, he had to boldly express it to a room of mostly strangers. The teacher told me another patron was so upset about her own work that she cursed so loud the person she came with moved her seat. Yes, this painter got so mad at her own work that she scared off a friend. Pretty intense for a painting class, right? I’m not sure who I’m more embarrassed for; her or her friend. Social painting classes are not the time to crack a canvas over your need in frustration. This is a time to relax, take it easy, and simply paint whatever you interpret the art to be.