A very big thanks to everyone who commented here (or on facebook, instagram and in email) about my survey question the other day. The answers were pretty much split down the middle. I thought that I'd respond to a few of the posts here.
I have over four hundred classes. I know I have a lot of repeat students and I try very hard to make each class different. A lot of times we're using the same materials but we're using them in different ways, creating all new pages. This is the same way that I work at home. I don't want to be doing the same thing repeatedly. I want to be pushed just as much as my students. In fact, it is my students who often push and guide me the most and I thank you for it.
My classes have always had a wide content of mixed media tips, tricks and techniques that can be applied to any art form. It's often said that I teach art journaling, but I tend to think of myself more as a creativity teacher. I want my students to be able to use the techniques that I teach as skills for ANY art form. Art making to me is about learning, problem solving, self expression, opening up, commitment and being brave. It's not about pretty, perfect pages. It's about being real and honest to yourself.
I tend to teach a mix of classes where you make a book (always in a new form. I like to make each of my new journals in a different way as it helps to keep me on my toes.) and then start to work on the pages. Some are all painted. Others are collage only. Some are both. It just depends on the class and what I'm teaching that day. Other classes are bring a book and we'll fill it. I find value in both kinds of classes. I always try to present new ideas and ways of thinking and working with your art. If you're interested in a class, please read the description and look at the photos. Ask questions about the classes if you're not sure. I always answer email and I want my students to choose the right classes for them and to be happy with the classes they've chosen.
I know that some of my students want to finish books that they have been working in. I also know that some students are eager to make a new book but continue to work in a book that they've already started. I always encourage my students who want to continue to work in journals that they've started to bring those books to class. I have NO problems with students who want to work in an old book or even back and forth between books.
I have had students come to bookmaking and fill-the-book type classes over the years, but not make the book because they are eager to dive into the journals they brought with them. I happily give them exercises and ideas to do while the rest of the class makes the book. This is never a problem. Eventually, the class gets to the point where everyone is on the same page working in their journals.
A few folks mentioned the issue of time in classes and that they tend to work slow. I pace my classes based on how the majority of students in that particular class on that particular day work. Some groups are fast while others are slow. I ALWAYS encourage students to work at their own pace. If they want to continue to work on one exercise while others move along, that's fine with me. I give detailed notes, templates and ideas in my handouts and encourage students to take them home and continue to work with them after class. I never want to rush my students and my primary goals are always to teach them something new, make them look at their work in a new way (to "see" something differently), gently push and encourage them. And if we can laugh and enjoy themselves while learning, all the better.
Some students have said they feel collage to be very personal and private. I honestly think that every art making activity is very personal and yet, at the same time, there are benefits to be had with making art in a group setting. In a safe setting, you will learn from the teacher, from yourself and you will also glean ideas from the students in class around you. I've taught many, many classes over the years including some classes where I've given folks exactly the same materials; yet, each page is unique. There's something about the power of creativity in a group setting. That said, if I give you an exercise or journal prompt and you don't want to do it or you want to explore another idea, I say, go for it. I'm there to encourage you and always there to help problem solve and cheer you on.
If I haven't answered any of your questions, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. I always appreciate your input!
Thank you again for your time!