What You'll Find Here

I post daily (photos of my journal pages, things that inspire me and personal bits and pieces) to inspire and encourage others. I have always believed that if I can do it, so can you.

You'll find resources (my favorite supplies, books, slideshows of my art journal pages, favorite bloggers, etc...) listed along the right hand side of my blog.

I've been teaching both in person and online workshops for more than twenty years. You can find out more about my classes by scrolling down along the right hand side of my blog. I strive to make classes accessible to everyone (both beginner to advanced).

I love teaching and truly believe that deep down inside everyone is an artist, capable of creating something. There is power and knowledge in the act of creating something with your own hands, made from your own heart and head.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at EGorey99@sbcglobal.net

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Musings on my Beginnings as an Art Teacher

I'm writing this before I head off to teach this morning at a new store (Word is Art) and I'm really looking forward to it. New venues always scare me a little bit but I am looking forward to seeing my students open up and unravel upon their pages.

I've always kept a journal in some form or another since I was in fourth grade. I would write in them, stick stickers in them, draw, doodle, etc... This continued throughout high school and into my early 20's. I filled my pages with photos of my favorite musicians, stories I made up, poetry I wrote and film ideas I had. I used whatever blank books I could get my hands on often times even just cheap notebooks.

When I was pregnant with Tristan, I clearly remember going into rubber stamp stores and not being able to afford the stamps but I enjoyed looking at them. After he was born, I bought some stickers (the costs on those quickly added up and I realized that buying rubber stamps that I could use repeatedly was more cost effective than little stickers.) I made a few scrapbooks and cards that I sold at a local store.  Folks complimented me on what I was doing and my cards kept me up all hours of the night making them assembly line style. 

A local store manager asked if I was interested in teaching classes. I started at some local stores teaching mostly card making classes. While I enjoyed teaching them, my heart wasn't completely into it. I wanted something more.

I remember walking into Stamp Stamp Stamp (a Judikins store in the Glendale Galleria) and seeing Lynne Perrella's very early Acey Deucy stamps. I remember thinking, "THAT is what I want to do."

In late 1997, I taught myself how to make and bind books. I fell head over heels in love (even though the very first book I made I threw across the room as I was frustrated with it!) I experimented with creating a wide variety of different structures and what to put on the pages. I thought that the idea of only making blank books was sad. I needed to fill the pages. I haven't stopped since.

I started branching out to bookbinding, art journaling and mixed media using acrylics and acrylic mediums. My card and rubber stamp classes went from very few sign-ups (as I was teaching what everyone else seemed to be teaching) to full classes. Folks were as hungry as I was for something. 

I remember having to fight and struggle to get my classes out there. 
There were (and still are) many places that simply don't understand what I'm trying to do. 

I knew that I was onto something. I loved seeing the look on people's faces when it clicked. I used to joke that I could see the lightbulb going off over folks' heads. I loved hearing people tell me that they never thought of themselves as artistic or creative and now they get it. I still love hearing that and it's the main reason why I teach. I really believe that everyone is an artist in some way, shape or form and that if I can do it, so can they.

Over the years, I've developed and taught over four hundred classes to thousands of students. I've taught everything from assemblage to bookbinding to collage to jewelry making to mixed media acrylic painting to fabric journals, etc... I had my hands in a few kettles. Several years ago, I got rid of everything that didn't fully hold my heart. I knew what I wanted to concentrate on: paper arts and bookbinding. That's where my true passion was. 

I taught thousands of different ways to paint pages (and canvas, etc...) for over twelve years. My students would ask me, "what about a collage class?" I would think, "What is there to collage? You just glue stuff down." Then I started thinking about collage being like acrylic painting. There are endless ways to approach your pages and to collage. Collage was like painting but instead of using a brush and paint, it was using scissors, glue and paper. I haven't looked back since.

Folks still ask me to teach painting again but my heart isn't in it right now. At all. I learned a long time ago that I have to LOVE something in order to teach it. Sure, I always will happily listen to class ideas and requests. I always appreciate feedback. Yet at the same time, if I don't want to teach it, it shows in my teaching. 

I have to teach what I am most passionate about. Yes, I teach classes to put a roof over my family's head and food on the table but at the same time, I am teaching for something that's much more than that. I teach because it fills my heart. I teach because making art, self expression and creativity are important to me. Working in my journal is a necessity to me and I know I'm not alone on this one.

I'm sharing all of this so you know my beginnings as a teacher. It's been a roller coaster of a ride since 1997. Stores close. Interests change. Students drift in and out. Like most, I struggle to keep the bills paid (it is always a roller coaster ride) but I continue to follow my heart. I worry about what the future may bring but I know that I am going to do my damndest to keep on doing what I love. It's what I'm best at.


donna!ee said...

just gotta shout out THANK YOU MUCH KELLY! your boundless creativity, determination and kindness to share your passion for the artful processes have made a bold & beautiful diff in my art, in my own confidence for my process. you are a blessing indeed!!! ;D

Rachel Wallace said...

And I hope you always teach! I will always do what I can to keep it that way, keep you teaching, because you inspire me greatly. I cannot always make it to some of other classes I would like to take, but I will always rearrange my schedule/finances/life to be able to take your classes. I am SO looking forward to your Colorado classes. It is my mini-vacation. My me time!!

Beansieleigh said...

Great post, and nice to get to know you better. If I had the chance to do things over again, I'd still have my kids (who matter MOST, no matter what), but I would have been an art teacher to elementary students. I love kids, and am clearly just a big kid at heart myself, so I know I would have been happy with this! I took the path I did, and now I work in the daycare field at a quite a large fraction of my would-have-been salary!!! But, oh well, chin up, I just make due, and count my blessings as they come!... Glad to meet you. Your work is a great inspiration! ~tina

Hairball Alley said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Kelly. So much of what you said resonated with me.
After many years in the music business, and then retail wold, I have recently decided to put my full focus on my art. I am, like you, some who can only do what they are passionate about.
It’s almost like I can’t NOT do it anymore. - Personally I wish youwould reconsider videos - or relocating to NYC - I really like watching your Demos -

In any event, I am a little further along the path, at 60, but I know that if I don’t art journal (that’s a verb), and explore, and push the envelope with my art, it will be one of my greatest regrets.
How to make a living at this, has not yet gelled for me, but it will..I am a great believer that The Universe sends you who and what you need, if you ask - you just have to know how to recognize it and accept it - That new age - aging hippie sentiment is what sustains me.

That being said,

The book making classes I took with you at The Ink pad have really encouraged me, that I am on the right path. I really love the books I made, and they are all ready pretty full...I need to make some more...I’m taking the J.O.Y class now..lured by the fact that there was no sewing! I hope I don’t tape my cats tails together.

I have gutted several books from the dollar store, and am getting up the nerve to sew in
some signatures...I getting the lingo down too!
My awl is stuck in a cork, ready to be unleashed...threading the needle on my own will be pushing the envelope, but I’m gonna get there. I just have to remember to enjoy the journey.

Thanks again for putting it out there:)

Sandy said...

Beautiful story! I hope you can keep on doing what you love because I love it too. You've taught me so much these past few years. About art, fun and most of all about myself by letting the words out that are stuck in my head. I don't know where I would be without journaling and I thank you for that.

Dawn said...

A beautiful, heartfelt post Kelly. Your story is so insightful and very touching. Don't ever give up, you are too good at what you do my lovely. I am doing one of your on-line courses at the moment with my 5yr old daughter and we are both loving it, your enthusiasm and love for what you do resonates from the worksheets so I can just imagine the atmosphere in your live classes! Cornwall UK is a bit far to come from or I would be there like a shot to support you.
Huge hugs x

Cheryl said...

I believe you. I believe in you. I have very similar beginnings. I would like to say two things: 1)Worry-is interest paid on a debt that might never come due, and 2)the more things change, the more they stay the same. As long as things are in flux, you are growing and learning. The universe is giving you the time you need to market yourself in other venues. This is a good thing. If you're scared, that's good. It means you're going in the right direction.

julie said...

I really enjoyed your classes in Monrovia at Stampin' on Cloud 9. So happy to see you are still teaching!