Getting the Happiness Quotient Right in Art Class

Focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs!
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

butterfly art
Butterfly art by SchulmanArt

In my weekly art classes I always like to end each class with a “group discussion” I used to call these critiques, but now I call them discussions. I want to encourage the students to praise each other and find the good things in each others art. That doesn’t mean that I won’t make the occasionally helpful suggestion or gentle push in  a more positive direction for their art, but overall I like the energy in the room to be positive. I like my students to leave happy. Of course during the class when I walk around the room making lots of suggestions to improve their art, but at the end, I like to talk about what works. When I am not sure what to say about the piece I will often ask the student “What do you want to say about your art?” or… “Tell us about your process” or… “Tell us what you learned while creating this…” This really puts the emphasis on what they learned and helps the other students learn from the other students. I also like the end discussion because taking the art class should involve social and community building so there always needs to be time at the end to regroup and focus on other people, not just the students’ own art.

This morning I read a really good articla called “22 Things Happy People Do Differently” which actually is an article from Oct 2012, but I wasn’t surprised when I read tip number 11 which said:

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

and I thought “wow!” this is exactly what I am doing in my art classes and that is the secret to having everyone leave happy– it isn’t the tea and cookies ( although that is nice– I do that in my private studio classes) but it is the positive energy of giving the students and opportunity to praise each others artwork!!

Both my live classes ( here in New York) are fully booked; however, I am now teaching online art classes!

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All these things I found on etsy today while searching for happiness!!!

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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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