At the beginning of this month I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to go out into the local community and start a 4 week workshop to teach beginners art in local retirement villages. The workshops sponsored by Albany Community are to resource Albany residents to resource themselves, and to build community across age ranges and ethnic groups in the local area.
As I was packing my supplies to go to the first workshop I wondered how it would be to be teaching people in their 70’s art possibly for the first time since school – I was excited and nervous at the same time.
When I arrived at the village I was shown through the lounge where the residents were having a sing-along – the strains of “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!” filled the room. This was a song I have not heard sung with such gusto since I was a little girl, and was probably popular at the time of my great grandparents. Unable to stay and sing-along myself as I had to set up I headed to a lovely sunlight room, and began setting up for my class of 6 residents.
I put out the pallets, paints, canvasses and brushes as one by one the residents arrived looking somewhat apprehensive as they took their seats. As more kept coming I soon realised that the class had been oversubscribed, instead of a class of 6 I actually had a class of 10.
Now I have taught a number of different groups in recent years, and often students will say I am not artist, I can’t draw, I am no good at painting but after a little time in class they usually move past their resistence and are giving it a go. But for some of these guys they had many more years of ingrained belief that they were not creative, and so the fear of starting was so much greater.
I began by getting them to paint a layer of mixed colours, to just try, to make mistakes and to have fun, but the fears and doubts kept coming up – I was constantly being asked am I doing this right? what is the right thing? have I done it wrong? my painting looks wrong/silly/messy…… So I took a deep breath and I continued to teach, to coax to reassure that there’s no right and wrong in the process, that everything was working out perfectly and we were just having fun.
I don’t think they believed me, in fact at the age of 70+ they are not shy to tell you they don’t believe you LOL but I knew having taught this so many times that eventually I would break through. So we painted, we played, we laughed they teased me and I teased them till the end of the first class. I said goodbye to them all, and got some lovely hugs before heading off exhausted but happy.
As I drove away I wondered if they would return for next weeks class or did they just think I was a silly woman who just got them to make a mess on a canvas for the afternoon?
For the second week I drafted in more help from one of my regular workshop students Diana – I needed back up! As we set up early for the class the residents started arriving early to make sure they got their ‘usual spot’ and I was joined by 2 new residents who had heard about the class. This time the atmosphere was so different, they could not wait to learn, to play and to have fun, they were still a little sceptical when I said they were creative (but we have 2 more weeks to work on that LOL) – you could feel the joy in the room and I was loving every moment of it.
At the end of the class one lady who is 72 came up to me and told me her story “At the age of 12 I remeber loving to paint” she said “but my teacher told me I was no good at art and so I believed him and I have not painted since. I have not created for 60 years but look at me now … I am having so much fun in this class, and I can remember just what it was like to paint for the joy of it! To be allowed to paint and not to be told it does not look right – thank you so much for allowing me!”
I was stunned! This tiny 72 year old lady was looking up at me with the most beaming smile and thanking me for allowing her to have fun in my class. I was taken over with the joy of her smile and her enthusiasm, but I was also aware of the 60 years she had not allowed herself to feel that joy of creating too. I returned her smile as she gave me a hug and I said “you don’t need anyone’s permission to enjoy your creativity and your joy – I hope you continue to paint after this workshop”. “Oh I will, I will” she giggled “now it’s time for afternoon tea!” and off she went.
So why am I sharing this story with you? well the reason is to let you know if there is anything at all you want to create or anything new you want to try please don’t wait until you are in your 70’s to realise how much time you are wasting right now – give yourself permission and start today! “You don’t need anyone’s permission to enjoy your creativity and your joy either!”
I look forward to my next seniors class tomorrow to see what they will teach me next – and I will keep you up to date with their progress!
If you would like to tap into your creative side why not join me for one of my upcoming workshops and have fun with like minded people! Go on I know you will love it! [su_button url=”http://www.angela-murray.com/workshops/” style=”bubbles” background=”#c5e30a” color=”#685c5c” size=”4″ radius=”round”]Click for Workshops Info![/su_button]