“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” ~Erica Jong

Yesterday I taught my Mixed Media Artist Book workshop at the La Grange Art League out in La Grange, which is a western suburb of Chicago. Living in the city, and not being from IL originally, I rarely get out to the outlying suburb areas, especially out west. As mundane as it sounds, heading out to the west suburbs was a new adventure for me!

I was invited to teach there by Sarah Rehmer, a FUSEDChicago member, who also teaches encaustic workshops in the Chicagoland area. It was a wonderful day and it has me thinking about what going back to teaching, specifically teaching workshops, has meant to me this past year and half. I had seen a quote on the wall of my son’s school that said:

“The essence of Teaching is Giving”

And that is so true, but not just from my end. There is a dynamic that goes on during the workshop that is a give and take between the student and the teacher. It’s a sharing-teaching-giving that goes back and forth between myself and the people in the class. I learn from them as well.

Ginn’s hands as she creates her first successful transfer on wax ever! It was an exciting moment to see her beautiful painting of a bird she had photocopied emerge as she pulled the pulp away.

The best part is at the end when people say that they feel inspired to get back to their studios or work corner or sometimes kitchen tables and continue to use what I showed them. And sometimes it’s not that I’m sharing something revolutionary, but just a little tweak of how to do something….that can change how that person approaches their process. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big impact.

Ellen’s book in progress. Exploring mark making with transfer papers

When I start the class I always ask what everyone’s background is and what brought them to the class. And the answer is always so varied. Some people come from an arts background and looking to try something new, some people come from the total opposite of an arts background and are looking for a creative release, and for others it’s a combo of some sort. But the common thread is that we all, myself included, are seeking and searching. Driven to find a way, a process, a method, to let what is within have a visual voice.

Marian’s book in progress, working on building up layers and textures on the pages as foundations

I have also found that allowing oneself to follow that creative urge can be a scary thing for people. I understand that, I’ve been there myself. But if that urge to create is within, it really must be heard. Whatever one’s goal is- whether it is to show your work publicly, or just make art for yourself- the important thing is to honor that. No comparisons, no self judgement. It is important.

I was reminded of a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for year called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I am re-reading it now. Very good book. There is an example in which the student vents his frustration to his teacher that he can hear the music so much better in his head than he is able to get out of his fingers. His teacher replies, “What makes you think that ever changes?”

“…vision is always ahead of execution- and it should be. Vision, Uncertainty and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue”

Such a good thing to keep in mind, always. Re-read that quote a couple times until it sinks in. So good.

I’m terrible at taking photos during workshops when I teach, so I only managed to take 3 pictures with my phone and they were taken earlier on in the day. We had a great time on a stormy, rainy Sunday. Now, to clean up again and keep on organizing back in my studio…

In 2 weeks I get to be the student! I’ll be taking a one day workshop with Shawna Moore who is coming to Chicago for the weekend to teach at Jenny Learner’s studio. I haven’t sat in as a student in a class for a long time and I can’t wait.


  1. Just wanted to stop by and thank you again for a great workshop–I had a good time (yep,great fun) and I learned a lot too! I can’t wait to do it again! When my book is complete I will email you a picture. 🙂

  2. Exceptional! I would love to learn transfers on wax. These people were so lucky to have you visit. Good vibes follow you to your next learning experience! Cheers.

  3. Lucky you! A teacher one day and a student of Shawna Moore’s another day! I watched her video on her web page. Thanks for the link. Have a great time!

  4. What a grand post…so much wisdom shared. I love the quotes and the reference to Art and Fear…my hand went to it yesterday and I do believe you’ve inspired me to take it off the shelf once again.

    have sooo much fun being in the student’s seat…giving and receiving…keeps it all growing.

  5. Dear Bridgette,
    I just discovered your art and it is so beautiful! The colors are just the kind that speak to my soul… I have bought some beeswax a long time ago but haven’t dared to try my hand at it yet, but now I think I’ll definitely take it out of the cupboard!

    (my own mixed media art at

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