Just this weekend, I accomplished something I had gotten completely stressed about for no reason... Well, I say for no reason, but actually I had blown the reason out of proportion.
A while ago I was asked if I would like to take over a series of teaching portrait classes at Earnley Concourse, a residential centre, near Chichester, West Sussex, which runs courses in absolutely everything, it would seem! Now, teaching is something I do, have done, took a degree to know I could, but haven’t done for a few years. And that was one of the rubs.
Another rub was fact that I had agreed to teach drawing animal portraits! I got completely worried that I wouldn't be able to deliver this and create the right atmosphere for learning for my students. So in the weeks leading up to the course, I drew and drew and drew, and discovered that having felt just a teeny wee bit superior about drawing animals, I actually quite liked capturing the characters of my feline house mates, and more than that, I enjoyed conveying this to the group over the course of the weekend. I was, without doubt, in the bosom of animal lovers but instead of feeling slightly silly, it all felt very relaxing and fun!
We chatted and joked and exchanged life stories amongst ourselves as we sat and drew. We shared glasses of wine and meals, and as we parted I know that each of us felt that we had not only learned to draw better animal portraits, but also had been given gifts - the gift of time for ourselves, the gift of sharing something with others who are from “our tribe”, if only for that brief time, and the gift of sweet memories.
I was given extra gifts too. Not only was I able to communicate advice and direction, enthusiasm and enjoyment, but I was also reminded that teaching is a learning curve too. I have always seen it as a circular movement, but I had temporarily forgotten that, and now I have remembered what I believe to be very important, that is, we give as we teach and we are given as we learn while we teach. A gift indeed.