Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Elizabeth St. Hilaire, Collage Artist, Tells Her Story

Teach? Oh no, I couldn't
If you asked me a few years ago about the potential for teaching collage art workshops, I'd probably tell you that I didn't know how to teach anyone anything. But SOMEHOW I agreed to teach a collage workshop one day when some folks emailed me from Amelia Island. My personal mantra was to always be available to new experiences and opportunities through an open mind and an open heart. So I did, I said "yes" and then I wondered,... how the hell am I going to do this?

In those days my kids were in elementary school and I had volunteered in each of their classes, every year, with the PTA Art See program where we centered a lesson and a project around a famous artist once a month. I taught K-5th grade. I also was the co-chair of the national PTA Reflections program for three years. 

I kept telling myself, ”If you can teach and organize elementary kids and art programs, you can certainly teach adults who actually WANT to be there." 

Just keep telling yourself that.

The Answer is Yes
Yes, I agreed to be The Amelia Island Artists Workshops Inc. FIRST visiting teacher. The man all the way to the right in the (above) photo is Sean Callahan, an amazing pet portrait and watercolor artist who emailed me prior to the class to ask me a few questions about what to expect. I visited his website www.dogtiredstudio.net and then I said... WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO TEACH THIS GUY? His work is amazing, check him out.

Guess what? Sean liked the class so much he called me three years later and asked me to come to Key West, to teach a workshop and to be a stable artist with him at the Stone Soup Gallery on White Street. Heading to Key West once a year for a solo show opening reception is not a bad gig.  Just sayin’.

I have been not only Sean’s instructor & fellow gallery artist, but also at times, his hairdresser

Sean's Boat

Guess What? I could get used to this
Truth be told, I really enjoyed teaching that very first class on Amelia Island. They enjoyed having me too, since they asked me to return the following two years. Sean reminded me recently that during the Amelia Island class, he went out at lunch time and purchased a copy of Hemingway's "Old Man of the Sea" and wove the printed pages into his boat. He said he learned a lot from me in that class (despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing) and he tells ME that he had no idea it was my very first workshop. We laugh about that together at least once a year. It seems like so long ago since that very first class I taught in Florida. We’ve become great friends.

Pink Polka Dot Apple / 12x12 / collage of hand-painted paper / SOLD

The True Joy of Teaching
I enjoy teaching workshops because it's great to be the center of attention (right?) and to have folks be really interested in what I have to say. Truth be told, the true joy of teaching is in the people I meet, the friends I make, and continue to stay in touch with.

Cheryl and I having too much fun posing with my demo apple

Speaking of workshops, here is an interview I gave for an upcoming workshop we are hosting in Italy this summer. Please contact me if you'd like to join us:

Don't Be a Stranger
"I've had some of my best conversations with strangers, she said, because they have no idea who they're dealing with." -- Brian Andreas

I love Brian Andreas because his limericks really resonate with me. I TOTALLY talk to everyone I meet without any issue, when this quote showed up in my e-mail box as my subscribed story of the day, I forwarded it to everyone I knew. 

I'm outgoing and certainly not shy, I love to joke and laugh with everyone and that's what makes me a good fit for teaching. I'll tease you, make you smile and have you feeling good about yourself and your artwork. There's no pressure and no wrong answers or dumb questions. We don’t even “critique”, we “show and tell.”

People Make All the Difference
I'm forever thankful for the people that I meet in workshops. My student and friend Maritza took my workshop in the States, and then invited me to Bermuda (where she lives) to teach for the Bermuda Society of the Arts. I've had students in my classes from Alberta, Canada, Denmark, and even Qatar!

Maritza and Yours Truly in Bermuda

Try, Try Again!
I have a lot of returning students as well. If you have taken my class and want to come back for more, I'll modify your project so that you can work at an intermediate level or on a project of your choosing. Holly has become a groupie and taken my class five times, I basically give her instruction on whatever piece she’s working on when she comes. And, since you can NEVER have enough hand-painted collage paper, everyone benefits from that component of the class. 

Chuck Seaman from New York took my workshop and then came back for some pointers on how to use fluid acrylics to color his traditional Gyotaku fish prints. He offered to give me his test prints and to make me some small fish impressions in return for my instruction. SCORE! Are you kidding? I couldn’t wait to incorporate his fish impressions into my collages. Chuck's work is amazing: www.chuckseamanfishart.com

Goat Gazing / 24x20 / Collage of hand painted paper with fish prints / SOLD

Watch Me Tear Paper
I utilize my Facebook Fan Page to bring the most up-to-date in-progress photos of my collage work to the world. In addition, I feature my workshop listings and other fun things (like pictures of my shoes, my dogs under the shelf in my studio, spilled paint, and an occasional dried out lizard). If you have never visited, stop on by! Stalking is encouraged.

Social Media Links
Click this link for my Facebook page: Paper Paintings Collage Artwork Facebook Fan Page (No FB account required - Just creative curiosity AND a sense of humor)
Paper Paintings Blog: http://www.paperpaintings.com
Paper Paintings Website: http://www.paperpaintings.com
Growing Bolder Elite Blogger: http://paperpaintings.growingbolder.com

This is Week 2 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Elizabeth's post today!

Update 1/26/16 - Elizabeth was just interviewed by Huff Post's Art & Culture blogger, BJ Gallagher - great interview here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bj-gallagher/elizabeth-st-hilaires-tor_b_9065824.html

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