Friday, December 5, 2008

A Love Song to My Teacher, Sandy Maudlin

If you are lucky, somewhere along your art journey, you find a special person who is always sharing her time and energy and knowledge with you. I have been extremely lucky to have one of the very best watercolor teachers in the world, Sandy Maudlin, teach me for 5+ years (I began taking weekly classes from Sandy in April 2003).

If you take lessons from Sandy you learn about composition, you learn about values, you learn that color gets all the attention but it's the values that do all the work. She tells you the same things over and over because, dull-headed and stubborn and, well, beginner, you, you think you can just play with those colors and get a good painting. You need to hear it again and again:

"Stop petting the paper."
"Put the brush down."
"Step back and look at where you are."

And best of all:
"I'm proud of you!"
She gives you honest critiques (you know when she walks by and says, "Well, that's interesting!" that it's crap but she's not going to say that! ha ha). She tells you the truth and mixes the "what you didn't do's" with "what you did right's" enough that you never feel like you've been attacked or not gently moved into a better position for the next painting.
In other words, she is the best and I recommend her to everyone. If you want to learn it from someone who not only is an award-winning artist but a fantastic teacher (and those are so hard to find), look her up, go to her blog, send her an email and find out if she'll teach you. You won't be sorry!
Oh, by the way, you won't just get instructions said and written; you will get new and improved information about paints, paper, brushes, and the latest workshop teachers and what they can offer you because she takes workshops from great artists and shares their latest techniques and styles and information, too. She introduces you to artists like Stephen Blackburn, Janet Rogers, Nicholas Simmons, and Carol Carter by hosting them for workshops in her studio. She tells you which artists really get her gold star for their knowledge so you can take a workshop from them. She lends you books on art and sometimes makes you something handmade for Christmas :) and always has a smile for you when you walk into the room.
In other words, it doesn't get any better.
So this is a love song for my watercolor teacher, Sandy Maudlin. I hope she knows how much she means to me and how much she has taught this little bird along the way.
And if I screw it all up, it's on me because it's not because I don't know better!


Suzanne McDermott said...

Yep! You ARE lucky. Sandy deserves a love letter and is lucky to have an appreciative student. I love your quotes. One of my art school friends used the term she heard from a later teacher, Don't molest the stroke. I thought that was genius and used it while teaching until a student took exception to using the word "molest" (understandable though unfortunate). Now I can adopt "Stop petting the paper." (and acknowledge the source!). Says the same thing in more benign terms.

Annelein said...

What lovely words...Sandy should be honored. Thanks for your comment on my blog...I read your copyright issue with interest..that's always an ongoing debate, every society and club has different rules and regulations. You made me want to take some more workshops..hopefully next year!

Dawn said...

Well said Rhonda!!

I love Sandy too!

debwardart said...

I can attest that all of this is true.

As an instructor now myself, I still remember lessons learned from her. Sandy opened my "art world" allowing me to meet many wonderful people, for which I will always be grateful.

Carol Carter said...

i love sandy too!!! and i love you as well...

thanks rhonda.. for your kindness and thoughtful encouragements on my blog...

you too!!! keep painting... i love the new work.. and am grateful that we've met on this art-journey.


Joan Sandford-Cook said...

I too adore Sandy's work and feel green with envy that you are local enough to attend her classes. I was sure from her detailed posts that she would be the greatest of teachers - and you have proved it.

Your copyright post was very interesting and I have always believed that one shoud only use your own photos mainly because it means you were 'there' and attracted enough to the subject to take the photo - so its your own composition and inspiration. The only time I've broken this is when the local gallery owner asked me to do an oil of a mill that used to exist nearby and he provided me with some 1906 photos he had on record.

Sandy Maudlin said...

You are amazing, generous, kind, thoughtful, caring, sensitive, trustworthy, creative, and a precious friend. Thanks so much for letting me know in such a creative and touching way that you appreciate me, and thanks most of all for being so YOU! Your name should mean GIFT, because you are a wonderfully amazing one. Looking forward to your next painting!

RH Carpenter said...

You all just know the half of it with Sandy. She's also funny, caring, intense, and also a bit crazy in the best possible way :) I know how lucky I've been these 5 1/2 years!

Sandy, girl, all those things apply to you! I have no idea what my name means, if anything, but I guess it could be "She Who Wonders Aloud!" ha ha

Anonymous said...

Very well spoken, Rhonda! Sandy is SO gifted and IS such a gift!
BTW, we miss all of you in our old Monday (which is now Tuesday)class.

Carl & Carol

RH Carpenter said...

Carol and Carl, come back to Tuesdays!!!! We miss you, too.

Nick said...

I thought I was President of the SMFC?! Nice to see Carol here, we were just saying the same thing last night in Annapolis. :)