Sharing my love of watercolor with teenagers

A Day at Farrington High School Home of the Governors.

I was lucky to be invited to be a guest at Farrington High School yesterday to present my story as a local girl who studied art and lives off my creativity and to give a few lessons on watercolor. I had 80 minutes and three classes in a day. The school has fostered no less than 3 Hawaii State Governors over the years.

Farrington High School visiting Artist and intro to watercolor. Student’s work utilising Pull, Push, Drop, and Crack the Egg

I prepared about 20 minutes of talking using a Powerpoint presentation and brought a few original art pieces to display. I chose a piece from the Cotswolds, a Moa Kane (rooster) and my beloved Ko’olau. All subjects that I thought might be of interest to the curious there who live in the city on the other side from my mountains. People born and raised in Hawai’i often don’t travel even to the other parts of the island if they don’t live there, so Ko’olaupoko can be just as unknown as England to these kids. I also got to share about plein air painting showing some examples of work done on site–without copying from a picture. It went well with all 3 classes, but a TIP for anyone else presenting, emulate ‘Uncle Glen’ from Volvo and use all pictures if possible and avoid the PPT syndrome of writing down everything you intend to say–‘show ’em’ instead. I realise I could have increased the picture to text content if I had spent more time searching for photos–in fact I have updated it and will post it later to get some more feedback on how to improve my story so I don’t bore anyone.

Copyright 2018 Dawn Yoshimura.
en plein air 12x16in original watercolor. Copyright 2018 Dawn Yoshimura.

The rest of the time I used parts from my ColorBridges all inclusive workshop of explaining the difference between western style and asian style brushes. How to Tell if you have a Junk Brush. How a Dump Truck Works in Painting Watercolor. How to Turn a Dump Truck into a Vacuum Cleaner. and the most popular amongst the kids: How to Crack An Egg.

The classes were large. 20, 24 and 30 students. Art is an elective in high school, so these are not all highly motivated students trying to suck every kernel of precious knowledge you have to offer about life. But I was very grateful and humbled that they were all very kind and patient with me.

I don’t work with this age group very much so I don’t have alot of experience in how much they need to be directed vs wait for them to ask questions so I erred on the side of adults I’ve worked with while at the Volvo Group. I share the bare bones of knowledge or instructions and let them ask for clarification if they want. Using Action Reflection Learning in my learning points so I have the opportunity to either repeat and review with questioning or letting them try something and then try again with some experimentation.

Reflecting with their teacher at the end of the day, she shared her appreciation that they were focused and engaged which meant it caught their interest and curiosity and was a good prep for the lessons she had prepared to teach them more about watercolor.  She also decided after my introduction, she will also use it as an opportunity to introduce abstract art using watercolor so they don’t get fixated on failure in not being able to execute control over the medium or image. I think she’ll get some beautiful paintings out of them, if they can just enjoy the process of painting in watercolor.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself but my last reflection before I fell asleep was how much I appreciate teachers and what they do! To do what she does full time, year in, and year out–to hold the freshness and beginner mind perspective with each new class, like a set of waves breaking on the same shoreline that is there to meet them, steadfast and secure.