View Full Version : What Would You Do?

09-13-2006, 11:40 PM
Started my second art class yesterday. It's portrait painting. When the instructor found out I would be working in pastels she said I needed to get Canson paper. I told her I didn't like Canson and I had Art Spectrum and my favorite Wallis. She seemed quite irritated and told me to just go get the Canson. I had also asked her about porportions for the head since she told us all to put a dot in the middle of the page and specific places to put other dots, then draw an egg for the head.

I did not win any popularity contests with her. My friend said I should have kept my mouth shut and to just go get the Canson paper. I don't know why it should matter and I'd like to use Wallis. What would you do, use the Canson or take your favorite paper to work on?

Maybe the instructor was just having a bad day as she was highly recommended to me.


09-13-2006, 11:54 PM
Well, Art is supposed to be fun. Personally, I don't see why she couldn't relax her viewpoint. I would try communicating with her aside from the class or in private to see where she is coming from. Maybe she is not the best teacher for you; you would know more after having a "heart to heart" with her. If she is really closed minded, I would look elsewhere.

09-14-2006, 12:00 AM
Did you ask her why she wanted Cansons? Perhaps it was to free you up to do quick throw away sketches.

Tich :confused:

09-14-2006, 12:36 AM
Shari and Tich, thanks so much.

The instructor told me that her students use Canson. It isn't just for quick throw-away sketches; it's to be used for all the paintings.


M Douglas
09-14-2006, 01:12 AM
It possible that because she is comfortable with the Cansons and its her paper of choice she feels more confident in handling any problems that might arise. Personally I really don't see why you can't use your paper of choice. But I would take her aside and talk to her about it and state your reasons as to why you want to use your choice of paper.


09-14-2006, 01:39 AM
Use YOUR favorite paper, not the instructor's. Just because "her students" use Canson does not mean you should have to. A good instructor should be able to work with and assist a student on ANY paper. Talk with her to understand her perspective. You may also want to take a look at her work and style of painting to ensure it is a style you want to learn.

I'd also be a bit concerned about that "egg". Does she intend to explain basic proportions?

09-14-2006, 10:32 AM
Hi Binkie,
There is no reason for this attitude from her and I would be just as irritated with her response ......and instuctors who go to class bringing their grumpy family/work baggage with them to the class just aren't professional enough to teach a class, IMO. I agree with Shari, art is supposed to be fun. Instructors should be grateful they have students who are interested in learning from them and should also keep an open mind that not all who are attending their classes are absolute beginners and some just might have SOME experience and preferences already. In fact, she didn't even know you were going to work with pastels, right? So, what's the big deal about what kind of paper you wanted to use since pastels weren't the class medium?

You know, it all begins with words, doesn't it? IF she had GENTLY explained the reasons behind HER NEED for Canson, most likely you would have agreed or at least given it a chance and brought some for the next class. But, there is no excuse to be treated with disrespect. SHE should have had the skills to address her concerns for the BIG paper issue with you with a decent amount of respect for you as a human with a brain. If you don't mind me saying, your friend is wrong. There is no reason on earth for you to "shut your mouth" in a class that you are supposed to be learning in and questioning. You're in a class to learn as a human, not a machine that doesn't question the "authority".

I certainly don't speak for everyone but I don't respond well to snappy and terse statements/orders given in exasperation no matter what the issue. Some people need to take courses in how to instruct before they actually have hands on teaching with real people. We ALL have something to learn from each other.

Binkie, it sounds like you WILL get what you can out of this class and that is very hopeful. My wish is that you make it worthwhile for YOU. I apologize if I'm strongly voicing my opinion but I have strong feelings on the way people treat and talk to each other.

09-14-2006, 11:05 AM
I'll play the devils advocate... In other art forms (like opera and dance) I'm a stickler for technique and sometimes using something we don't normally like will allow us to excersize a weakness into a strength. For example scales. Most opera students just want to sing an Opera but when they realize scales are 70% of the training, the MUST do it or get out of the art form. Same for Ballet, either do the tedious excersizes or go dance jazz. (Yes, I am kinda a b---- when it comes to those two art forms - they must be exact). So maybe in her art class canson services a purpose. I know when i started taking a class 2 years ago the instructor wanted Nupastel and Rembrandt and Canson paper. She taught more of a drawing technique and a lighter technique. I learned that you have to conserve your application in canson and plan more in the beginning phases of your work. With sanded paper, it's more forgiving and I think easier... so I have a feeling her communications skills are not up to par maybe and she had enough ego to not give explanation. I think she should have explained or given enough respect to you as student to come up with a good answer. As a teacher, she serves you, not you her. That's what my opera teacher told me, but I also had to realize that if I were to get excellent at my art form, I had better listen.

:) Hope that helps. It's probably just technique and planning is all.

09-14-2006, 03:38 PM
Hi Binkie,

I also prefer other papers to Canson because I get along better with them.
However as you know, there are some of our coleagues who make great portraits on it.
I do think that you should take the chance to learn with your teacher how to handle the Canson paper.
Have you seen any work from your teacher ?
I guess that maybe she'll let you use other papers later one ?
If you have any portrait that you've done and find quite good (I can't remember now of any of your portraits but I do know that you do great animal portraits), after a couple of lessons take it to her and tell her that you want to achieve that quality with Canson.
And then you'll see if she has the abbility of teaching you to do that.
Or you can take a portrait done by Daniel Greene (he uses Canson) and ask her to teach you how to make one like that.
This is just me being mean :-) Better not follow my advice :-)

Kind regards,


09-14-2006, 07:40 PM
Well I'm one of those who actually is fairly happy with Canson. I use it quite often as it's cheap and easy to get, and comes in a useful standard size. I admit I actually prefer Art Spectrum colourfix the best, but don't use it often as it comes in crummy sizes.

My art teacher also *recommends* Canson to his students, but does not demand it. In fact he was quite excited when I came to class one time with foamboard I'd coated with art spectrum pastel primer. I admit when a teacher gets so demanding it puts my back up, and I feel like defying her just for the sake of it. But before taking too much of a stand you might see if you can ask her *why* she wants her students to use Canson, and perhaps explain to her the things you don't care for about it. And if worse comes to worse you might even try it, for at least one painting or two. Perhaps she might even have some techniques to suggest that would make you appreciate it more!

Not that I'm a world-class artist by any means, but 95% of the paintings I have posted here have been done on Canson, and I'm quite happy with many of them.

Deborah Secor
09-14-2006, 08:02 PM
I teach landscapes in pastel to a lot of adult students and every once in a while I have a student who comes in with paper she has used in another class or some such thing, and refuses to use Wallis paper. It's her right, of course, but she will never get as much from me as an instructor, because I simply don't have enough knowledge or experience on the paper she's using to be able to technically instruct her. I'll certainly let her use whatever she desires, but when it comes time to help her at the easel, I find that my best advice is to try Wallis paper because 'you can do _____ (fill in the blank) on it, but you can't on the paper you have.' I have to let her know that I cannot be of as much service to her. Usually she will eventually use the paper I recommend.

Perhaps you'll benefit more from this instructor's knowledge because she'll be able to technically assist you better using Canson--though for the life of me I can't see how! However, Jackie Simmonds has her beginners use it because she says it forces them to plan and choose color and value well from the beginning, instead of developing bad habits, so who am I to judge?

And it may be that you simply have't found the right 'fit' with this teacher. I get along with most of my students, but no one can be the right teacher for everyone!

I suspect I'm repeating some of what others have said, but now you have my two cents' worth, as well. Hope it works out for you.


09-15-2006, 12:33 AM
Thanks everyone! Think I'll try to speak with her next week. Hopefully, it will be a misunderstanding because I really do want to learn.


Kitty Wallis
09-15-2006, 03:00 PM
Hmmmmm What would I do? :lol: :evil:

Actually I'm more concerned about the 'formulaic' way she asks you to start a portrait, ie the dots. I find that fomulas are very hard to overcome and get in the way of perceptions.

09-15-2006, 03:39 PM
Well I have to agree with Kitty - the method is more of a concern than the paper.

Like Jackie Simmons, I too start beginners on Canson, and for the same reasons she has: it forces them to plan the composition, and choose color and value from the beginning. However, I also introduce them to the sanded surfaces fairly early in the process so they can choose for themselves what method of painting they prefer.


09-15-2006, 07:21 PM
one other thought is if she has everyone in class using the same thing, its easier to teach as a whole. i think talking to her privately is your best bet. good luck, let us know how it goes!

09-16-2006, 09:29 AM
Interesting discussion....and I agree with what a lot of people have said. I think it is probably easier to teach when the students all use the same thing...but she should have explained that to you.

And I also agree about the formulaic approach...although if that is her approach obviously it is how she will teach.


09-17-2006, 10:57 AM
I'm glad to see Deborah and Kitty chime in on this one .....

I myself would use the Canson once, just to see what the instructor does with it. Then, I would begin using my preferred papers. You are taking the class to expand your own skills using pastel, not to become a clone of the instructor. Good instructors share this philosophy.

The surface we choose to work on is as important as the brands of pastel we use. Would she tell you that you may only use a Rembrandt when you brought Unisons? I would hope not!

I had a similar experience 3 years ago during an outdoor class. I brought a pad of canson to the first class, and found it limited my work. When I mentioned that I preferred sanded paper, she cringed and told me how much she hates sanded papers and never uses them. She tried to discouraged my using them and emphasized how much pastel was required to cover the color of the paper (because of the tooth). I learned that she did not like to build up layers -- I love to build layers, which is why I use sanded papers. She was neither rude nor offensive; in fact, she possessed a very pleasant personality. However, I found, after 6 weeks, that I gained almost nothing from her instruction. I enjoyed the people in the class and the painting locations, and took it at that.

Stand your ground on the paper issue, but do not let it ruin the other learning opportunities that may exist in the class.


09-17-2006, 04:58 PM

If it was a class that you're doing to get credit, you might want to at least have a few sheets of Canson and give them a try to maybe appease the instructor. It would have been better if the instructor 'suggested' Canson, but allowed you to make your own selection. Some instructors are defininitely more rigid, and may not convey their instruction in an easy manner, but hopefully, you will be able to get information you can use. When I've been to similar workshops, I like it a lot better when the instructor suggests rather than dictates choices. Anyway, good luck with your class.

09-19-2006, 07:43 PM
Went to class early this morning to talk to the instructor. This week was quite a change. She said I could use the paper I wanted as well as the size. She even discussed porportions, although rather quickly. Quite simply, I do not think she even remembered me or which supplies she told me to bring to class. She was very gracious and spent some time showing me how to do a quick sketch of the head and roughed it out. She must have been having a bad day last week?! Anyway, all went well and I feel like I got a good start. Of course, you'll have to guess which paper I had taken to class.:evil:


09-22-2006, 11:09 AM
teachers need to learn too


09-23-2006, 01:06 AM
or maybe she is a lurker and has read all the comments in this forum:evil: :lol: