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Old 09-13-2010, 10:32 AM
Cobalt07 Cobalt07 is offline
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Grumbacher Demo Artists

I would like to hear from other Grumbacher Demo Artists who have been hired by Chartpak to teach at Michaels Arts & Crafts stores. This is a relatively new program and it is early days for me teaching these classes.

So far the classes have been very successful, meaning the students have been pleased with their paintings. The format is step by step, follow along workshop format. It is an introductory class, meant for the beginner and lasts about two hours. We are using the Grumbacher acrylic paints, student grade and 9 X 12 canvas boards. I throw a ton of information at the students about composition, mixing paints, creating distance and they do end up with a finished painting by the end of the class.

The class size has been small and I am hoping more interest will build. At the store I am at, the most popular classes are Cake Decorating and Scrapbooking! Any suggestions on how to publicize these classes is welcome, I am doing in store demos once a month and sending my own press releases to the very local newspapers.

I plan to look over this forum for advice, tips on teaching a class with people of varying abilities. Early days as I said and I guess patience is a virtue. Painting is so archaic, and peaceful when you are in the zone, you, the paintbrush, and the surface and no electronic devices....why I love it!

Thanks....
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:06 AM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

That sounds like a great program. I'd get a big kick out of doing that if I had the transportation and a Michaels was nearby enough to make that feasible for me. Are the lessons planned by Grumbacher or do you plan them? It sounds like you're enriching the classes a lot by explaining why some of the things in the step by step projects work the way they do, so they come away knowing they can do more beautiful paintings at home with those materials.

I think the first place I'd turn to for marketing is Facebook. Start an account for the classes with the location - town, state - in the title of the group. "Grumbacher Acrylic Classes in Xtown, Xstate" and set up a discussion within the group. Get some of the students to participate and post their art. Tweet it when anyone posts something new in the group. Answer questions from former students and future students on the Facebook thing, check it regularly. Then include all the information they need to have in order to come check it out. You can schedule the classes as Events so that all the group's followers get that date sent to them by Facebook.

Keyword the group "art lessons" and "art class in Xtown, XState" so that it's easy to find if someone's just surfing.

The location being included will catch the interest of people who live close enough to drive to your Michael's. Also with the good student paintings from previous students, it'll be very attractive to beginners who want their project to come out well. Get some testimonials too, especially from people who swore up and down before they started that they had no talent and couldn't draw stick figures.

I have taught workshops with scared beginners many times and one of the best things I found was selective critique, supporting them anytime they do something well by accident or experiment and explaining what it is they just did. Give them a term if there's a term for it. You probably already do that.

Posting a few useful articles on the Facebook group covering art subtopics that beginners can try, little mini-lessons, is another thing that will convince new students that you're a good teacher. Not necessarily long ones, just a small topic like "Mixing Gray and Brown" or something will catch interest. Or stuff about acrylics in general, how modern and versatile the medium is. If there's reason for locals and interested beginners to keep coming back to the Facebook group for new content, they'll eventually want to come meet you in person and take the class.

Follow up former students and set up a mailing list for a class newsletter. Make sure people can opt in at the Facebook group and send you their emails. See if Grumbacher will support a small contest once in a while with a supplies prize. Show ways the projects can be adapted to other uses, like redoing the project painting as decorative painting or scaled up as a mural.

I keep getting Alyona Nickelsen's newsletter for her Colored Pencils School and every time I do, I'm tempted to save up for it. I'm already good at colored pencil realism but dangit, that's just too tempting sometimes. She holds a contest at the end of every class term and Blick subsidizes it with prizes for the student who did the best with the challenge design, an optional project. Grumbacher might do that with a package of convenience colors not included in the original class materials and some canvas boards, some brushes, something related to the medium.

If they don't, you can still get creative with a contest prize or do a raffle of some kind... like say, an attractive downloadable and printable Winner's Certificate with the date and a space for the title of their painting and their name and so on. I participate every year in Nanowrimo and love getting those when I manage to do 50,000 words in a month even if doing that is easy for me after all those years. They do a new design every time and I like hanging out with other writers. So a contest prize doesn't even have to cost money to mean something to your winners.

Heck, if Grumbacher doesn't already supply a certificate of passing the class, you can create one yourself and distribute it and sign it, that's always a cool thing. It is an achievement, that's real credit for something difficult they accomplished, and that kind of thing is a warm little extra.

I hope these ideas help. They're based on things I've done and classes I've been tempted by. You've got something very cool going on there, enjoy it!
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Old 09-18-2010, 05:53 PM
Judy Bec Judy Bec is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

Hello all,
I'm a new Grumbacher paint instructor at Michaels in Reading PA.

I just had my first meeting with the manager last week-- so I haven't taught any classes yet. We selected 3 dates for classes in October and I've scheduled my first demo for Oct.9 . The manager seems very receptive and willing to post my sample paintings in the store to encourage sign ups for the classes. Cake decorating and scrapbooking classes already are established here too, with knitting and jewerly classes scheduled to begin soon.
I'm finding wonderful ideas here on this forum-- the press release is something I'll try. And, Robert you've got a truckload of excellent suggestions in your post -- thanks for that!

I've scheduled classes for 2 weekday mornings and also a Sunday class (by suggestion of the manager -- she had great turnout for Michaels painting classes year or so ago on Sunday mornings)-- so I thought I'd try that too. I'm wondering when your classes are scheduled? At my store, the cake decorating classes are booked Mon thru Thurs in the evening every week in Oct.-- so evenings during the week are not an option for me.

I'm wondering how you set up your demo as I'm deciding how to manage that now. Are you actively working on a painting? do you let customers "try" the paint? I'm planning on taking a survey of customers as to the best time for them to attend a class and also what subjects they would like to paint. ( although I'm planning on starting with the sample lessons-- I believe we can tailor this to our own style etc. and the store manager is all for experimentation.)

I haven't been active on Wet Canvas and found your post thru a google search....It's so nice to find another Grumbacher instructor!
let's keep in touch!
Judy
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:50 PM
Cobalt07 Cobalt07 is offline
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Thanks!

Great ideas Robert thank you very much.

I do use Facebook but I may start a page specifically for these classes.

Grumbacher does have their own Facebook page for the intructors.

Judy, Grumbacher mailed me a CD about how to sell their product and do demos in the store. They should be sending you one soon and if you don't have it yet, ask them for it.

They want you to get people trying out the paint. As in set up some paper plates with paint, have brushes and paper handy and encourage them to try out the paint. In fact they said that is more important than you doing a demo of your painting chops.

I did this yesterday at my store, it was a little more interactive but it was the kids with their parents who wanted to try this out. I could not get a single adult to pick up a paint brush and believe me I tried!

I was also information central for everyone who came into the store. As in where can I find puffy paint, a punch for leather, etc. etc. Michaels has not sponsored fine art painting classes in a long time, at least at my store. Their customer base is more about, cake decorating and scrapbooking classes, crafts, materials for their children's school projects. I deduce this from what people are shopping for when they come into the store.

I did get a nice email from one of my students who said she learned more from me in a two hour class than she has learned from this other semester long class she is taking in oil painting. Nice to hear.

I did have one artist yesterday at the store who told me he only works abstract and he can't 'paint like that' meaning in a realistic style and his paintings fly out of his studio. I challenged him to take one of my classes! Though I do like all kinds of painting styles, abstract, expressionist, impressionism, photo realism, minimalism. all good to me. I will be very surprised if he shows up and his girlfriend said 'oh I can't paint at all' and I said you will if you take my class. It was pretty funny.
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Old 10-17-2010, 05:34 PM
Cobalt07 Cobalt07 is offline
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Grumbacher Demo Artist no more!

Well folks, I quit the teaching job at Michaels Arts & Crafts store today.

I hope those of you who are working this gig have a better store than I did.

The staff at this particular store were indifferent if not obstructive in getting this off the ground. The store manager was very nice and gung ho art classes but the person who was coordinating all the workshops at this store was not.

Added to that all the unpaid hours I spent preparing for the lessons, doing my own publicity, time spent in the store scheduling these classes, the game was not worth the candle.

The manager told me 'whatever you want we will help you' or words to that effect. We have extra easels locked up in storage, just ask for them. We have one person at the store coordinating all the workshops we offer. He will help you.

The workshop coordinator, when I attempted to speak to him said, "What is there to talk about?" and when I asked for the easels for my class that night this guy said, 'they are all in use.' I told him the Store Manager said I could have them and all he had to say again was, 'they are all in use.' It was a very short conversation. Then my class registration pages went missing in the workshop registration book. Fun stuff like that.

I do know from looking at the Grumbacher Facebook page, some instructors have had great support from their Michaels store manager and staff. If I find a better venue to teach at I will be sure to let you all know!
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:54 PM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

Oh that bites, that really bites. That's the sort of thing you might want to report to the chain, since it sounds like bad management may have lost them some customers too with the loss of your classes.
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:24 PM
Judy Bec Judy Bec is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

I'm so sorry to hear this. I think you should report it too. I'm sure the store would not be happy about losing your students.
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Old 12-26-2010, 02:59 PM
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Azure Wings Azure Wings is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

I've been thinking about contacting Grumbacher to do this, and I'm sorry to hear you've had these problems, Cobalt07. They're offering a decent wage for the two hours of class, but, of course, when you factor in lesson prep time and everything else, it cuts into your time. But it's the same for teaching independently… no one else pays you for your time spent prepping and marketing. And no one guarantees you students then, either.

I taught acrylic painting at a Michael's store a number of years ago, with good managers and event managers, but it was hard getting enough students. I was hoping Michael's would be doing some marketing themselves for the classes… I guess that isn't the case?

Wishing you better luck,
Karen
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Old 12-26-2010, 03:03 PM
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Re: Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt07
I was also information central for everyone who came into the store. As in where can I find puffy paint, a punch for leather, etc. etc. ...

That was the case for me when I did demos a few times, too. Ah, well....

Were you paid for doing the demos? And were you paid the same rate, no matter how many students signed up for the classes?

Hoping you don't mind my asking,
Karen
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Old 08-18-2011, 12:18 PM
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cuyamaca cuyamaca is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artist no more!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt07
Well folks, I quit the teaching job at Michaels Arts & Crafts store today.

I hope those of you who are working this gig have a better store than I did.

The staff at this particular store were indifferent if not obstructive in getting this off the ground. The store manager was very nice and gung ho art classes but the person who was coordinating all the workshops at this store was not.

Added to that all the unpaid hours I spent preparing for the lessons, doing my own publicity, time spent in the store scheduling these classes, the game was not worth the candle.

The manager told me 'whatever you want we will help you' or words to that effect. We have extra easels locked up in storage, just ask for them. We have one person at the store coordinating all the workshops we offer. He will help you.

The workshop coordinator, when I attempted to speak to him said, "What is there to talk about?" and when I asked for the easels for my class that night this guy said, 'they are all in use.' I told him the Store Manager said I could have them and all he had to say again was, 'they are all in use.' It was a very short conversation. Then my class registration pages went missing in the workshop registration book. Fun stuff like that.

I do know from looking at the Grumbacher Facebook page, some instructors have had great support from their Michaels store manager and staff. If I find a better venue to teach at I will be sure to let you all know!

hi there, i just ran across this post; i'm new here to the forums. however i had to add in my experience, which was almost identical.

i had 2 stores; #1 was urban, kinda rough and so were staff & manager. manager was outright hostile at times. store #2, i'd say they were indifferent or overworked. i put out a very big effort to get signup sheets into binders & the cashiers to be familiar with classes, kits, and how to register students, but most cashiers were not interested.

1 former student of mine had to call three times to get complete info. & get registered. kits / or recommended paints were not in stock.

communication with HQ & resolution of issues was really a problem & it ate up hours & was stressful.

here's what made me really disalusioned: i priced out the items in the kits they were pushing , pricing items individually. kits cost twice as much ! with coupons, etc , students were paying over $50 for a kit & 2 hrs. of time to copy an instructor, and copy the sample painting. in my definition, that's not learning. the paint itself, hmmmm. i've used liquitex, utrecht, Nova & student or value grades of other brands and my experience with this brand - - it doesn't come close. (their oils are fine however!!??)

i understand problem resolution is better now, but i'm no longer associated with either company.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:08 PM
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WFMartin WFMartin is online now
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

I used to teach the "non-Bob Ross Oil Painting" class at Michaels. I was treated very well by the manager, as well as the class coordinator, and all the employees. In fact, the employees became my very friendly acquaintances. I was required to furnish canvases, and paints and brushes for the students. But I could set the cost per student for the class, and that helped to make up for the small outlay for materials.

However, Michaels had one of the most convoluted pay systems that I have ever experienced. It was based, loosely upon my hourly wage, plus a combination of what my asking price per student was, combined with how many students showed up for each session, and probably a couple of other things. I just ended up taking their word for it, each time I received a paycheck.

By the time I was beginning to understand the pay schedule, Michaels had decided to eliminate ALL their "fine art teaching", and suddenly I had no teaching job, anyway.

I've heard that they have re-installed some of their fine arts classes, but I'm not very interested in signing up for one.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:14 AM
Abellalisa Abellalisa is offline
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Thumbs down Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

About Michael's Art & Crafts stores

I had been a customer of Michaels Arts & Crafts since the 1980's. I have noticed the in-store ad for painting class instructors "Grumbacher". My sympathy and also I am acknowledging the insensitivity of employees towards fine artists in general compassion to you who have suffered such insulting treatment. In the past several years, Michaels chain stores have cut down their inventory including "Golden" acrylic paints, which I use, and much more, that is very disappointing. I have been a portrait artist primarily for the past 23 years working locally where most of my commissions are generated by word of mouth and community resources, crafts and fine art shows etc., A lot of promotion to obtain commissions. I was also disappointed, that Michaels Stores in my opinion are not supportive of individual fine-artists portraitists in their own communities, why? I noticed a few years ago while doing my footwork and promoting my business as a portrait artist in the community, using newspaper ads and designing brochures, flyers and posting them, that Michael's Art & Craft Stores was in competition with Portrait Painters by farming out portraits through their stores for cheap. In other words, how can an independent portrait artist compete with a giant such as Michaels, that promises it's customers true to life painted portraits including framing at far below what and individual artist might need for real art in portrait work, not factory or foreign artists working at minimum wages making factory assembly line fine art??? I am not to happy with Michaels Arts & Crafts stores, for their disinterest which is obvious towards the survival of real artists in their own communities. Would I trust working for them, after what the other artists have posted, maybe in the past but not now.
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:46 AM
timeracer timeracer is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

Wow, I am waiting for a response from Michaels and Chartpak about being "accepted" to be a Grumbacher instructor and after reading all this I wonder if I am making a huge mistake.

Did anyone ever have a GOOD experience? Please let me know before I waste a lot of time. Thanks
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:45 AM
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

I did contact the email given to inquire for more information - that was probably about the time I posted the post above - nearly a year ago. No response. Not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my email.

I wouldn't have taught students to copy, though. I would most likely have had to pass on the job, had they offered it to me. It sounds as though there are even more problematic issues than there were when I taught at Michaels some years back....

Sorry to hear it,
Karen
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:12 PM
thepalmlion thepalmlion is offline
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Re: Grumbacher Demo Artists

Well, I just started teaching small private art lessons out of my home and my friend told the Michael's store near me how I would be great teaching at their store and such. After reading other posts besides this thread I am now apprehensive to approach Michael's mananger...someone told me you keep 90% of the registration for each class, but that the students pay for their own "Michaels" supplies...are you a private contractor to Michaels or an employee when you do so? Just not sure if it's worth the hassle.
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