This is the first in a series of posts in which I say goodbye to teaching. For the next two weeks I’m going to have posts and a couple fun videos which I like to call “‘The Final Lectures’ Series.” I hope you’ll join me.
So what does the title of today’s post mean? Am I leaving teaching behind?
Never say Never, as Sean Connery once said.
But as the Magic 8-Ball might say, “Outlook not so good.”
Since the side effects of cataract surgery became evident in 2019 I’ve been looking at ways to maximize my eye-time for drawing. That means I have to minimize other things which use up that eye time.
Students who’ve taken online classes with me know that before 2019 I daily spent hours in the classroom giving feedback and suggesting new possibilities. I like that kind of hands on teaching. It has been fun and also rewarding watching the students follow through.
But before 2019 I could spend time with the students and then get back to my work.
After surgery something had to give.
The decision wasn’t easy, but it was simple. While I enjoy teaching and the interaction with students I didn’t have the eye health to make it my full-time gig. Additionally, I haven’t been able to attract the volume of students necessary to support the teaching platform that made online teaching straightforward and fuss free. Before deciding to stop teaching online I looked at a number of options and none fit with the financial realities.
As announced last year, I’m closing the teaching platform of RozWoundUp on December 31, 2021. There’s only one teacher participation class left to run. I write about that class and the two self-guided classes still available at the end of this post.
As soon as I firmly decided to give up online teaching I of course could think of nothing else but teaching.
Post eye surgeries I was videotaping my sketching sessions—I had hit upon this strategy as a way to help preserve my own drawing habit while dealing with the permanent “artifacts” of the surgeries and my odd eyeball shape.
Video taping my sketching sessions had an odd effect on me. First I found I was looking at the computer all the time and not at the paper, it was funny. Then in rewatching myself work, especially on days when my vision had already tunneled down by the time I sat down to sketch. I became aware of things that for me hit the nature of sketching, the process of sketching, which is what I have always loved even more than the end results.
The taped sketching sessions made me feel positive about what remained of my eye-health and my ability to have a sketching practice. It isn’t ever going to be what it had been, but it is something that will be with me for a while longer.
I thought some of my past students might find the sketching videos interesting. Because of that I started my Patreon blog which is a paid-subscription blog. You can read about it and subscribe here.
We are 10 months in and I have found it incredibly fun. While I try to treat the months as “themed” entities (there’s no getting away from the teacher in me) there isn’t the intense filming and video editing necessary for classes. Additionally having a webinar tier level allows me to be more impromptu in my interactions with subscribers interested in what I have to say. They seem anxious to try things out. I think some of the best things I’ve said and written about art and the act and practice of sketching have happened in that atmosphere.
Bottom line, Patreon has allowed me to continue to say things about art and what it has meant in my life, at a time when it seemed art might not be possible in my life any more. It allowed me to teach in small doses when giving up teaching altogether seemed unthinkable, or something miserable to contemplate.
I feel I have new breath in my life: the fun of teaching, without all the the burden of filming or editing lengthy classes. My technical costs have been reduced drastically—I still need tech support, on-site and off-site digital storage, and a video hosting platform from which to import videos to Patreon (since Patreon doesn’t let you store them on their site).
All in all less stuff to worry about and to keep track of.
What Will Happen with RozWoundUp?
I’m not sure yet what exactly will happen with RWU. I’ve been writing it for twelve years!
It’s been great, but the hacking and the switch to a new platform resulted in a reduced readership. Also I don’t have in-person classes to promote any more. Even before COVID-19 hit I had given up in-person classes because of eldercare conflicts and a recurrent shoulder issue—it’s very difficult to prep boards for a binding class when you have a shoulder problem; and hard to be in a classroom when your loved ones need you in the hospital.
Since RozWoundUp is a free blog I have to eat all the costs associated with it. The biggest cost being the hosting service; but it includes plug-ins and services I use to support it. In addition, considering that the email program alone costs $600 a year it’s clear costs add up.
I do enjoy writing the blog posts however, but I have a feeling RWU might become once again about all of my enthusiasms, and less about art and sketching. In recent months I have been pulled to think more about television, movies, and books. And of course, just before the Pandemic hit I started baking bread again, and that’s become a “thing,” check out my Instagram!
So what’s the Magic 8 Ball say about what will happen with RWU?
“Reply hazy, try again.”
I’m leaving that up in the air for now. I feel comfortable doing that. I have over 265 folders waiting to be turned into posts in 2021. I think that the blog might turn out to be the thing that keeps me out of trouble (the way sketching once did). And Dick will probably be glad of that!
The Immediate Future on RozWoundUp
What is not hazy to me is what is coming up on RWU for the next couple of months, because I just reviewed the schedule and worked out posts through the end of this year. (And of course next month I’ll start turning some of those folders I mentioned above, into blog posts for next year.)
Also, in the immediate future there’s my two weeks or so of posts on saying goodbye to teaching that I also already mentioned. Self-indulgent? Yep, but some of my past students only keep contact through the blog and I said something in my end classes I want them to know. (I want everyone who reads the blog and tries to draw to know these things too.)
Besides the eye-health changes there are other big changes happening in my life and those changes require some work and adjustment and I’ll share them when it’s appropriate. As you know by now, the blog is always run at a little bit of a “delay,” not only because it means the swearing can be edited out, but also because I like to do a little bit of processing, in the hope that I can find within my reaction to events, something of truth to share with you. (That’s the house captain in me. Can’t get away from that either.)
So come back this week and the next for that series of posts I’ve mentioned. And I hope you keep coming back after that because you enjoy reading about my many enthusiasms.
One Reason to Never Say Never
The universe is a strange place. You try to do something for long enough and just as you start wrapping it up people come and ask you to do more of what you are just wrapping up.
No sooner did I decide, finally, to stop teaching, than several people started talking to me about doing exactly that.
Nothing is the right fit at present.
But when we step back from a situation and take a broader view we begin to see how other possibilities for something exist. Patreon was like that for me.
I believe other things will be too.
Online Classes Still Available
My last teacher guided class is a binding class. If you’d like to join my Sewn-on-the-Spine Journal class which begins October 3, 2020, registration is now open. The registration page explains the class and provides a downloadable link to the supplies list. (Registration closes October 2, probably around 5 p.m.—it depends on when I get up from the computer; keep that in mind if you’re on the fence.)
I’ll be in class answering student questions during the first month. And we’ll have a couple live webinars as well. Students will have about 14 months access to the classroom (which will close on December 31, 2021). (Students can ask me questions through class after the month of class ends, answer turnaround time will just be slower because of other scheduled work.)
The other two remaining classes are:
The Simple Pamphlet Book. This is a free class you can join at any time until December 31, 2021—that means that you will have access the class videos and materials right up until the platform closes. Since it’s a free class there isn’t any point not keeping it open. But I suggest you allow yourself a month at least to go through the materials.
By Design. This is a self-guided class. Because I’ll not be in class and you’ll be working on your own the tuition is low. It was always my hope that all my students would sign up for this class. It was created because design of a printed or a drawn page is such a big part of my life that it impacts all that I do. I could easily talk for hours in all of my classes about my thoughts on design. Instead I decided I wanted to talk once about it to avoid repetition within my art and binding classes. I’m glad I did this. Feel free to check out this class at the registration link in this paragraph. Registration will close on December 31, 2020, and you will have one year after that until December, 31 2021 to access all the videos. Students can also ask me questions in that class—however I am not in that class on a daily basis.