My First Demo

Perhaps I should have thought this through a bit better, but then again I thought I’d be fine to keep working at the same pace after No Place Like Home as I was working before it. Can anyone say DELUSIONAL!

Well you live and you learn right? So Lesson 1: If you are doing a solo show where you are the talent, the organiser, the admin, the marketing, the co-ordinator, the accountant, the production manager, the caterer, the fund raising manager, basically the chief cook and bottle washer, then don’t expect to be able to create spit for at least 2 months after you’ve run your blood to dust.

But see I agreed to this demo for my local Royston Arts Society long before that lesson was learned.

I managed to get myself moving enough to create a plan and execute it. I made some flash cards for myself. I created some Blue Peter style “here’s one I did earlier” canvases because Golden’s molding paste takes roughly 24hrs to be dry enough, and 48hrs before it’s rock solid so I can sand it. (No clue what I’m on about? See The Manor House Mural to learn my cave-on-canvas process) Next I sorted out some hand outs that showed my intial design plan, my symbol set, my home made funky foam stencils (yes, funky foam is a real material, I didn’t just make that up), the actual Royston Cave carvings, and more. Then I had the bright idea to give everyone a chance to try it for themselves. So I bought a load of plastic palette knives, a big pack of 3″ x 4″ canvas boards, dumped a little of my fibre/coarse molding paste mix in a few smaller plastic tubs than the giant ones I usually order, sourced small and medium latex gloves to protect hands, and created over 25 little funky foam stencils that viewers could use to try making their own cave canvas.

Then I practiced my presentation about 3 times with just the words, and another 2 or 3 times moving the canvases and props around as I might need to on the night.

The good news was:

Setting up was far easier than I imagined. I was ready right on time. Yay!
A decent enough crowd turned up, many of my Royston Arts Society peers were curious to see how I did it. Yay!
Everyone present listened intently and some even asked questions, which is always good. Yay!
I was able to cover everything I set out to and I didn’t run over time. Yay!

The bad news?

I was done with 40 mins to spare! Eeek!
I was so afraid I’d run out of time trying to show a technique that usually takes 2-3 days in 2 hrs that I spoke faster than some of those radio commercials that try to fit their fine print in at the end! Double Eeek!
I think it’s a high possiblity that most people wanted to ask more questions or were unclear about some things but I was going so fast they were afraid to interrupt. Epic fail! Boo me.

So tonight’s lesson?

a) Stacey you know that you’re not cut out for teaching so if you’re gonna try, be extra-ordinarily prepared.
b) Before you commit to something check your diary, check the plans you have either side and then decide if saying yes is truly feasible.

And finally,
c) Stop letting pride make your decisions for you – just because it’s an honour to be asked doesn’t mean it’s wise to say yes.

You’d think I wouldn’t try to teach a thing after this, right? Well you’d be wrong!

You see, all was not lost. Attendees did say that my technique was unique, they were fascinated by it. Quite a few people did opt to try their hands at making a mini cave on canvas though most didn’t take their samples home. And a few people had even more questions for me as I cleared up afterwards. I guess once I shut up long enough for them to ask questions, they did. It wasn’t a bust but it wasn’t my most shining moment either.

So when Val asked me to run the Matisse Cut-outs Workshop at The Old School Studio I was super wary and I agreed on condition that she was billed as the primary teacher and she taught the course alongside me.