Taught My First UK Workshop – Matisse Cut-Outs

My fairy godmother of the arts (i.e. Val) bought me a ticket to go see the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate in London. As excited as I was about it, I didn’t know how much that exhibition was going to impact on my art. To date, I can safely say that the Tate’s Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition is the exhibition that has had the greatest recall, greatest influence, and greatest inspiration for me. To say I loved it would be a gross understatement.

I was so moved by it that when we were sitting in the cafe afterwards, I whipped out my scissors, sketchbook, glue stick and a TFL cycling poster I’d picked up that had lots of blocks of colour on it and proceeded to get cutting and sticking. Over tea, we got to talking. Wouldn’t this be a great workshop to have the Studio? Wouldn’t this be a fun thing to explore colour?

So we did it. Val scheduled two 2-day Matisse CutOuts Workshops in the 2015 Old School Studio brochure and we began to plan…. SLOWLY.

The reason for the super slow pace? Suddenly we both got super busy, Val especially. Before I knew it, time was creeping up on us. So as things began to slow a little on my end, I took the books we’d bought at the exhibition and began to read voraciously. Did some online research. Thought about my own cut-outs process and what I’d learned from that when I created Play Yuhself. Val was still running around in super-busy mode. So I began to plan the workshop, step by step. Adding, editing, adjusting as I read more about Matisse and his CutOuts.

With only a couple weeks to spare, we scheduled a day to do some test runs with colour, art, prep papers, go through the workshop plan, that sort of thing. Val announced that as I’d done the lion’s share of the planning for this workshop, I should take lead on it. Well you can imagine my surprise and if I’m honest, utter panic! You remember how well my last foray into teaching went right?  With lots of assurances from Val that she would jump in if she saw me floundering, I relented and agreed. Val would do the intro and a brief bit on colour theory and the colour wheel but otherwise, this was more or less my baby.

Chris laughed at me the night before when I checked and double checked and triple checked my bags and my to-pack lists. I had insisted on going down to the Studio to set things up that night rather than wait til first thing in the morning. With my two little people, I never know when there’ll be an unexpected delay and arriving late for my first workshop was never going to go down well.

The next morning, students began to arrive and the workshop began. I’d like to say I was aware of everything I said or did. Not true. Val did the intro and handed over to me and within about 5 minutes I was totally immersed in Matisse. The only thing I was really aware of was a burning desire to share my love for Matisse’s CutOuts and the genius of his technique. I wanted everyone present to have fun creating and exploring, the same way a child runs with wild abandon exploring every crevice of a playground they’ve never been to before.

At lunch time, Val was making noises about me doing fine and she didn’t really need to step in at all. By the end of the first day she was talking about me running the workshop on my own the next time around. By the second day, I had to remind her that she wasn’t actually a participant in the workshop because she was complaining that I was moving on to a new topic and she wasn’t done with the last bit. Her response was to declare “Oh, I forgot that!” then speed up sticking things to her canvas to catch up with the rest of the class. When it was all over, the students thanked me and proudly posed for photos with their works-in-progress.

They thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. Apparently, I brought Matisse and his CutOuts alive to them and considering one lady started by saying the only thing she’s ever painted are walls and skirting board, I was well pleased. And so was Val.

So the next workshop will be a bit more on my own but I’m still not quite ready to relinquish the training wheels of my mentor just yet. Val will definitely be nearby. Why don’t you come join us. It’s a brilliant way to learn about colour and shape and you don’t have to be worried about whether your drawing is up to scratch! Click here for booking info.

Scroll down to see some photos of the Old School Studio’s first Matisse CutOuts Workshop.