Teaching More Than Art
Writer / Kris Parker
Photographer / Forrest Mellott
One of Lisa Guckelberg’s earliest memories is spending time in the home of neighbors who moved in when she was 4 years old. “Mrs. Martin and I enjoyed playing games together. It was like having a grandma living next door for me. I soon became very curious about the artwork that Mr. Martin worked on in the garage and in the back bedroom. Although I was told not to enter those areas of the house, I would find excuses to leave Mrs. Martin’s company and take a quick look at his current painting projects.
“I really wanted him to teach me how to draw and paint, but I can only recall one time that he actually drew something for me. I think Mrs. Martin convinced him. I watched intently as he drew from the horse model that I had brought over to his house. As he drew, he said nothing about how to draw the horse. I was totally focused, taking in the demonstration. I had to learn through observation, which is exactly what it takes to excel in drawing: the ability to observe your subject with focus and intensity,” said Guckelberg.
More than simply being an artist herself, Guckelberg shares her talent by teaching others. Beginning by teaching children’s art classes in 1987, Guckelberg currently offers classes for adults and children, ages 7 and up, at both the Franklin Cultural Arts and Rec Center on Mondays and the Greenwood Community Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
And while many people consider art classes to be for children, Guckelberg has seen an increase of adult students in recent years. “Every year, I have more and more adult students. It’s the chance for them to learn something new and a way for them to relax, but adults are always the hardest on themselves,” she said.
Some students pursue their interest in art later in life, some come to it much earlier. “Clearly I had an interest from an early age, but I think it was the combined nurturing attitude and support of many people that gave me confidence in myself and in my abilities as an artist,” Guckelberg said. “As a result, I put a huge emphasis on building the confidence of my students. In my classes, I try to push students…both children and adults…and I try to get them to problem solve and figure out if something doesn’t work, then what will work. I have students that come back years later and tell me how much they enjoyed and appreciated learning that skill in my class…because it translates into other areas of life.”
Guckelberg continued by explaining the encouragement she gives her art students: “Keep your expectations of your drawing ability realistic. Your drawings will never be perfect. Mine are far from perfect, even with all the years I have drawn and painted! Make it fun, learn something from each drawing that you complete and take that knowledge with you to the next piece of art that you create. Perfectionism frequently leads to frustration. Do art because you are getting enjoyment out of the process. Be experimental with your renderings. Be willing to make mistakes. Mistakes are good…you will learn from them! If you develop this mindset, you will be able to realize improvements in your artistic ability and enjoy the process.”
The classes are adaptable to students’ needs; they are listed as an hour long, but Guckelberg is flexible in that timeframe. She said, “If a student is in the middle of working on something and doesn’t want to stop, he can stay and finish.” In addition, each student works with her one-on-one, so he can work at his own pace and ability. “The classes are run like an open studio. I work with everyone on a case-by-case basis, so it’s all very individualized,” she said.
The annual art show, in which all the students have the opportunity to submit their work, is always on the first Friday of December. This year, it falls on December 4 at the Greenwood Community Center from 5-9 p.m. “This is the pinnacle of the year…for both the kids and the adults,” she said. This free event is open to the public and offers the opportunity to view student works of all ages.
The Perfect Gift
Gift certificates for classes and the beginning starter kits are available for purchase. Each student begins classes begin with a four-week focus on pencil drawing; from there, students can branch out into specific areas of interest.
To purchase a gift certificate or a starter kit or to enroll in her classes, email Guckelberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Greenwood Community Center during her class time. For more information, check out her website at lisaguckelbergart.com.