You know, the very first time I went to an SCA meeting it was an arts & sciences meeting. THis was, oh, 22 or 23 years ago. It was my first time trying to pick up a calligraphy pen and to do my first attempted illumination. What I remember most about that meeting was being told that I had no talent for it, and I should probably try some other art.
That had pretty much punctured my ego (and let’s be honest here, I haven’t got much of one of those for various reasons). So I left that meeting and never went back. I found a bunch of fencers and felt so much more at home and accepted. I fell out of the SCA after a year or two of fencing and that was it.
I came back to the SCA in 2012-13 when we moved to Auburn, and found the Shire of Angels Keep. A friendlier group you couldn’t ask for and it was a good mesh for me. It took me a long while to decide to try my hand at calligraphy and illumination. I still had the snark from years ago ringing in my ears. I found it to be such a completely different experience that I really wish that it had been like this way back then.
Now, 20+ years later I am back in the SCA and thinking back to my first experiences, and thinking about how important it is to handle newbies to your art or science with consideration, tact and care.
I’m going to be teaching my first class at Pen vs. Sword 5. Gouache 101. I’m anxious about it, I’ve never taught anything and I really don’t feel like I am all that knowledgeable. But I’m willing to give it a try. At the worst the people will ask me questions and I’ll freeze up or totally forget what to say.
My real hope though, is that by teaching this class I can encourage people who might not otherwise want to try or feel confident enough to try their hands at illumination. I want to make it as low-stress for them as possible so I’ve made a booklet with a lot of basic information in it, and a kit that includes 2 brushes, some gouache, a mixing palette, and some sample pieces for them to practice on.
I haven’t done a dry run, but I think that at this point for me to teach it–I have to just share what I already know. That’s the only way I can think about doing it that won’t make me be a blubbering basket case 😉 I need to share the love I have of the art and the enthusiasm I feel for it.
Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. No matter how I think of it, it’s gotta be better than my first go round.