Saturday, September 29, 2012

Creativity Queen, Janet Keen, dare to be different

 Before you start to think what is this crazy New Zealand artist  woman up to now I'd just like to let you know I haven't gone completely mad by interviewing myself.
I am experimenting with different types of writing formats because I think a Q and A session is highly readable.
What do you think?
 Am I right or am I right?

Do you think experience counts for anything when you teach art? 
.I have been art teaching in Rotorua now for the past thirteen years.
 In that time I would have taught hundreds of people in Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty a large variety of creative and artistic techniques.
As long as I keep learning I am inspired so I can inspire my pupils.

Do you think qualifications are important when teaching art to others?
I have attended the University of Waikato and studied towards a Degree in English and Politics.
 I spent four years studying full time at Waiariki Institute of  Technology for a Visual Arts Diploma.
If  you study at a tertraly institution there is no going back.
You are introduced to a word that is magical and compelling and so deep and intricate that it could engage and entertain you for the whole of your life.
I would love to go back to art school full time in Wellington and do a Masters in Art.

Have you attended
 I have attended over 100 different night classes and out of town art and craft workshops by professionals.
When I worked full time for the Daily Post for twelve years, prior to switching to an art career full time, I  took night classes most terms.
Consequently there  not a lot of techniques I don't know how to do.
If   I'm not sure it's fairly easy for me to work it out.
 I had a lot of good teachers, some of who became friends afterwards. 

Clients first portrait of her father

Oil Painting first time

Clients first portrait

Do you think it's important to have a teaching qualification when deciding to teach people art?
Yes I  think that if you do a Certificate in Adult Teaching you realise it's different from teaching children.
When Picasso said that All children are artists and the problem is how to reamain one once you grow up,  he was so right.
It's important as an art teacher for me  to really like the people  I am  teaching and to not be doing it just for the money.
Teaching is a vocation and a calling, if you are not suited to it, it will destroy your soul.
Teaching always enriches mine.
I like it as much as doing my own work.

I have a lot of clients who come to me later in life, yearning to be artists but who were put off it by some  art teacher who didn't like their work.
This is unfortunate.
I remember at school from an early age teachers wrote on my report card that I  was very expressive and creative.
I loved school and never wanted to leave it.
As a teacher I believe you have a duty to be open minded and affirming about other peoples styles.
Art styles are personal things and every person has an area of interest that needs to be validated.

                       Clients contemplating 

Another clients mixed media whimsical painting, angels are  big in my studio.

Of course children are a pleasure to teach, they are just delightful.
They are enthusiastic and full of confidence and they love the paintings and mosaics they take away from my studio.
 I only teach children who want to learn, are well behaved and  in very small classes so it's a lot easier than teaching 30 children in one class, like in most schools.
I really admire the stamina and dedication of teachers and Principals  in schools, it's certainly not an easy option in life.
I don't teach the same sort of art that they teach schools and the children are given choices.
 No two artworks look the same from people in my class.
I don't have any children of my own so it's easy for me to really appreciate other peoples.
I always find their conversation wondrous and they  give me good ideas for my own work.
Children who are interested in attending my art and mosaic classes are often wise and sensitive.
 I treat them like real artists and set up exhibitions for them and tell them about opportunities to further their studies.
Do you have to have special attributes to be a good adult  Art Teacher? 
 Encouragement and entusiasm are key.
Many adults lack confidence in their mark making ability and sometimes they are unnecessarily critical about their own work.
This can get in the way of their enjoyment so they have to be gently encouraged to let go.
Sometimes you listen to people telling you all sorts of things about their lives as creativity allows them to access their emotions.
You need to be trustworthy, sensitive and to never gossip about what people have told you.
 In some ways you need to be an entertainer as well because adults are coming along for pleasure to relieve the stress of their busy working and parenting lives.

 One of my mixed media angel paintings

Is it important as an art teacher to be committed to educating yourself and finding out new artistic techniques and interests? 
Yes definitley.
Who needs to be stale?
 I am part way through a Diploma in Digital Photography  the moment with the Southern Institute of Technology.
Those tutors are hard markers and can be quite critical and you have to toughen up or you will become discouraged and not complete the assignments.
Photography is fascinating to me and more complicated than you think to master.
Going out with my camera most days has helped me with my art and my art training has helped me with my photography.
 I am starting to win awards now but it has taken me two years to do and even now I have so much more to learn.
Award winning photo of mine

Is it important to encourage others in your community to be creative?
Yes I believe it is because a creative community is a happier community.
 I believe if more people are happy living here it will be better off for everyone spiritually, physically and emotionally. 
Setting goals and taking time out to be creative definitley helps with happiness.

What about people wanting free advice?
When you are a professional artist and teacher you need to focus on bringing in money so that you can pay your bills, buy other artists books and work, go to conferences and feel a sense of achievement.
Sometimes aspiring artists or art teachers want to know all about  running an art business and all manner of other personal things from me. 

 I offer professional practise packages to these people which I tailor make to each one.

Any advice for a new person wanting to start out? 
In this economoc climate, "don't give up your day job"
If you really must strive to be a professional, do a small busnesss management course at the Wanaga or Waiariki.
It's not an easy option and the lack of a regular income can be of a concern. .
Above all have fun, have faith and try to remember it's not all about the money, if it was, you'd be better sticking to your day job.

Any trends?
  Lots more people seem to be taking painting and craft making  up and trying to make money from it as a supplement to their day jobs or in place of their day jobs. 
Baby Boomers and empty nesters are wanting to fulfill themselves creatively so they are having a go at fulfilling their long awaited dream of expressing themselves. 
Younger people are forming groups through the internet and there is a craft boom among the trendy sets in big cities. Stitch and bitch clubs are sprouting up everywhere
Pop up sart galleries are everywhere in big cities.
Grafitti art and stenciling is big.
Investment art is holding its own in some cases.
The internet is spawning a raft of talented creative entrepreneurs.

Do you teach photography or make money from it? 
 I do offer to  take women  from out of town and overseas on photographic safari's around Rotorua and I do take beginner photography sessions for women for negotiable prices.
I don't make an income from my photography by selling it  because it is a hobby and I want to fully enjoy and explore it.
I do have regular photography  exhibitions  in the Rotorua Public Library.

How important is it to view what other artists and teachers in your area are doing? 
 It's important to go along to their exhibitions and support them by buying their work if you like it.
 I have a reasonably large collecton of other artists work that I  have paid for.
The three Rotorua artists work I have collected (first names) are Hayley, April and Debbie.
The rest of the work is from all over New Zealand.
I specialise in mostly collecting women artist works, although I  have three works by Nick Fedaeff that I adore.
 I would like to meet this guy in person one day.

What do you think about copying  other Rotorua artists work or teaching topics? 
I consulted an expert marketer about ten years ago and she said to me look at what everyone else in your community is doing and offer something different.
Don't be a sheep, be a leader.

How important is it to offer something unique for your pupils? 
My  lessons are different to what others are teaching and I  plan to keep them fresh because I have access to cutting edge mixed media work, through my collection of  internationally reknowned books.
I like to encourage students to buy art books because it supports the industry.
I also like to encourage them to collect other artists work and to attend exhibitions.

Are  there any Rotorua artists or teachers that you admire and have learned from? 
Debbie Thyne from Wairaiki Institute of  Technology was always very encouraging and she really knew her subject and made art lectures interesting.
 I have exhibited with her in group exhibitions in the past.

George Andrews from Waiariki  was always good value and taught me everything I know about ceramics and sculpture. I have exhibited with him in the past as well.

 Pastel Artist Maxine Thompson is an  example of a switched on artistic businesswoman.
 She knows exactly where she is going and what her product is.
She doesn't get into undercutting other professional artists or copying them.
She is highly skilled in her craft and she teaches all over New Zealand and Australia.

I took a workshop with her a couple of years ago doing realistic pastel animals.
 Realism is not really my style, I'd rather take a photo than slave over something trying to make it look absolutley perfect.
 However  I made myself do it and came I up with this drawing of my cat.
I did have fun but it was also exacting work.
Notice his nose is wonky, I like that.

 Personality Type
I often  feel like I want to break out and be free of constraints.
I have a need to be around inspiring, spiritual and uplifting people.
I'm a bit of a free spirit, if I was an animal I'd like to be a cat or a bird.

Creativity Quote of the day
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced” – Vincent Van Gogh

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