Society of Decorative Painters -
1220 E. First St. Wichita, KS 67214
Phone: (316 ) 269-9300 Fax: (316) 269-9191
Hours of Operation: 8:30 - 4:30 Central Time, Monday - Friday
Contact list with Emails and Office Phone Extensions
The family of Barbara K. Watson MDA recently visited SDP Headquarters to see the installation of Barbara's work displayed in the SDP Foundation Collection. The two-year show has been loaned from the personal collection of John Watson, Barbara's son. The show opened during the 2012 SDP Conference to a crowd of enthusiastic SDP members, including many of Barbara's colleagues and students.
Joining SDP just two years after its inception, Barbara was a painter, a teacher, and an ambassador for decorative painting and the Society. Key to opening decorative painting to the Japanese market, she was one of the first teachers to introduce tole and decorative painting to a country where the art form exploded and is still thriving today. Starting with a small store in the early '70s and a student of SDP Founding Mother Priscilla Hauser MDA, Barbara and her work are now known and respected all over the world.
Barbara's mother, Ruth Titus, graciously donated a piece of her daughter's work from her own collection to the SDP Foundation. This piece will remain on permanent display with the SDP Foundation.
With a history of forty years, SDP has been home to an incredible number of painters, teachers, and inspiring figures. It is a truly wonderful event when we get to meet the family of one of these outstanding people, and welcome them with a display celebrating the life and history of such an incredible member.(Back to Top)
As an organization, we are constantly seeking new ways to promote and share the decorative arts through whatever means we can find. To that end, two years ago we created a blog that is now followed by more than two thousand subscribers and read by more than ten thousand more each month. Over the past year we have been using this tool to promote SDP teachers with our Focus on Education series. This is an ongoing series of articles written by different teachers to provide educational content to our readers and providing exposure for the participating teachers.
Would you like to widen your audience and introduce yourself to more students? Share your favorite trick or technique in three hundred to four hundred words on the blog and demonstrate your expertise and your ability—and give readers a reason to follow you, either online or at your studio. Your article will end with your name, your full contact information (email, websites, Facebook, etc.) and other information you would like to share about you, your studio, or upcoming events.
In payment, all participating teachers will receive one full month of ad space at decorativepainters.org, where we receive more than 13,000 visitors each month. The ad will be 150px square and can link your website, Facebook, or email.
If you would like to participate in this program as a contributing writer, please contact SDP Marketing & Communications Coordinator Matthew Clagg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (316) 269-9300 ext. 115.(Back to Top)
By Barbara Hammett CDA
We are the Society of Decorative Painters, an international group that appeals to many people, both male and female, who all have some interest in decorative painting. But have you ever noticed what a variety of methods and media we use in our quest for self-expression? We all know about acrylics, oils, watercolors, colored pencils, pastels, watercolor pencils…what have I left out? And surfaces…oh my! What a variety! Pretty much anything that will hold still long enough for us to get our medium-du-jour on our applicator of choice!
Now, can you imagine being a small group trying to decide what classes to offer for the next annual Conference? Hundreds of projects are submitted each year and only about one in five of them can be selected. Every year, the SDP home office receives requests for more classes in a certain popular medium or technique. There are teachers whose classes are always in demand, but there must be space for new teachers who will eventually replace those who will someday retire. Familiar techniques need to be balanced with new and different expressions of art. Some criteria have nothing to do with the art itself: project costs, length of class, and skill level are also considered.
Anyone can submit a project for consideration for the next annual Conference. In doing so, keep a few guidelines in mind. First, take a look at a painting conference catalog. Notice the size of the project images? Ask yourself what your project will look like in the book. Will it grab an attendee’s attention? Then ask yourself if your project is unique and will appeal to a large number of people. What will someone learn when taking your class? Does the description of the project look right with the picture that is submitted? And be sure to read the rules governing the submission process. It is sad when a project has to be rejected because a rule was violated!
Also know that all projects are chosen “blindly” based on quality and content alone–the selection committee does not know who the artist is when the first round of ballots is cast. It is an agonizing process for the committee because so many beautiful projects are submitted. For the 2013 SDP Annual Conference there were 494 potential classes in the 4-, 6-, or 8-hour category. As you can see, there is not enough time in the week of Conference to teach them all. But with more submissions, every class can be the highest quality.
Was there a class you wanted this year that wasn’t offered? Consider submitting it yourself for 2014! Start preparing now and be ready to submit by June 2013.(Back to Top)
Are you building your business by seeking out new painters? As a teacher, you know that it’s important to balance advanced classes for longtime students with beginner offerings to the public to ensure continued growth. We want to help you sustain that growth, and we have two programs that can help.
Earlier this year DecoArt released its Come Paint with Us program. DecoArt’s program includes a beginner's kit with paints, brushes, papers, and basic tools, plus three simple and attractive patterns. These patterns were all designed for surfaces that can be purchased for under $5 each, but they are easily transferrable to other surfaces and can be reworked into new designs. The starter kit is $49.50, and the pattern packet itself is available for download. Find more information, and the patterns, go to decoart.com/comepaintwithus.
In addition to the projects and materials, we want to supply you with an outline of how to set up, advertise, and host a class that will ensure that students keep coming back for more. In conjunction with International Decorative Painting Month, we created a full marketing plan for organizing and holding a class, plus tips to ensure that you keep your new students coming back. You can find these online at http://decorativepainters.org/idpm.php under the Get Involved tab.
When your teaching business grows, SDP grows, and we want to help you succeed in whatever way we can. We hope that you will find these materials useful to you as you seek to build your business, whether online or in your local community. If you ever have any questions, comments, or just need some advice, please don't hesitate to contact SDP. With more than fourteen thousand members, your Society can offer a wealth of knowledge, and we are happy to get you in touch with those who can help.(Back to Top)
By Elaine M. Russell CDA
Over the many years I have been a teacher, I have worked with a huge variety of students. There are visual students who learn by watching the teacher paint. There are those who can paint after hearing what to do, and those who need you to actually hold their hand to show them that stroke or shape. Students learn in a multitude of ways.
When I started teaching, I felt that if I kept one week ahead of my students I was doing well. As time went on, one of the hardest things I learned was that not every student would learn to the degree I felt they could. I kept my expectations high, and they all tried so hard to meet them.
Over the years I became a better teacher along with becoming a better painter. I took classes from wonderful teachers. I listened to their words and watched how they painted. That was a huge help in becoming a better teacher. There are some fabulous teachers out there. As most teachers say, there is no wrong way to paint—just a different way.
Become a knowledgeable teacher.
One step to becoming a better teacher is to enroll in the Society’s TDA Program. Reading the book on teaching dos and don'ts was a tremendous help to my own business, and the test challenged my ideas. I am happy to say I passed the test, but not yet the video. Someday. Teaching on a continual basis helped so much. My students challenged me to learn, since I challenged them. It worked both ways.
Give them confidence.
If you see a student with little confidence in their work, try to take extra time with him or her after class or another time when it's just the two of you. Remember that your best might not be hers or his, so adjust your expectations as needed. Some students cannot find the time with their busy lives to paint as required for class. Be prepared to make time for what students have missed before the next class. I realize this can sometimes be hard, but if you want to be a successful teacher, it is necessary.
Stretch their learning ability.
Don't allow them to paint the same type of easy painting after they have learned basics. Some painters are happy doing the same style over and over again, but push them to learn more. They may not like every style or medium you teach, but they will become proficient in all styles. I had a very learned teacher who had me paint a still life in a proper color scheme, get all the values and intensities, but did not allow me to use white. It took me a while to think it through, but I have to admit that if she hadn't pushed me I would never have done that on my own. This wonderful teacher was Barb Watson MDA. To this day I hear her telling me to “think!” and I do.
Whether you teach in a home studio, at conventions, or seminars across the world, you must strive to be the best you can be. Your students will love you for it. I hope this small article helps you to become a better teacher. Do you hear a certain teacher telling you to think also? I hope so.(Back to Top)
After our recent talk with the Skyping Painters (Issue #3, 2012), about two painters who connected online through an Internet-based painting course, we wanted to create a way to help more painters connect and find painting partners to work with, critique with, and grow with.
As part of International Decorative Painting Month 2012, we have launched SDP Painter Connect. Use this tool to find and connect with other painters all over the world with whom, through video chat, you can paint together, share your work, give and receive critiques, and just have a friend for mutual support. Art happens best when it happens together!(Back to Top)
By Pat Parker
If you teach, you know that nearly every class has one student who is more demanding. Or always wants to do something different. Or is always late. Or always has an issue. You may think to yourself, "If it weren't for ‘Difficult Dora,’ my class would be far more pleasant." Get used to it—there's always one. The trick is to learn how to deal effectively with her (or him) and make class enjoyable for the rest of the students, you, and hopefully even your "problem" student!
In order to create a comfortable environment in which everyone can learn, you have to have rules. That way, everyone knows what is expected of them and what to expect from you. Rules don't have to be long and involved or overly strict. They're really just common sense and common courtesy, but some people need it spelled out.
Your rules should state what time class is scheduled and a statement to the effect that classes will begin and end on time. They should specify when class fees are due and for what period, e.g. once a month, and how they are to be paid. Be sure to state your policy regarding makeup classes: some teachers have one makeup class per session; others have none but provide notes for missed classes. They should also describe how and when projects will be chosen, when surfaces and prep info will be ready, and when payments for them are due. You should spell out exactly what you will provide (coffee and tea, certain mediums, etc.) and what will be available for sale (soda, paints, brushes, etc.) And be sure to cover cell phone use—that can be a real problem. Without making your rules ridiculously long (I limit mine to one page including the schedule for the session), make things clear and try to cover every situation you can think of without being too specific.
Even with the best, most thoroughly written rules, a difficult student will still find a way. The good thing is you can cite the rules that you handed out to everybody the first week. Call her on any violations—don't let them fester. Be scrupulously fair, and apply your rules with a very even hand.
Sometimes the difficulty has nothing to do with the rules. My personal favorite is the student who "just isn't pleased." With her work? With my instruction? With the project? Teacher frustration comes from the lack of specificity of the complaint. For most teachers, if you tell them what's bothering you, they'll work as hard and as long as necessary to help you overcome the problem. With a student who isn't specific, it takes patience and some well-phrased questions to learn the nature of the problem. Often it is actually insecurity. Some people have a real problem when doing something new. It's hard to be a beginner again when you are accomplished at a style or medium; but if we don't try new things, we will stagnate and frankly, our classes will become boring. Usually some extra attention and reassurance will help. Try to remind your student of the things she knows and does well and how she should apply them to what she's working on now. It's always more comfortable doing something familiar.
More often than not, teaching brings satisfaction, and with some preparation and patience that can be true even with a difficult student.(Back to Top)