What is an Online Watercolour Class like?
Since the Lockdown in March, I have taught dozens of online water colour classes. I am so thankful for these classes, it has been away for me to connect with my students (and meet some amazing new ones!) at a time when Covid-19 made it impossible to teach in person.
Many of my students have enjoyed the format and some long for a time when we can get back to the studio. But regardless, I thought I would write a bit about what these classes are like.
So what is an Online Watercolour Class like?
I teach using Zoom, a computer meeting system students can download for Free. It enables students to see live video I shoot from my home studio and I can see my students in real time as well. I use a dual camera set up. It includes a new iPhone camera mounted above my workspace so students can see my hands painting in real time, and my laptop camera that allows me to talk to students face to face as well.
When a student registers, they receive a link in their email and when the class begins, that link automatically puts them into the virtual classroom. They can sign in using their cell phones, their tablets or their desktop computers.
After students sign in, I greet everyone and make sure everyone’s tech is working (can you hear me now?). Students names appears at the bottom corner of their screens. This is a huge benefit for me, because now I never forget a name! After a few laughs and updates we get to painting!
At this point, a virtual class is pretty much the same as an in person class. I demonstrate techniques, give students small assignments to complete and we work through a project or painting step by step. Throughout class, I encourage students to ask questions and share their work. I rarely use the mute button! Theres also often a bit of friendly chit chat as well.
Throughout the class, students can hold their work up to the camera and I am able to trouble shoot with them or offer feedback. We can even have group “critiques” where students can offer each other feedback and get to know each other.
Camera shy? It is possible to take the entire class with your camera turned off. It is harder to receive feedback but if you are comfortable you are more than welcome to follow along incognito!
Online Vs. In Person? Which is Better?
At first I thought online classes would never be as good or as popular as real studio classes, but I think I’ve changed my mind!
First of all, my commute has never been better. Come traffic, rain or snow, everyone can always make it to their computers on time!
Secondly, demonstrating for a larger group of people is simply much easier and clearer online. With my high quality camera and mount, students can easily see what I’m doing and I don’t have to paint at an awkward angle so students can see my work. No one has to crowd around an easel or a desk and the piece is evenly lit with my studio lighting.
Some classes can even be recorded so students can rewatch some or all of the class. Which is great if you need to review techniques or if you have to miss a class.
Yes, there are some technical blips and the occasional dog barking in the background. But all in all I've enjoyed the online teaching and in many ways. If anything good comes out of this pandemic, I am happy to have had the opportunity to try teaching this way and make it a part of my class offerings.
In the future I hope to offer online classes, and return to studio classes. But I’d also hope to offer hybrid classes where a portion of the class can be done online and the portion in the studio or outdoors.
Regardless, Online Watercolour classes are likely here to stay. If you aren’t sure if you’d like the online format, send me an email and I’ll send some snippets from a class so you can see what it is like! I’d love to see you virtually in class!
Have you tried taking a class online?