1. What happens in an art lesson at Chris Babcock Art?
Students do warm up drawings with Sharpies, then take a drawing/ painting lesson using step by step constant visual demonstration by me standing in front of their u-shaped group of tables. I give them a humorous and entertaining explanation of the difference between the right brain and the left brain, and explain how to tap into the right brain which is the only way anyone can learn how to draw and paint well (that and having a thumb.) This humorous right brain/left brain lecture sets up the feeling that I want to keep alive within the students the entire lesson: that they are safe with me, that their art teacher is a kind and funny person who wants to show them in the most fun way possible how to use the magical creative side of their brains.
After the lecture, the students are ready to focus on learning artistic techniques: how to hold the paint brush so as to get a wide variety of lines,how to apply acrylics and water soluble oils using a variety of gels and mediums to change the texture (feeling) of a painting, how to shade and highlight, how to mix paints so as to get different hues and shades. All the while I am emphasizing and reemphasizing that each student has a style not like anyone else’s style, and they are only learning these techniques so they can have the know-how to express their individual thoughts and feelings through the mediums of drawing and painting.
2. Can you describe your teaching style?
To me, teaching is at it’s best when it’s simultaneously entertaining and enlightening. So the entire time I’m teaching my students, it’s most important to me to keep a running series of playful humor going on combined with firmness, clearness, patience and a bottomless empathy and kindness.
3. Why do your students interpret modern and contemporary masterpieces and images from pop culture?
I want to emphasize the word ‘interpret’ as opposed to ‘duplicate’. The students interpret modern and contemporary masterpieces because throughout artistic history it is the best way known to lead you to discover your own individual style of expression. By studying those painters’ work who have reached such a profound level of excellence, you are slowly unlocking your own style in the process.
People may say that you will stifle creativity if you study and interpret the great works of art, but there’s zero evidence to back that argument. One of my favorite master painter Fernando Botero interpreted the works of Valazquez, Goya, Piero della Francesca, Uccello, Masaccio, and Andrea del Castagna from 1949 to 1956, and it was not until after this lengthy study that in 1956 he discovered his own style of dilating his figures or “fat” figures as he calls it. Now he is
one of the most renowned original artists living today.
4. Do you offer informal free drawing and painting? time as well as your formal painting and drawing lessons?
During the first 30 minutes of class, my students warm up their right brains by creating drawings from the imagination using Sharpies (39 assorted color variety of permanent fine point AP certified nontoxic markers) on bristol board paper.
The only two rules to this warm up exercise are:
(1)no scribbling (2)no white showing at all that means no white clouds, no whites of the eyes, no white people, no white snow men and no white background! When students can’t use the white background of paper, white imagery or a quick scribble to announce they are “done” with their drawing, they immediately dig deeper and go to their creative side of their brains which heeds with the most dazzlingly imaginative pieces. This warm up is a powerful tool to help a student realize that it’s the journey, not the result, but that when you focus on the journey, funny enough, you do usually get the best results.
5. Why do you use professional grade permanent paints and the finest variety of paint brushes instead of cheaper student art supplies?
Why does a music student practice on a Steinway Grand instead of an electric keyboard from ToysRUs? Because no matter how hard you try, study and work to develop your skills in art, if the tools you are using are third rate, so will be the art work. The most lush, dense professional grade acrylic paints, oils and brushes show you the most expressive work you can achieve, and that in itself is inspiration to carry on with your artistic study.
I say the sooner you use top grade supplies the better your artistic development happens.
6. Why do you use water-soluble oils instead of tradition oil paint?
My students use only Holbein Duo Aqua Water Soluble Oils because this line of paints offer the same high pigment quality and archival characteristics of Holbein’s Artists’ Oil line while allowing soap-and-water cleanup, Duo Aqua Oils are characterized by rich hues, high chroma, excellent resistance to light.
They can be mixed with acrylics to create a variety of effects and make possible a variety of techniques. They can even be mixed with metallic and pearlescent watercolors to create colors that do not normally exist in oil color palettes. Because they clean up with soap and water instead of harsh solvents, Duo Aqua Oil Colors are safer than traditional oils for use in the studio or classroom.
( The kids love to complain about how the paints smell like stinky fish, but that just leads us to a series of odor-related jokes that brings them to happily adapt their noses to this “charming” aroma.)
7. Why do you you use only acid-free Archival paper?
Archival paper is an especially permanent, durable acid-free paper. Archival paper is meant to be used for publications of high legal, historical, or significant value. It is designed to last 1000 years, so you can pass these art pieces down for generations so setting a frame work of inspiration for future family members and a sense of connectedness with ancestors.
8. Why are your art lessons on the expensive side?
Two big reasons why my art lessons are on the expensive side:
The first reason is the finest grade art supplies cost a lot to make, and so they are expensive to buy. The cost of tuition includes the cost of supplies students use in class.
The second reason is (and I say this with complete humility) that I am one of the best art teachers students will ever come across in their life times.I adore teaching and I have teaching chops.
Experiencing art lessons from me will forever engrain in a student the love of art and sense of artistic self, and that’s worth a lot more than than what I charge in tuition.
9. Why do you always put a border of art tape around the edges of your students’ acid free paper?
I put art tape around the archival paper the student paints on because when the tape is removed, it creates this clean, crisp edge to the painting. This effects the way the viewer sees the work. It says ‘there’s an entire world inside these borders’. A clean, crisp border around a piece of art is an invitation to look closer at the picture. Like a string of pearls around a girl’s neck or shaped brows above big brown eyes, it attracts the viewer to look at what it holds.
10. Why do you gloss your students’ paintings?
Although it is oh so time consuming for me to do this as it takes place after the students have gone home and the paintings are dry, I think it is important for me to gloss varnish each student’s painting they make to protect the work of art from potential water, dirt or dust damage, and to enhance color and depth as well as unify the sheen of the painting.
Also, gloss varnishing helps if there is any residual surface tackiness on the acrylic painting. The varnish can collect any dirt and dust, protecting the original painting surface.
11. What do you use the giant flat screen for in your teaching room?
The flat screen tv is actually my computer screen that is connected to my magnificient Mac Mini. I use it to play music, show educational videos and play movies. I play the music to enhance the students’ painting experience: the music I play is vast and I choose it based on the age group I have : Mozart and Phillip Glass to Lady Gaga and Alvin and the ChipMunks; it all depends on the crowd’s tastes in music.
I show my students educational videos about the artist who’s works we are studying. YouTube has a wonderful collection of 2 to 10 minute videos highlighting an artist’s development or style, or showing demonstrations on how they paint and draw.
I also offer a class called Date Night: Painting and a Movie where the kids come in a learn how to draw and paint a central character from a family movie, then they get to watch that movie on the flat screen. And sometimes during the summer art camps when the kids are taking their lunch break I show them some classic Looney Tunes or brilliant animation shorts by Pixar. I love technology!
12. Do you give discounts?
Discounts are given as early bird specials via codes I give in my newsletters. I give sibling discounts always as when you have more than one child to put through school little financial breaks here and there help a lot.
13. Do you give trial classes?
I give trail classes to first time students when promoting a new kind of workshop. These trail classes will be announced in my monthly newsletter.
14. What is your cancellation and refund policy?
If and when I am too ill to teach and cancel a one day class, or have to cancel an entire session due to not reaching the minimum amount of students, I will refund the student’s tuition immediately unless the student wants to apply the tuition to a future class.
If I have to cancel one class within a session of classes, I will offer a make up class.
If a student wants to cancel a class already reserved with payment, the student does not get a refund, but the student can apply that tuition to any future class.