Rhododendron Blossoms

Rhododendron Blossoms, Colored Pencil


My first year of Draw 365 ends soon. It was a year’s worth of drawing lessons – something for everyday. Some days are just prompts or inspirational quotes but other days were video tutorials. I created over 130 video tutorials for this course, including ones of the colored pencil drawing of the Rhododendron Blossoms. I am a little sad and I am also excited. I will miss creating daily lesson plans for my students but I am also excited to move on to something new.

This has been a rigorous year for me, having taught with the University of Victoria much more than I usually do. I designed and taught 6 classes this past year for the university – all online, which was more than I expected at the start of the year. Plus I created Draw 365. Also online.

Teaching online can be more challenging than teaching in person. I not only had to prepare lesson plans, I had to record and edit the recordings into easy to follow lesson plans. That means I had to set up my art table with tripod, camera, lights and everything I needed to create the drawing or painting. The first 5 months of 2021 I spent in an RV trailer.  I didn’t have a designated space to create. I set it up every morning and took it down every evening so my husband and I could cook and eat dinner.  Then from November on, I was at my mother’s creating on a small desk. I was only in my studio at our lake house from June – November. Fortunately I did have a spot there to keep the lights, camera, and tripod set up.

And then there were times when I forgot to press the record button or the battery died halfway through the recording. Ugh. When this happened,  I had to start over. Start over with finding and pulling out the paper. Start over with drawing out the image. Start over with the recording. Start over with sharpened pencils, clean water, and a clean palette. Start over with trying to remember all the things I said the first time when I was drawing or painting the image.

A few times the video files were corrupted. That also required starting over. There was also one time that my laptop crashed and I lost the video file I was working on. That was not a good day.

I discovered that living in remote areas can be inspiring places to paint, but not so good with uploading video files. While living in the RV or home at the lake, I had poor internet connection most of the time. Uploading video and other files as well as downloading the work of my students, meant that I had to do it in the middle of the night. 3 am seemed to be the best time to do so. Some nights I would go to bed at midnight with the computer plugged in via ethernet cable and it would finally finish uploading by 5 am. Other nights it wouldn’t upload all and I had to run into town to try to upload the files. To some this may not be a big deal, but when town is a 25 minute drive away, it was  quite a bit of time out of an already full schedule.

Another challenge was answering emails. When teaching for the university,  I would be teaching 2 art classes and had around 65 university students at the same time. Most of these students were in China and did not speak English as their first language. I would receive many emails each day asking for clarification on an assignment or project. I do believe that some of these emails came from those that did not bother to thoroughly read the assignment or my emails but I digress. Anyways, I would spend hours trying to explain in different ways what I expected and hoping that I was more clear in my instructions. I also discovered that it is much easier to point to a student’s work and say, “See that area, paint a pale blue over it.” Instead I now had to write something like, “the bright green foliage in the upper right quadrant (between the dark green area and the tall building) needs to be toned down with a pale wash of blue.”

Finally, there was the grading. Each project from each student would take over an hour (often more than an hour) per student to grade. That included the downloading, the organizing, and finally giving the students feedback on the work. My biggest challenge was the research. I would spend hours researching some work to see if it was plagiarized. When my spidey senses informed me that a work was not an original, I tried very hard to find the original artist. There is software for written work but not much for images. Especially when there is so much visual work out there, it is difficult to find.

So I apologize if I did not get to your emails or the lessons that I promised to create. As I mentioned, I taught more with the university than I originally expected.

Now that 2022 is approaching, the university has decided to return to more Face 2 Face instruction. I will not be teaching as much with them. I am also finishing up the Draw 365 course and getting ready for another year of it. (Fortunately, the lessons are already created.)

As I am sitting here thinking about the end of these courses, I feel relieved, anxious, and as I mentioned above – excited. Relieved because I am tired. Mostly of the computer and the computer screen. Anxious because I am not sure exactly what is next. Excited because I have plans to paint more.

I am also excited because even though I am unsure of the future,  I do have a few plans and ideas in the making that I hope to share with you in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned to hear of those plans. . .

Leslie Lambert

Author Leslie Lambert

More posts by Leslie Lambert