030: A Palette of Art, Learning, and Growth with Nancy Macdonald

The People Teaching People Podcast

Dec 19 2023 • 52 mins

In this episode, Nancy Macdonald joins me to talk about art, and the connection and impact between the art we make and our learning experiences.  “When one teaches, two learn”. This quote by Robert Heinlein so beautifully highlights a key takeaway from my conversation with Nancy. Being open to learning and remaining curious, as a teacher and as a learner, can lead to so many beautiful experiences and opportunities to grow. I love how Nancy describes her art studio as a lab for life and how she shares her story of evolving and pivoting her business - which started over 20 years ago around her kitchen table.  Nancy Macdonald traffics in hope and joy. She is a bestselling author, public speaker and owner of Art Studio For Children where she has had the great privilege, joy and mess of serving over 7000 artists of all ages. Her love of the unexpected, coincidence, hidden meaning and humor are thrown onto every canvas. The art school is an opportunity to love, nurture and empower others and give Nancy the most joyful work she could imagine.   Listen in as we talk about: [2:30] Nancy’s story of becoming an artist and establishing an art studio for children [5:00] Art and non-art skills learned in the studio [13:10] The reciprocity of teaching and learning in the world of art [18:10] Learning and growing over 20 years in business [27:00] Some challenges in teaching art and overcoming these [34:25] The evolution of art with technology [39:30] Making a learning space magical  [44:45] What Nancy is most proud of [46:50] Nancy answers some rapid fire questions   ART AND NON-ART SKILLS LEARNED IN THE STUDIO “Gratitude makes us happy. Happiness doesn't make us grateful. It's really the act of being grateful that gives us a sense of happiness, not the other way around.” Nancy shares that there are art and non-art skills learned from her studio experience, including fostering a deep sense of agency and gratitude, respecting studio space, and practicing gratitude through the "eight great" exercise. This exercise involves expressing gratitude for eight things starting with a chosen letter, cultivating happiness through appreciation. Nancy encourages taking breaks to elevate work from good to great, sharing this approach with students of all ages. Inclusivity is a core value, promoting respect, listening, and enjoying both invigorating and quiet studio times. Art skills encompass various techniques such as perspective, composition, color, and texture. Nancy emphasizes the significance of understanding art words like impastos, sgraffito, and layering, building a toolkit not only for artistic endeavors but also for life. The studio focuses on merging art and life skills to enhance the overall learning experience.   THE RECIPROCITY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE WORLD OF ART “We are here to learn, not to get it right.” Nancy talks about how, as a teacher, you can be prepared and good at what you do but there is always room for improvement. There’s room for surprise. There’s room for every student in the room, no matter their age, to teach you something or to remind you that this is a journey. None of us know everything.  Nancy talks about how she is constantly raised up by the artists that she works with. This includes their creative ideas, sense of fun and pure love for the moment, They have a mutual admiration for each other. It creates an opportunity for authentic connection between teacher and students. Nancy says that when our hands are busy, our hearts and spirits are more free to share what’s troubling us, what we are struggling with, what is difficult, and what is joyful.    THE EVOLUTION OF ART WITH TECHNOLOGY Nancy envisions the future of art in the context of technology and digital art, acknowledging the essential role it played during the pandemic and in her online design lab, nanceromance.com. Here, she transforms her abstract paintings into wearable art and customizable items, bridging the gap between traditional art and techno...