Faith Evans-Sills is a painter based in Charleston, South Carolina. She has both a BFA and an MFA, and she has taken her years of painting experience and built a thriving art business. Many of her art classes are built in partnership with Mati Rose McDonough, despite Mati living in California. You can hear my original interviews with Faith in Episode 102 and Mati in Episode 103. Today you’ll hear Faith talk about how she and Mati responded to the shutdown of travel and how it affected their live classes. She also tells us how she is engaging their community of artists with art challenges and new online classes.
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Here are some of the things we discussed in this episode (click on the names to follow the links):
You can find all of her online classes on her website here.
Through April 30, 2020, Faith is offering 50% off all of her online courses, including those that start after that but have already been announced for launching in May and June. Use the discount code UPLIFT to take advantage of this offer.
Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:
- Faith teaches online classes and in person workshops with her art partner Mati Rose McDonough. Faith and Mati had a workshop in Costa Rica scheduled for the beginning of April. They had to really tap into the latest travel advisories and messages from the World Health Organization so that they could make a quick decision on whether they could still hold this workshop. Because they were proactive about the situation, they understand the enormity of the situation sooner than most, and they were able to act to change their workshop and inform their students. When you are hosting classes and distance workshops, it’s imperative that you keep up on what’s happening in the world and you keep your students in the loop.
- As you listen to these new episodes where I’m talking to artists who offer online classes, I’m asking each one which online platform they use to host their courses. I’m doing this so that you’ll know the many options that are out there. Faith uses Ruzuku to host her online classes. In Episode 153, when I talked with artist Jodi Ohl, and she told me that she uses Thinkific. In Episode 152, Luci Duclos told me she uses Skillshare. Check out all the options to determine which will be best for your business. You should consider how much it will cost you monthly to use their platform; if they will take a cut from each of your classes that is sold, and how much; whether they will market your classes to other potential students; and whether your classes will be hosted on your website or theirs.
- When you have to cancel something big like a retreat, you need to recognize how disappointed your students will be too. Faith and Mati wanted to give those students the sense of community that they were losing, so they quickly put together a 14-day class that those students could join right away.
- It was also important to Faith and Mati to offer something affordable for their students that they could even take with their kids. A lot of their classes are long, about six weeks or so, and they are a significant investment in your art practice. They decided this new offering would be just 14-days and they priced it at a lower more affordable level so that it would be open to many people.
- Faith recognizes that the virtual connection that you can get from online courses is needed more than ever now. She’s always seen how good that connection can be and she’s glad that others are seeing it now too as new people embrace online classes.
- Watercolors are a good option for painting because there’s less set up than with acrylic paints, less mess, and it’s very portable. It’s a great choice if you want to paint outside or at a park. Watercolors are also a nice thing that you’re kids can do with you or that you can add to an art lesson for their homeschooling.
- Faith pointed out that as we are all dealing with these sudden changes to our lives and our businesses, it is affecting us just as grief would affect us from the loss of a loved one. Give yourself space to grieve and go through the stages of mourning what your life was like before all these changes were forced upon us.
- We are all going through this process right now of accepting our changed lives and figuring out what we want our new lives to be. Faith and Mati have thought about how they can offer art making opportunities to others to help them through this process. You may want to look at your business too and see if you can offer anything to help others during this time, maybe something that is different than your usual offerings.
- Faith also expressed that because we are all going through these changes, and these changes are unprecedented, there is some freedom that goes along with that. The fears that you’ve held about trying new things don’t matter anymore, and we can look at this as an opportunity to try something new. Now is the time to give yourself permission to step into different arenas that may have been scary before.