My Opportunity to Teach Painting in China

Sometimes I wished my desk-job exposed me to the outside world. Living in China comes with a host of opportunities for interesting encounters, but if you’re always stuck in an office you won’t experience any of them. A year ago my wish turned true as I was offered to teach painting on weekends. Tho starting small it would turn into my viral “15 minutes of fame”, including an interview by one of China’s largest newspapers!

Niber painting as a student during art class in China

During this fun painting party I was offered to teach my own classes. A role that would eventually land me an newspaper interview.

One evening as me and a friend was looking for an activity we signed up for a one-time art class at a cafe. As I couldn’t understand a word of the teachers Chinese instructions, the class seemed an ill fit at first. Luckily I stayed with it, thinking at least I get to paint without the hassle of cleaning. Little did I know this one-time class would turn into my greatest opportunity in China.

As the class was coming to its end the organizers came over to compliment my painting. I was unsure what all the praise was about until they asked me the question, if I was interested in teaching my own classes.

Having already lived a year in China I knew my painting had little to nothing to do with the offer, compared to simply being an exotic foreigner. Luckily my pride has flexible standards so regardless of reason I gladly accepted the offer. Finally I had my chance to interact with the people of Chengdu!

But this opportunity turned out to be more than I had bargained for. The decision to hire a exotic foreigner turned out to be a good one, as the student attendance exploded in numbers. So much that my first lesson turned into a disaster.

Preparing for my First Painting Class as a Teacher

IFS Central shopping area of Chengdu, the area where my first painting teaching class would take place

My first painting class took place in the most central shopping district of Chengdu. Exciting, but meant a nightmare of traffic to get there.

Having never taught painting before (nor having taught anything for that matter) I was plenty nervous before my first class as an instructor.

As a 3d artist, I’ve never claimed to be good at traditional painting. For what little painting I’ve done I’ve chosen watercolors, yet here I was about to teach how to paint in acrylic.

I felt wholly unprepared for the task, but I decided not to worry about something beyond my control. As I couldn’t improve my teaching abilities in a matter of hours, I decided to focus my effort on the thing I did have control over, getting there on time.

With the evening traffic in Chengdu being the usual nightmare, you’re almost expected to show up an hour late with a traffic excuse. By leaving my apartment ridiculously early I could at least take comfort knowing I came on time, should my teaching be a failure.

Arriving to my First Class as a Painting Instructor

Organizers moving painting class out into the mall's hallways in preparation for the many students who made a last minute booking

Arriving to my small class I wondered why we had moved out of the cafe into the mall’s hallways. The answer proved shocking…

As I finally arrived the organizers told me most of the students would be late due to traffic jams. Tho this is exactly what I had suspected, I was confused as there were already ten students here, that’s even two more than the class I had attended as a student. So exactly how many were we waiting for? And why are we in the the corridors of the mall instead of the cozy cafe?

That is when I learned the shocking news. There had been a last-minute group booking, increasing the class so big we wouldn’t even fit inside the cafe.

For now, let’s just say I had a baaaaad feeling about this! To find out how it went check out my first disastrous class as a painting instructor.

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