After composing a list of potential speakers, I e-mailed and called many of them. I was surprised at the number of artists who were willing to speak to our students for free. We then created a three day seminar in which artists came in and spoke to our students for 30 minutes followed by a Q & A session. The artists ranged from a fiber artist to an automotive illustrator to a graphic artist. Some artists bought in actual examples of their work while others used slideshows. One of the artist, who is an abstract painter, invited students to come and paint random strokes and colors on a canvas; the final painting is shown below.
The students really enjoyed meeting and learning about the artists as well as taking a break from the normal class routine. We also provided lunch for the artists and took time to learn about their creative backgrounds. At the end of the series, the students wrote a short essay about what they learned and which artist inspired them the most. This idea is perfect for the art educator who has a limited budget but wants to expose their students to the art community in their local area. Moreover, it's a program that can be tailored to fit any grade level and schedule. Let us know if you are doing something like this in your local school.