View Full Version : Debating whether to take workshop with Elizabeth Mowry

07-31-2013, 04:40 AM
Hello...I'm a beginner with pastels (and painting/art in general). I saw that my local pastel organization is hosting a workshop with Elizabeth Mowry in October. I'm interested in attending, but debating whether it would be wise to do so.

I've read that Ms. Mowry is an excellent and gentle teacher, which makes me excited to learn from her. Although I prefer urban landscapes and portraits to the bucolic landscapes she seems to favor, I believe there is much I can learn from watching her approach painting...it sounds like she does extensive demos.

On the other hand, I'm wondering if it would be better to wait until I've developed my understanding of art/painting/pastels more. It's a significant investment at $400 for class tuition plus airfare, and using vacation leave from work.

I guess my bottom line question is, At what point do you think it's worthwhile to take one's first serious pastel workshop? Even if I'm a beginner, I'm sure I can pick up a lot by watching others and it would be nice to meet other pastel lovers! But I don't want to waste this investment of time and money if most of the teaching would be way over my head.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

07-31-2013, 10:11 AM
Doesn't she have a video or two? You could watch them, and then decide if you think it is worth the investment. The F+W have them, Artistsnetwork.tv, link at the top of the WC site.

Generally, a workshop is beneficial at any stage. You get personal help, but you also learn a lot from what the instructor tell others. There's usually a demo, and some lectures. Trying out stuff. And then there's painting, where the instructor helps you when you need it.

Some of it may be over one's head, but it tends to stick in the mind, and then a year later one realizes: "So that's what she was talking about, I get it now."

07-31-2013, 10:55 AM
If it's sponsored by a local organization why do you need airfare? I agree, having to travel for a workshop prices them way out of my financial tolerance level, but if a workshop by Mowery was held locally I wouldn't have to think much about it, I beleive $400 would be money well spent. I have several of her books and the video of her demo from IAPS two years ago.


07-31-2013, 04:50 PM
She is an absolute favorite of mine, I've always been inspired by her landscapes. I have all her books, and have always wished I could take a workshop with her. So, for me, it is a no-brainer..... money well spent. I would love to pick her brain.....

08-01-2013, 06:36 AM
It sounds like it would be great. If you've got vacation, what better way to spend a vacation than a pastel workshop? Seriously. It's not that unreasonable compared to most vacation options other than "stay home and sleep late doing nothing, wondering where all the time went."

Charlie's points about it make total sense. The other great thing about workshops is that you get immersed in painting and hang out with the other students too. Art is social, it's communication. If you're a beginner, then the other students may be helping you out too as you go along since they've already dealt with some of the problems you have.

Urban landscapes have a lot in common with wilderness ones. Especially for a beginner, the same principles are going to apply.

For portraits, there's the wonderful six-part free class in Pastel Learning Center that DAK720 did a while back. Main point of doing portraits in my opinion is learning to measure the face and get used to the proportions of the face and shapes of human features. Once those are familiar there's a lot of wiggle room for two things: individual features and expression.

I did pastel portraits for a living as the last serious job I actually had before I got too disabled to keep up. It's a bit complex but a lot of what goes into it is the same as what's going into landscapes, other than the fact of faces needing more accurate measuring. Landscapes you do not have to be true to what's there, you can move trees around, add in rocks, change the weather, do what you want. With faces you can't just add an extra eye to make it more interesting unless you're Picasso.

My other suggestion on portraits is to sketch the person in charcoal or an earth red hard pastel like a sanguine Conte several times before actually painting the portrait. It helps to know the subject and if you sketch a lot before any painting, you'll learn something on each sketch. Try timing the sketches to no more than five minutes or three minutes too, so that you don't get lost in details. Those can go in on the serious painting and are actually easier than the proportions, expression and gesture.

So there's a few portrait tips to make up for Mowry not being a portrait teacher. Maybe if you enjoy this one you can take a portrait workshop later on with a different artist?

08-04-2013, 04:41 AM
David, I live in Hawaii but the workshop will be held on a different island than than one where I live. Airfare costs about $200 round trip for the 20 min flight!

Charlie, I don't recall seeing a video that Elizabeth made. Do you have a link?

Robert, thanks for pointing out an online lesson on painting portraits. And for the suggestion to try very quick sketches.

Chris, thanks for the encouragement to take her workshop too!

08-04-2013, 07:43 AM
I may be wrong, memory error...

08-04-2013, 04:29 PM
A DVD was made of Elizabeth Mowry's demonstration at the 2011 IAPS convention and is available here:


08-05-2013, 09:58 PM
Found it and bought! Thanks, Charlie, for the suggestion and kate for the link.

08-06-2013, 10:14 PM
Taking a workshop is beneficial at any stage, and Elizabeth is a wonderful teacher. Not only that, you will also be surprised how much you will learn from other students. Not everyone who attends workshops are beginners. :) Also, as stated, the concepts are the same for any subject matter in the landscape, be it rural or urban, perspective, light and shadow, hues and values etc...
I would say go for it...you can't go wrong.