View Full Version : Can a workshop really influence your work?

07-15-2016, 08:01 PM
Would you be willing to share your experience? :)

Are workshops about having fun and socializing or can they change the way you work?
I am sure workshops are always worth attending because we can see what is possible and how others paint, but that doesn't necessarily mean that our style or skills get better - or that our style get closer to the style of our favourite artist for example.

I was surprised by the work of the attendees of Bill Cone's workshops. When they displayed all sketches and paintings in the evening, I wasn't able to guess which sketches were Bill's. (I saw them on the Internet, I wasn't part of the group)

Has your favourite artist influenced colors in your palette for example?

Or have you experienced any "WOW or AHA moments" during a workshop? :)
I remember only one from about a year ago. Johannes Vloothuis was using oils and wanted to demonstrate how to mix the right value. He put a tiny scrap of paper on the already dry surface, turned the camera into monochromatic mode and kept mixing his colors. It took him just one try to make the scrap of paper "disappear" - he matched the value of the background perfectly. The fact that he was mixing completely different color than the background was and still managed to make the scrap disappear was like magic for me :lol:

Do you prefer video demos that you can watch several times and pause them when you need it or do you like to meet the artist in person?

Thank you for sharing your stories :)

water girl
07-16-2016, 08:28 PM
I have taken many workshops over the years. Most of the artists paint in a style very much unlike my own. In every case, there are bits and pieces that apply to your own work. Also, I like to listen to comments made to others in the workshop. Just because a comment does not apply to your painting, it will eventually apply to a future piece. I have really, really good hearing :lol: and can listen to two conversations at the same time. Workshops expose you to more than style.

07-16-2016, 08:51 PM
:) Thank you, Karen, for sharing your experience.

07-18-2016, 06:35 PM
Judy Carducci had a HUGE influence on me - I will always remember her as a work-changing mentor :) Others have been interesting but for whatever reason, I didn't recall too much afterwards. So for that reason I like to get the videos so I can go back multiple times and focus on specific things.

You will also find that longer workshops make bigger impressions.
Judy always says that Day 1 is excitement so retention = 0. Day 2 is shock (what you are drawing vs what you saw) so retention is at 25%. Day 3 things settle down and you start to get it - retention = 50%. By Day 5 you got it, are in the groove and really want to take off, but the workshop is over.....

07-18-2016, 07:21 PM
Thank you for mentioning Judy Carducci, Melinda. It was joy to browse her gallery.

07-18-2016, 08:20 PM
I have never been to a workshop, but have seen a few comments over the years. My impression is that very few (if any) workshops are about fun and socialization! They are usually quite intense and there is not enough time to cram in all that is being taught.

I would imagine that can be quite different depending on who the instructor is, but I would think that the goal of the instructor is to teach and demonstrate the fundamental concepts and actual ways of using the materials that would be applicable to a wide variety of styles rather than just their own style. Of course, the theme of the workshop could be more style specific, too, I suppose. The more you know about the instructor, and any previous workshops they have taught, the better.


07-19-2016, 05:43 AM
I did a 2 years course in portrait drawing and painting.
I learned how to look at a face, but the painting part (the teacher did acrylic)was very his style and he was not charmed that I switched to pastels.

and the 3days workshop done by eric jean pouillet with pastelpencils was very helpfull and I learned the technical part of using the pencils after a few hours, it's how you can use it in your personal style, after all it is how you can get more fun in drawing/painting.

07-19-2016, 11:27 AM
At $400 and up (plus all travel related expenses), workshop do not tend to be about socialization. There may be a person or two that is trying to impress everyone with how good they are, or how much they know. Just be polite and ignore them. I donít have time for them, and neither does most anyone else. Look hard at the Instructor. Is what he has laid out in the course description what you are interested in. Donít take a plein air workshop if your style and comfort zone is studio work. If it does look like a good fit, what feedback have you been able to find from former students. Itís you money and you owe it to yourself to spend it wisely.

07-19-2016, 11:46 AM
Thank you, it's interesting!
I don't think I will attend any workshop in the near future because that would mean going to another country and it would make it even more expensive.
When I was looking up information some time ago, I mainly focused on several days events where people stayed in the same hotel, so that's where the idea of socializing came from :)

It's definitely interesting to read what you find important and what you learned at a workshop - that it is not only about a certain style.

07-19-2016, 12:31 PM
I mainly focused on several days events where people stayed in the same hotel, so that's where the idea of socializing came from

People at Workshops often do get together for dinner or lunch. There is a bit of socialization in that sense.

07-19-2016, 02:06 PM
Workshops are great!
I went to Snowcamp with Stapleton Kearns a few years ago and it was truly one of the best learning experiences I ever had.

I've taken other workshops too, and they were also good. But Snowcamp... I can truly say going to Snowcamp made me a better painter.

07-21-2016, 02:39 PM
I have been on "both sides of the table". I have been both student, and tutor.

Socialising. I can tell you with great certainty that there are people who go to workshops to socialise, for therapy, for just about any reason other than whatever the workshop is about. They like to chat to others, and this can be disruptive for both participants and tutors. BUT actually a workshop is an opportunity to listen, to watch, to try things out, and to learn. Plenty of time for socialising - to an extent - during the lunch break! Or of an evening, if the workshop is more than one day. But it should never be the reason for going, and
A workshop is definitely not the place to expect to socialise .

Style. If you have the right intentions, you will learn no matter what style is being taught. The most important thing is to take lots of notes so that you remember what you hear, and what you were thinking about at the time. There is so much info to take in, it is impossible to remember everything. If the tutor is determined that you work his or her way, you may find yourself influenced for a while by their style...but that won't stick. I would hope that the tutor teaches more than style.

Will your work automatically improve? Not necessarily right away. Whatever you learn goes into your brain...but doesn't always make its way down your arm to your hand immediately! You have to give yourself time to process information....to let it seep into your conscious mind....sometimes you are ready for that information, sometimes, it will lie dormant until you are ready, and THEN you get the "aha" moments. It's great when that happens, and it most certainly will. Often, during the workshop, because you are somewhat anxious, your work looks kinda worse! But worry not, when you get home, you will relax more and will have more confidence and this will show in your work.

Learning to paint is a long, slow process. A workshop adds to your experience and therefore your abilities, even if it doesn't show straight off.

You might even meet some kindred spirits and have a ball!!!!

07-22-2016, 09:22 PM
I can concur with Jackie, but will add a few observations of my own.

I too have been on both sides of the easel; they each have their own rewards and challenges. One is never too old or too experienced to learn something new. Sometimes it is an ah-ha moment, and sometimes it is an oh-crap moment. Either way it is a learning experience, and will challenge you to become the best painter you can be. I know of several very experienced artists who continue to occasionally take a workshop from someone else they admire. They enjoy seeing how that person approaches their work and their teaching methods, the companionship of like minded people, and yes, the after hours socialization. Earlier in my career as one of the less accomplished painters, I was thrilled when any of the "greats" was in a workshop I was taking. Almost all of them were very approachable, and during the socialization period willing to talk about their work in honest ways. It was interesting to me to find just how humble most of them are.

If you are interested in taking a workshop, try to learn as much as you can before signing up about the method (if any) that will be taught, and what others may have to say about being in that artist's workshop. You can always ask on WC if anyone has taken a workshop from so-and-so, and what they learned from it. However, it is best to ask them to reply with a PM to you if their experience wasn't a positive one. Not all instructors are are going to satisfy all students. If you get multiple positive or negative responses you will better make your decision to attend or not attend they workshop. Also when first starting to take workshops, I suggest looking into only those who's work you admire. At this point in my career, I usually look for someone who works differently than I do. I may or may not like their work, but I find I like the challenge of working differently; that's just me. I never expect to do my best work in any workshop, but I always take away something useful. Sometimes its something I can apply to my own work, and sometimes it is something I know I will never use; that's useful too.

A three to five day workshop would be a good start. In one day workshops most people barely get their toes wet before it is over.

07-28-2016, 08:27 AM
Thank you very much for sharing your experience! I will keep your advice in mind. It was very interesting reading.

sometimes you are ready for that information, sometimes, it will lie dormant until you are ready, and THEN you get the "aha" moments.

Jackie, that sounds familiar. Some of the advice you had given me at the very beginning, needed a year to for me to fully understand them.

08-05-2016, 05:12 PM
I took a workshop from these two ladies last summer in Dripping Springs, TX. Truly an awesome experience:


Not really any socializing while painting - it was a plein air class, so we were very busy. I learned I way overpack and need to lighten my load if I'm going to do much work. Check out the link - there are photos of their demos. Two very warm and helpful ladies! Great artists too.