View Full Version : Do You Take Pastel Workshops with the Pros?

11-06-2003, 09:40 PM
I just noticed that Albert Handell will be teaching in my area this coming Spring. He comes here quite often and I have always been "afraid" to take a class with him because everyone else in the class is a real "pro" with years of experience. I want to overcome that fear now!!! Do many of you take workshops with people like Albert, Doug Dawson, Susan Ogilvie, and others? I would like to know if you have benefitted from these and at what stage of your artistic development did you take them? Thanks.


Kathryn Wilson
11-06-2003, 10:07 PM
I haven't done this yet, but I have two people I've picked out I want to start with: our own dee_artist and Diane Johnson.

Someday dee and Diane, I will get there!

Stoy Jones
11-06-2003, 10:52 PM
I haven't yet, but would, if the chance comes about. People with years of experience had to start somewhere too, and surely they would have the grace to understand why you wish to start like they once did. You would get some really good input there on your work as well as get to see how they do it. I hope you take it! It will be quite an opportunity.


Deborah Secor
11-07-2003, 12:50 AM
I'm waiting with open arms for ya, Kat! :)

Shari, I may not be the one to answer your question, so I hope others will contribute, but I do have a bit of insight for you. I coordinated workshops for Albert for several years here in New Mexico and the folks who came to take them by and large were NOT pros at all! When I first walked in I had about 8 years of painting experience, 2 of them in pastels. I knew a bit about landscapes and I was fairly comfy with the medium. I was far more experienced than 90% of the attendees! I don't think that has changed, either.

When I ran the workshops for him we mostly had enthusiastic beginners--not raw beginners, but folks who had just enough experience to know they had questions. Sometimes there was someone who was farther along, and maybe one or two who showed in galleries, and then there was Ed who just retired from the Postal Service and decided he wanted to paint like Handell....... Being near Santa Fe brought all those hopefuls who wanted to find gallery representation. (And in one class we had Gene Hackman, the year when he won an Oscar for Unforgiven. We all gave him polite applause when he came to class and he blushed! He was a talented amateur portraitist, too.)

One bit of advice for a workshop with Albert--go in ready to work hard and don't be afraid to ask questions. He gave me some very important and wonderful advice when I needed it, but I always had to ask for it. Things like, when he turns a painting to the wall and critiques your others, be sure to ask why not that one. I learned to trust him when he told me that I wasn't ready for other issues and just to concentrate on this one, whatever it was. In time I found that he was helping me limit what I was working on, things such as the color green, how to paint trees and dense foliage or how to keep my colors from being chalky.

He was an amazing teacher for me and I'm so grateful to have taken the plunge. When I went into the first workshop I was the mom of a 2-year-old, working part time as an artist, driving an hour up to Santa Fe and home every day so I could be with my family, and anything but a consummate professional artist. It wasn't my qualifications, it was my drive, my thirst for information, that intrigued him, I think. So he offered me the chance to coordinate--and the rest is ancient history-------so I won't go on any more! LOL

Sorry for the monologue. Ah, sweet memories.. <giggle>

Let's hear what others think!

11-07-2003, 03:06 AM
PLEASE - you must never, ever, limit yourself in this way ever again! So what if everyone else is more experienced than you ? (Though they won't be.) There will always be someone out there who is more experienced than you, "better" than you, quicker than you, and different to you.

You will always have something to learn, no matter how experienced you are. What a marvellous opportunity, then, to spend some time alongside others who are more experienced than you, so that you can learn from each and every one of them. What is there to be afraid of? That someone will tell you not to bother? That someone will laugh at your efforts? I can absolutely promise you that NO-ONE will do that. Would you do that to someone else? Of course you would not. In fact, you will receive encouragement galore, and will pick up loads of tips and hints. In fact, it is BETTER to attend a class where others have more experience than you, because you will pick up more from them, as well as from the tutor.

Do not waste one single second on pointless fear, you have only one life to live, this is not a rehearsal. Grab every opportunity that comes your way, with both hands, and be very, very grateful that you can do things like this - there are many who cannot, for all sorts of reasons - financial, physical and others. Do not allow fear of ridicule - which is all it is - prevent you from taking this wonderful opportunity. You will regret it for ever if you do.

Just do it.


11-07-2003, 03:48 AM
Well Shari, you can colour me very envious! I'm sure the workshop will be a hugely rewarding experience for you. Go for it! ... then come straight back to the Pastels forum and share what you've learnt with the rest of us :)

Jackie, what a great post. Thank you.

11-07-2003, 10:13 AM
if you can afford it and you have time you should go.

I try to attend at least 1 workshop per year. I started withthe first pastel workshop last year and already during the workshop some progress showed up.
But the real push came during the following 4-5 months.
So I repeated same workshop this year and again I gained a lot.

Don`t miss that opportinity the world is different afterwards !

best regards

11-07-2003, 02:31 PM
GREAT POST!!! Jackie...I'm printing yours out when I frequently get afraid of something...it is sooo true!!!!

I got the chance to take a week long course with Tony Couch in watercolors in 1997. I absolutely LOVED IT!! Just as Dee and Jackie say...there were beginners as well as more experienced there...and we all learned from each other. It was an experience I will never forget!! I hope to be able to afford to take a class in pastel one of these days.



11-07-2003, 02:55 PM
I took m y first pastel workshop in Pasadena last month at the ART METHODS conference...it was SO WORTH it for me to get the BASICS

I have done it before with watercolor in week long workshops in your neighborhood, Shari....in Bend

WELL WORTH it but depends on the INSTRUCTOR

I would never take one from someone whose work I had not seen and liked or needed the challnege of a new method

11-07-2003, 06:04 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, and Jackie, I needed that kick in the rear!! You are so right!! I have already contacted Albert about the class.


11-07-2003, 07:06 PM
The BEST experience of my artistic life... Took a one week workshop with Dianne Johnson... She is a wonderful teacher!!! Although she works a lot in acrylic (at the time I was doing oils) she is one major work horse... This was a plein air workshop in NC, early summer... we ventured out daily as a group to various places to paint. The group of about 10 would spread out over a mile radius painting different subjects. Diane was at it all day, covering ground, helping everyone. LOL I was afraid because I was going it alone... big chicken!!! But no problems, everyone was very helpful and friendly... had a fantastic time!! She does pastel workshops too (her pastel paintings are beautiful) and I plan to take another workshop with her if I ever get a chance. Next summer, a local pastel artist, Alan Fink is going to have a workshop in Maine that I plan to take advantage of ... a week in August, in Maine, painting outdoors should be a good time...LOL... I guess what I'm trying to say is GO FOR IT... it can only broaden your horizons ...

~ Sharon

11-07-2003, 11:13 PM
Originally posted by jackiesimmonds
Do not waste one single second on pointless fear, you have only one life to live, this is not a rehearsal. Grab every opportunity that comes your way, with both hands, and be very, very grateful that you can do things like this - there are many who cannot, for all sorts of reasons - financial, physical and others. Do not allow fear of ridicule - which is all it is - prevent you from taking this wonderful opportunity. You will regret it for ever if you do.

Just do it.


What a profound and uplifting statement!
Bless you Jackie... because you have first blessed us.


11-08-2003, 12:28 AM
I remember my first watercolor workshop with a professional artist teaching....the first day, she looked over my shoulder and ask if I'd ever painted before...LOL. Obviously, I hadn't in watercolors!! However with a lot of evening practice, on the last day of the workshop, I sold my small painting of a sinking tugboat! It was the only one sold on location that entire week :) Really made my experience a lot more enjoyable since all the other students were professional artists and several taught art at a college!

Go with an open mind, a good attitude, and a willingness to try whatever is presented...no matter the outcome! I've found that even when I feel inadequate ....I can still learn and take home a valuable experience.

11-08-2003, 02:57 PM
Thanks for all the encouragement. I feel much better!!! I do like taking risks. This is a lot like the time I had to sing in front of 1000 people and I am not a professional singer either but I did it and it felt great!! So I feel ready to try a couple workshops. I live near Richard McKinley also, but his classes are very hard to get into. He is currently writing wonderful articles for the Pastel Journal.