View Full Version : Workshops

11-14-2005, 04:27 PM
I've been thinking that it would be fun to attend a pastel workshop of some sort sometime, but I'm curious from folks who have actually attended workshops what sorts of things they do in them.

I mean, do the artists running the workshops actually *do* anything themselves? Do they demo things, paint for you to watch?

I'm just curious. I have mentioned before that I am taking lessons at the art museum. But when I think about it they don't seem a whole lot like what I think of as "lessons". The instructors never demo anything, never talk about aspects of art like values, compostion, color theory, or what have you. They mainly just wander around and come look over your shoulder occasionally, and make suggestions like "concentrate on the negative spaces", etc. And in a 2 1/2 hour session if you 10-15 minutes of the instructor's time that is a lot.

I'm not complaining as I still feel I have learned a lot just by having to draw from live models week after week, something I could never easily do outside the classroom setting. And even that 10-15 minutes of personal time can be really valuable. But I don't necessarily feel that I've learned a lot of "new" stuff about technique, etc. And while the painting from live models is good practice what I *really* want to learn about is painting still lifes, and painting all aspects of landscapes - water, rock, grass, sky, tree, etc. And there is nothing like this offered at the museum (at least not in the evening hours when I am free to go), or anywhere else local that I know of.

So I'm just curious as to what to expect from a workshop, if I could even find one I could go to. I mean I'm sure it varies from teacher to teacher, but I just wondered if there was a typical general format, never having gone to one before.

11-14-2005, 05:34 PM

You've had some lessons in figure drawing/painting. And you've improved.
So why not try to paint a still life or a landscape. I bet that what you've learn on your figure painting lessons will make a difference in all the other themes.
Why don't you try it and see if I'm right or not ?
I won't give any money back tough ....



11-14-2005, 06:09 PM
So far every pastel workshop I have signed up for has been cancelled so I am definitely not an auhority...but it is my understanding that they provide demonstrations and explanations of their techniques and materials and then help the students apply these techniques to their work.

Perhaps some of our workshop instructors can pop in and give us some insight on how a typical workshop session would go...

I know Greta Markle (markleangelo) just gave a neat run down of how she does her OP workshops in the oilies forum. You might want to take a look at that one too....

11-14-2005, 06:54 PM
Hi, the only workshop I have ever attended (outside of school) was with Larry Blovits in Michigan. It was FANTASTIC!

11-14-2005, 07:01 PM
Can you tell us what made it fantastic, Lisa? How did he teach? Did he demo? What would a typical day be like, for example?

11-14-2005, 07:04 PM
Oops, accidentally posted! As I was saying...Larry went over the basics including choosing subject matter, blocking out the painting, layering dark to light, materials, studio lighting, papers, pastels...Everthing. He demonstrated techniques for us and allowed us time to paint. Each of us was expected to work on a painting of our own, which we did, and he came around and helped us at our easels each day. I liked the intensive format, which removed me from normal home life (read-4 children under 6!). I am sure many instructors are just great, but i can tell you from experience that this one has a passion for teaching.

I would imagine you could buy a video if you couldn't make it to a workshop, then you could replay and relearn. However, you wouldn't have the benifit of critique, but then, you can get that here.

If I had the $ I would hit another workshop. In fact, I'm saving up to go to one.

M Douglas
11-14-2005, 08:09 PM
I went to a Dianna Ponting 2 day workshop and will be going to another one in January. It was my first attempt at pastels. On the first day we all did a painting from the same reference picture. Dianna would demo then we would go and work on ours. When we were caught up she would demo again so we worked on small bits at a time. While we worked she was always close by to help us and answer all our question.

On the second day we brought our own pictures and worked on them, some did still lifes from photos, some landscapes and one did a still life set up. The best thing about a workshop is that you do have someone who can critique and make suggestion on how to improve your work and is there to help when you create mud :o . Dianna shared so much information about techniques, products, marketing etc. She even gave us a demo on framing. Which I didn't make notes on and can't remember it all :confused:

I think workshops are great, also by going to workshops done by different people you learn different techniques.

I already have my project picked out for my next class, hopefully I will have practiced enough that poor Dianna won't be pulling out her hair. :evil:

Melodie :cat:

11-15-2005, 10:14 AM
I have attended only one landscape workshop, but here's what we did:

Morning: Instructor demo, Q&A. Methods of application such as watercolor and alcohol underpainting, dry pastel, and oils were included.
Lunch- on your own.
Afternoon: Individual painting on location. We were at a different place each day, and given a general area where we could work (so the instructors could find us). Individual instruction was at your easel, and they stayed busy travelling from student to student. They were usually around 2x during an afternoon, but we were free to go find them if we needed help.

Group critiques took place at the end of each afternoon session. An opportunity to bring other artwork for critique was held at the end of the week.

I hope to take another workshop. I really enjoyed it, but it was an exhausting week. I will have my supplies pared down to a bare minimum for the next one. I felt more like a pack mule than a budding pastellist. Easel, pastel box, drawing board, small cooler for drinks/snacks (you'll get real thirsty) and my backpack with a towel & wet washcloth (it was 90 degrees & humid), paper towel, and sunscreen. Thank goodness the flies & mosquitos left me alone, as I wasn't carrying bug repellant.

Before my next workshop, I'll have an easel umbrella, and a hat. Painting with sunglasses on doesn't work too well.

Keep taking figure classes. I don't think anything improves hand-eye coordination and "where's that shadow?" better than figure drawing. It will enhance every other aspect of your artwork, whether there are people in it or not.

11-15-2005, 11:07 AM
I certainly intend to keep up with the figure drawing. It's a shame it bores me so much. I have so little interest in doing figures. But it is great training so I will continue. It surely does help with basic drawing skills and "eye", but is not quite as useful in helping learn how to paint sky or water or trees. :)

11-15-2005, 11:45 AM
I've taken workshops from the following artists: Albert Handel, Albert Handell & Anita Louise West (I list these separate because they were quite different), Doug Dawson, Christina Debarry, Larry Blovits, Marc Hanson, and Fred Somers. I'm scheduled to take Sally Strand this spring. Most were five-day workshops and I would recommend this longer schedule rather than 3 days . It takes awhile to get accustomed to working in a new environment, in front of other people, and to absorb the new ideas you will learn. Expect not to do your best work during a workshop - you are challenging yourself with new ideas. Each workshop instructor will run the class and schedule very differently. Some workshops will paint entirely plein air (weather permitting) while others will paint entirely in the studio.

Ask yourself what topic you want to concentrate on in deciding what workshop instructor to schedule. Also, look at their art and technique to decide if their work inspires you.

My theory is if I get one important concept and continue to focus on this concept in my work, I have spent my time and money wisely.

Usually, the instructor will divide the time between demonstrations and assistance of students at their easel. Some artists will finish their demonstration to completion showing you the entire range of their work while others will only demonstrate the beginning steps.

Of the above instructors, I'd recommend Marc Hanson (see the plein air section of wc for his work - he works in pastel and oil) and Anita Louise West/Albert Handel (while Albert is inspiring and beautifully demonstrates from beginning to end, Anita is able to assess the needs of beginners). Doug Dawson is also a good workshop instructor but he does not finish his pieces so you cannot see the entire process (he is more of a colorist - simple compositions and stunning color). I saw two, two-hour demonstrations by Bob Rohm at the International Pastel Societies and he is also a good teacher and artist. I've also heard good things about Richard McKinley.

Going to a workshop is like a kid going to a camp. Everyone is so excited. Being together with other artists is soooo inspiring. I highly recommend it. You'll come back home with new inspiration and tools.


11-15-2005, 04:28 PM
Debbie- I have had 2 lessons like you mention and no workshops; however my mother in law is a professional workshop attender- she goes to tons of oil painting and watercolor painting ones and always really enjoys it and gets a lot of out it (But she would really enjoy almost anything LOL)... my sister in law just attended a pastel workshop in France, but she only went there for the wine- hmmm... don't know which one....

Paula Ford
11-15-2005, 10:56 PM
Marc Hanson...you took a workshop from Marc Hanson????? OH, I'm swooning! I love his work soooooooooooooo much!

I took a workshop with Albert Handell. He did a demo and it was very helpful. Also took a Maggie Price workshop. She really got us painting!!


11-15-2005, 11:16 PM
Debbie, someone suggested you determine what you "want" from an instructor, and then seek an instructor that can fulfill that need. Some people want to attend workshops wherein they spend most of the time painting, and the instructor comes by their easel to give instruction on whatever technique the person is currently trying to improve upon. Others want to attend a workshop wherein the instructor gives demonstrations of their technique, and the students then work at their easels using what they've learned from that demo. Some workshop instructors want to teach their techinques and theories only, and others go the absolute opposite direction for fear the students will "steal" their methods (that is silly to my way of thinking - but that's a whole 'nother issue!).

There are lots of good instuctors both nationally known and locally known. One way to determine what others have experienced is to ask right here on WC what others have experienced. Another way is if it is a local sponsored instuctor, ask the sponsoring agency if they have any critiques from previous workshops that person has conducted. I know that at the community college and art stores where I've given workshops and weekly classes the students are asked at the end of the session to fill in a questionaire. This helps both the sponsor and the instructor to know what they are doing right or if there is room for improvement.

Here is a list of nationally known artists I've either taken workshops with or know others whom I respect that have, and can recommend. Alphabetically:
Donna Aldridge - one of our own WC contributors gave a glowing report of Donna's workshop in Nebraska. I know Donna and have painted with her. She is a good demonstrator and delightful person.
Lorenzo Chavez does only a few plein air workshops a year, he demos and gives 100% of his time going from easel to easel. He also comes prepared with a folder for each student describing the day's activity and what will be covered in his demo. His demos are complete, and if pressed will tell you that they are for sale but he doesn't otherwise mention sales. He is a very relaxed, fun instructor that helps you develope your technique based upon what you tell him, but I think you should try his way while at the workshop.
Deborah Christensen - yes our own Deborah. Although I've never taken a workshop from her, I know many who have, and I don't think I need add anything else.
Doug Dawson - Cheryl I'm surprised he didn't finish his demos at your workshop. At the one I audited in California (his invitation) he completed all his demos, and spent a good amount of time at each easel. The students were very complimentary of him.
Frank Federico (he's in Connecticut). Frank's a real "character", and people love his workshops. He also gave me an audit of one he gave in NM, and it was very informative. He demos too. His technique is one he encourages others to try while at his workshop.
Alan Flattman gives demos and assists at each easel - doesn't insist you use his techniques, but it would be silly not to try his since that is the reason for attending workshops.
Albert Handell if Anita Louise is included - for same reasons mentioned by Cheryl.
Bill Herring is a very different insturctor - gives a great demo, and if you are somewhat confident in your work, but are looking for a new challenge he's your cowboy - err - man. I think he only works through Cloudcroft NM now. He's not for everyone, but he's good at what he does, and I'd go again if it wasn't at Cloudcroft which is much tooooo high in altitude for this sealevel living artist.
Anne Heywood - another east coast artist (MA and ME). I've heard she gives very good demonstrations and assistance at the easel. I know Anne personally, but haven't taken her workshop. She is a quiet, efficient lady and very good artist.
Richard McDaniel. I took his one day workshop in Raleigh at the IAPS convention and had a great time. I haven't taken a 5 day workshop, but want to. Depending upon the time, I've heard both positive and not so positive reviews. The not so positive were a few years ago though, and the latest one was from a friend who said she had a very good time and learned a lot from him just this June - she is an experienced still life painter who wants to paint some plein air too.
Richard McKinley. I've not had an opportunity to take his workshop, but hear very good things from anyone who has. According to Craig Lemley, owner of Dakota Pastel Art and the La Conner Workshops, Richard's workshops always fill and get rave reviews.
Susan Ogilvie. I haven't had an opportunity to take her workshop either, but have heard rave reviews from my friends in Oregon when she gave one there. She is also one that teaches at the La Conner Workshops, and Craig says hers always fill quickly.
Kitty Wallis - yes "our" Kitty. I've missed out on her workshops too, but know from others that they are always informative and well conducted. She too has taught at the La Conner Workshops and gets good reviews.

I'm sure there are others, but this is all I can think of at the moment. It is dinner time, and I'm getting hungary!

If anyone has a question about someone I've not mentioned, please send a PM as it might be someone I know about - or not - I don't really know everyone who teaches in the U.S. :)


11-16-2005, 04:24 AM
LOL, was going to point out the list of workshops in the back of Pastel Journal, but looks like Peggy covered it!! Peggy- can we trade lives?

Paula Ford
11-16-2005, 01:41 PM
WOW Peggy...thank you for all that information!!


11-16-2005, 01:55 PM
Wow Peggy, what a wonderful list! Right now this is just a pipe dream for me, especially a 5-day workshop. Right now it looks like family obligations mean that 2006 will not be the year I can "waste" five days of my precious vacation days to go to a workshop, though I imagine I *might* be able to manger 2-3 days if it was over the weekend, and close enough that I could get there and back easily. I thought I had subscribed to the Pastel Journal but I guess I never did, so maybe I should do that. Any other good place where workshops might be listed.

Something like a weekend in the Poconos or Catskills would be just about my speed as far as time and distance went. :D

**NOTE** - Late-breaking news. I *did* just subscribe to the Pastel Journal so am looking forward to getting my first issue but, darn, they say it will take me 4-6 weeks to get it!

11-16-2005, 03:31 PM
LOL, was going to point out the list of workshops in the back of Pastel Journal, but looks like Peggy covered it!! Peggy- can we trade lives?

LOL - what, and you miss out on all the years that I've already accumulated? I think I'd get the better part of this bargain - time to "re-run" life... :D BTW - Texas has a lot more workshop persons that are good instructors than I've listed here. Are you associated with any of the many pastel societies in Texas? That would be a good source for you to hear about the various people.

Debbie - a 2 or 3 day workshop can also be very instructive - even a one day Saturday affair is helpful for most people. I know when I first started out going to workshops I found the 5 days to be more than my brain could handle. By the last day I was usually so brain dead and overly stimulated that I accomplished very little that day. That was when I started to seek out the shorter workshops and I did better. It is different for different people so try them all to see what works for you.


11-16-2005, 03:40 PM
Peggy, I sure can understand that 5 days could be pretty intense. It makes me thing of the Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon where a young boy is raising his hand in a classroom to ask the teacher, "May I go home now? My brain is full."

I know I've certainly gone to 5-day technical training courses for my job where I experienced the "brain-all-full" syndrome. Heck, I remember one 5-day technical course I went to where my brain was full by 10:30 AM on Monday morning!

So knowing me I would suspect I would get more out of a few 1-2 day sessions than I would from a single 5-day anyway, even assuming I had 5 vacation days to spare!

11-17-2005, 12:55 PM
I didn't mean to intend that Doug Dawson was not a good workshop instructor. Just the opposite - I still use his value studies and color studies methods on occasion. But I would have liked to see his demos from beginning to end. Perhaps it was the weather conditions that caused a problem because it poured rain for the entire 5 days he was here except for the first 1/2 day (when he did demo). So instead of plein air, the workshop was only studio. I learned a lot.
Marc Hanson offers workshops occasionally through Cornucopia Art Center in Lanesboro, MN. Check them on the web. He is an excellent teacher, as well as, a fabulous artist. He's also very open and willing to share any information he has.

11-17-2005, 03:10 PM
I didn't mean to intend that Doug Dawson was not a good workshop instructor. Just the opposite - I still use his value studies and color studies methods on occasion. But I would have liked to see his demos from beginning to end. Perhaps it was the weather conditions that caused a problem because it poured rain for the entire 5 days he was here except for the first 1/2 day (when he did demo). So instead of plein air, the workshop was only studio. I learned a lot.
Marc Hanson offers workshops occasionally through Cornucopia Art Center in Lanesboro, MN. Check them on the web. He is an excellent teacher, as well as, a fabulous artist. He's also very open and willing to share any information he has.

Cheryl, I didn't take it that you were unhappy with Doug as an instructor, but rather that you had wanted to see some beginning to end demos, and by golly you have confirmed that I understood correctly. :) The bad weather would certainly explain why you didn't see as many as you'd hoped to see.

I am unfamiliar with Marc Hanson's work, but will now be able to add him to my "Never taken a workshop, but have heard very good comments from those who have" category. Is he from the centeral part of the country? That's a good thing to know too as sometimes people want to stay closer to home to save on travel expenses. Although many instructors travel all over the world to give their workshops, many others tend to give more workshops and even classes near where they live. Thanks


11-17-2005, 04:35 PM

I was reading through on the various art instructors who conduct workshops and did not see the name of an instructor whose work I think is fantastic. I must point out, however, that I have not taken one of his workshops, but if I could take a workshop, he'd be my first choice. There was write up on him in a recent issue of Southwest Art (either August or September). Anyway, his name is Gabor Svagrik and his website is www.svagrikfineart.com (sorry, don't know how to paste in links - I'm very digitally illiterate).

His 2006 workshop schedule is posted on his website. He is also an oil painter as well as a pastellist. (all landscape/cityscapes).

Hope this is helpful information.

- Ann

11-17-2005, 04:40 PM
Hey - look at that! My message has the website link you can click on. Go figure, all I did was type in "www....." and it worked. Unbelievable. I never did understand computers.

11-17-2005, 09:25 PM
Ann, I am not familiar with this artist, but after going to his website I'm sure impressed with what I see and can understand why you'd like to attend one of his workshops. You might try contacting the facilities that are sponsoring his workshops to ask if they have any critiques from others that may have taken prior workshops. In retrospect, they are going to want to fill their workshop so I don't think they'd have anything critical of him - LOL. However, someone here at WC might know of him. Let's hope so.