View Full Version : What makes a workshop good?
I must confess that the brand new box of pastels sit untouched in a drawer waiting patiently for me to abandon water soluble oils.. may be awhile yet! What brings me onto this forum are questions I have regarding the art center we will soon be opening. I would like to have pastel workshops of course and would like alittle input. For instance, what was your favorite workshop and why, (least favorite and why..) what special equipment should I expect to provide as opposed to what you might normally bring, what would you consider over-the-top treatment, etc. Any comments rambling or otherwise I welcome! And a hello to Mr. Wolfie! Do I know you??! A woman in my artists group has a sweetie retired from Kodak.(Bud Bower) I will be starting the artists Friday Afternoon Clubs within about a month (complimentary munching, sipping & occasional critiquing) & would love to have you, let me know if you're interested! -PEA
03-01-2006, 03:32 PM
I've never been to a workshop, mainly because usually the aren't any here.
Besides, pastels are not a commonly used medium in my country. Morover I have to say that for what I've seen done by art students here, I guess I'll learn more on Wetcanvas :-)
Now, if I lived in USA or Canada, that would be a different story.
If I were to attend a workshop, I would like to have a teacher who besides teaching, also likes to learn with the students. Someone open minded and accessible.
The teacher should be honest and not pat on the shoulder about the student's less good points.
Depending upon the time of the workshop, an interaction between the students, trading techniques and ideas is also a neat feature to implement.
Lets not forget that teaching is a great way of learning.
And that's all I want to say... :-)
Regards and good luck with the endeavour(did a choose a correct word ?),
03-01-2006, 03:57 PM
Make sure the teacher spends time with EACH student.
Worst workshop I went to, the teacher spent most of her time coddling 2-3 students who needed approval about every stroke made. The other 20 less-vocal students were left to flounder.
03-01-2006, 10:53 PM
I have never been lucky enough to take a workshop on pastels, but I am going to teach my first one next month! I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas from all you guys.
If I were taking one, I'd want the teacher to be attentive to all students, demo when needed, be open to questions, even the ones with seemingly obvious answers. I think a light atmosphere is important, so that students aren't afraid to ask questions. Newbies feel intimidated enough.
Anything I'm missing?
03-02-2006, 12:58 AM
And a hello to Mr. Wolfie! Do I know you??! A woman in my artists group has a sweetie retired from Kodak.(Bud Bower) I will be starting the artists Friday Afternoon Clubs within about a month (complimentary munching, sipping & occasional critiquing) & would love to have you, let me know if you're interested! -PEA
Hello PEA and Welcome.
I just started to try out my artistic side last September, after putting it on the shelf for 30+ years. I took a drawing class at the Chilson center last fall and plan on signing up for a pastel class, and maybe a watercolor class there this spring. I really have not attended any workshops yet (although I have been encouraging Mike Beeman to hold some).
I believe I did work with a Bud who is now retired, last name possibly Bower, but I don't think it is the same person. I would have a hard time believing that anyone would consider that Bud a "sweetie". He had the rather perverted hobby of collecting and restoring old corvairs! :eek:
I also know a Boyd Wild whose family has a long history in the devil's backbone, Masonville, and Buckhorn areas; as well as some Iowans including a Davis family who lives up by the backbone. I would like to think you have a better class of friends and relatives than the persons I used to carouse with, but it is possible we are acquainted with a number of the same people, and perhaps have met.
I am glad to hear that you may start an art center. I was extremely unhappy that just when I became interested the Loveland Academy of Fine Arts went out of business. I went to check them out and found out they were closing forever the next day. LOL I would look forward to workshops so close to home.
Oh Oh! I as going to add I would be very interested in the Friday Afternoon club. But I thought I would go check your other postings before replying and found this:
(I know this is bad to say but phooey on artists groups with men in them; from a woman's stand point--wow am I in big trouble??!) So I guess I will say I may be interested in the Friday Afternoon club, but I will probably toss my hat in the room first.:evil:
Thanks everyone for your input! Some of these points seem to be just basic good sense and manners but evidently not so with all instructors, hmm will have to be careful. Will keep you all posted on the progression of the art center.
Wow, that "no men allowed " bait I threw out there really came back to bite me! I really was trying to describe how beneficial an all female artists group can be to women feeling alittle shattered for whatever reason. And trying to say that women don't feel so comfortable letting it all hang out when men are present. The Wild Women occasionally say we miss them though so we've had men as guest artists in shows before! (then also I'm just a brat and wanted to toss the bait as I said!) These FACs will be completely different than artists group. I'll not advertise this because I have a feeling I'll be hit pretty hard, and at this point I'll probably just invite artists without mates because again it might get to be more than I can handle. I'll try for once a week, just like I said munching, sipping, occasional critiquing. No ambushing men, in fact you may be in the majority! Stop by & check out the progress! No I don't think Bud's a Corvair kind a guy, but Boyd is a relative. Small world! Hey my husband could carouse with the lowest of them back in his day, ya never know! cheers, PEA
03-02-2006, 01:52 PM
i just attended a workshop with anne von ehr in yorkville, illinois this past weekend and it was a great experience. the people taking the workshop were at various levels. most had had some drawing experience,several were experienced artists in other media, but i think all of us were novices - for some this was the first time they had held a pastel.
she "socialized" us first - made sure all of us made an effort to try to know some of the people in the group(there were 17 i think). she also did her demos in another part of the room so we could get away from our work.
and she spent time with everybody, i do not think anyone left feeling left out.
equipment - she told us to bring basically everything we needed.
if you are at an art center, you probably will have easels -make sure your number of participants and easels will be equal. this workshop was held at a forest preserve bldg, so we were told to bring out own portable or table easels, newspapers, towels.... as well as pastels etc.
one of the most valuable thing i learned there was the importance of small color sketches(this workshop was geared toward color, so we focused on color sketches vs value sketches),
really the list of what is needed was provided by the instructor, if you search the internet for various workshops you will find that many of the artists have a list of supplies on the web.
but on wetcanvas in this pastel forum we have tremendous resources
dee artist(deborah secor) - writes for the pastel journal and teaches classes and workshops,
to name the few that i am aware of at the moment(my apologies to those i have missed)
(sorry if i misspell - i never learned to type)
03-02-2006, 04:31 PM
I have only ever attended one workshop and it was in another medium. I will be interested to hear all your comments as I will be giving my first ever oil pastel workshop next month. It will be for one day. I have given demos but not workshops. I am afraid of giving too much information and will have to remind myself to keep it simple, but I do want it to be interesting.
Do most workshop artists demo during the workshop?
03-02-2006, 09:07 PM
Do most workshop artists demo during the workshop?
I would say most do demo during the workshop, but to varying degrees of "finish". In a one day workshop you'll have to paint very fast or there won't be much time for the students to paint. Personally, I limit myself to one or one and a half hours of demo in a one day class. Then when someone has a question regarding "how", if I can't describe it, I will do a simple example and let the other students know they are welcome to watch, but don't have to if the question doesn't interest them. I know of one instructor who comes prepared with about 4 steps of the work, and then will finish the last one. That way the steps are aways there for the students to refer to should they need it. Obviously this works only for a still life class unless the instructor is from the area of the plein air session, and can do the scene ahead of time.
During most of the longer workshops I've attended over the years the instructor will spend the morning lecturing or demonstrating, and then everyone sets up in the area they want to paint and maybe has time for some sketching before lunch. Then they paint after lunch. I recall only one instructor who refused to demo saying she didn't want anyone to learn to paint "just like her". She would do simple examples if anyone asked, but no "real" demonstrations. I thought that rather strange...
03-02-2006, 11:43 PM
the best workshop i've gone to was this past summer. the place was nice, air cond. was very much appreciated, and nearby were restrooms, and a counter with coffee, water, etc. she did instruction and demos mostly in morning, then we worked til lunch, then again after lunch. when something came up with one student, as peggy b. mentioned, all were welcome to come see what was going on at that person's easel. we all brought our own easels, and they supplied tables for our pastels. we also brought towels or rugs for under our easels, so we didn't get pastel dust staining the carpets. my biggest complaint was the lighting was horrible!! so either be sure the lights are good, or you supply plenty of outlets and tell ppl to bring a clamp-lamp.
as for choosing one, i learned to not go to one simply cuz it was in the area. i did do that once, and altho. i got a few things, it was rather a bust in all. i went away wondering if i was the only one who 'didn't get it'. later i learned i wasn't at all. the best one was donna aldridges'. her manner of teachign really was easy to take in, she kept it fun, and didn't try to make a bunch of donna-clones either. veyr much worked with us all right where we were, beginning, advanced, younger, older. then she did a couple almost-complete demos, and i really liked that. i can hear how all day, but watching it makes it really soak in. the other handy thing at this was there was a supply seller there too, so some of the extra odds and ends you wish you brought were for sale there. hmm, cna't think of anything else right off, these were the biggest things i remember. good luck in this, sounds like a great plan!
Thank you again everyone for this great advice! As for the socializing issue, glad you brought it up, Tatijana. What do you think might be the goal for many people taking workshops, (as in 90% instruction, 10% making new friends, ?) I know this would vary. I have taken that part pretty seriously and would like to do first night welcome cocktail hours, movie nights (art related on large screen) and daily continental breakfasts (at least, though students staying at our B & B may not need that) to provide opportunity for people to get to know each other -if you want! (according to the results of the "are you a loner" thread, this all may be unnecesssary!!) Hope I'm on the right track. My easel issue is alittle up in the air but would like to provide them, and having some supplies on hand Chewie, is a great idea since other wise a half hour drive would be needed. Lighting I know is important and I am working on all that research too, I will have acouple of air cleaners in place but hadn't planned on the ones that attatch to easels, do you think they're important? Certainly no one will have to bring rugs or sheets. As far as the demo scene goes, all of the instructors that have had plein air workshops here (in the past apart from this art center) seemed to do them, briefly, before splitting people up. Thanks again all for communicating with me! I'm watching this thread like a hawk, what valuable info!! -PEA
03-03-2006, 12:10 PM
Wonderful thread - I gave it 5 stars! Looking forward to finding a workshop that is not during my M-F 8:30 - 5 work hours. That is the biggest problem I run into. Any classes/workshops in my area seem to be during my working hours; as if pastels, or any art classes in general, are for the wealthy people of leisure. I don't mind paying the $ for a workshop - but I can't quit my day job! Just another point to keep in mind.
03-03-2006, 01:33 PM
I think the "socializing" aspect was just to make us comfortable with each other, so we would feel more at ease painting with so many people around us and not worry about asking questions.....It really is different painting in your own home. The instructor reminded us that we are in different surroundings, that this was not a competition and that we are here to learn and not to expect to produce a masterpiece. She said that we are more likely to produce work that is below our typical standards. AND she was right.
I found that when I have gone to take classes, that there is a certain amount of stress especially the first day/class, especially when you do not know anyone. The longer you take a class, and you get to know people it also becomes a social outlet - you are typically spending 2 to 3 hour a week with them, and these are people that share your "passion", just like here online.
I think most people take a workshop to learn, some go to share the experience with a friend or family member, and maybe besides gaining more knowledge you may gain a friend.
I really enjoyed the workshop, but found that by the end of the 2nd day I was wiped out - to try to produce on demand outside my familiar surroudings, be it home or class, was very tiring. The timing of the workshop was different and unusual - friday from 4 - 8:30 and saturday 9 - 4;30(ended closer to 5).
They provided dinner (pizza)and lunch(soup and sandwiches). This was done so people still would have Sunday for themselves. I thought that was nice.
Anne also mentioned that weekend(2-3day) worshops are typically more tiring than the weeklong one, because more things are packed in, less time to assimulate all the knowledge.
they also had us bring newspapers(to make a trough to catch the pastel dust) and towels to put under the easels and under the pastels. They did have tables set up for pastel boxes and/or table easels. What was REAL nice was that we were able to leave our equipment there overnight. That was a lot of carrying. They also had us bring 2 sheets of foamcore to use as a backing board and to transport our work back home in a "sandwich".
03-03-2006, 08:01 PM
the best one was donna aldridges'. her manner of teaching really was easy to take in, she kept it fun, and didn't try to make a bunch of donna-clones either. veyr much worked with us all right where we were, beginning, advanced, younger, older. then she did a couple almost-complete demos, and i really liked that. i can hear how all day, but watching it makes it really soak in. the other handy thing at this was there was a supply seller there too, so some of the extra odds and ends you wish you brought were for sale there. hmm, cna't think of anything else right off, these were the biggest things i remember. good luck in this, sounds like a great plan!
Thank you, chewie for the lovely comments!!!! It was so excellent working with you!!! We had such a great group of artists, didn't we! :-)
I decided earlier today that, when I had a moment, I'd add "my 2-cents worth" from the viewpoint of someone who teaches workshops----so how lovely to have your comments as an "introduction."
There are several things that I think are very important in teaching a workshop! First---every painter needs to be honored. Teaching them just "how to paint an apple---or sumthin'" is pretty easy----but does not really help them to become stronger painters in their own right!!! Good to show them some ways in which the teacher handles things--but needs to be done with the idea that "this is THE way---or one-of-the-ways in which I do such and such" and you can take from it what serves YOU and ignore the rest!!!!
I believe it really helps to KNOW why you DO something----and then be able to share that with the artists working with you!
It helps to see/understand the particular artist's strengths and be able to share that with them!!!! I think that is very important for building solid foundation! Not empty compliments---but useful observations that they can take to heart and build on!!! And then to see qualities, areas that they can focus on to grow!!! Seeing those places they can grow is EXCITING!!!! Wonderful!!! It serves the artist!!!! It's not a note of "not good" but a note of "here is an exciting place where you can really grow!!!! Hooray!!!!" Good to know a place where you can "gather your attention." Sometimes artists can not see that on their own.
Sometimes I've had an artist say "Oh, no---I did it AGAIN!!!!" My response is--"excellent!!!! That gives us something juicy to work with!!!" When we have a pattern, we can work with it. I will always suggest working back through the series of decisions that lead to the comment of "....AGAIN!" Understanding what our patterns are is precious! And can serve us deliciously!!! Opportunity to celebrate!!! And then USE it and surge forward! When we know where we "zagged" instead of "zigged" we can help ourselves!!! I've certainly used this so much for myself! I've made EVERY mistake I"ve ever seen anyone make!!!! and I worked hard at learning WHY I made it and how to get out of that corner!!! (blush---multiple times, usually!!!) :-) (I learns hard----but when I learns----I learns deep!!!) :-)
I have been TAUGHT over the decades by the artists I work with in my classes and workshops that THE biggest problem seems to be NOT SEEING nearly as well as one would suppose!!!! Toooooo many people see Objects instead of Shapes of Colors! Argh!!!!!!
I work so much with helping people SEE Color!!! and seeing from the Right Hemisphere rather than the Left---which sees things as Objects rather than Color Shapes! Soooooooo IMPORTANT!!! Intuitive is Right Hemipshere! And Headquarters for Painting. Left Hemi.----fabulous place to balance your check book!!!!! :-)
Sometimes in a Workshop, it's nice to focus on something in particular. Take a "snippet" of something and dig in deep----and sometimes a Workshop is just "painting in general." Both can work well!
I have worked considerably in all the mediums of painting and printmaking--as well as a lot of digital. I'm a great believer in PIGMENT!!! and the different delivery systems of pigment we call Mediums! While there are techniques particular to each Medium---or delivery system----it is STILL Shapes of Colors that we are dealing with. How to use Hue–Temperature-within-the-Hue–Value–Intensity is so vital!!!! Seeing it-----and then USING it is the essence of painting! Learning to OBSERVE well, it's "baby sister!!!" :-)
I do think "socializing" is an important aspect to a Class or Workshop. In the best situation, you create a sense of safety and a security net between the artists! It's not so much about "partying" but of safety!!!! When we are really pushing ourselves out there far on the limb----we are in dangerous territory! Good to feel you are surrounded by friends!!! Good to feel that----if you fall----you will be cheered on for having such bravery, rather than jeered for falling!!!! Friends, united hearts----can make a big difference.
I love how the artists I work with in weekly classes----and in workshops----comment openly about how wonderful the other artists they are around happen to be! Boy, are they RIGHT!!!!
Well----gotta say good bye! Have to get ready to go to an intersting art opening. Best wishes to you all!!! Donna ;-}
I'm trying to beat down this renewed desire to open up that brand new box of pastels- NO! Too many irons in the fire as is! What wonderful work you all do, Donna was just on your website - very nice! This scheduling issue is another good one,(BJCPaints) but how to completely work around someone's 9 to 5 job? Meaning would you be interested in weekends only and maybe add a Monday or Friday, or maybe just interested in one day workshops? I had planned on an after school program that would roll into Saturdays but guess I could juggle things around alittle. More food for thought! Thanks, -PEA
03-05-2006, 03:17 PM
Pretty much all has been said regarding a good workshop, but here is a little tip if you would like to use it..My friend came up with this idea..
It is made out a scrap piece of mat board, and holds your dust very well, and even catches your pastel sometimes if you drop it!!:cool:
It is made just like a box..
03-05-2006, 05:12 PM
Last summer, I attended a local workshop done by Kim Casebeer. It was exceptional. Before the workshop, a handout was mailed out that had a list of what to bring and what to sort of expect for the workshop - several reference photos that you may want to work on, pastels, easel, drop cloth, any additional supplies you would want. During the workshop, Kim worked on a piece, and we were allowed to take photos of the progress. She had slides of some of her work, and some small oil studies that she had done plein air. She also brought her pochade box, and pastel box. While she was working, she kept the pastels that she used in a separate working box to keep color unity in her painting. While we worked on our own pieces, Kim visited us throughout the two days and would provide helpful insight on what we were doing. The people in the class were a mixed group of very experienced pastelists to complete beginners in pastels with some art experience - it seemed that everyone in the group was extremely comfortable and everyone got along very well. On the last day, we held a small critique session on the work we had done, and we all received a handout with contact info for everyone in the class. It looks like the piece Kim worked on during the workshop wound up as a final painting entitled 'Chase County Creek' currently available from the Meyers Art Gallery that you can see if you go to her website, www.kimcasebeer.com. Her work is really wonderful.
03-05-2006, 06:48 PM
I'm trying to beat down this renewed desire to open up that brand new box of pastels- NO! Too many irons in the fire as is!
Welllll----when there are sooooo many irons in the fire at a certain time, it does seem saner to stay focused on "current irons." Life can just get tooo frustrating otherwise instead of creative!
What wonderful work you all do, Donna was just on your website - very nice!
Oh, thank you so much!!! :-) Hope you found some interesting info on the Writings pages. So many Studio Tips and such there!
This scheduling issue is another good one,(BJCPaints) but how to completely work around someone's 9 to 5 job? Meaning would you be interested in weekends only and maybe add a Monday or Friday, or maybe just interested in one day workshops?
I certainly do workshops that are just Sat. and Sunday----or just a one-day workshop. Reality is a place we really need to live! :-) And a lot of folks really do have very little time other than the weekend.
I do also do some workshops that begin on a Friday evening and go all day Saturday and Sunday till about 4 or 4:30 pm. A lot of folks come from a good ways out of town and need time to drive home and have a good night's sleep before Monday morning! And then there are some folks who can take a day off work either Friday or Monday. Workshops out of town can be designed easily to meet with the needs of the artists.
I had planned on an after school program that would roll into Saturdays but guess I could juggle things around alittle. More food for thought! Thanks, -PEA
Absolutely! Design what YOU NEED and go from there! It IS nice to have more than one day when possible! So much takes a bit of time to "sink in." But---when that extra time does not exist----it's great to have the juicy ideas in one---or two days and then go home and soak it in there and play with it!!! Good to have someone who will "give homework"----that is, suggest ways of further using the new information in a way that guides the artist beyond the workshop. Many do not consider that, but I do think it is an important aspect to include, since many people live far away from regular strong teaching resources and need guidence beyond the workshop to keep growing with what they've taken in (or at least been exposed to) during a workshop. Not sure anyone takes in new info any slower than I do--- :-) ----so I really, really appreciate those who take that into consideration. Not thrilled with anyone who just tosses some new info out there and abandons. Or who walk around easel to easel and says not much more than, "very good, very good, just keep working." Etc. Hmphfffff! Vistited a workshop where a very fine painter was doing that years ago. Ohhhh, golly! Ohhhh welllll! :-)
Best wishes, PEA!!!! Donna ;-}
03-05-2006, 08:27 PM
Thanks, Donna for all your workshop info. I will carry some of it to my workshop next month. It is invaluable.
Thanks again for all of your help! Will keep you posted on art center progress, what a wonderful and friendly forum this is! -PEA
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