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Old 01-19-2011, 10:17 PM
thankful thankful is offline
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Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

How does one get the most out of an art workshop? I’ve had some disappointments along the way, and from what I’ve heard; I’m not alone. Based on my experiences as a student and an instructor, here’s what I’ve discovered:




1) Ask Around – Before enrolling in a workshop talk with others who have studied with the instructor you’re considering. Get feedback from more than one person. Weigh what the majority says. Any one person may have a skewed perspective due to personal preferences. We’re all different. For example, some of us want structure. Others feel their creativity is restricted by structure and want freedom.

2) Make Contact – Many instructors extend invitations to answer questions beforehand on their blogs, websites or supplies lists. Take advantage of the offer. Some instructors take the initiative and touch base with students before class via e-mail. A good sign that someone has your best interests at heart.

3) One Size Doesn’t Fit All – I’m a little suspicious of workshops that say “For All Levels.” I enrolled in a three-day-one-of-those when I had only been painting about six weeks and got so discouraged I almost gave-up watercolor. It was beyond my skill level and the instructor wasn’t able to give me the extra guidance I needed out of fairness to the other fourteen more skilled attendees. And on the flip side, if you’ve been painting for several years and want to be stretched and challenged with intermediate techniques…it could be one lon-n-n-n-g class.

4) Check Your Baggage – We’ve all got it. Stuff that’s better left outside the classroom. From the student’s point of view, X number of dollars have been spent in good faith for an instructor that’s got her act together. And from the instructor’s point of view, X number of hours have been spent in planning in anticipation of students who are punctual, prepared and present.

5) At Least Try It – A few years ago I attended a watercolor workshop by a nationally known artist. The class member on my right was a fine draftsman and spent most of the day drawing an intricately detailed pen and ink and never put paint on paper. The class member on my left used the painting method she was already comfortable with instead of trying what the instructor had spent two hours demonstrating that morning. I was this little sponge sitting between both of them; soaking up everything the instructor did. Now, I know we are not supposed to compare, but I couldn’t help wondering, why are they here?

6) Don’t Fight It – You signed up for an art class, not a karate tournament. One of the blessings of teaching a beginners class is I don’t usually have to wrestle someone to the ground to get them to, for example, mix red and green to create lovely, mingling neutrals, not found in a tube that cause their friends to gather around in awe asking, “What color is that?”

7) Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Some of us have vicious, unrelenting, damaging inner critics. I’ve seen numerous students with promise and potential self-sabotage. It’s painful to watch and often difficult to stop from the outside. Be aware of how you are talking to yourself on the inside as you paint. Affirming or brow beating?

8) Having Fun Yet? –Your inner artist loves to play and often goes into hiding when things are taken too seriously. Delight in observation and discovery. As one beginning teacher once told me, “It’s only paper, flip it over.”

9) Enjoy Being With Other Artists – Taking a workshop is not just about learning new techniques. It’s also about meeting other artists and sharing ideas. Take the initiative and break the ice during free times and lunch. A good icebreaker question: “So, what other instructors have you studied with?” There are also the enriching friendships that can be formed. An artist I met in a beginning watercolor class in 1999 is still one of my closest friends today, eleven years later.

10) High Expectations VS Realistic Expectations –Don’t expect to paint any masterpieces during a workshop. The purpose of a workshop is to receive new information, try different techniques, make mistakes, accept suggestions, and to try again. Always, to try again, preferably in solitude, after the workshop. No workshop can magically turn you into a better painter. The key to improved skills is painting on a regular basis. In an ideal world, that means daily.

11) Did This Workshop Meet Your Expectations? – There’s that word again. Expectations. This question has been on almost every end-of-workshop-survey I’ve ever received. And it’s a tough one. I’m beginning to believe it’s better to be open at receiving what the workshop offers than limiting it to what we think it should offer. We don’t know what we don’t know and if we can reign in our sometimes-limiting, pre-conceived ideas, we might gain a fresh perspective or a new awareness, which is priceless.

Nothing can be done except little by little.
--Charles Baudelaire, a 19th century art critic who had a profound effect on the Impressionists.


Enjoy the Journey!
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:54 AM
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watrycolors watrycolors is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Thanks for the reminders and suggestions. I have painted with watercolor for 17 years now and this summer I am finally taking the time to do my first workshop with professional artist John Salminen. I am excited and have already given my self permission to play and try new things!
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:08 AM
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D'Lady D'Lady is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Quote:
5) At Least Try It – A few years ago I attended a watercolor workshop by a nationally known artist. The class member on my right was a fine draftsman and spent most of the day drawing an intricately detailed pen and ink and never put paint on paper. The class member on my left used the painting method she was already comfortable with instead of trying what the instructor had spent two hours demonstrating that morning. I was this little sponge sitting between both of them; soaking up everything the instructor did. Now, I know we are not supposed to compare, but I couldn’t help wondering, why are they here?

I once paid $40.00 for a workshop so I could do exactly that -sit and paint my own thing. No kids, no phone, no distractions... I didn't go there to learn, I went there for a peaceful painting session surrounded by like-minded people.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:10 PM
thankful thankful is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Quote:
Originally Posted by watrycolors
Thanks for the reminders and suggestions. I have painted with watercolor for 17 years now and this summer I am finally taking the time to do my first workshop with professional artist John Salminen. I am excited and have already given my self permission to play and try new things!

Lorraine, I visited your website. Your watercolors are stunning. Love all the lily paintings. Hope you have a wonderful time in the workshop. June

Last edited by thankful : 03-24-2011 at 10:16 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:15 PM
thankful thankful is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Lady
I once paid $40.00 for a workshop so I could do exactly that -sit and paint my own thing. No kids, no phone, no distractions... I didn't go there to learn, I went there for a peaceful painting session surrounded by like-minded people.

Thanks for new perspective, D'Lady. Forty dollars I can understand. $450...? I might choose a spa
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:41 PM
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cjorgensen cjorgensen is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

I have had good and bad experineces at workshops, but mostly bad.

I find a teacher who has a style that I like and I want to incorporate. Usually it is very different than how I normally paint. I am trying to stretch my skills. I want the teacher to teach us HER style. But frequenltly, the teachers do a demo, and then encourage us to do "our own thing". I can do my own thing at home just fine. Then the teacher wanders around and tells everyone they are doing great. I don't think I am doing great, and I usually think my fellow students are doing worse. I tell the teacher I am frustrated and I want to do better (the whole reason I am taking the workshop) and they say, "Don't beat yourself up - we are all here to have fun". I am NOT here "to have fun", I am here to IMPROVE. The teacher wanders off to either work on her own painting, or sit down and socialize with a favorite student. I feel like I am paying money (and losing money from work) while I try to figure it out myself.

A workshop is very expensive for the student: The cost of the workshop, the cost of a week off of work, the cost of travel. For the teacher, it is a huge windfall: They get a bunch of cash, they get to do a lot of plein air painting, and they get to write the whole thing off.

If I go home painting like I did before the workshop, then it was a waste of my time and money.

What if they taught music that way: Everyone just show up with your intruments, the teacher will play something on her instrument, then everyone else just "do you own thing".

I get really frustrated when I ask teachers directly, "How do you do THIS?" and they DON'T tell you. What am I paying for? Are they so intimidated by me that they are afraid to tell me? I am not selling anything, so how can I be a threat? If they don't want to actually SHARE their knowledge, they why are they giving a workshop? I think they just want an all expenses paid vacation to paint.

As you can see, I am pretty upset. I have spent thousands of dollars on workshops: like I said: travel, time off work, and workshop fees, and I usually come home no better of than when I left.

I had ONE good experience. At the end of the week, we could ALL paint just like the teacher, which was the whole point. She would not let us progress to the next step of our paintings until we mastered the previous step. She did not ignore the class to do her own painting or socialize, but she made the rounds continuoulsy helping, critiquing and answering everyone's questions. There were no secrets -- she told us EVERYTHING.

I have come to the conclusion that teaching is a talent, and not all artists have it.
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:34 PM
Daisygirl Daisygirl is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Teaching a workshop is always a challenge.. I am determined to figure out how in the world to at least try to meet individual needs.

If you want to come to my class and just take time to get a break from life and not learn anything.. Please just tell me so that I can treasure that time with you and give you the space you need. When you don't tell me it looks like you are sit there and ignore all that I have spent hours of prepping for. It can also be disturbing to the other students. Again as a courtesy just let us know your intent.

I rarely demo and when I do it is a demo in what to do when a painting goes bad.. I usually like to have a finished piece and process it took me to get there ( which is usually longer could be demoed in a workshop) My focus is on helping the student get to the the "next step". I do a lot of individual demo-ing as I move around the room.

I love how you described your one good experience. I would love to teach and in some ways do teach like that.. The question is what to do with the students that fight you when you expect them to learn a step before moving on?

Loved the insights on this thread.. becoming a better teacher requires that I hear feedback like this from the student.

THanks
SUe
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:49 PM
daniel_edmondson daniel_edmondson is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

Hey. I've done a bunch of workshops and I actually made a youtube about my experiences and (it may sound silly) how to take an oil painting workshop! Its http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc9ATPqSdJs

you should see it! But really I think the most important part is to have fun! Happy painting!
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Old 01-21-2012, 03:28 AM
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beautifulfreak beautifulfreak is offline
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Re: Eleven Ways To Get The Most From Your Next Art Workshop

when the teacher goes over to paint their own work...follow and watch...observation is a huge teacher.

When learning don;t limit yourself to watching the teacher watch the other students too, you never know where the next inspiration may come from.

A lastly, I would hate to have a class full of students that only learned to draw/make something 'just like me' as a teacher I would felt I failed to help them internalize and be inspired by...anyone can copy...sure one can teach formula painting but you aren't learning art.

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