18x24 oil on linen
Recently in this past year I have come off a long hiatus of taking oil painting workshops. My first experiences weren't that positive and frankly they were very expensive. Being a life long teacher with a perspective of what makes for good instruction, I set out to try again with some new found knowledge. The following information was shared earlier in my last newsletter but I felt it was worth repeating. Since January when it was originally posted, I have taken two workshops and have put my own advice to the test. It works. I would love to hear from any of you that try my suggestions and tell me your experience.
So Many Workshops-How Do You Choose?
Painting workshops have become an option for many painters who wants to improve their skills and concepts. The time for these workshops can range from a short two or three day experience to a ten day in-depth experience. Some of these workshops are in great locations becoming part of the experience making it worth the dollars spent. Most of us can't afford to enroll in a program that takes us away from our home and family for years of study so the workshop is a great alternative.
With so many offered today, how do you choose a workshop that will give you a positive experience that meets your own personal goals as an artist? They key is in the question-what are your goals for improvement as a painter? Without a thoroughly thought out inventory of what you need to move forward, chances are your experience in any workshop will fall short of expectations. Self assessment is critical.
The following questions can help with goal setting and self-assessment.
- What kind of art do I want to make? A good way to find this answer is to ask yourself what one or two artists' work (dead or alive) are you drawn to and why? Can you identify what qualities of their work you would like to learn? I encourage my students to keep a journal of images they are drawn to and note who they are and who these artists studied with. I suggest an ipad or some other easy device to capture the images. Soon you should be able to see some consistency in your choices.
- Have you done your homework on the instructor you have choosen? What is their educational background and philosophy of painting? What school of thought do they teach? Most of you know that there are two BIG schools of thought and the techniques don't mess well. Direct painting know as alla prima and indirect painting are taught totally different from each other.
- Have you talked to others who have taken from this instructor/artist? What was their experience? This may take some effort but well worth the time before you plop down your hard earned dollars. One source for this information can be found on the website www.thetravelingartist.net
- How serious of an artist am I? Do I paint almost everyday or is it more a hobby painter? If you are a hobby painter and do it mainly for the fun of it almost any workshop will probably meet your needs.
- If your answer to question #4 is -you feel you want to make painting an important part of your everyday life then ask yourself--Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone, put my ego aside, and be willing to paint badly? You can not grow as a painter unless you do. If you are going to defend your process when the instructor offers his or her advice, then both of you will be frustrated.
Once you have truly answered the above questions, sit down and complete a self-assessment. It may look something like this:
color mixing edges
understanding of materials working process
seeing color as value
I think you get the idea. The point being, if you know what your goals are for improving, then ask specifically for the teacher to help you achieve them. My last piece of advice is to read, read, and read. As you grow as an artists, reread old books with the new knowledge you have gained. It's amazing how you will understand at a much higher level.