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“Should I go to an art school, should I take a workshop, or should I just work on my own?” Questions like this come in here every day and they’re often tough to answer. Needless to say, I always appreciate a few photos to help me with a properly considered opinion. Sometimes my answer is, “Take a workshop.”
But that’s when the fun begins. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right one. While students often choose courses that take them in new and uncharted directions, it’s also valuable to invest in instructors with a somewhat similar vision to yours. If you don’t know her work personally, it’s a good idea to thoroughly check
out the website. Some instructors are whiz-bangs at plein air, others excel in colour theory or drawing, still others can be counted on for foundation basics. For folks who are not sure what they want–but just feel the urge to get going–a week in a church basement with an enthusiastic pro can really charge up your lithium-ions.
Fact is, many part-time workshop instructors are simply dynamite at hands-on awakening and enabling. “The supreme art of the teacher,” said Albert Einstein, “is to awaken joy.” Working artists tend to know a bit about joy.
Here are a few thoughts: First-time students need not fear the prospect of judgment and comparison. Individual boundaries are respected. Most instructors I know are fully loaded with humility and empathy. The greatest teachers are perennial students themselves. “Every professional was first an amateur,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. That quote, widely repeated, helps.
One of the most effective types of workshop is where two or more instructors or mentors alternate between different groups on different days. Students positively buzz with excitement as they vacuum up a bit here and a bit there.
Then there’s location. The idea is to get your brush around new places. North American painters lug their stuff over to Brittany and Provence–and European painters hang out with cowboys in New Mexico. Go figure. Notwithstanding volcanic eruptions, the world’s your canvas.
These days, many who take workshops are already top-notch painters. New challenges and the benefits of group dynamics are the main reasons these folks join in. Just another reason why workshops are so enriching. Great places to make buddies for life.
PS: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” (Mark Van Doren)
Recognized as one of Canada’s most accomplished painters, his work is well known internationally. While his subjects are universal (he has painted in many countries), he excels in portraying Canada. He is perhaps best known for his work on the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains.