Offering workshops in my studio is an important part of my art practice. I enjoy teaching and like to put my training and experience to good use. It’s fun to meet new people and to get them excited and confident about their ability, teach new ideas and techniques and then send them on their way to hopefully continue to practice what they’ve learned. And to come back to learn more!
One of my challenges with teaching workshops is to figure out the most important knowledge to pass on during a very short period of time. I’ve chosen to make my most of my workshops happen over a 2-day period, 4 hours each day. Some are one-day. Many are designed as a series where participants can choose to take the whole set of classes or to pick and choose. I spend hours going through my books, looking at notes from previous classes, thinking about sequences of information, experimenting with various exercises, ordering supplies, setting up the studio space. It can be agonizing trying to decide what to put in and what to take out of each workshop in order to optimize learning, with not too much and not too little for the available time. Often I don’t know the background or ability of the students until they’re here, ready to take the workshop. It’s good to have lots of experience to fall back on–I can adjust my plans according to the needs, experience and abilities of people attending. And if they’re at all different levels, I adjust for that too.
One thing I tend to forget is to take photographs, both of the people at work and of what they’re working on, including the completed artwork. I even set my camera in an obvious spot, and still, nine times out of ten, I forget. Or I’ll remember at the very beginning and take a few shots and then forget. Anyway, here are a few snapshots of the paintings series I offered this Spring.
The very first workshop was Painting: Learning to Use Color. Alas, no photos of this one at all. Next time!
Second was Painting: The Basics, which was mostly about having fun experimenting with what one can do with acrylic paint: gels, mediums, pastes, working with texture and color, opaque and transparent effects. Learning how to handle brushes and palette knives, how to set up a palette, how to stretch a canvas, make canvas board and more. Wow, that’s a lot and I’m sure there’s some I’m forgetting.
The workshop that built on Painting: The Basics was Painting From the Still Life. This one was all about translating the three-dimensional still life onto a flat painting surface, getting the proportions correct and mixing and applying colors.
The fourth class in the series was Painting from Photographs. First came choosing photographs that would translate well into painting. Next was learning to crop the images, get the proportions correct, prepare the canvas and then proceed on to painting. Well, there’s more to it than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.