GIVING AND TAKING A WORKSHOP
A lovely lady arrived into class this week fresh from an academic art workshop in Italy. We were all waiting with bated breath to hear how she got on. The first thing Finola said was ‘I can show you my photos but I left my paintings there’. A collective gasp could be heard at the idea of leaving hard work behind but Finola recognised that she didn’t NEED to bring her work back. It was the PROCESS that mattered and not the end result. I could have hugged her (I think I did😊)
‘Think of the workshop as practice and not as a performance’ said a wise and wonderful friend recently.
It’s difficult though isn’t it? We want to show in a workshop that we are entitled to be there, that we can paint and we don’t want to let ourselves down in front of the tutor and other participants. So we listen to the initial lecture and watch the first demonstration. All of us are eager to get our hands dirty (a slight exaggeration 😊) Our palettes are laid out, our colours mixed and our brushes sprung to attention.
We remember it’s the big shapes first and we look to the left of us and to the right of us (think Mr. Bean at an art class😊) Then, we might start to panic a little and God forbid that one of the others should think we can’t paint. So we start to try and tidy up our paintings as we go along. Oh a BIG MISTAKE, we should follow our plan. The minute we think of overriding the system we’ve chosen, we’ve lost it.
Another error is to judge our work against others. We have to TRUST the process and more importantly we have to TRUST OURSELVES.
If we can get it into our heads that most oil paintings can look rubbish almost all the way through then we have won part of the battle. It is only during the last expressive, bravura brush strokes that we can say that our paintings are finished and we’re satisfied.
So Finola was perfectly right. It is far more constructive to study the notes and the work in progress shots we have taken during the workshop. Any finished work is a bonus and if you bring your canvas home, the work can be finished afterwards.
My busy summer in Ardmore
I’ve had such a busy and constructive summer. I moved in and opened up my new studio in Ardmore – what a delight and a dream realised. It’s a super space and with a view to die for. During the summer as well as working on my own practice, I held a 3-day portrait workshop and I’m just finishing the last of 3 series of classes. So it’s been busy and buzzy. I take a small group at a time and cover a LOT of ground. It also means that absolute beginners and the advanced painters get equal attention. It’s such a pleasure to see the delight in a painter’s eyes when an image emerges from what appeared to be a flurry of chaotic brush strokes.
Hard at work at Windyridge Art Studio
Keeping up the Skills
I attended a number of advanced workshops during the summer. I’m a BIG advocate of The Munsell System, I’ve heard it described as un-sexy and too analytical but I suspect that’s usually from people unwilling to try it. 😊 It has helped me to overcome my colour terror!
The last course that I attended this summer was Maestro Angel’s 2019 Masterclass. This year must be my tenth workshop with him, not to mention the courses I’ve taken with other tutors from the academy. The more I’ve listened to his wise words, the more I’ve heard and understood. The artists participating are all old friends at this stage who, like me return year after year and like me feel privileged to have studied with him.
Maestro Angel dispensing wise words
I’ll be heading back to Dubai at the end of October and I will be teaching two mornings a week there. My arsenal of new techniques will be coming back with me and it seems I’ll be busy.
So I’ve been giving and taking this summer. Give and Take that is what it’s all about to be a successful artist.
Some of the work completed after the workshop
Blue Vase with Oranges Silver Jug and Porcelain Bowl