- To learn new techniques
- To refresh your skills
- To travel
- To meet and socialize with other artists with similar interests
- To be inspired
My reason was all of the above. The most important for me this time was to be inspired and start painting regularly again. Learning new techniques is very important as well. At a workshop you should always try what the instructor is doing, even if you don’t care to implement all of it in your work. Use what you like to improve your work. You shoud try the new ideas and discard what doesn’t work for you. I see artists that go to a workshop and then do their own thing. Why go to a workshop? Paint at home or with a group if you need company!
- Style and technique of the artist
1. Instructor - not all instructors are equal. Some artists are such good artists but do not have the ability to share with other artists. They know what to do, but do not have the personality or knowledge of how to present their ideas.
I knew about Tom from wetcanvas.com and following his blog for several years. He is very sharing and knowledgeable on wetcanvas.com and had many comments about his work and workshops.
2. Medium - I work mainly in pastels so I wanted to go to a comfortable workshop where I would not be learning a new medium as well as technique. The general painting information will apply to any medium and some of the techniques of pastels applies to oil painting.
3. Style and technique of the artist - It wouldn’t make sense for me to take an abstract painting class as I am not interested. Tom works in an impressionistic style which is looser (less detail) than I use. I wanted to try his style. I don’t plan on working with very little detail, but I did learn that I should leave more to the imagination of the viewer. It is easier for me to paint desert scenes so I wanted to learn more about working with trees which Tom does very well.
4. Cost - The cost of this workshop was very reasonable. Sometimes cost prevents us from attending, so another reason to research the teacher. You want to get the most you can for your dollars.
5. Location - The location probably depends on cost and type of workshop. If I were attending a plein air (working outside) workshop, I would not pick a city. I like landscape painting. You remember I went to a plein air workshop in Montana last year to paint mountains and trees. This workshop was indoors so the location was picked more for convenience. When I chose Arkansas, I thought we would be on our way back from Kentucky and Canada and save the cost of driving there and back. Well, we came home first. That added a bit to the cost, but we saved by not staying away from home so long in Canada. It balanced out.
6. Lodging - a few workshops include lodging. Travel workshops out of the USA for example. The plein air workshop in Montana was held at a resort, so the lodging and meals were included. If no lodging is included you might look for an extended stay type motel/hotel, Bed and Breakfast, or vacation rental. We chose a vacation rental so we could have a deck, kitchen and a place to relax. It was actually cost less than a hotel. A good place to start searching for vacation rental is HomeAway.com or Vacation Rentals by Owner (vrbo.com). Also just looking for “vacation rentals” on Google will sometimes give you Chamber of Commerce information. Silver City, New Mexico, for example, has many rentals on the Chamber page.
7. Duration - I have taken 1 to 7 day workshops. I think that 3 day workshops seem to be the best for me. I work hard, learn and am not too tired. 5 day workshops can be tough especially if you are doing plein air work and need to walk and carry your equipment. Think about convenience and your comfort level.
In Arkansas we worked inside at ESSA (Eureka Springs School of the Arts) http://essa-art.org/ We were able to set up our easels and/or their easels and leave our equipment in the rooms overnight. That is so much easier than packing up at the end of every day. Nice. They have a huge variety of workshops there at reasonable cost. It is a beautiful area, too.
A few of the artists I have taken workshops with besides Tom Christopher and Wanda Mumm:
Bob Rohm http://bobrohm.com/ oils and pastels - excellent instructor for plein air and landscapes
Desmond O'Hagan, http://www.desmondohagan.com/ oils and pastels. Desmond is more abstract in his work, so I hesitated to take his workshop. I am so glad I did, he is a great teacher and I love the way he works in pastels. I have not seen his oil paintings in person.
Liz Haywood-Sullivan http://www.haywood-sullivan.com/ landscapes, pastels - very energetic, more laid back in teaching style.
Kathleen Cook http://www.kathleencook.com/ pastels, still life - very good and precise teacher and style.
Richard McKinley http://mckinleystudio.com/ pastels and oils - I have only seen demos by Richard. He does a blog for the Pastel Journal, has CDs and is super knowledgeable about pastels. I have learned a lot from Richard.
Now I need to just paint, paint, paint........