Best of all is watching a live artist demonstrate. The camaraderie and energy from a group that is passionate about a process cannot be reproduced in a book or online.
Although my mother was an accomplished artist, she knew the importance of experiencing workshops. When I was 9, she enrolled me in the local art association’s watercolor class; I vividly remember learning the process of taping the paper to a board, wetting the paper, painting “wet into wet” and painting from the still life – bright watermelon!
After 35 years as a teacher, my retirement has given me an opportunity to explore and begin to nourish my own style.
Each year, I have been very fortunate to enroll in a multi-day workshop. I find workshops offer a jumpstart to technique. You lay aside several days to devote to making art. You remove distractions of household chores, family and other obligations. Generally, you assemble and buy new materials. You have paid tuition and want to get your money’s worth.
Learning to see something in a new way is a wonderful lesson. Recently, workshop instructor, Pauline Agnew, from Ireland, was enchanted by the vivid colors of the ice plant –a non-indigenous plant considered invasive today. Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis -shown below) was brought from South Africa in the early 1900’s to stabilize land. However, learning to see beauty in common objects is invaluable to an artist.
Artist I have studied with and recommend include the ever-effervescent Robert Burridge, Ray Roberts, Peggi Kroll Roberts, Melinda Cootsona and a Pauline Agnew. (My photos of the instructors during the workshops I attended below) Last photo: Yours Truly at Pauline's workshop.
I would encourage you to look through local community class catalogs, community college schedules and other art associations for teachers near you. If this is out of reach for you at this time, take yourself on an “artist date.” Brilliant author and teacher Julia Cameron encourages assigned play. She describes it as:
“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the
imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.”
Develop your practice, yet remain free to play!