Learning should be a lifelong pursuit and I believe workshops can be a great benefit for painters. An economic downturn can, however, make it difficult to attend. I recently watched a DVD by Morgan Weistling. It was a long one and I enjoyed every minute. He is a wonderful painter and it was informative throughout. Truly, a workshop in a box.
Videos and DVDs are not cheap but are less than most workshops and you can view them as often as you like or need. Quang Ho has three recent editions that are excellent. Other favorite on-screen instructors are Scott Burdick, Richard Schmid, and Matt Smith. Let me say, there are many really good viewing opportunities out there and I have not seen them all and cannot name all the good ones. Many have clips available on the web and it’s a good idea to research before you buy.
Those mentioned above are also favorite classroom instructors; except for Schmid since I’ve never studied with him. I have also learned much from Gay Faulkenberry, Lesley Rich and Ann Templeton. When I have an opportunity to attend a workshop, I look for someone whose work knocks my socks off.
Over the years, I have been to a few, not-so-good, workshops. I do, however, believe you can always find something to bring home and apply to your work. It may just be what you learn not to do. Most good instructors teach fundamentals and those don’t change. I feel we all can use drilling on basics. What I get most is input on my own skills and suggestions for areas on which I need to concentrate. (Those are legion.) I usually do not paint well in a workshop. I try to paint like the instructor while I am there, just to learn. In my own studio, I want to paint like me, only better.
One pet peeve is an instructor who pats me on the head and flatters my work. I know they need to be positive and compliment everyone. That’s okay. It’s nice to hear but I am there to learn. When that happened to me, it was a really good painter who was, I think, new to teaching. If all I get is praise, I feel cheated. In those cases, I learned from watching that artist paint. That is sometimes the highlight of the workshop. I want his or her educated eye on my work.
Watching a great artist paint is inspiring—in person or “from a box”. I can come away from a workshop or a DVD with head spinning with inspiration, information, ideas and self-knowledge. I believe that’s a good value.
"If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now." Fred Allen