Should You Take a Workshop?

16 Apr 2012

I deliberately entitled this post using a word that I have eliminated from my vocabulary: Should.

Like sunrise to a new day, the right workshop can lead you to fresh new beginnings in your art pursuits. Awakening by Steve Henderson, 24 x 40, oil painting, also available as note cards.

Like sunrise to a new day, the right workshop can lead you to fresh
new beginnings in your art pursuits. Awakening by Steve Henderson,
24 x 40, oil painting, also available as note cards.

Too often we do things not because they are right for our particular situation, or because we are grown ups and can use the words "want to" without sounding like recalcitrant toddlers, but because we have this vague idea that others--who know more than we do--expect certain behavior.

Workshops are great little animals; my own Norwegian artist, Steve Henderson, regularly teaches them, and his students, depending upon why they are there and how they approach the opportunity, move forward in widely divergent fashions.

Some people are serial workshop takers, collecting the names of their numerous oil painting instructors like knitters stash yarn. Others are there for the first time, glancing covertly at everyone's brushes and paint tubes and specialized plastic art boxes and convincing themselves that they are the only ones there who know absolutely nothing.

The best students, and the ones who leave most satisfied, are confident enough in themselves to realize that everyone does things differently, but humble enough to recognize that there is much good in trying something new. These students are here, not because they feel they ought to be, but because they want to be. Tthey listen with an open mind, ask pointed questions, absorb the answers given to not only their own questions, but to the questions of others, and use the limited workshop time to its full advantage. They're taking the workshop because they like the instructor's work and want to hear more about how he/she accomplishes it.

Should you take a workshop? Misleading question. Do you want to?

--Carolyn

Carolyn Henderson is the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a weekly columnist for Fine Art News, a division of Canvoo, and writes a lifestyle column, Middle Aged Plague, that is published online and in print newspapers throughout the country.

Describing herself as "small, insignificant, and ordinary," Carolyn writes for and about normal, everyday people, who are not small and insignificant at all.


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Comments

on 17 Apr 2012 9:21 AM

Excellent article Carolyn.  I take workshops because it allows me a rare opportunity to see and work with and ask question of my idols.  I know that sounds weird- but I have artist idols, and this allows me to get inside their heads, watch them work and ask the questions that are important to me as an artist.  It also allows me to share time with a group of artists- and it's nice to be in-touch with others who share your intersts.

YSokolov wrote
on 17 Apr 2012 11:27 AM

Great article. I have to say that I always wanted to take the workshop, especially in watercolor medium. However I have always been too occupied with something else to do it. I am determined to take a workshop this summer. Hopefully it will work out and I will have a chance to learn from Paul Jackson.

on 17 Apr 2012 7:37 PM

David: not odd at all, but quite intelligent. When you see work that you like, and you have the opportunity to talk to the artist IN PERSON -- what a great way to move forward in your own journey. And I agree -- there's no more energizing place than a room full of artists!

YSokolov: Go for it! I hope that your summer experience is a terrific one, and that you walk out even more excited than when you walk in. I'll be talking more about workshops over the next few weeks, and hopefully that will give you additional things to think about as you get ready.

on 18 Apr 2012 12:25 PM

David and YSokolov -- I apologize for any confusion in the above comment by Steve Henderson, who in this case, was me (or rather I, to be technically, grammatically correct).

We both have accounts on Artist Daily, and when I set out to answer your gracious comments, I didn't notice that Steve had signed in under his name, and I just started tapping away. I've done this on other family members' Facebook accounts as well, much to their consternation!

KatPaints wrote
on 18 Apr 2012 7:17 PM

Workshops are great to kick start a new direction. When I decided to get back into painting I attended the AA master's weekend in Laguna which is just what I needed. If I find that a particular artist has a quality in their work that I would like experiment with, a workshop could be a good idea.

In general, workshops are very good for beginners or intermediate artists. Being more advanced, I dislike workshops because the instructor usually has very little to say to me and moves on to someone else and then I wonder why I paid so much money. Or they stop by at too early of a stage so their advice is useless or irrelevant. There are also attention hogs, who demand lots of time from the instructor and usually is still clueless when the instructor moves on to another student. Students also rush to position themselves in the best location for a model. Some actually come the night before to claim their space. Carolyn Anderson had the best solution. Names were drawn out of a hat in the order that people could claim their space. INSTRUCTORS TAKE NOTE!

I find that demos are the best for me. Understanding an artist's philosophy is also something I'm interesting in. Watching someone paint is valuable even if they say nothing.

Vaveli wrote
on 21 Apr 2012 10:43 AM

A Philosophy for LIFE is contained  in these wise words:

....  ' The best students, and the ones who leave most satisfied, are confident enough in themselves to realize that everyone does things differently, but humble enough to recognize that there is much good in trying something new. These students are here, not because they feel they ought to be, but because they want to be. Tthey listen with an open mind, ask pointed questions, absorb the answers given to not only their own questions, but to the questions of others, and use the limited workshop time to its full advantage'

on 21 Apr 2012 2:12 PM

love your way of thinking with art....

LNsGirl wrote
on 22 Apr 2012 10:36 AM

I expected the word to be "CAN'T". =)  I do love this article though.  Thank you so much!

Celia Blanco wrote
on 23 Apr 2012 9:02 AM

Great article, I think in art just like in life  we never stop learning-thank you.