How Tradition and Innovation Shape Art Today

I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of talented artists in my career, but I’ve never had the opportunity to learn from as many top painters as I will have during the American Artist Weekend With the Masters (WWM) at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center from September 9 to 13. The event will provide an extraordinary opportunity to meet master artists and special guests during four days of workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and social events. Staff members from three of our corporate offices have done an incredible job of making sure this will be a rewarding and memorable experience for everyone involved. In particular, Senior Editor Allison Malafronte has organized the educational program out of a sense of mission and determination, and Event Manager Karen Keegan has managed every detail of the convention.

One of the things that strikes me about this special event is how 21st-century technology is being used to bring attention to art materials, techniques, and styles of painting that have been in use for more than four centuries. Information about the educational program and registration process is being provided over the internet; promotional material is being distributed through e-newsletters and online social networks like, Facebook, and Twitter; and participants will be flying to Colorado Springs from all over the world. Once everyone sets up their easels or takes a seat in the auditorium, they will be watching artists use bristle brushes, earth colors, linen canvas, vine charcoal, linseed oil, rag paper, and sketchbooks—all of which have been available to artists for hundreds of years.

The event will also reinforce the idea that art instruction is now available through one-on-one conversation with an experienced teacher as well as through DVDs, magazines, books, websites, internet videos, and blogs. That means the artists who are fortunate enough to enjoy master artist John Salminen’s wit, wisdom, and personal attention during the Weekend With the Masters can solidify that valuable instruction by purchasing one of the two DVDs he has produced with Creative Catalyst Productions.

I have watched most of the WWM instructors interact with students, and I have played their DVD programs, so I know firsthand what a dramatic impact Joseph McGurl, David A. Leffel, Mary Whyte, Jeremy Lipking, Timothy J. Clark, Susan Lyon, Jacob Collins, and the other masters can have on aspiring artists. There are many other great teachers, and we hope to bring more of them together at future events, but this is an extraordinary first effort on the part of the master artists, the staff of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and the team of organizers at the magazine.

M. Stephen Doherty

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About M. Stephen Doherty

I've been interested in art since I was a child,  and I was fortunate to be able to take Saturday art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum from the time I was 9 years old until I finished high school. I majored in art at Knox College and graduated summa *** laude, Phi Beta Kappa (proving artists can use both sides of their brain!).  I then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from Cornell University; taught art in public schools, a community college, an adult education program, and a college; worked in the marketing department of a company that manufactured screen printing supplies; and was hired to be editor of American Artist in January, 1979.

Thomas S. Buecher introduced me to plein air painting and it immediately became a passion of mine because it got me outdoors and allowed me to continue learning when I traveled to judge art shows, attend conventions, give lectures, and interview artists. Over the years I've exhibited my paintings at Bryant Galleries in New Orleans, Trees Place Gallery on Cape Cod, and in a traveling exhibition titled From Sea to Shining Sea.

I've written 10 books on artists and art techniques and contibuted articles to magazines, websites, and exhibition catalogs. Now as I prepare for semi-retirement, I'm trying to hone my painting skills -- especially those related to painting portraits.

I've been very fortunate to have met thousands of talented artists who have enriched my life with their art, their friendship, and their advice. I am grateful to Jerry Hobbs and Susan Meyer who hired me in 1979, to the talented people who worked with me on the magazines, and to the artists and advertisers who supported American Artist, Watercolor, Workshop, and Drawing  magazines and the related websites.

I've also been blessed with a supportive, talented wife, Sara; a daughter, Clare, who works for an insurance agency; a son, Michael, who is a computer enginner in Austin; a son-in-law, Shawn, who can fix and carry anything; a granddaughter, Amanda, who has me wrapped around her finger; and my mother, Dotty, who has advised and encouraged me from the beginning.

7 thoughts on “How Tradition and Innovation Shape Art Today

  1. To say that I am thoroughly looking forward to this event would be an understatement. What a great opportunity it is for someone like myself, having never taken a formal workshop before, to gleam from so many of today’s recognized Master Artists, and experience first hand the knowledge and technique they’ve put into practice for so many years.
    I can’t wait until September!


  2. Brenda and I signed up the first day. Got most of what we asked for, but noticed things started to fill up rapidly. we are both so excited to get this opportunity! what a project! Am excited about getting to meet all these world class artists as well as some of the American Artist Staff. Wish we could leave tomorrow! thank you!


  3. I got an email about this event and 10 minutes later, waited for registration to open.
    Totally uncharacteristic for me !
    Got every event I wanted !
    I’ve come to accept and recognize synchronicity.

    Looking forward to meeting you, Steve and attending this amazing opportunity.

  4. Hi; I’ve been really on the fence about going to this thing. Not to be a nay-sayer, but it’s really expensive, all tolled. Transportation, meals lodging, etc. Plus most of the cool workshops are already filled. Are people paying the whole 1195, or paying as you go? Thanks for the input.

  5. Hi, Doc,

    Although there are several people waiting for the pay-per-class option to open on June 1 (which allows you to purchase only the demos, lectures, and evening events), the majority of people have registered through the flat-rate option. Several of the full-day master workshops sold out within a day or so, but there are still a few spots left in some half-day workshops, and still plenty of ways to fill all four days and evenings with instruction from these top artists.

    Whether you pay the flat rate or wait for the pay-per-class to open, we hope to see you in September, and if you need any help with registration or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 646-841-0057,

  6. I love the concept behind Weekend with the Masters. I know that there is a lot of work involved with planning & setting up such an event. I would like to make some new suggestions. I would like to see this event offered on a yearly basis at different locations. How about doing such an event in the New York metro area or Chicago for example. Since many artists are on a budget and/or cannot attend for many reasons maybe some of the events such as the demos be shown on this site if not for free for a modest fee. Also why not offer DVDs of the demos ? An artist may not be able to get the feedback but at least they can still avail themselves of the ideas presented..

  7. Those are great suggestions. We do not yet know if Weekend With the Masters will become an annual event, but I agree that it would be great to take “the show on the road” and have it in different markets every year. We also plan to do some videotaping of select workshops, panel discussions, and evening events throughout the weekend, and we will be turning that into either DVDs or downloadable videos on our website.

    Thanks for the feedback!