Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Attending an art workshop -preparation

Painting workshops are a lot of fun, I love to run them and I love to attend workshops run by other tutor/artists.
 I have  attended well over 300 art and writing workshops in the 25 years I have been a practising visual artist and I have always learned something valuable. 
I always think that if you go away with just one new thing you have learned; it is good.

Preparation is the key to having a successful experience on a workshop.
Here are some of my thoughts, based not only on my experience as a tutor, but also as a participant.

Before you leave home
1.Think a little about what you would like to achieve during the workshop.
It may be that you  don't really mind  and are happy just to go along and accept whatever happens, this is ok too, it's great to have an open mind.

2.Take a look at art books in your local library and work out what sort of paintings you like.
Bring examples to class.

3. If you have one, take your sketchbook with you… it's useful to show your instructor what you are capable of  and useful for notes in the back.

4. Buy a visual diary before you go to class they are invaluable for working out ideas.

5. Read the materials  list thoroughly , bring along a pack of moist hand wipes and paper towels.

6. Take some drinking water to keep your brain fresh.

5. Take an apron and don't wear your best clothes.

During the class

1. Take some notes, (ideally in the back of your sketchbook, so you will never lose them).
You cannot possibly remember all you will hear from your tutor.

2. As the teacher  moves around the room, LISTEN to what is being said to other students. It may well apply to your work too.

3. Be on time.

4.If you have problems at home…try to leave them at home.
Particpants actually need all their energies for the workshop, and they want to forget about problems and have fun. try to do the same.

5. You may well feel nervous and apprehensive. Your fellow students are probably feeling the same way even if they don’t appear to be! Even a more experienced painter may feel apprehensive at a workshop. It is useful to remember that at every level, artists have their own demons to contend with and are very rarely self-satisfied! So... Never compare your work to your neighbour’s…after all, they may have been painting far longer than you have. You should only ever compare your work to work you were doing, say, a year ago...THAT is the best reflection of your progress.

6. Reduce your expectations.
The nerves, the unfamiliar surroundings, the problems of being away from the comforts of home, will all play a part.
Your work may not be even as good as the work you do at home.
Don’t worry about this…it is quite normal, and what you learn during a workshop will often show in your work at a later date.
It's frustrating, I know, but this is often the way it works, even for more experienced painters.

7. Be open minded and ready to try something new
 You are there to learn, so take a leap of faith and try whatever is suggested, even if it doesn't appeal to you.
If it doesn’t work for you – so be it – it is just as useful to find out what does not work for you, as what does!

8. Accept criticism of your work with good grace; any criticism you receive should be constructive  and it will help you grow as an artist.
A good teacher will always have something positive to say about your work.
The cristicsm should follow the c r c formulation, which is commendation, recommendation, commendation.
If a tutor cannot give you some constructive and positive feedback on your work don't give up, never be put off buy the negativity of people. 
Remember taste is subjective.

9. Concentrate quietly on your work, rather than chat away constantly to your neighbour.
They may be too polite to ask you to stop talking – but they may actually want to concentrate without any such distractions.

When you go home.
1. If you have critical, negative  family members or a partner, do not show them your fledging efforts.
Your artworks are your babies, be protective of your beginnings, you will get better as time goes on.
Trust in the process.

2. Review the work you have done and the notes you have made during the workshop .

3, Keep on going, sign up for other workshops, read plenty of books, go to art exhibitions,  set some creativity goals for 2012.
You deserve it.

A workshop session can be really rewarding - challenging - exciting - enlightening - action-packed - but it can also be confronting especially if you are a person who is highly critical of yourself.
You need to be mentally prepared for anything and go in with the attitude of accepting what ever comes out.
You may go home filled with new ideas and renewed vigour and enthusiasm, you may go home a little disappointed.
 Dont sweat it.
Turn your work to face the wall and look at it a week later.
You will be surprised how good it looks.

The chances are really good that you will have had the most marvellous, eye-opening experience - suddenly new doors may have opened for you.
Your notes will prove useful in the days and years to come, and the experience will certainly have enriched your life.

I have a variety of mixed media workshops that I run from my home studio classroom.
 Email me today for details

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