4 WAYS TO MAKE A WORKSHOP EXPERIENCE A SUCCESS
By Mario Robinson
When considering a workshop, it’s important to vigorously research the artist who will be teaching. There are a couple factors to consider, such as the working pace of the artist. Does he or she methodically use glazes to build a painting or employ a looser wet-in-wet application of color? Secondly, be mindful of the recommended level of the workshop in which you’re interested. If you’re a beginner, it may be daunting to attend a class with more experienced students. Feel free to discuss your level of experience with the artist or coordinator to ensure you would benefit from the workshop.
Due to the limited duration of a workshop, it’s imperative to set realistic goals. I suggest participating in a workshop that affirms your passion for a particular genre. While you may have aspirations to paint portraits, it’s difficult to glean any useful information in a condensed format without prior experience. A more tactical approach would be attending open life drawing sessions or comprehensive classes, in order to familiarize yourself with the human form. The same can be said for other disciplines. Practice painting en plein air with fellow artists or experiment with setting up still life compositions. While there is room for experimentation in a workshop setting, it should be done with a level of understanding.
The pressure many of us experience is self-inflicted. The inner voice that shouts, “Don’t do it, your going to ruin it!” at the moment when you’re preparing to lay down a large wash of color. Painting in a social setting can seem daunting, especially when the watercolor is not cooperating. Due to the transient nature of watercolor and the inability to easily correct mistakes, anxiety can quickly set in. It’s important to manage your expectations. Whether a workshop is three days or a week long, it’s time you’ve carved out for yourself, removed from the daily rigors of life. Enjoy the prospect of learning new techniques, interacting with fellow watercolorists, and remaining open to the possibility of experimentation. As one of my students recently said to me, “At the end of the day, it’s only paper.”
Once the inspiration and comraderie of the workshop atmosphere have worn off, it’s vital that you direct that energy toward remaining active creatively. Returning to the normalcy of everyday life can impede the flow of creativity. However, it’s incumbent upon you to practice the techniques you learned or implement that new color to which you were introduced in the workshop. The real work begins immediately following the class. I’m always heartened to receive images from artists who have taken my instruction and integrated it in their work, in order to improve their level of artistry.