I just spent the weekend in a two day workshop with one of my favorite colored pencil artists.
I signed up for the workshop several months in advance and marked my calendar so I would not forget. As the time for the workshop approached I took a look at my supply list and started gathering them together.
Last week as the weekend drew near I started to doubt my wisdom in signing up for a workshop that would take my time for an entire weekend. My husband and I are in the middle of a bathroom remodel, my schedule has left me little time this spring for yard work, the weeds are taking over my flower garden and I'm sure I could think of a thousand more reasons not to go. I was already committed and planed carpooling with a friend, as well as pre-paying, so early Saturday morning I was off.
Once we were on the road our hour drive was filled with catching up on things we were doing as well as views of some beautiful scenes of the valley in the morning light. We talked of stopping to take photos but did not. We were anxious to get to the workshop and find good spots to set up, close to the front so we would not miss a thing. Our plan payed off and we were able to get seats in the front row right up close so we could see and hear all that the instructor was saying. We worked from 9 till 4 with a short break for lunch. My friend and I packed a lunch so we were able to eat and talk and get right back to work. By Saturday night when I arrived home I was exhausted and ready for a good nights rest.
Sunday morning we were off again, this time we did stop and take a few photos. We arrived early, made the coffee for the group and our instructor and once again went to work. The day was just as intense as the one before and we all worked very hard. By mid day I could tell my ugly duckling of a piece was going to turn into something beautiful. I was just as exhausted by the end of the day but very glad I went. Workshops are HARD work!
I thought I would list a few things to do to help make your workshop experience a good one.
1 - Research the artists that will be instructing the workshop. Check the artists work on their web site. Think about how the artists work and your work relate. If the workshop is about portraits and you like to do landscapes, the workshop may not be the best "fit" for you.
2 - Gather the pieces and materials that you plan to bring. Check your supply list and make sure you have all the supplies listed as well as any other supplies you might like to use that are not listed. Don't plan to bring your entire studio but a good selection of materials and extra supplies can always be left in the car and are close at hand just in case.
3 - Clear your schedule. Your focus for the duration of the artist's workshop should be solely on the workshop and the pieces that you are creating during this time. Plan to stay in a Hotel close by or if you are close enough to drive, plan to have dinner ready when you get home or pick something up on the way. Keep your evening free for relaxing and get a good night rest for each day.
4 - Attend all sessions. Plan ahead and plan to arrive early to set up. It is a good idea to pack a lunch or know where you can get a quick lunch nearby. You want to make sure you are on time so you don't miss an important lesson.
5 - Make time to speak one-on-one with the instructor. Don't feel like a nuisance if you take up the artist's time. You paid the money to attend and should get as much feedback about your work as possible. On the other hand don't take up ALL of the instructors time, be courteous to the other attendees, they paid for the workshop as well and deserve equal time for feedback.
6 - Keep your attitude positive! If you have a positive attitude about your work no matter what level of experience you are and about yourself it will come through in your work. My goal is not to have a completed piece of work by the end of a workshop, but to learn as much as I can about new techniques and practice new skills. If I only finish a small section and get a feel for how new techniques work, I consider the workshop worth my time and money. Sometimes I feel I only really "get" one thing from a workshop but that one thing leads to one more thing, and one more, and I keep improving and building my skills. Besides, no one wants to hear me whining about how my back hurts from sitting too long or how my bunions are inflamed and swelling!
A workshop is a great place to meet new artists and new friends. If you do some planning you can assure your workshop experience will be a good one.
I want to thank Pat Averill for all her hard work putting together a wonderful workshop (believe me, I know how much work goes into a workshop). I also want to thank Nancy Rogge for helping me make coffee and keeping me laughing :))
Bonus! I got a beautiful painting to keep as a reminder as well as loads of new techniques to try on my own colored pencil paintings.