Thriving and Surviving Painting Workshops


    This post is by guest author Pamela C. Newell, This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 75,000 subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.




            "Every Artist Was Once An Amateur" - Ralph Waldo Emerson


    So, you've signed up to take a painting workshop with an instructor whose work inspires you.  You want to learn to paint, paint en plein air, florals, still life or landscapes.  Maybe you want to learn to paint with a different medium than your usual and try your hand at soft pastel or oil because you've always painted in acrylic or watercolor. Or your goal is to learn more about composition, selecting a subject, values, edge work, palette knife, color mixing, or the perennial  - "I just want to paint looser".   Perhaps you only paint in a workshop.  Or you've not painted for years because of work or family obligations and you are longing to get back to it.  Maybe the workshop is a gift from a loved one who wants to see you enjoy your creative side again.  These are all valid reasons to jump in and sign up.  I want you to remember one thing,  "Every Artist Was Once An Amateur" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I've taught workshops and classes for years and have come to expect various goals, abilities and motivations from workshop attendees.  
    Workshops can be a struggle. It's completely normal to feel performance anxiety and to stress about your work in front of a roomful of other artists. Just know the biggest obstacle to progress is FEAR.  Fear of looking like an amateur.  Fear of wasting materials.  Fear of the judgement of others.  But the biggest obstacle is fear of trying something new.
    I've taken many workshops myself with "rock star" artists and I can tell you no one paints at their best level in a workshop. (Shhhh, even the instructor.)  A workshop is the place to experiment, try new techniques,  and get out of your comfort zone with the guidance of the instructor.  The real work and growth happen after the workshop... but only if an artist reviews and then applies and practices what they've learned in the workshop.  Struggle shows a person is learning and open to change.  As they say, "no pain no gain!"  It takes loads of practice to implement new techniques and concepts.  It's really like learning a new language  - a visual language.
    So, bottom line is, don't be hard on yourself!  You are learning, experimenting and pushing yourself.  Just keep practicing and the joy and new painting skills will come. I've witnessed artistic breakthroughs where an artist dances for joy because they've tried something new and it worked.
    And don't expect one workshop to solve all your painting issues. There is always another level to learn - there is no end to the artist's road of learning.  Just know that some people have started on the road a bit earlier and have passed a few milestones.  The artistic challenges never end.  Every fresh canvas is the next masterpiece because for an artist, the best painting is always the next one. If it were easy, everyone would be an "artist."  There is no such thing as the artist who was magically bestowed with genius and talent.  That's Hollywood.  Even for the best it takes work and dedication. So don't compare yourself to anyone but yourself and you'll see the progress. Take those workshops and shorten your learning curve.  I wish you good painting.


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