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Monday, February 18, 2013

When Should You Stop Taking Art Workshops?

'Living the Good Life'        18x24        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
Are you ever too experienced to take a Painting workshop? Is there a certain point in your art journey that you no longer need them?  I have heard a few different thoughts on the subject and have given it a lot of thought as well.  In yesterday's blog post I shared some thoughts on taking workshops when you are new to painting or starting a new medium. You can read the post here.

Since I am in the midst of making travel arrangements for the workshops I will be attending this year, this question is heavy on my mind.  Some experienced artists try to limit the number of workshops they take in a given period. Some feel as though they would rather spend their time painting more....allowing them to put together all they they have learned over the years. And this is valid. It does take putting in those miles of canvas and spending quality studio time to take your work to the next level. 

I have been painting now for 7 years. I have taken many workshops with some wonderful instructors. I teach my own classes and workshops. Should I take more workshops or should I just paint?  My answer is ....paint and take more workshops! Here's why.

close-up of 'Living the Good Life'

  • PRUNING TIME No matter how experienced we are we can always learn something new. I was listening to an art podcast and the artist who was very successful and respected talked about how he likes to take workshops form other artists he admires because it helps "prune off the dead wood" What a great thought.  We are always growing as painters and sometimes we grow branches that we don't need or that are weighing us down. It sometimes takes some new thinking or another experienced eye to see what we need.
  • Fresh eyes.  When you are a new painter taking too many workshops can often be confusing because everything is so new.  Experienced painters can benefit from workshops because new information or something put in a new way will be more obvious.  You may hear something you already knew explained in a different way. All of the sudden a lightbulb may light. It could make all the difference in something you are struggling with.
  • Workshops give us time to paint. Sometimes experienced artists get caught up or bogged down with things other than studio time.....marketing, business, art associations, galleries,teaching.  Attending a workshop is a way to give you some dedicated painting time. And the bonus is that you might learn something new.
  • Networking and the camaraderie of other artists. One of the benefits of attending a workshop for artists of any level is the opportunity to spend time with like minded people. There is something special about meeting other artists and immersing yourself in all things art for a few days.  Learning from other artists is often just as valuable as learning from the instructor.
  • An excuse to travel. This is one of my favorite reasons. A workshop is a great excuse for a road trip with my art friends!

Another close-up
I am excited to take workshops this year for all of the reasons above. In case you are interested,  here is who I will be studying with this year:
Doug Dawson in Florida
Elizabeth Mowry in Georgia (our SPS judge)
Bill Creevy at IAPS
Stan Sperlak in NJ


Beena said...

If I were not in the throes of a mobility issue, I would definitely be open to taking some workshops to explore different techniques from my own. And I have been exploring art for many years, and started the same time I learned to read and write. Makes no difference, there's always more to learn! I think, however, with more season one tends to be pickier.

Beena said...

I might add, I would also take one of yours if even for social reasons because I like you! :) And you have some tips I have appreciated!

Dave Casey said...

I feel like there should never come a time when you feel like you couldn't learn something from other artists. In my situation, being a beginner there is always something to learn. And it also provides me with an opportunity to rub shoulders with other artists, most of whom are much better than me.

Anonymous said...

When are you taking a workshop with Stan Sperlak in NJ? I've taken workshops with Stan and enjoyed them.
Would love to be there when you are there if possible.

Judy Bittorf

Karen said...

Thank you Beena! I would love to meet you too!

Karen said...

Hi Judy! I will be taking Stan's workshop at the end of September at his farm. It will be my 4th with Stan! That would be fun to meet you and paint with you!

Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Karen, this is a wonderful post. One many artists struggle with. I know I am one that has said I will limit my taking of workshops ... but I think what Beena said is true ... "one tends to be pickier." Good job explaining why an artist should not rule out taking a workshop. We never stop learning, and we just might hear something a different way that helps just what we are working on.

Karen said...

Thanks Marsha! You know that our discussions on this subject got me thinking about it more. Then when I heard the podcast (I have to remember who it was you would enjoy it) it all made sense that we can just be pickier about the workshops we take and go into them with different goals than if we were beginners! In addition, for us as teachers it can also benefit us by being students again....helps us remember what it is like for our students!

Linda Blondheim said...

I think for established artists it is less helpful. When you have found your muse and your path, it is better to get serious with studio time.

Karen said...

Thank you Linda. I appreciate your insight. I do know that certain workshops have helped me find my muse so for that I am grateful!