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Friday, October 16, 2015

Reviewing a Month of Plein Air Workshops....New Mexico!

'Monastery View'         5x7            plein air pastel          ©Karen Margulis
available $50
All I can say is Wow! This past week's plain air workshop/retreat was everything I dreamed of and more!  Seventeen artists came together in the Pecos Wilderness of New Mexico to paint and immerse in art.  We were hosted by the BenedictineAbbey, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pecos New Mexico. The abbey was truly in Gods Country. It was beautiful with more than a lifetime's worth of things to paint. The grounds had it all....mountains, rivers, ponds, beautiful trees including an apple orchard, meadows, adobe buildings. It was amazing!

Tobi Clement invited me to teach this workshop and I told her I would be an instructor and facilitator. I wanted to be sure that I understood each artist's goals for the workshop and help them meet those goals. At our meet and greet I was surprised and delighted to learn that we had several brand new pastelists and several artists new to plain air. I called them my freshmen and it was wonderful to see their growth over the course of just a few days.  The upperclassmen were awesome....working hard on their own paintings and helping to encourage and support the freshmen. What a wonderful mix to have!

'Pecos Fall'            5x7            pastel          $50

 One of the special things about this workshop was the fact that we all stayed right at the abbey. We had our own rooms and private bath in our own wing. All of our meals were provided and the food was simple and good. Living with one another amongst the beauty of the grounds created a bond that doesn't always happen in a workshop. We relaxed, chatted, laughed, cheered one another and left as friends. It was so much more than a painting workshop!

My demo on handling foregrounds

Each day began with a lesson and demo on a plein air subject. I often issued challenges and exercises to inspire the group. They had the morning to paint on the grounds. Another demo happened after lunch with the rest of the day free to paint. The weather was perfect (although a few clouds would have been nice for a cloud demo but I'm not complaining!)

A watercolor underpainting demo of some wildflowers....yes I find them everywhere!

Hidden artists! Yes I did see a few snakes!

The Pecos River runs through the grounds

Rivers and rocks

Our lodging at the Monastery even had some Queen Annes Lace!

The monastery didn't have TV's or cell phone reception. The internet room was in another building so most of us stayed off the grid for a few days. It was nice. We were tuned into nature instead of technology.  Each evening I planned some optional after dimmer entertainment. One evening I did a demo. Another evening we had Art Hack Night where we shared our favorite art tricks. We also had Show and Tell where we shared our work and had goal checks. It was so much fun to see everyone's progress over the week.

It was an amazing week in an inspiring place. I can't wait to do it again!

Evening entertainment with a reading from 'Art for Dummies'

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