Sunday, January 24, 2016

When Should You Stop Taking Art Workshops?

'Winter Forest'         8x10       pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available  $150
Are you ever too experienced to take a Painting workshop? Or maybe you feel your aren't good enough yet to pay for a 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.  

Since I am in the midst of making travel arrangements for the workshops I will be teaching 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 11 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  do both....paint and take more workshops! Here's why.

Oil Stain Underpainting using red, blue and yellow traditional oils


  • 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!
  • NEW ARTISTS! The right workshop can be a big help to boost your skill or just to help you feel like you really are an artist! I love having new painters or artists new to pastels in my workshops. We all learn from one another.


If you would like to make time for a workshop this year please have a look at my offerings. I have new material to share along with my usual approach to simplifying the painting process. Details here or places email me with questions. karenmargulis@gmail.com 


2 comments:

robertsloan2art said...

Great article! For beginners who think they aren't good enough to take workshops, I just tell them to start with one that lists as "beginner" because both the instructor and others there will understand and help them get past a load of trouble with things that you don't know you need to know when you're completely self taught.

More experienced painters don't usually need to be told that because workshops will help anyone at any level improve. I've gone to beginner classes in mediums where I sold art for years only to find that reviewing the beginner material helps me improve my grasp of it. There's something that happens when specific things used to be difficult and I've had enough practice the lesson makes sense, or makes sense in a new way.

The other point I'd make about workshops to anyone at any level - choose an instructor whose work you like. Someone that their works make you think "I want to be able to DO that!" Because what you want to do with that technique or method isn't going to be the same as that instructor even if you both love the same subjects. Your take on it will not be the same. Get good with it and what comes out won't be anything like what your instructor does.

It also helps to brush up on what you already know. You can see how far you came and take it even farther doing that. Sometimes old questions that never had a good answer, the answer will come to you.

For any medium, but especially if you paint in more than one style or medium, there is more that can be learned than any one person could master in a lifetime. We're all continually learning. Workshops are worth it and so is teaching them once you're good enough to teach - when I teach I wind up learning a lot from my students. They'll always see things differently and do things I'd never think of. It's enriching on both sides.

tres said...

Thanks for the boost!!