One way to choose a workshop is to collect images from artists you admire then search online to see if they teach. Cheap Joes also distributes a catalog called the Workshopper that lists of workshops throughout the US. I found my next workshop of 2015 when I discovered a favorite pastel artist was scheduled to teach in Morro Bay.
I consider a workshop successful if I learn something new. In my pastel workshop with Liz Haywood-Sullivan, I hit the jackpot. The first thing I learned was that anyone can schedule a workshop for their association. This particular class was arranged by a member of the Morro Bay Art Association. It also became clear why these events require early, non-refundable commitments; the artist could travel from her home on the east coast with the assurance that she would be paid regardless of anyone dropping out.
After I committed to this location, I began to worry that I chose the wrong time and place for a plein air workshop during the foggiest month in Morro Bay. Since Lis says “it’s all about the light”, I worried it would be a waste of time. I was lucky there was a heat wave inland so the weather on the coast was simply stunning, but it’s probably a good idea to check the weather of your intended workshop location.
I learned so much in this class it’s difficult to detail it all, but it was really helpful that the instructor showed us how she captures a landscape composition. Her technique with a simple slide holder as a viewfinder was really a revelation. She also took the time to learn each student’s strengths and weaknesses, so I went away with a new awareness of what I need to improve in my own work. Lis could not have been more encouraging and supportive.
It’s also very interesting to see the tools and materials used by your fellow students. I discovered a new to me brand of pastels and a paper and it’s making my work much easier. I also enjoyed visiting the Morro Bay waterfront outside of workshop hours. I can highly recommend a workshop experience like this.
Next time: Birgit O’Connor in Calistoga