(painting by Michael Roberson
, Los Angeles,CA)
I'm back from teaching two 5 day workshops on beautiful Vancouver Island, BC, hosted by Vancouver Island Workshops
. The first was an introductory level class in Nanaimo and the second, a Level 2 class in Victoria. Teaching these two sessions back led me to think about how different they are to teach and to experience as a participant. Because I'm so often asked "what happens in a Level Two workshop?" this post is to clarify and explain the progression of ideas from one class to the next.
My Introductory Level classes are focused mainly on basic techniques, "the toolbox," as one of my students dubbed it. There is a LOT of information to absorb. Besides giving demos and plenty of individual assistance, I also make presentations about abstraction and process-oriented painting. These lay some groundwork for the focus of the more advanced classes.
In a Level Two workshop, I expect the artists who come to not only know most basic techniques of cold wax and oils (as learned in the Intro level) but also to have practiced them for at least 4-6 months on their own. Although I'm happy to provide quick reviews, and run through any new ideas or tools that I've been working with, the emphasis in this class is not on technique, which is a given. Instead we take on the big questions of form and content. In terms of the medium and process, we deal with the possibilities for expression that lie in the techniques, issues of scale, considerations for substrate and other choices of materials, and quick painting exercises designed to strengthen basic skills in composition, use of shape, color and value distribution. Below, a value study in powdered charcoal and cold wax medium by Eva MacLowry
, Portland, OR:
As for content, I encourage each person to dig into the meaning of their work and what they wish to express--to connect with and clarify their inner voice. The longer the workshop, the deeper we can go. For example, Level Two workshops may include self-critique skills and small group discussions. I always schedule an extended one-on-one with each person in a review of his or her work as a whole (not only what is done in class), offering feedback and direction on an individual level. Below, participants in the Victoria class paired up to discuss each other's work with guideline/questions provided in a handout:
I also work on my own panels in class, and try to bring at least a few to completion. While I can (and sometimes do) talk all day about working spontaneously and covering over ruthlessly--it seems that showing, rather than explaining, is most effective in getting across this approach. (You can read more about this here
in an earlier post.)
I often receive requests from advanced artists asking to skip the Intro level workshop and go right into a Level 2 class. But from the description above, I hope it's clear that even advanced artists need the basic toolbox of techniques and these are offered only at the first level.
For a taste of the experience of a Level Two workshop, here are a few testimonials from artists in my class in Victoria, BC:
This 5 day intensive was just what I needed to energize myself and my painting. The quick exercises that were interspersed throughout the week were a revelation and I realize now that I am/was inhibiting myself and not trusting my artistic self. It feels great to have freedom of expression again and I look forward to returning to my studio with a renewed creative spirit.
--Janet C. Hickok, Anchorage, AK
(Janet's quick series based on spontaneous drawings, below.)
I came to class with challenges and (Rebecca) was able to help me identify solutions immediately....—Aryana Londir, New River, AZ
There is always something one can learn or relearn about the materials and the fundamentals of art and abstraction and Rebecca does that so very well. Having time for some exercises was both fun and useful-and of course being able to watch her paint for a long time is treat.--Eva MacLowry, Porland, OR.
Rebecca helped me excavate genuine elements of who I am through creative exercises and then gave me tools to express my individuality in my work. Learning was playful and opened a door to the rich language of experience. --Kathleen Schildmeyer, Lake Oswego, OR
(Kathleen's series on paper, below.)
If that sounds enticing and you've taken an Intro level workshop (mine or from another artist) please note that I have openings in two of my upcoming Level Two workshops: at Cullowhee Mountain Arts
in June and at Ballinglen Arts Foundation
in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo Ireland in November (please email me for information on that one...email@example.com)
By the way, I also offer a third level of instruction, Master Level classes, for those who have completed the first two levels and wish to continue working with me and with other artists experienced in using cold wax. There are openings in these classes in May at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI and in September at Lake Logan Retreat Center (through Cullowhee Mountain Arts) near Asheville. Please email me for more info on those if you are interested.
Below, monocromatic color study by Aryana Londir: