Pat Fiorello - Art Elevates Life

Art & Inspiration from professional artist and instructor Pat Fiorello. Pat is known for her romantic landscape, garden and floral paintings in oil and watercolor. Her paintings often depict beautiful places like Italy and France. Pat teaches painting workshops in the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. She is passionate about inspiring others to include art in their life. Whether creating it or simply appreciating and enjoying it, there are so many ways that art elevates life!

Monday, June 16, 2014

How To Get the Most Out Of Your Art Workshop Experience -Part I

Off to Work
12 x 16 Oil Painting
by Pat  Fiorello

Over the past three weekends I have taken 3 painting workshops with different instructors. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing them that closely to anyone, especially not for beginners, but it just so happened that 3 artists whose work I admire and have been on my workshop “bucket list” all were offering workshops in driving distance of my area, at a time when my schedule was open.   I have no classes of my own scheduled for June and my husband is traveling so I have taken this month to be completely immersed in art and learning.

With this experience fresh in my mind, and having both taught and taken many workshops both near and far over the past 20 years, I thought I’d share some tips on how to get the most out of your workshop experience. I've divided my suggestions and lessons learned over 4 posts. Today will be before you decide on a workshop. then in my next 3 posts I'll share how to get the most out of a workshop before, during and even after the workshop is over. Hope you'll follow along and share with artist friends who might find this information useful.

1) Before deciding to register:
Start with your intentions. Why do you want to take a workshop? Don’t pick a workshop just because that everyone seems to be following that instructor right now. Be more selective and identify who might make the biggest contribution to your next level of growth as an artist.

 At different phases of my artistic development I had different goals. In the early days, I was looking for basic techniques and people whose style and subject matter seemed to be similar to what I thought I was interested in. Later on I actually took some workshops from people who had a radically different approach, just to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something totally different. Sometimes I go to workshops as a jump start for motivation or even just an opportunity to travel somewhere I’ve always wanted to go (e.g. Bermuda- thank you Mel Stabin!). I have found it really useful to take a workshop in January to get my momentum going again after the holiday break when my painting rhythm often gets interrupted. I also have an area of focus in my mind in terms of my “growing edge”. Where do I want to focus to advance my development? Lately my focus has been oil painting and specifically attention to color temperature and brushwork. So no surprise, the instructors I have studied with over the past few years excel in those areas.

Also, look on line- not only at the instructor’s site to see their work and philosophy, what is important to them, but also Google their name and see if other artists that have taken their workshops have shared their experiences on their blogs. I have found artists very helpful on providing feedback on workshops; so don’t be shy about contacting them. Try to get references from people who have actually taken the workshop. There are some amazing artists who may not be as effective in communicating the why’s and how’s to others.

Find out the intended audience. Is the workshop targeted primarily at beginning artists, what is the instructor's approach- can you get an idea of how much demonstration time vs. painting time so you know what to expect? You may even want to find out how many students are expected to be in the workshop. I've been surprised to walk into a couple that had 30 or more students, so not a lot of  time for the instructor to work with you individually if that's something that's important to you.

Stayed tuned for Part II  in my next post.    To be continued......
Do you have any other tips that have been helpful to you in selecting an art workshop that you'd like to share? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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