The Value of Workshops by M Theresa Brown

Years ago, when you wanted to know something about how to create art, your choices were limited. Either you read a book or went to college. There was no YouTube, DVDs and if you had TV (seriously-as recent as 40 years ago, many people did not!) you may catch a show with the earliest of the TV artists, Jon Gnagy! In fact, even  a store that sold JUST art supplies was pretty rare.  Summer painting workshops  have been around for a century or more but unless one had access to that location or circle of artists, there was little available for the average artist. You simply did the best you could with what you had or you gave up and pursued something else!

Unless one was trained as an illustrator as many fine  artists through history were, the very basics of techniques (the old” how to do it” stuff) was usually missing in the art programs.  Theory and experimental techniques abound, but the average person who simply wants to learn to paint is often at a disadvantage.

But nowaday, so much has changed. There are art materials availabe for kids that many of us would have died for.  There are thousands of how to DVDs and books with amazing illustrations.  There are online art supply stores that have art tools available that once, only those in the loop knew about or could afford….but despite ALL of the available tools and equipment and online lessons, the very best way to learn is to DO it! It does you no good to collect all those art supplies and DVDs and not use them.

And that is where workshops come into play. Even the simplest of art workshops empower the participants with knowledge and skills they did not have before entering! More importantly, a workshop “makes you do it!” Very few people are self motivated enough to stick with a frustrating hobby until they learn it. But art workshops let you sample everything from techniques to mediums to styles to subject matter. And the participant is encouraged by both the instructor as well as the other artists.  It does not take long to complete a beautiful project with guidance!

Although my primary income is in the sales of my art and I derive much pleasure from happy clients and their reactions to the artwork,  more recently I’ve discovered the same thing in workshop participants.  The marketing workshops are more of an ephiphany for the artists who want to know how to sell their art wheras the technique driven mini-workshops are an ephiphany to the artist to whom a whole new world has just opened!

Maybe it’s the feeling of “I did it myself” that makes their day!  Maybe it’s the discovery of a talent they thought did not exist.  Even accomplished artists who step outside of their comfort zone into another realm of art, derive enjoyment from participating in a workshop.

Whether you teach an occasional art class, lesson or regular classes, realize that you have just given the gift of discovery to whoever you are teaching!  And especially with adult classes, you have opened up a future for many of them. A future of an endless opportunity to discover art in a thousand or more ways! And that surely beats sitting in front of the TV or computer!

So join a class, teach a class……when you have students who have paid to be there (including you) you have their full attention, enthusiasm and  gratitude and  doesn’t that make YOU feel good?!


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