"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off the goal." author unknown

Ten Tips on Taking a Workshop
(Or, Advice from Someone Who Has Been on Both Sides of the Easel)
© 1998 Nita Leland
  1. First, select a workshop that has something specific you want or need to learn, such as drawing, design, color or experimental techniques. Don't take a workshop just because everybody else you know is going.

  2. Look for an instructor whose techniques or expertise fit in with your artistic goals.

  3. Try to find someone who has taken a workshop from this artist and ask if students received personal attention, whether there were demonstrations and critiques, did they learn what they hoped for, would they take from this person again, would they recommend the workshop to others? Also check on site location, convenience, etc. How can you do this? Subscribe to an artist's news group or mailing list and ask questions.

  4. Request a supply list in time to gather all your materials and take everything listed, within reason. Be sure to take your usual mediums and tools, so you'll have them if you need a break from class activities.

  5. Take a lot of source material to work from, your own photos and drawings, value sketches and abstract design sketches.

  6. Go with a positive attitude. You'll learn something you can use, if you keep an open mind. If the workshop disappoints you, don't spoil it for others by being a griper.

  7. Have reasonable expectations. You don't do your best work under workshop conditions. Hardly anybody does!

  8. Don't try to finish paintings unless the instructor insists. Use the instructor's methods as much as you can--this may be your best chance to try them.

  9. Simplify. Don't try to do too many new techniques at once, but do lots of pieces, trying something different in each one.

  10. Don't be afraid to put something up for critique. You'll learn the good as well as the bad. And be sure to listen to other critiques for even more valuable instruction.

Here are a few more pronouncements from the Voice of Experience:

  • Ask for help when you need it, but don't take more than your share of the instructor's time. Let your instructor know you enjoyed the workshop, stating what helped you the most. If you can work yourself up to mentioning things that didn't work for you, share that, too. That's how workshop teachers improve themselves.

  • Get plenty of rest between classes. It takes a lot of energy to make it through a week- long workshop.

  • Don't be shy. Join a group for lunch. Lots of good talk can happen during the breaks.

  • Help clean up if it seems appropriate. Someone will be very grateful.

  • If the workshop offers a class mailing list, accept it. You may want to keep in touch with other participants.

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