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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Day in the Life...Continuing Ed!

You never know what "a day in the life of an artist" will bring...that's what makes a carnival blog so interesting.  The reader can get a variety of peeks into the lives of many artist/bloggers.  But something few non-artists realize is that just like other professionals most of us think that "continuing education" is important.  No, we don't have to get CEUs to maintain any licenses but very few reach the heights where they decide that learning from others is not important.  So we sign up for week long workshops, day seminars and on-line courses to stay sharp and learn new skills.

So what is a day of continuing ed like for an artist??
First you carefully scan the supply list and the class outline so that you can gather up everything you might need to take with you.  Often this entails hunting up materials you have never used before.
Often times we travel many miles and pay for hotels to garner wisdom from the greats; other times we are lucky enough to sit at their feet in our own town.  Either way, we show up the first morning excited and eager to learn.
Usually our "professor" uses the first several hours to "lecture" or give notes about what he or she wants to cover in the workshop.  Andy Braitman makes himself comfortable here at a morning review of the points he wants us to remember.  Most artists spend some portion of the day doing what we call a "demo" or demonstration.  This is where they paint in front of the students while discussing what they are doing.
Here is Andy doing just that.  Personally I think that talking and painting is a very difficult thing to do.  He has to work like a mad man to keep everyone engaged and impart knowledge at the same time...and usually we are interrupting him by asking questions!  Not to mention that we are gathered so closely together that stepping back for him to really see what he is doing is difficult.
Meanwhile we are all scribbling notes and taking photos hoping to absorb every word.  Sometimes I resort to making sketches or using shorthand...either way it is always a game to go back and reconstruct what I was hoping to save.

Exhausted now but convinced we can paint a masterpiece we usually break for lunch.  Folks learn to pack something (just like school) and sit around and network with fellow artists who have travelled from all over.  Believe it or not, this is an important time to trade ideas, make contacts and commiserate over the state of the world.  After a few shared sandwiches you really do have a bunch of new best friends.

After lunch we head to our easels and attempt to do exactly as we were instructed.  I say attempt because many folks find it very hard to leave their comfort zone and as fear of failing sets in they revert right back to however they painted before they signed up.  I have come to realize that if I am really trying to learn a new technique my work in the seminar will not be pretty.  But its important that while I have the instructor there I at least try to do what he was teaching.

We paint and paint and moan and groan and ask a million questions.  Around 5 pm we are fatigued and we clean up, fall into bed and wake the next morning eager to repeat the entire day over again.  Continuing education is both exhilarating and exhausting.  Its given me the opportunity to meet some of the best artists (Braitman, the deceased Ann Templeton, Sally Strand, Richard McKinley, Doug Dawson and Qiang Huang to name a few).  Just having personal discussions with these outstanding folks is well worth the time.
Workshop participants take Qiang Huang out for lunch and conversation
 
 
Some of what gets painted in a workshop is not worth completing, some of it is.  Regardless, I always find that going back to these pieces helps me recall some very valuable nugget of information that the class held for me.

What's it like in the day of an artist?  Keep reading, the blog posts below all offer different insights into the work of artists around the country.  Enjoy the trip.....
Cindy



Cindy MichaudJo MacKenzieChristine ParkerMarla Laubisch
Joanne GrantKevin LarsonCindy WilliamsSharon Graves
Sally BinardKaren Johnston
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