Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cold Wax + Oil Workshop in Winnipeg

Last week I gave a cold wax and oil workshop in Winnipeg to these artists.  All of them have been painting in acrylic for many years, so cold wax and oil was a big departure for them. And even though I suggested that they make 'bad art' in one exercise during this class, there were some really exciting paintings that came out of the workshop.

I've probably written about making 'bad art' before.  The idea was mentioned in the book, the Tao of Photography, as well as  in Eric Maisel's book, "Coaching the Artist Within":
"To create we have to take the bad with the good.  We're bound to write bad paragraphs along with good ones.  That's the eternal law.  We can get rid of those bad paragraphs later on, but first we must write them.  Otherwise we won't write anything at all.  If we try to write only the good paragraphs, we are three-quarters of the way toward paralysis.  The name that we've coined for this problem is 'perfectionism.' But it isn't that people afflicted this way are striving to be perfect.  They are just striving to be good, which would be no problem at all, if only they also had internal permission to be bad."

Many of the artists in this class belong to a collective called the 'Group of 8".  They meet regularly to plan group shows, to discuss their art, offer critiques and support each other.  What a gift that is.  Part of what I like to do in my classes is to set aside time for the students to share their background, as well as their thoughts and experiences related to their art with each other.  The class comes to a whole other level of depth and support when the students share their experiences in life and art. 

One of the women in the group is having a solo show in the fall.  She has a friend who offered to help her with her artist's statement by providing her with a list of sixty questions to ask herself.  Thoughtful questions about her art practice..."Why did you decide to be a visual artist?, Why do you paint the kind of images you do?, How do your paintings express who you are as an artist? How do you know when a painting is finished?"  We tried to tackle some of these questions in the class at lunchtimes, but there wasn't enough time in a 2 day workshop to discuss more than one or two.  I'll save a few of those questions for a longer workshop.

Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.  Earl Gray Steven

 To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.
Sam Keen

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