I taught a workshop this past weekend in the stunningly beautiful arts centre called Visual Arts Mississauga. It's a very contemporary building set on the forested grounds of Riverwood, a 150 acre park in the centre of Mississauga.
Our classroom studio had floor to ceiling windows looking onto a long expanse of snowy forest. Ours was a small class of only 5 students which allowed a lot of time for individual attention. I continue to be amazed at how each person's work is so different from the next. Always our goal in art is to find our own voice. I like to remind artists that it's already there, you can see that when you look around the room, even on the first day of a workshop, when people are just beginning to learn about cold wax and oil. As we continue to grow and work and develop more technical and compositional skills our voices grow stronger and clearer.
There were many breakthroughs in this workshop as artists made discoveries about their art and themselves. I find that my classes are never just about technique, composition and the elements of design. There are always life lessons that come up as they do for me in my own studio. And it interests me greatly to help artists make those connections with their art so they come away at the end of a weekend feeling that they know more about themselves, more about what fears might hold them back, what blocks they might have, what they might let go of to allow them to move forward.
I don't mean the workshops to be therapy sessions. It's just that art leads us if we allow it. Art teaches us. One woman in the workshop was told once, not to let the work win. I thought about that for a while. Art isn't about winning and losing. We can learn to flow with the painting and follow it's lead. It's a conversation. And when you and your painting are working together, there are times when magic can happen. It's important to learn all the technical skills and techniques, and then, holding that knowledge, coming to each piece as a beginner, letting the work lead the way.
There was a wonderful energy in the group this past weekend. They were very courageous artists who took risks and allowed uncertainty in. We all walked away at the end of the weekend exhausted, but feeling that something really positive happened here.