Painter's Paradise

Opabin Patterns by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki,  acrylic, 24x18

I spent last weekend in the beautiful Bear ValleyHighlands Wilderness Retreat with a group of lovely artists. The workshop instructor was an amazing artist and explorer Dominik Modlinski. My goal was to spend time with likeminded people, enjoy a fantastic location and hospitality, and get a peek into the painting process of an artist whose work I admire.  Check, check and check. The weekend was a raging success on all fronts!  

The property features forests, meadows, pastures - wherever you look, a picture begs to be painted. Not to mention sightings of bears, echoes of howling coyotes, abundance of birds and many other forms of wild life. 

This little fellow couldn't have cared less for the stir he caused showing up unannounced in our outdoor studio

Dominik's sharing of his techniques and his world wide adventures was a treat, and so was getting to know his lovely wife and their four-legged companion.

Gunness kept us company and protected us from bears

One of the fun parts for me were daily group critiques. I have always considered crits by a sincere and knowledgeable person precious. When such a person takes the time and energy to briefly step into my world and tries to help with my next step, is an act of ultimate generosity. I keep in mind that receiving a critique is not an entitlement - it is an opportunity to receive valuable information. I try to remember everything that is said, and later analyze it and figure out how best to use it.

I'd like to share a few tips for prospective workshop takers:

-          Don't expect too much from yourself.  It takes effort to adjust to the new environment and focus your mind on the instructor's technique. Don't beat yourself up if you don't create a masterpiece. What I create in workshops is usually a kind of a mutation between what I see, what I would paint using my own technique, and what I am trying to practice based on the instructor's lecture. Mutants very rarely look good, and that is why I posted a studio painting on the top of this post :-).  (I apologize to all the mutants out there for this opinionated statement)

-          Listen, take notes, absorb everything that is going on. Be a sponge. Months and years later some piece of the puzzle will fall into place and you will experience an a-ha moment when you least expect. This is a wonderful aspect of learning - the process never stops.

-          Build friendships, enjoy company of other artists, extend your network. There are few things more valuable than exchange of thoughts and experiences between members of a community.  Stay in touch. Share.

-          Replenish your wealth in the bank of good memories. Years down the road, all you will remember will be a wonderful artful weekend with friends. The last thing on your mind will be how your painting turned out.

My gratitude goes to all the fabulous people with whom I was lucky to spend a few days in a painter's paradise. May there be many artful weekends for all of us!