|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!