Workshops always emphasize learning technique over the end product.
Imperfect conditions abound, which is a good thing, if you think about it.
This photo shows my students after two days of intensive work. It’s hard to finish something this quickly, with an instructor hovering nearby, ready to correct the way you’re holding your brush. There are interruptions to demonstrate the next step, maybe before you finished the previous one completely. There’s the buzz of others working nearby, an unfamiliar easel...
But still this group produced some beautiful, very individual paintings. I enjoy seeing how a group of artists will use the same materials and canvas to interpret the same subject so differently. Each person’s brushwork is like handwriting, his or her color sensibility unique as a thumbprint.
I always start a workshop with a brief statement something like this: “Let’s look at this workshop as if it were a cooking class. You might take such a class with no expectation of becoming a professional chef. Reasons for signing up could be as simple as a few hours’ diversion, or just to know more about the subject. So let’s not get hung up on results but instead enjoy the steps of the process. The painting you create over the next two days is a record of that journey.”
This appeal to beginners, especially, is the reason I decided to offer my workshops with all materials included. The idea of spending almost $300 buying everything new from my materials list is a daunting prospect. I recently attended a weekend silver soldering jewelry workshop at the Mobile Museum of Art, and a big reason I went was because all supplies were included.
By late Sunday afternoon, I had made a clumsy hammered silver link bracelet. I met nice people and think of our conversations over lunch whenever I wear it. What I also learned was how much work is involved in creating such a simple thing. And how to make my own jump rings, which I did later for my charm bracelet. And that paying the jewelry store $10 each to supply the rings and solder them closed is really not a bad price. But I won’t buy all the tools on the supply list and I won’t start making silver jewelry.
So the real product was a learning experience and an appreciation of a process that will change the way I look at handmade jewelry forever. I think this is a perfectly fine reason to take a class.