A Workhop

I have been teaching a ten week long class entitled “Watercolor, Beyond The Obvious” for over ten years. It was a course I originated with the intent of lifting the students from focusing on photographs and tapping into their natural creative selves. In addition, the content of the class was to teach serious design. From the bases of design, the student could begin to come up with creative approaches to a subject and make original, creative paintings which were ‘beyond the obvious.’

Many painters have immersed themselves in the curriculum and made extraordinary breakthroughs in their painting style and the way they think about painting and design.

CWA, the California Watercolor Association, in Concord, California took the challenge of doing much of that coursework in a one week (five day) workshop. I have spent nearly a year devising ways to teach the information and have the artists walk away with new means of thinking and creating and composing their artwork.

The art of composing is to use a few recognizable shapes, arrange them within a rectangle format, devise a pattern of values, plan a color strategy then make the painting. None of these is an easy task when the subject is a mundane, non emotional subject. The charge to the painters was to remain playful and “Exalt the mundane to the Extraordinary” . . . . no easy task.

The 16 artists who took this workshop had no idea what they were in for. My hat is off to them for taking a workshop from a relatively unknown teacher (me) not knowing if they would get something from it, or not. Moreover, I doubt they had an idea of the speed or the amount of information (and work) that would transpire in a short week.

They Jumped into the water (over their heads) and swam from the very first day !!! They flew through the course matter as fast as I could throw it to them. Language schools call this teaching method “total immersion.” It wasn’t long and everyone was speaking the language of design and using the principles.

Without disclosing everything here, I will say the lessons were dense, extremely pertinent and fast. There was little time to paint, but paint we did and made five paintings in five days. Each day the paintings improved and grew in stature and creativity . . . .from virtually EVERY student. Amazing results !!

It was a pleasure to be among this highly responsive and intelligent group! I had a wonderful week with them and they showed me what was possible. Ladies and gentlemen of CWA, take a bow !!!

8 thoughts on “A Workhop”

  1. What Mike didn’t tell everyone, because he is too modest, is that many people take his 10 week class over and over (I think the record is 13 times) because it is so rich in content and Mike is such a dynamic teacher,
    that you keep on learning and producing exciting results.

  2. I’m still semicomatose but I am “processing”, for lack of a better word. There have been definite changes in how I perceive and regard subject matter. Great workshop, Mike!

  3. Hi Sandy . . . .nice compliment! Thanks!

    This group got into designing from the first hour. Some weren’t even aware that was what they were doing, but they were able to create without the use of subject in front of their noses . . .and the results were wonderful!

  4. Atta Girl, Myrna !! Keep the good stories coming!!! ;-))

    Thanks again for the very high praise, Myrna. You are a gem! That is for sure!!

  5. Maggie . . .you are one of the best!! I was truly impressed with your ability to compose striking designs. Keep it up!! That is the path to artistic notoriety.

    Believe it or not, I can shut my eyes and see your paintings !! Really!

    While it is overwhelming at first, refamiliarizing yourself with the material and pushing yourself to use it will set you onto a very rapid growth path!

    Good on ya, Kiddo!

  6. Mike, having taken your wonderful WBTO class a couple times, I know how exciting and demanding the class can be. Many of us found ourselves waking up in the night considering design options. I am in total admiration that you found a way to present the material in 5 days, and your students rose to the occasion.

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