I have just returned from a most inspiring and at the same time a very difficult workshop with one of the greatest contemporary artists Max Ginsburg.
I had taken a workshop with Max before and benefited from them hugely, but this time it was a rather spontaneous decision by me when I met Max at the FACE in Miami last November and he told me that he was going to hold a workshop in Bruges. It's one of those places where I always wanted to go but never quite got round to and when offered the opportunity of course I had to grab it.
Bruges certainly wasn't a disappointment, this magical city can serve as a source of inspiration itself and although it was unbearably hot both outside and in the studio even the heat couldn't prevent me from working hard and enjoying the great experience of sharing the studio with Max and watching him paint. As always it was very interesting and educational to watch other people in our group paint because everyone has a different style and approach. As a more or less established artist I am frequently asked (mostly by non-artists) why I continue to take workshops with other artists. So here I summarised some reasons why.
First and most important one, even as an established and experienced artist you never know everything about art and there's always room for improvement. Perfection is a dream and a goal never to be reached but one should keep trying.
Second and also a very important reason, as an artist working solo in your own studio it is very easy to become quite comfortable and docile doing what you already know well and what is admired by others and perhaps sells well. It is a slow but sure road to perdition because an artist must always search and grow, nothing in nature remains stationary and unchanged so if you are not going forward, you are slowly going backwards. Taking or even dragging yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally is essential. I get angry and frustrated in the beginning of almost every single workshop that I take because it's hard to suddenly become once again a humble student struggling to learn a new technique. However by the end of every workshop I think with gratitude about everything I learned or even attempted to learn because it is important to see as many approaches and techniques as possible.
Third and almost equally important reason is getting social and not just with anybody but with like minded people, i.e. other artists. Being an artist is a lonely occupation and at times might become increasingly so, it is important for artists to be able to get together and discuss their problems which begin to appear surprisingly lesser when you realise that others have them too.
Reason number four is directly related to the previous one, setting the plank. Once again as a solo artist in your own studio you kind of lose the way of judging your painting because you are so used to seeing it all the time. You might even decide that you are a great artist because you are certainly the best one in your own studio ?? but the truth is that there are so many other great artists in the world and you need to see their work in order to set a higher plank for yourself too. Of course in our age of Internet and Google one can find most paintings and artists in the virtual space but it's not the same, especially with art and especially in the age of digital photography. So going to good serious workshops with great artists you will meet many other good serious artists taking them alongside you and will find that you learn from them almost as much as you do from the tutor.
Last but not least is the fun factor. Personally I get bored very quickly when I go on holidays, 3-4 days and I get fed up with doing nothing. So if a workshop is held in an interesting place, town, city or countryside, doesn't matter, you can turn it into a painting holiday although painting should always come first of course but there's plenty of time out of class to explore the new place.
So my dear fellow artists, never stop learning and searching! Go and take good workshops with good artists around the world! And enjoy and have fun!