Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christensen Workshop Experience

I'm fresh from a 5 day Scott Christensen that was without question, the best thing I ever did for my art. I've had my eye on his workshops for a while now and as soon as I saw one I could attend on this side of the country, I jumped on it. The workshop was held at Chesapeake Fine Art Studio in Maryland. It's a beautiful large space run by Hai-ou Hou, a very accomplished artist herself, who made everything flow seamlessly throughout the week.

Maryland in November can either be Indian Summer or edge of winter. On the night before the workshop began, an arctic air mass dipping all the way down to Florida, settled in for the week. I'd brought lots of layers of warm clothing, and I needed them all to deal with the wind, rain and freezing temperatures. For those who didn't want to venture outside, the studio had floor to ceiling windows with a view of farm fields and woods.

I wasn't sure what to expect of the workshop especially since I had never attended one, but I had the advantage of knowing exactly what I was looking for to improve my work. I've also been painting long enough that I was confident I'd be able to understand the concepts that would be presented. The workshop far exceeded what I anticipated. Scott shared his knowledge and experience very generously. I'd been led to believe he could be aloof or lacking communication skills but nothing could be further from the truth. My concerns and questions were always met with precisely the right information and a genuine interest in seeing that I understood the teaching point.

I loved seeing how he worked through his idea on a constantly changing and evolving canvas, while he searched for the right combination of shape, value, color etc that best manifested the idea. Watching that approach will forever put to rest the idea that getting it right the first time is the proof of ability. I also liked his clear minded view of the current practices of plein air painting.

By the end of the workshop I was filled with such a wealth of valuable information that I have plenty to work with for a while. I have a new tool kit that I'm excited to play with!


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