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Workshop Wonder – by Robert Genn

Workshop Wonder - by Robert Genn

It may just be that workshops are the main source of traditional art education. I'm talking about the acquisition of academic technique and realistic, perhaps impressionistic methodology. Augmented by books, websites and personal mentoring, the torch is passed.

A good example is 26-year-old Daniel J. Keys who makes his home and studio in the agricultural town of Firebaugh, California. A fan of Richard Schmid from an early age, Keys studied Schmid's books and website. When Keys and Schmid finally met at American Artist's Weekend with the Masters in 2009, Schmid saw both drive and talent in the young man and took him on with the provision that Keys would someday pass on the knowledge.

Now Keys is a much sought-after workshop instructor himself. In the words of Allison Malafronte, senior editor of American Artist Workshop Magazine, "There wasn't a hint of anxiety or trepidation from Keys. From his initial instruction on the first day until his last lesson, Keys taught like a seasoned pro, belying his young age with articulate explanations and confident painting lessons."

One of his students reported, "I have never seen an artist so freely share his hard-earned knowledge with others."

One might ask where this early evidence of quality comes from. It starts with a sense of (perhaps conservative) taste and the desire and imperative to do the slogging that makes for better pictures. More than anything, it takes rubbing shoulders with others who have mastered their craft. The convention of masters sharing their knowledge in workshops emerged with the decline of the apprenticeship system in the 19th century. With the current democratization of art and the popularization of painting as a pastime, there is a range from the-blind-leading-the-blind to a ringside seat at the feet of a living master, even a very young one.

Choose your workshops well. Analyze the instructor's work and try to figure out in advance if he or she has the depth of understanding and knowledge to be of real use to you. Through the jungle telegraph, try to find out if he or she is a good communicator. As always, challenge is better than the same old same old. You can select from a wide range of workshops in our own workshop calendar. If you have the time and inclination, please take a look.

Best regards,


PS: "The more we all know, the better we collectively become, and representational art will move forward with momentum into the future." (Daniel J. Keys)

Esoterica: As an occasional workshop-giver myself, I'm always looking out for unique situations that might be a stretch for creative minds. A recent four-day cruise with seven eager-to-learn students in a vintage boat through spectacular coastal scenery made it clearer to me. Positive energy, frank crits, a thirst for knowledge, varied subject matter, a sense of isolated wellbeing and warm companionship made for better work every day. As well as Daniel J. Keys's material, we've included some annotated photos of our recent workshop voyage of discovery at the top of the current clickback.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of Robert's artistic insight, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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