Monday, September 21, 2009

Geneva Park Weekend, Orillia Ontario

I spent the past weekend with the East Central Ontario Association of Artists in this wonderful YMCA retreat and conference facility located on the shores of beautiful Lake Couchiching. I had been asked to present an oil painting workshop for this year's gathering last spring and had accepted because my name had been brought forward by my long-time friend and mentor Poul Thrane.

I must admit that teaching...anything since I have retired from my active elementary career of nearly thirty years is something I seldom wish to be involved in. It is not that I feel I am unable...or even unwilling to share my ideas...but rather, that I wish to make use of these "golden years"...or the autumn years of my own life to create...and to expand my own search for my "True Self".So much of my earlier time and energy was given unconditionally...and without any regret... to all of the children I faced over the years...and to the needs of my family and my profession.

This weekend's highly positive response to my workshop has led "Me" to the realization that my need to find my "Self" can indeed be accomplished by being in contact with and sharing my time to create Self-discovery for my Self and "Others" at the same time. It was uplifting spiritually...for Self included... to bask in the warmth of creating...laughing...sharing meals and time together.It has made "Me" rethink my future plans provide(reasonable) blocks of my schedule to offer my services in this manner without feeling that I am short changing myself of valuable time to work on my own.

The focus of my workshop was: Super Size Me!...designed to encourage students to risk moving from smaller formats... to using a good field sketch to create a much larger and challenging studio piece. In this workshop,I introduced the goals and format by completing a one and a half hour demo/question and answer session from an 8 x 10 sketch panel to create a 24 x 30 inch canvas.Though I offered a "guided" passage using my own examples...I offered and encouraged participants to set their own courses.They did so bravely...and wisely. Each chose to follow their own painting theme. Many brought along their own digital it was easy for us to discuss the merits of their "possibilities" and to choose one that best reflected and supported the strong interest and necessity to work from a subject exhibiting strong form, contrast and design elements to assist in treating the initial start broadly...most importantly...without attention to detail.

I introduced a simplified "grid" which was placed on top of the sketch and used willow charcoal to make a drawing on the acrylic burnt sienna toned canvas.This allowed students to create a free,loose...and easily correctable drawing...or "foundation" before commencing to "block in" the major large shapes,or masses of general colour. This stage was easily accomplished by all within the first half hour of the first two and one half hour session together.By lunch break time all had successfully reached the important preliminary laid in or blocked in stage.

After lunch everyone settled into their own "zones"...leaving me to visit each person often... either by request...or just to encourage or offer a second view point.By the session's conclusion...all had satisfying and exceptional canvases well underway...and a few even to completion.Those individuals already had another subject in mind for Sunday morning's short and concluding session and were busy toning the next canvas to get a head start.Talk about growth and enthusiasm!!!

During the evening "walk-about" after supper opportunity to visit the other sessions being offered... our session won rave reviews for our collection of fine work. How much more rewarding can praise and encouragement be... than to receive it from your peer group and fellow artists!

On Sunday we critiqued each other's work and the value of what each had discovered about their own work and processes. Each of us went our ways...sad to have the experience come to an end...but excited and enriched by our sharing...enthusiastic to dive into our own daily creative lives!

In closing ...I wish to offer my thanks to the ECOAA for this opportunity...the YMCA staff who made our time at the facility so pleasant and carefree...and most especially...very special thanks to each of my nine fellow artists who CHOSE to share "The Boathouse Studio" with "Me". My deepest thanks for making Geneva Park 2009such an enriching and truly unforgettable experience!Good painting!

Much Peace!

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