Thinking about participating in a workshop to get your painting juices flowing? Workshops are fun. You learn a lot. And you improve your painting practice. Try my 7 tips to get your money’s worth out of the experience.

  1. Be familiar with your supplies. Don’t crack open your new paint tubes for the first time when you arrive at the workshop. Purchase your supplies ahead of time, and spend a few days to familiarize yourself with your materials. This will save lots of time when you’re in the middle of the workshop. And don’t cheap out – you’ll have a better experience with quality supplies.
  2. Rules of etiquette apply. Arrive 15 minutes early. Don’t talk over the instructor. Be ready to work. I try to pay attention to everyone with an equal amount of time. Occasionally a student will expect extra hand-holding, but that just takes away time from other students.
  3. Focus. Concentrate on the workshop. If you’re like me, I have to force myself to do this because I love to chat with other artists, but that’s not what a workshop is for. Wait to socialize until a break.
  4. Watch the Demo. Soak in as much as you can. Take notes and photographs (if permitted). Relax and absorb. And by all means, ask questions. Students who don’t pay attention are the ones who get lost. They’re inevitably the voices who later ask, “So what do I do now?”
  5. Relax. I’m always in a rush to get started, and that’s a mistake. Relax. Take a deep breath. Think about what you’re doing, and don’t be in too much of a hurry. It’s not about getting to the finish line first. At the end of the day, it’s just canvas.
  6. Soak up critiques. Critiques can be scary. But they are an important part of a positive workshop. A good critique will make you better. You’ll see what’s working, what’s not, and then get ideas on how to change and improve. All in front of a supportive, encouraging group of other artists who are after the same thing. Critiques are not meant to praise or rip you apart personally; instead, they’re meant to be constructive.
  7. Keep working when it’s over. If you don’t keep at it, you’ll forget it all. Pick up your paintbrush every day if possible. Carve out windows of work time, go through your notes, and practice.

Hope this helps – have a greaaaat workshop!

— Mary Hubley