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Sunday, December 4, 2022

What I've Learned After 20+ Years of Teaching Plein Air Painting Workshops

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Me, teaching in York, Maine, many years ago.

You often hear teachers say:  "I learn as much as my students do!"  And it's true.  Students always bring something new to my plein air painting workshops.  It might be a piece of gear I'm not aware of, a hack that I find useful, or a technique that's new to me.  But over the years, I've learned two things that far exceed the importance of any of these.

First, I've learned respect.  My students are incredibly motivated, overcoming any handicaps they may have.  When I was younger and just beginning to teach and had a high percentage of seniors in my workshops, I used to ask myself:  "What's wrong with some of them, that they can't hike a few hundred yards and struggle with carrying their gear?"  (I was always kind, though, and helped as much as I could.)  But over the years, seeing these students deal with everything—and without complaint—has opened my eyes.  For them, the call to be in a place of great beauty where they can experience and respond to the landscape in a satisfyingly personal way is a powerful one.

Second, I've learned patience.  I get students of all abilities, and the ones with the least always seem to try the hardest.  Some come with the most rudimentary of painting skills; and many simply can't draw.  Despite their lack of skill and experience, they are, like my seniors, incredibly motivated, and they want to do it right.  So, although I know time is passing and the shadows are moving, I stand by their side and show them how it's done.  (I remember very well what it was like when I was new at this.) For these beginners, they are eager to learn so they, too, can experience and respond in a satisfying, personal way.

So, thank you, students, for teaching me respect and patience. These are more valuable than anything else I've learned.

By the way! Just a reminder about my book. Beautiful Landscape Painting Outdoors: Mastering Plein Air is the perfect gift for your beginning painter friends -- and the advanced painter will enjoy it, too. And hey, it would also make a nice gift for yourself! You can get it at Amazon. (While you're waiting for your copy to arrive, you might like to watch the video interviews I made with several of the artists.)

And don't forget my May workshop at Bluebird Studios in Santa Fe. Santa Fe is an awesome place to hold a plein air painting workshop -- great scenery, but also lots of extracurricular activities like galleries and museums! Details here.

Last but not least, my 50% Studio Sale on Southwest paintings continues through December 24th. Check out the artwork here.

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