Here is a letter I received from one of the students in the Charleston workshop.
Thanks for an incredible workshop~ now that I’ve thawed out a bit, my brain is just swimming with all sorts of new ideas and information.
Anyhow, you managed to give me more to think about in three short days than anyone else has given me in the past five years. So, for that, thank you…I’m very grateful.
I have a couple questions for you, and I’ll try to make them plain and simple so they might be easily answered:
>For someone like me, what would be the best way to continue to improve and study? I checked out ateliers and the closest seems to be 4 hours from where I live. Short of moving there, which really isn’t a possibility, it seems unlikely that it would be a good option for me. Can I possibly learn more of what I need to know from books??
>What is your feeling about pastels? I’ve had people say to me “ya know, if you made these in oils, you could get more respect...better prices…etc” However, I love working with the pastels and understand them pretty well. Would it be smart to be proficient in both mediums or should I attempt to make the switch to oils? My feeling is that I should stick to what I know and continue to try to do good work with the pastels.
>What kind of lights do you suggest for a studio?
Again, thanks so much for the workshop. You’re a generous teacher….wicked nice…
Florida:Thanks, I had a great time teaching it, but it was COLD. One guy said I worked you all like borrowed mules. Here are answers to your questions.
- I always recommend the atelier system as the first choice for training artists. But it sounds as if there isn't one close enough to you, so you do what you can. Perhaps you can do a part time program there? Are any of the grads of that atelier living in your area? A good atelier can save you a lot of time, really accelerate your learning. You need to do these things.
- Work every day, all day if possible.
- Read all of the books, there are many listed in the archives under book reports.
- Go to the museum and study from the great masters.
- Find artists to teach you, take workshops ,and try to befriend a pro in your area who will help you.
- Join the best local art association and try to find a community of artists. If you have a few people around you doing the same thing you can be a support mechanism for each other and share discoveries and ideas.
- Start showing you art locally. If you were studying piano you would play recitals, if you are studying painting you should be showing your art. That is part of the process. Particularly considering the high level at which you are doing pastels now.
I like the idea of doing both, like cross training. You mentioned getting paid for your art, so that might be important to you. You will encounter less resistance when selling oils. However as you have worked at developing your skills as a pastelist I wouldn't recommend walking away from that either.
The root skills of drawing, color, and design are the same no matter what the medium. Oil is probably the most efficient medium, it will do the greatest variety of things in the shortest period of time. Oil is the king of mediums and our art history was written in it.
I have been in some studios with great artificial lighting. Mine is pretty rudimentary. I have big north windows and almost always work by natural light. But I am set up with lights so I can work at night. I have a fluorescent shop light hung on chains about three feet above my easel. It has color balanced tubes in it. They are commonly available now. Next to that is a set of halogen track lights. These lights are like those my galleries use and I can see the painting under the same light in which it will be displayed in the galleries.
You will receive exactly the equal of the effort you put in. If you work towards your goal in an orderly and rational way you are assured progress. It takes a fabulous amount of work to be good at painting. It is the equivalent of playing the piano or a violin well. With constant effort it can be done though. The overwhelming number of people will not work hard enough or long enough to get there.