How we learn, it seems to me, is much like how we see. We are each given our own set of tools to bring to an experience and the backpack – our vessel, in this case the soft part that sits inside the cranium, to carry away the pieces we keep. For three days I attended a master painters workshop last week and I carried away the bits I will use, the broader bits I will smile to have seen and the bendy bits that were a consequence of place and time. It worked out fine.
I have done few workshops in a large part because of my learning style. It can be for me frustrating and for the group potentially distracting though i try to keep myself near a door! I am it would seem challenged by the process of being a student. I think about the year I helped in a kindergarten class and how my heart would squeeze for the little ones that stared longingly out the window. The ones who wanted to draw at listening time, or listen at singing time. or have their snack when they were hungry rather than wait for a clock. They always seemed in whatever way to be out of sync in one perspective but I know their secret was the strength in the call of their own unique path.
In the room where tables were set with easels and tubes of beautiful colored paint and newly stained brushes a wall of windows streamed with sunlight. I knew from when the blinds were opened I would be in trouble. The park outside is a well used one, a water feature for kids to play and school groups and families filled the space. The jewel in the shade was down a sloping path where on two sides of earth sat ponds and a wet land fringe. Cattle in the adjacent field made soothing sounds, birds of many kinds flapped and chattered in the spring job of attending to new life. Each day I began, and slipped in many visits to the pond. In those moments a coot family came very near and a yellow headed blackbird landed briefly on my toe. I can still feel the weightless curl of his tiny feet. It was a wonderful few days.
My friend snapped this picture of me ‘hard at work’ 😉 which I must admit I rather love. I was vexed with forgetting a camera card, buying a new one which turned out to be flawed, but on the second day another friend brought me a card to borrow and it was like finding a gift you weren’t expecting, delight! photo credit, Dawn Scott
The painters style while beautiful, is not one I would see at the end of my brush but some interesting tricks of colors mixed I had not considered previously will become part of my palette. I also watched with fascination the building of a piece that was quite stunning using steps that I had not imagined. I confirmed my growing understanding around ways of seeing and combining visual input are within a very broad spectrum. Ingrid Christensen, another master painter shared in a lecture, we see differently, one way is not right and one wrong, they are simply different. It is quite mesmerizing to see through another viewfinder, quite different from your own.
The trick of a workshop for me is choosing one that while dissimilar to my own style and goals gives recipes for some ways of inclusion. In that I do not become confused on my canvas with what is mine and what was borrowed. Always there are other participants that I also learn from and lovely shared company, discussion, coffee breaks and strawberries! I think my ‘perfect’ workshop would be a variety of demo’s to attend ( I learn by seeing) some paint out options (sometimes i need to make visual notes or just to put my hands in), a beautiful setting (to fill the pumpy part of the vessel we link to love and spirit) and no pretense of a painting to take away. It is not required to validate my weird visual notes, they are for me alone 😉 and while it may seem territorial, if you paint on my canvas I can’t reclaim it, it is no longer mine. I have learned in a few steps to hopefully quietly and hopefully politely take what i need. However you play the game, there is so much room to interpret, we all win! 😉
Check our Michael O’Toole for a look at the beautiful work from the instructor. Thank you for sharing your expertise.