FCA Workshop

Asters and Limes 
16 x 12

A couple of weeks ago, I taught a floral workshop in Kelowna, BC for the Federation of Canadian Artists Central Okanagan Chapter. It went really well - to my great relief.

Knowing what I can take for granted when I teach a workshop is the trickiest part. Do the painters know the colour wheel and concepts like complimentary colours? Have the oil painters heard of the "fat over lean" rule? How confident are their drawing skills? Wondering these things invariably keeps me up the night before the workshop, rehashing my lesson plan and painting demos in my mind. For this floral workshop, I spent the wakeful night deciding how many flower forms to include in the bouquet and demonstrations. At the last minute I eliminated some trumpet-shaped tiger lilies as being just too much information and decided to demo only daisies (disk shapes), peonies (half spheres and multiple petal layers), and snap dragons (upright, complex forms).

Between 9:30 and 4:30, we painted the three types of flower forms and then the workshoppers each finished a full bouquet. It was an impressive output made possible by the experience level of the artists.  All of them had wrestled with enough paintings in the past to know how to take on a new technique and not panic.  

This is, I think, the biggest handicap that painters can throw in their own paths: insecurity.  Most paintings start out sketchy and ill formed, but most can be turned into something of value.  We just have to keep working at them without giving in to the niggling little doubts that tell us the painting is doomed from the start.  Eventually, as we add more paint, things begin to suggest themselves: a repeated colour scheme, a rhythm of shapes, values or patterns, or exciting edges.  There are endless ways to make a good painting and we just have to be patient enough to work on and allow these ways to become clear to us.  

It was great to be in a room full of painters who understood that.  I'll bet they could have handled the tiger lillies, too.


I really like your fresh and seemingly spontaneous style. I've enjoyed reading your posts as well. You sound like a wonderful teacher. And I agree that copying a work you admire can be a real learning experience.
Thanks, Shirley! I know you are a thoughtful painter by the phrase "seemingly spontaneous style". It's clear that you know how much work goes into making it look effortless!
Happy painting!