A year and a half ago, Mario Vukelic invited me to lead a painting holiday workshop with Pastel Workshops Croatia. And early this September, it happened! I had an amazing group of six students who were dedicated in their pursuit of pastel painting knowledge. There were times of concentrated silence and times of uncontrolled laughter – all of which filled my heart. And as an instructor, there’s nothing like hearing ‘Aha!’ exclamations!
Happily, although the weather was sometimes iffy, we had a spacious studio in which to work. The weather prevented us from going on the Istrian tour (boo hoo) but on the bright side, it gave the students more learning time from me in the studio and I was happy to share more!
The Hotel Villa Gloria is small and beautiful, rooms are comfy and clean, staff are incredibly friendly and accommodating, food is plentiful and delicious, and there’s a gorgeous pool for swimming or just contemplating life with book and cocktail in hand at the end of a hard painting day. Perfect!
A painting holiday workshop is an opportunity to combine love of painting and travel with art instruction. Many painting holiday workshops stress the sunshine, the beauty of the place, the food, all of which are definitely important, but certainly my emphasis is on the learning. I want students to be well equipped with technique, inspiration, and confidence when they leave the workshop to continue on their art journey back home. I hope I was successful.
So here are 10 reasons to go on a painting holiday workshop!
1. An opportunity to go deep
Rather than a 2- or 3-day workshop, you have a whole week to learn and paint! As a teacher I appreciated the opportunity both to touch on ideas that I usually don’t have time to get to (in shorter workshops), and to allow students time to explore fully an exercise.
A longer time permits and encourages a student to ride out the dark valleys that can occur when in learning mode and push through blocks or fears. Students also have time to build on things learnt through the week. Critiques throughout the workshop give feedback to the students who can then use that knowledge in the next day’s work.
2. A chance to remove yourself from daily life
On a painting holiday workshop, we are relieved of the everyday chores of laundry, shopping, cooking, answering the phone, checking email, going to work. Someone else is doing the planning and the cooking – how great is that?! We can also choose to disconnect from the digital world (it’s only a week after all and the world will continue without you) and immerse ourselves fully into life and the passion of painting! It’s a time to get away from it all and recharge your batteries.
3. Share the experience with like-minded people
You’re all on the painting holiday workshop to learn and to practice your art. There’s no worry that if you chew over some fine technicality in art-making that someone will get bored. No, you’re all there because you’re passionate about this, no matter what age, no matter what background, no matter what gender. (More women than men seem to attend these workshops so I was delighted to have Norman along with Elaine, Barbara, Katy, Nathalie, and Jen in my class!)
4. A way to get back into Art
If you’ve been away from creating for awhile or at an artistic roadblock, a painting holiday workshop can reboot your creative juices. It’s a concentrated time to have the freedom to be who you are and express your artistic voice. You’ll have time to learn and put into practice what you’re learning right there and then under the considerate and helping eye of the instructor. Your classmates will also be there to encourage and cheer you along.
5. Opportunity to travel somewhere you might not otherwise go
There’s comfort in knowing that you don’t have to worry about securing accommodation or figuring out where to eat. It’s also a relief to go with an organizer who knows the area and can pick good places to paint – places that have a variety of subjects, some shade, and easy access to bathrooms. Painting with a group can offer comfort and relieve you of the anxiety of negotiating a painting holiday on your own. Also, if you’re like me, you have a long list of places you want to go in the world. The painting holiday workshop gave me the reason I needed to travel to Croatia. (I need to come back though as there are so many places Cam and I didn’t have time to explore!)
6. Get uncomfortable in a safe place
We can get very comfortable painting what we know especially what we know well. A new location means new subjects, new colour palette, new light, and all this can put us into a place of discomfort.
Taking a workshop can also put us in a place of discomfort as we struggle our way through new techniques and new ideas. Being vulnerable in a class of strangers can also make us uncomfortable. But all this discomfort can lead us to new discoveries not only about ourselves but also about our art which can then lead us in new directions.
7. Time to ponder and time to focus
With a painting holiday workshop, there’s time to observe, to ponder a painting, and to put into practice all that’s being learnt in class. There’s no need to rush. There’s also time to paint on your own and still get feedback from the instructor.
When you’re at home and either managing the home or going out to work, creating art often comes very low down on the priority list! A painting holiday workshop offers a time for you to totally focus on learning and creating. There’s nothing else to distract you. No excuses!
This kind of long workshop gives time and space to pursue painting and also gives time for reflection.
8. Time to relax and have fun!
This is where the ‘holiday’ part of the painting holiday workshop comes in. Painting holidays balance the time learning with time exploring the place you’re visiting, and with relaxing say by the pool with a glass of wine in hand!
9. A Chance to study with someone who you’ve been following (on blogs and/or YouTube)
You already know how someone teaches if you’ve been following their blog or watched their demos and lessons on YouTube. You may even have taken an online course from them so you have an intimate knowledge of their teaching style as well as their artwork. (Not all artists are good teachers – I know this from first-hand experience!) So a painting holiday workshop gives you the chance to have a close and long in-person interaction and tutorial with that person.
Certainly, I feel my job as a painting holiday workshop instructor is to be available beyond studio hours to answer questions, give advice when requested, and also offer encouragement when I feel it is needed. I encourage students to avail themselves of my knowledge and experience through the entire workshop.
As the instructor, I was slightly anxious knowing a painting holiday workshop meant I’d be spending not just teaching hours with students but also meals and times in-between. As an introvert, I need quiet time by myself. And yet I loved it! There was time for me to recharge and because of that, I could be fully present and enjoy the company, conversation, and questions of students during non-workshop hours. I think this was true for all the participants. They could take time away when they needed it yet all six seemed to be together much of the time. This was wonderful to see! And truly one of the benefits of a painting holiday workshop!
Note that as students learn from the instructor, they also learn from each other. AND the instructor learns from the students. Truly, it’s mutually beneficial 🙂
10. Forge new friendships through the bond of art and a shared learning experience.
Travelling on one’s own or with friends and/or family is all well and good but the opportunity to combine your passion for art-making AND travel are a winning combination. Add into the mix, engaging and connecting with others who are pursuing the same objectives and it’s an unbeatable combination for a memory-making experience! There’s nothing like spending time day and night with like-minded people. After this workshop, participants decided to stay connected through a messaging app possibly for accountability and checking in on progress and continuation of learning.
Students coming together from other parts of the world bring many perspectives but with the the goal of learning and creating art, everyone blasted past any societal and cultural boundaries to create close and hopefully lasting friendships.
So what’s holding you back?
- Money? Pick a holiday for next year and start saving and planning now!
- Fearful of travelling on your own? Connect with others in the group who may be travelling the same day and time as you.
- Afraid you’ll not enjoy yourself? Come with the attitude that no matter what, you are there to learn both about art and also about yourself!
- Feeling like you will be intimidated by the work and experience of others? Don’t be. Everyone is at their own place in their art journey. Everyone is coming to the workshop to learn no matter what stage they are at (or they wouldn’t be there!).
- Too much effort to make the trip? Well it’s true it may be an effort (some of my students had adventurous tales to tell on that score!) but it may just be worth it. So know that there will be some hiccups but learning, beauty, relaxation, and painting await you!
So do I have you contemplating a painting holiday workshop yet?? Certainly I recommend Pastel Workshops Croatia where everything was taken care of so seamlessly and with flexibility by Mario helped by his lovely wife Minja and six-year old son Barthol 🙂 For more info about upcoming workshops, click here.
Jump at the opportunity as these holiday workshops are great value. Mario has attracted excellent instructors – ahead this year is the plein-air artist extraordinaire and lovely person Nancie King Mertz (read her guest blog and watch her short video). There may still be space! In 2018 you’ll find the energetic and delightful Margaret Evans (watch her short video here), the sweet and talented Nancy Nowak (read her guest blog), the ever popular Karen Margulis. You can’t go wrong with any of them!
My next painting holiday workshop!
Speaking of painting holiday workshops, my next one is in SPAIN in early May 2018 and I’d love to see YOU there! I will focus on plein air painting – the whys and wherefores and hows. And guess what? There’s a discount if you sign up before 30 November 2017. I’m pretty pumped about this one!! Click here for all the info.
Other upcoming painting holiday workshops
- I am making plans for a Salt Spring painting holiday workshop Fall 2018.
- I’m also scheduled to teach on the Sunshine Coast here in BC July 2019.
- Other possibilities are Tasmania January 2019 and ? Where do you want to take a workshop with me?
To hear praise for the Croatia workshop from some of the students (thank you Barbara, Elaine, Katy, Nathalie, and Norman!), click here.
So have you taken a painting holiday workshop? What was your experience like? Do you agree with the 10 reasons listed above? Can you add other benefits? I’d LOVE to hear from you!!
Until next time,