Workshop in Birdsong

We hosted our first workshop in Birdsong Studio yesterday.  Up to now, we've always pushed aside sofas and made a creative space in the living room and adjoining dining area.  I'm grateful that it was a smaller group - only three people, including Heather - to test out the new workshop digs.

Hosting people in this creative space was absolutely impossible before; there wasn't enough space.  The 16" x 24" workshop was packed with carpentry tools, workbenches and years of accumulated bits and pieces.  A few weekends ago, my awesome brother-in-law adopted 99.9% of this material and transferred it to his garage up in Eagle Ridge.  The amount of space it opened up was extraordinary.

When the weather is good, I always start the workshops with a trip out back to look at the murals of Elsie Yanik, Dorothy McDonald and Tom Morimoto.  They are a big part of my story and help set the context for the creative work ahead.

I brought in a table and chairs for the purposes of the session.  We had three people yesterday, but the space will be able to comfortably accommodate 6 with the addition of one more bar stool or chair.  The brushes and paints hang out in the middle of the table giving everyone easy access to a multitude of colours.

Yesterday's subject was the first non-human that we've tried.  The first 10 (or so) workshops were faces of famous people.  Heather, Katie and Sue seemed to enjoy the selection and the process.  The results speak for themselves - four completely different approaches to the same subject.  Fantastic!  Max (Heather's hedgehog) even got into the action.

We have workshops coming up on the next few Sundays.  Heather manages the registration process and she let me know last night that the next one is already full.  If you're interested in the details or signing up for a future UNLEASH THE ARTIST WITHIN session, just click here.

As I've been revisiting The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell over the past few evenings (I always read a little just before falling asleep), it strikes me that painting, as a popular activity, seems to have tipped.  "Paint Nights" have become ubiquitous, happening in bars, recreational centres and art spaces on a regular basis.  My workshops are very similar to these experiences with two distinct differences:  1) We only serve coffee or tea, and 2) I don't do a guided process.

All I do with the UNLEASH THE ARTIST WITHIN sessions is describe my process, both the drawing and the painting, and the participants go at it.  I encourage them to have fun, follow their instincts, and make choices that feel right to them.  I paint along with them.  It is a tranquil way to spend three hours on a Sunday afternoon, complete with good conversation, music and fun.  At the end of the process, each participant gets to take home a finished canvas.


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