I borrowed this phrase from the recently deceased Canadian painter Robert Genn who believed that there is only so much we can learn about how to paint from the many fine instructors and resources available today. The true learning comes from going off on our own and just doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I continue to work on my own development ( Going to MY room!) . I share, through this blog and workshops, what I have learned and what others have shared with me.

I created this blog primarily for those attending my workshops to keep in touch and to further share as we grow together. If others are interested in following that would be great.

Enjoy the journey.

Monday 17 September 2012

Post Workshop Blues

A good workshop should shake the student up with challenging ideas and skills.  I enjoy spending time with a skilled instructor and a group of like-minded “students” as much as anything I do.  But following, particularly the best workshops, I often find the stimulation to be over-stimulation - and it plays hard with my head for a good while.

 That happened with my recent workshops-  information overload – pulling my head in different artistic directions. Six days of intensive portrait/ figurative studies and two  plein air instructors – each challenging me with new skills. In the week following the workshops I have been RVing  our way back to Canada 6 to 8 hours a day.  While driving my mind has little to do but work at high intensity thinking of all the new skills  I should be trying and frustrated by not finding much time to paint- and I badly NEED to paint following workshops to play with the new ideas – for fear I will loose them and my effort and investment will have been wasted.

 In the past these ‘post workshop blues”  would often last for weeks.  During that time it was like I had forgotten how to paint and I would get quite down and angry with myself.  My wife would have enough of my self-pity and tell me to get  to the studio and work my way out of it. And that’s what it took – to work long and hard, sometimes for weeks, and I would finally work my way out of it and start feeling good again.

I share this because I thought others might experience the same feeling lost and confused as I did and not be sure just what is happening. In  my early years these down times really bothered me until I went through and recovered from enough of them that I knew they were the normal result of the learning process and being challenged by new ideas. So you need to know that these too will pass – its part of the journey.

The last three  days we stopped travelling and stayed at one of our favourite places – Pacific City on the Oregon Coast. For two days I painted my brains out – 14 small pieces in the two days – nothing special but  each trying something different that I was exposed to from these recent workshops. Nothing very good resulted other than the effort and the learning and I feel SO much better.  I can’t wait now to get back home to Comox and my studio and really put some of the ideas to the test.

So if, like me, you feel frustrated and even fearful when new ideas seem beyond you, trust your self, put brush to canvas and work work work.  My guess is you will work your way through it and come out better for it.

Premixing and placing spots of colour testing for relationships

Laying in underpainting then building thick with palette knife

Tight sketch using charcoal over underpainting

Finish using palette knife - thick 

Drawing scene and figures using paint and sight size


  1. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to read the post and realise IT"S NOT JUST ME!!! I am all at sixes and sevens, so I think I shall prime a few pieces of board and just paint, irrespective of result, for the next week until the feeling goes away.Thank you, I was feeling a bit dark there for a moment....

  2. I think that is the best medicine. Best of luck with it.

  3. Thanks Brian, I have never heard this explained so completely and it's spot on!


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