41st Birthweek Bonanza Day 1: 4 Art Classes or Workshops That Were Pivotal in My Artistic Journey

Welcome to Day 1 of my 41st Birthweek Bonanza!

Since I'm so deep into making art these days I figured I'd kick off the celebration with a list of four art classes or workshops that have played a large part in my artistic growth. Because of these classes I am no longer the same artist – nor the same person – I was before I took them.

Sounds melodramatic, I know, but it's true.

I'm not making any money by recommending them, they're here because they've been pivotal in my creative journey. And they deliver the goods.


Squam Art Workshops (S.A.W.)

Boy, do I owe a LOT to these workshops and their founder and director, Elizabeth Duvivier. Squam Art Workshops (S.A.W., for short) is where I picked up a paint brush for the first time since kindergarten, 5 1/2 years ago. I've made the pilgrimage to the shores of Squam Lake, New Hampshire, five Septembers in a row for these workshops and every year was powerful in its own way. I didn't just learn how to paint there, my experiences at S.A.W. were life-altering, and I don't use that term loosely.

This year's Spring retreat is sold out already, but there's one in September that still has room. You might want to get in on that, or if you can't make it to New Hampshire, you can check out S.A.W.'s online offerings.

Draw And Paint What You Love (DAPWUL) Parts 1 & 2

Both of these classes transformed me and my art practice. Pauline Agnew has a gift for being able to push you beyond your artistic comfort zone – and I mean WAY beyond your comfort zone – in the most nurturing, encouraging way I've ever seen. I've rarely seen an online teacher as accessible to her students as Pauline. Thanks to her classes I've expanded my technical skills and moved my art to another level, connected with a vibrant creative community, and discovered a passion for learning more about art and the masters that created it before me.

The next offerings of DAPWUL Part 1 and DAPWUL Part 2 start April 7th. If you're looking for a supportive, nurturing environment in which you will draw and paint stuff you never thought you could draw and paint, I suggest you check it out.

Studying Under The Masters {becoming an apprentice}

Jeanne Oliver is the woman behind this online class and she gathered a group of talented teachers to help her lead us through nine weeks of studying the work and techniques of nine masters. You'll learn about the likes of Matisse, Chagall, Hopper and more. The great thing about this class is that it is self-paced. It started in January, but the material will be available for two years so there's still plenty of time to register and soak it all in (link is to Jeanne's "ning" site, scroll down a little for more info on how to register).

A mixture of art history, demos and guided study, I'd say this is one of the best bangs for your buck out there. I've only gone through a few of the weeks and I've already gleaned my money's worth. For more information on the course, check out Jeanne's website.

The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture

Thanks to Susan Tuttle and this online class, iPhoneography has become my latest obsession (though in my case I use an iPad, not an iPhone). I haven't delved into the self-portraiture aspect of the class much, but I have been creating images I love using still-life, landscape or other types of photos. It's a very portable and satisfying creative process in which I can easily lose myself for hours at a time.

If you've been admiring Susan's iPhoneography images, this class will not only give you insight into how they were created, it will also give you a good selection of tools and how-to's for you to go off and create your own.


Because of these four good classes and workshops I see art in a different way and I create art in a different way. I am grateful.

Stay tuned for more good things coming up on Day 2...