Tag Archives: workshop

Freedom February

Mid February, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like freedom here in merry England. The majority of Covid restrictions have been lifted, the remainder set to be removed next week, ie mask-wearing on public transport and in shops. There is a relaxed atmosphere creeping back in and my diary is slowing but surely filling up again.

February has so far been far busier for me than anticipated, a whirlwind two weeks that seems set to continue. It started with a portrait painting demo by a visiting professional artist at my art club, followed by him giving an all-day workshop a week later. The majority of us were disappointed in what he presented, the 2 hour-demo more talking than painting, and his workshop for various reasons was cancelled. As the club had already booked and paid for the room hire, the club secretary asked if I would step in and run an acrylic workshop instead, to which I agreed.

Not having run an all-day course before and at such short notice, I had little prepared, no notes or handouts ready, nor any idea what subject matter to cover (nothing like diving in at the deep end!). As I don’t paint people or portraits, and not knowing the capabilities or skills of most of the attendees, I asked them what they would like me to do. Trees or a woodland scene or bluebells or snowdrops came several replies. Sorted! Confident and comfortable with bluebells woods, I quickly painted this lttle scene to use. I would demonstrate a section, they paint it, I do another part, they paint it etc – you get the gist.

“Blooming Bluebells”

Despite my inadequacies painting whilst standing at an easel with 14 pairs of enthusiastic and eager-to-learn eyes watching every move, I managed to enjoy the day, as did they. The workshop was fun and lively, exhausting but worth it, and some good work produced. Even I learned a few things. When we’d finished everyone asked if I were doing any more workshops, all ending with a heart-pleading “please”. I’d obviously got something right. And thus, the next workshop has already been booked for late March, with all my attendees saying yes within a few hours of my notifying them of the date (except one who will be on holiday).

And what did I learn? That, during the lead-up to the next workshop I need to be totally prepared and organized and, more to the point, practice painting stood at the easel, something I am not used, I always sit when painting. I also discovered I enjoy teaching it, and like painting, never knew I had it in me until now. It comes down to confidence, something I never had even as a child. But unless I’m careful, the art could easily take over my life. I must pace and organize myself in order that my writing, my real passion, doesn’t get left on the shelf. I have a novel to get out, others to write, so have planned my schedule: Work on my novel early mornings (I’m usually up at 5am) until 7-ish. Breakfast, housework etc until 10:30, 11am latest. More writing until lunch. Afternoons devoted to art (and the occasional nap) plus work on the website I’m creating for the art group. Evenings: back to the novel, sprints more important than ever! So far, I am keeping to that regime, then again it has only been 3 days.

I mentioned my March diary filling up: Several medical appointments; meeting friends for coffee one morning; hairdresser appointment; kitchen hunting–yes we are back on that trail as was put on hold because of you-know-what; garden needing attention, which also means several garden centre visits; the workshop to run; a girlie weekend celebrating mother’s 96th birthday. And, hopefully, one or two long lunches with writing friends I have so missed to pencil in.

Yes, life in Blighty is slowly but surely and with care returning to normal. Thank goodness.

Workshops Worth the Time

Jillian here. I had a super experience last weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. I belong to the Southern Magic chapter of RWA and they hosted the fabulous Deb Dixon from Belle Books/Belle Bridge Books in two workshops (which were really three). Friday night, she focused on “The Slippery Slope” – which is the big black moment. MAN! I always had a different idea in my head about what exactly that was- I tried to make it way more than it is- not that it isn’t vital but I had a basic misunderstanding of how it actually could be something more subtle than I was making it. I loved how she explained it and I think I have a much better handle on it.

In fact, one of my crit partners was asking me about my story I’m polishing right now last week and wanted to know why I had what happened occur. I said it was the black moment and she said it didn’t  have to be that black.  LOL.  I get what she meant by that comment now.

On Saturday, Ms. Dixon talked about “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” as well as “The Hero’s Journey.”   She broke each of these down into elements and really, really hit us with some wonderful information. Every single word she said over the 10 hours she stood at the podium talking was a golden nugget of information. No one wanted to leave the room to even take care of biological needs.  LOL – I was so impressed with her. Such a great speaker. She related a lot of her talk to movie plots and man, she made the material come alive. And what a great way to teach – the examples made the lessons make sense on a core level.

“The Hero’s Journey” is a 12 step story-telling guideline based on mythology. Most all stories have some elements of this guide. Written by Christopher Volger. This is used as Deb’s jumping off point for her talk.

Ms. Dixon wrote the book called “Goal, Motivation and Conflict” and I recommend that for your writing took kit.

If you are ever in a position to attend any of her workshops, run. Don’t walk, RUN! toward that workshop. It is so worth the time you spend. The fee wasn’t that high and I’ve paid way more to learn waaay, waaay less.