Workshop wisdom

By December 11, 2021Watercolor
Sometimes when you take a workshop it's as much about the things you learn from fellow artists as anything's a little workshop wisdom in the form of quotable art quotes from my recent week with Janet Rogers.  

Happy Holidays!  It’s been a while since I posted a blog. There are so many things competing for my attention these days.  Sometimes simple communication takes a back seat.  But here I am with a little reflection and some wisdom to share!

I recently hosted Janet Rogers for a workshop here in Myrtle Beach.  After a week of wonderful instruction and friendly camaraderie with Janet and fellow artists, I thought I’d share my takeaways.  

It was another reminder of just how worthwhile it is to spend time immersed in a painting workshop.  Even for me…as a teacher and as a professional artist, these workshop weeks are so fulfilling!  When I go to a workshop I’m not worried about running errands, being available, cooking dinner or fulfilling expectations for others.

I allow myself to check out…and check in with myself.  That is priceless. 

But beyond that, I also love the challenge!

That challenge is healthy. It pushes me to try new things and stretch.  Sometimes I’m surprised at the magic that can happen when stretched! Sometimes I’m reminded of areas that I need to become more sensitive or areas which I need to pay more attention.  All of it is helpful.  

For example, I was reminded of how much can be said by painting quickly and simply implying something about my subject.  There is such a thing as saying too much. We all recognize it when that happens in conversation, but sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the same thing can happen in our paintings.

There is such a thing as being tiresomely truthful! Be anything…be unfinished, be wrong, be outrageous, but don’t be boring!

Rebecca Z Artist

Timed studies were part of our workshop week. I love “speed painting”.  But, normally I tend to linger over my paintings because I enjoy creating them.  By returning to the “student role”, I found yet again that when I paint fast there is an energy implied.  The brief statement can be more memorable and more mysterious. Those are qualities I enjoy in paintings.  

Here are a couple examples of those timed paintings:

Beyond the painting, there are always takeaways in wisdom.  I love words and collect them. Words of wisdom from experienced artists and fellow students are always meaningful and fun to record. I even display them and use them around my studio (and on my bathroom door 😂). They remind me of thoughts I want to keep thinking. 

I took down a collection of wisdoms from my week with Janet. Some were shared by Janet, others by fellow students and former teachers.

Here’s a list:

  • “No flat colors, because we are not flat”
  • “There is air in the hair.”
  • “Paint the hair as a mass (or a mess if you’re from the Deep South 😂)”
  • “The simpler the background, the more important/effective the portrait will be.” 
  • “The background is the air a portrait breathes…”
  • “Whenever you want to leave gracefully, soften the edges.”
  • “SMOOSH!”
  • “Don’t think too much.”
  • “Don’t say too much.”
  • “No counting.”
  • “Stop when beauty comes.”
  • For competiton:  If you can’t do it well, do it BIG and if you can’t to it big, do it RED. 
  • “When in doubt, fuzz it out.”
  • Our inner critic can often resemble an “Itty Bitty Shitty Committee”
  • “Camera’s distort faces. Sometimes a wide-angle lens can make the nose look longer or larger when shot on a downward angle.”
  • Paint the shadows around the nose and what’s left is the nose” Jan Wilken
  • Either do it all right or all wrong.
  • “There’s no comfort in a growth zone and no growth in a comfort zone.”
  • “If it’s cold, it’s not dry.”
  •  “Fresh paint, fresh painting.” 
  • “Starve the palette, starve the painting. “

I hope you can find something here for you to remember and draw upon in your own art practice.  Feel free to print them out and place them somewhere prominent! Here is a picture of how I do that…

Which is your favorite quote?  Anything new here for you?  Let me know your thoughts…I’d love to hear back from you! 

With love and wishes for a bright and beautiful holiday season!


Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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