Workshop Tips

By Armand Cabrera

I have been teaching workshops for 15 years now and have been taking workshops for over 20.  My teaching came from a need to share information with other artists that seemed to struggle with the mechanics of painting and the philosophy of professionalism. At my last workshop I heard horrible stories from my students about the lack of professionalism from some artists who are now teaching. I thought I would offer some tips for students on what to look out for when signing up for a workshop.

When I started teaching I made a vow to myself to never repeat the things I saw in some of the workshops I’ve taken from other artists.  As a student I vet my teachers and call them before I sign up and make sure they are providing a professional service for my money. I suggest you do the same and if you don’t get the answers you like spend your money elsewhere
There are a lot of people teaching now, some because of a bad economy and those people are probably not teaching for the right reasons.  If you are taking a workshop there are some things to look out for to make sure you have a good experience and don’t get taken advantage of.

A workshop should have a large well lit venue provided by the teacher or organization that will fit the students and their equipment comfortably. This goes for plein air workshops too. Bad weather is no excuse to not get a painting day in at your workshop. If the teacher or venue hasn’t rented such a place for the week, even if they don’t use it, that should be a red flag to a student.

Number of students most people can comfortably teach 10 to 15 students more than that becomes a challenge and takes away from individual attention. If you only see an instructor once during your painting that is another red flag that the instructor is lazy or has too many people in the workshop.

In my workshops I come around to every student at least three times for each painting session. We usually work on two paintings a day. They see me at the start the middle and the finish of each painting so they can get complete guidance on their work.

I always ask if my instructors demo. If they don’t, I don’t take their classes. I don’t care how good they are as a painter; they are a lousy teacher if they can’t actually show you how they do something by doing it in front of students in a workshop setting. It’s another red flag and deal killer for me as a student.

Abusive teaching styles aren’t acceptable either. If an instructor is too stupid to explain something without throwing a temper tantrum or being abusive then they should not teach. I have witnessed firsthand some abusive teaching tactics and didn’t put up with them; you shouldn’t either.

A workshop should be an enlightening experience that invigorates your painting. As a paying customer you have a right to demand a certain level of professionalism from a workshop and teacher. If we hold high standards we will insure we get everything we want.


GWCS Video Game Concept & Production Summer Art Class


Armand Cabrera
 I am going to teach an art for computer games class for rising 8th through 12 grade age students starting in July. The class will be through G W Community School. Information is here for interested parties. The class will be focused on basic working methods for idea creation, iteration and execution and presentation. We will use traditional media and Photoshop. The course runs for the month of July and is 5 hours a day Monday though Friday.


Protecting Copyright

By Armand Cabrera

An artist’s work is more than just the image they create whether it is digitally or traditionally made. It is also the rights to use that image for print, publication, advertising.  Artists need to be aware of copyright and how valuable it can be to them as an income stream in addition to the making of art.
Every artist I know has at least one image they have created that they could have sold 100 times if it was still available. By keeping good digital files of all your images you can create an image bank that you can then license out for money long after the original has been sold.
Passive income streams are not just for digital artists. Traditional artists can and should do the same with their work. Just make sure when you enter into agreements with people for gallery representation or commissions you retain the rights to your image.  I have licensed my images for use as decoration in hotel rooms, books, magazines, corporate brochures, movies and television shows. In some cases the compensation was equal to the price of the original painting.
I have recently heard of problems with people thinking they could license images without the artist’s permission just because they sell the artists originals in a gallery or act as the artist agent in other capacities.  This is not the case and US copyright is very clear on who owns the rights to an image. All rights are retained by the image creator unless they specifically give up those rights in writing. Here is a link to the government website followed by the actual clause.
202: Ownership of a copyright, or of any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, is distinct from ownership of any material object in which the work is embodied. Transfer of ownership of any material object, including the copy in which the work is first fixed, does not of itself convey any rights in the copyrighted work embodied in the object; nor, in the absence of an agreement, does transfer of ownership of a copyright or of any exclusive rights under a copyright convey property rights in any material object.
With the slowed economy galleries and other artist venues are taking advantage of artists by not compensating them for the use of their images. Artists are being stupid not insisting on payment for the use of their image in any for-profit display. Artists need to insist on payment for use of their work and to not do so is hurting the environment for professional artists.

2014 Maine Workshop


Armand Cabrera
                                Fields of Goldenrod             9 x 12                            Oil on Linen

I will be teaching again in Southwest Harbor Maine at the AcadiaWorkshop Center. The program will be focused on outdoor and indoor work for oil and acrylic painters. The dates are September 8 through September 11 2014.

                                 Low Tide near otter Cliffs          12 x 16                  Oil on Linen

The locations for this workshop are beautiful and offer plenty to paint. My teaching style is to help each student achieve their immediate goals as a painter and help them find a strategy for more successful paintings in the long term. Whatever the difficulty, there is a solution for it with a little patience and perseverance any problem can be overcome. I make sure my classes are noncompetitive and fun with lots of time for individual instruction. Last time I taught there I sold out the class so sign up early. Remember a workshop is a great gift for the artist in your life, Acadia and Southwest harbor are great getaway places and have plenty for spouses to do. Class is limited to 12 students.

                                High Tide Evening                   11 x 14                      Oil on Linen

2014 Armand Cabrera Workshops

I am teaching two workshops this year the first will be in Highlands North Carolina at The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts.  My workshop, Practical Solutions for Painting Anything will focus on helping artists improve their skills to translate the beauty in the world around them into paintings. The class time will be split between working in the studio and working from life.  The dates are Monday through Friday August 11 to 15; hours are 10 AM to 4 PM

In September this year I will be in Southwest Harbor, Maine at the Acadia Workshop Center   Again the focus is on both Studio and Outdoor Painting. My workshop Successful Paintings for Any Level will be 4 days Monday through Thursday September 8 – 11, hours 9 AM to 4:30 PM.

These workshops have been designed by me to make each student better at what they do, not blindly copy my style of painting. I believe each artist has a unique way of seeing the world and expressing themselves. My job and my responsibilities as a teacher are to preserve that unique expression and strengthen the students skill sets, giving them more choices to explore their creative vision.