I believe this was my eighth year attending the Intensive Studies Seminar in Taos, New Mexico. My Fredericksburg, VA studio-mate (at the time) and her daughter had attended and shared the flyer with me several years ago. Not sure what it was that motivated me to travel so far from home for two weeks to this art workshop the first time but it has become an annual “pilgrimage” for me! (Except the year Tuscany won out… an understandable trade-off don’t you think?)
Why do I go? That is the topic of today’s post.
Let’s start with location, location, location!
Taos, New Mexico is located about 2.5 hours north of Albuquerque. The trip from Albuquerque takes you first through Santa Fe (Hmmmm, do you think I’ve ever been side-tracked their? ; ) ), then up through amazing scenery along the Rio Grande river until you emerge over the vista of the gorge and Wheeler Peak.
This high desert/mountain location is truly spectacular with its incredible scenery.
On top of that, the history, the artistic community, and the easy going nature of the town make this a cool destination. What a wonderful environment to paint in.
I have brought Taos home with me through several acquisitions over the years of artwork, jewelry, and textiles. They help to remind me of the impact this place has had on me throughout the rest of the year.
Another reason I keep going back is the unique format of the workshop and the amazing instructors. This is not a workshop about learning to paint like the instructors or to learn a new technique. The instructors are very different artists but are good friends with a common philosophy for the workshop. This workshop is focused on assisting the artists in honing their artistic intentions and utilizing the techniques and tools at their disposal to achieve that intent. The instructors are Skip Lawrence, Fran Larson, Christopher Schink, and Katherine Chang Liu. (Until this year Alex Powers was also one of our instructors, we hope he can come back next year… we missed him!)
The focused immersion time to focus on developing my art and learning as much as possible from the critiques, discussions, and programs has “leap-frogged” me forward every year I’ve attended. My naive biases continue to be shed and I’ve gained a huge appreciation for artwork I previously would not have been interested in.
The camaraderie of the workshop instructors and participants make this an enjoyable (albeit challenging) annual journey, overcoming the recurring myth of thinking I am the only one facing the insecurities and challenges of making and sharing art. In addition, the long-lasting friendships I’ve developed have made this workshop a priority during my artistic year in order to nurture those relationships. I have met so many wonderful artists through ISS, all with the similar intent of finding and maturing their artistic voice. We all learn so much from each other!
I have a lot more to share from what I glean from ISS so keep your eye out for future posts!
Until next year Taos!