Back in July I added my name to an Alyssa Monks painting workshop waitlist. It was scheduled for mid November in Rockville, MD, just north of Washington DC. I didn't know where I'd be living at the time, but figured I'd be within striking distance. And I had been in love with her work for about 10 years, watching over that time for an opportunity to study with her. But with her being in New York and me in California, it just never materialized. So I figured THIS TIME I could finally make it work. No matter what!
Glen @ Compass Atelier let me know in October that a spot was available. I had JUST signed up to extend my lease in Portland through December. But despite the 9 hour drive (each way) and with this year's mantra "why not" in mind, I decided to take the opportunity.
I'm so glad I did.
Alyssa couldn't have been a more generous and supportive instructor to all 14 of us. The 3 day workshop was packed with information, useful examples and helpful tips. She thoughtfully answered the many questions and was incredibly genuine in her responses.
The class theme was "Transcending the Photo Reference", but the students in this class and and limited time didn't allow much time to put the theory into practice. But Alyssa gave a great demo, showing her approach to taking a reference image and creating something special.
She also had some sage advice for the new and experienced painters.
- Explore the mystery of. the paint.
- Let it take you where it wants to go.
- Embrace the surprises.
For the practical exercise portion of the workshop, Allysa had us select a few portraits, sketch them out and decide which ones to paint, quickly paint two at a 4x6" mini size to better understand the color and relationships to hold the form together, and then take that to a 12x16 or 16x20" size. Below is my start along with the gorgeous marks made by Alyssa during her allotted 15 minutes with me. (So impressive that she got around to EVERYONE in class and gave us all quality 1:1 time!)
On the first day of class, Alyssa's Solo show at the Forum Gallery in New York opened with some incredibly stunning work. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the promotional video that showed her studio and steps to create her paintings.
It was a long time coming to be able to finally meet and take a workshop from Alyssa, but it was certainly worth the wait!
You may ask why many of the students in the photos don't have masks while the workshop was in the midst of COVID. All 14 of us started our days masked, took COVID tests, and after waiting the prescribed 15 minutes for results, were allowed entry to the studio. Some chose to remain masked nonetheless.