Monday, November 17, 2008

When can a weekend can feel like a lifetime?

When it's spent at one of Steven Aimone's workshops! Pat Williams and I just returned today from an exhilarating and exhausting 3+ day workshop at Aimone's studio in Asheville, NC. We arrived Thursday afternoon, unpacked our supplies at the studio, met the other participants and had an informal discussion about our goals for the workshop. The focus for the weekend was directed studies--each of us was asked ahead of time to come with a contract that stated our goals. These we shared on the first night. There were five of us in the workshop and all have worked seriously in art for a number of years. Yet we all were hoping for informed guidance from Steve Aimone and were eager to begin. After a couple of hours discussion, we dined together, along with Steve and his wife, Katherine Duncan Aimone, at a nearby restaurant and shared more about our lives in art and in general.

Participants Nancy and Pat getting ready for last day's discussion...stitting and standing in front of my wall of work.

Steve and Pat have discussion about work by viewing images on his computer.

Work in progress throughout the studio

On Friday morning, we continued what we'd started the afternoon before and what turned out to be a daily practice--circling our chairs and talking for about an hour +/-. Steve told us how we could proceed immediately to work with our contracts or that he could suggest a few exercises that any one (or all of us) could do if we wanted to. Everybody wanted to get started in that way so we spent much of the morning and early afternoon with three challenges from Steve. His goal was to loosen up our working methods which might then allow us to move into our own directions with more ease.

The studio was a bright, open space with high ceiling, white walls--full of light. Each of us had about a 12-15 feet of working area of wall and a rolling cart at our spot for our supplies. A studio sink was in the entry area, along with microwave and refrigerator. Coffee, tea, fruit and other snacks were always available. Steve made it clear that we could use the studio space freely, so immediately we pinned paper or canvas to the walls and didn't worry about dripping paint onto the plywood floor or painting outside of the boundaries of the format on which we were working.

Each morning we discussed the previous day's effort, looking at the work in progress. On Sunday afternoon we had discussions about of the whole output of each person throughout the weekend with everything pinned to the walls all over the studio. Each day Steve was available to talk to us individually about our own work, brought to the workshop with us either in digital images, photos, or actual pieces. He moved from person to person throughout the three days also, discussing work in progress. And his wife, Katherine, an artist, curator and writer, also visited the studio from time to time as we were working, offering her comments.

Because I'd had a very helpful art coaching experience with Steve several years ago I expected the workshop to be good. Yet, for me, the results far exceeded my expectations. I believe, based on what everyone said during the last session, each of the other participants shared the some of same feelings I was having. Steve worked with each of us in an extremely sensitive way, guiding us with thoughtful comments when needed. He encouraged and allowed us all to push beyond our expectations in our art making process. He enabled us to look at our art work in ways that considered both design and intent.

I feel that the contract I proposed for myself as I entered the workshop is not yet completed--but I also feel that the goals I've proposed have gotten validation over the weekend. I feel good about my art path right now--and I can see changes on the horizon!


  1. I'm so glad you shared this, Tommye. I've heard so much about Steve, and this just makes me even more eager to take a workshop with him.

  2. Jan,
    He's a wonderful teacher. I'm interested in his Maine workshops, too. Check out his website for more! Also, take a look at Katherine Aimone's comments at the website about Micala's exibit.