American Artist recently concluded its first annual Weekend With the Masters Workshop & Conference—which took place from September 9 though 13 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center—and everyone from the instructors to the participants to the staff seemed to agree that there was something extraordinarily special and almost historic about this unique event.
The festivities began Wednesday evening with a reception for the instructors at the Hayden Hays Gallery to celebrate the opening of their “Contemporary Masters” exhibition. Many of the master artists were meeting for the first time, and it was exciting to see them interact and mingle among their masterpieces displayed inside the 30-year-old gallery of the famous Broadmoor Hotel.
That same evening, the stage was set for the rest of the four-day weekend with a screening of Los Angeles writer, director, and painter George Gallo’s movie Local Color. As Weekend With the Masters participants, instructors, and staff gathered together in the Fine Arts Center’s auditorium, Gallo passionately told the story of the making of this timely movie, which is loosely based on his own journey of seeking out a living master to learn from in the face of his continuing frustration with modern-art education.
Workshops, lectures, and demos officially began Thursday morning, and for the next four days eager students and enthusiastic instructors interacted and learned from one another during classes focused on still life, portrait, figure, and landscape painting in both oil and watercolor. There was an infectious creative energy and spirit that resulted from this interaction and a profound camaraderie that was beginning to develop among instructors and participants. Not only did students have the opportunity to learn from many of their heroes, but fellow masters were also learning from and getting to know one another; as we observed Jeremy Lipking taking notes in Jacob Collins’ class; Jacob Collins attending Jeremy Lipking’s workshop; David A. Leffel sitting in on Daniel Gerhartz’ demo; landscape painter Scott Christensen attending Scott Burdick’s figure workshop; and all instructors and participants interacting and conversing long after classes had concluded.
The evening events put the finishing touches on long days of learning. The first such event took place Thursday evening with legendary painter Richard Schmid giving a presentation on his work and leading a panel discussion in the Fine Arts Center’s auditorium. As the beloved living master stepped on stage, and before he could say his first word, he was met with a standing ovation from the more than 200 audience members gathered to honor him. An extraordinarily beautiful presentation of his paintings followed, with the grand finale being an emotive movie of Schmid’s life and work created by his daughter Molly. Schmid then led a lively discussion on the topic of whether we are truly experiencing a renaissance in representational art and where the masters of today see their place in the art-historical timeline.
Friday evening’s Leffel and Lipking auditorium demonstration was extremely well-executed by the two master artists and received with great enthusiasm among audience members. American Artist editor-in-chief M. Stephen Doherty introduced and hosted this painting duel and audience members watched in awe as two different styles and generations of painters brought the subject to life on their canvases. Doherty finished the evening by leading a panel discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges traditional artists have faced over the generations.
The evening events concluded Saturday with the “Encouraging the Masters of Tomorrow” reception, benefit auction, and panel discussion. Thanks to the generous donations of artwork, demos, art materials, limited-edition DVDs and books, and unique opportunities from the master artists, sponsors, and local art organizations, American Artist was able to raise roughly $10,000 for Cottonwood Artists’ School’s Young Masters program and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s Bemis School of Art. Following the reception and auction, three young masters—Erin Jones, Daniel Keys, and Rachel Wimpey—kept everyone entertained and enlightened when they turned their most thought-provoking and heartfelt questions to four masters—Scott Burdick, Daniel Gerhartz, Quang Ho, and Susan Lyon—during our mentorship panel discussion.
The motto for Weekend With the Masters, which was featured on the program and signage throughout the building as a reminder to all gathered there, was: “Honoring the Masters of the Past. Learning From the Masters of the Present. Encouraging the Masters of Tomorrow.” Judging from the generous sharing of knowledge and understanding that took place, and the profound inspiration and camaraderie that resulted, that expectation was certainly surpassed.
Weekend With the Masters 2010
American Artist will be announcing the location and date of Weekend With the Masters 2010 shortly, so be sure to check upcoming issues of American Artist, Workshop, Drawing, Watercolor, and the Weekend With the Masters website for more information.