In my last post I discussed in general various ways to find good workshops and how to approach the process of making the most of them.
I want to emphasize a point that I only briefly touched on but is of major importance. Take workshops from artists who paint the way you want to paint. Painting styles range from photorealism to near abstract representational art to total abstract. Painterly impressionistic art has remained extremely popular for over a century but may not be for everyone. Plein air painting at its best is loose and spontaneous. You may have a special interest in maritime art which calls for a more exacting approach. Detailed wildlife art would be another example. Techniques may vary widely though the basics, e.g. composition, remain the same. Spend time looking through fine art magazines in your local bookstore to see what speaks to you. Subscribe to one or more journals that appeal to you and look at the workshops in the advertisements.
Lastly (at least for now), find instructors who have personalities and teaching styles that work for you. Constructive criticism is vital- getting nothing but complements does not move you along. Brutal criticism is also counterproductive. I have never experienced the latter but know a few who have. Fortunately it is very uncommon and word of mouth is helpful here. It is a good idea to inquire about the maximum size of a workshop before signing up. Large workshops dilute individual attention and no matter what an instructor says, a teacher/student ratio of more than 1/14 is undesirable, at least for me. I prefer 1/12 or less. This is especially true for those just beginning or in cases where travel and lodging expenses are involved. In other words, try to get the most from your workshop dollar.
Once you find an instructor who is a good fit you may want to consider studying with him/her for a while if that is an option. If not, many artists who teach have blogs, instructional videos and demos on YouTube. Being mentored is a path that many great artists have taken. Eventually you will find your own unique style.
Thanks for reading and happy painting!