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Thank you all so much who wrote something nice or funny in the last QOTW about Tom. I still miss him muches!

 

I know this weeks question is a bit "Delphic": There is an e-course on the net called "THINK BIG", moderated by Molly Hatch and Ben Carter, which is mainly about "if you want to get further with your art, THINK BIG!" In the e-course you'll learn what to do and what NOT to do to be successful on the market. I attended both e-courses and think they are worth the time and money.

 

Then Antoinette Badenhorst is offering e-courses about how to work with porcelain, and lately she engaged guest teachers in her online classes, among others our own Marcia Selsor!

 

Marcia now is my next QOTW guest and is asking you all: Do you attend workshops? Would you sign up for online courses if reasonably priced? How do you feel about workshops and/or online courses or webinars? I'd like to see more discussion about classes like Think Big and want to know if the forum members are aware of it.

 

Are you aware of online classes on the net? I know we had a similar discussion lately, but I think it is important for the e-course providers to know if there is an audience for their ideas, and what kind of e-courses you would want to attend.How much you would be willing to pay. What you expect. Etc.

 

Have a good week everybody!

 

Evelyne

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Yes I am interested in knowing how the forum members respond to this. The "Think Big" program is very successful in teaching marketing skills for potters.

Antionette's Porcelain series has a huge following, much of it in Europe. So I am wondering if any forum members participate in these venues. I don't see much discussion of people saying what they recently learned from taking such courses except for Evelyne responding to Think Big.

 

Marcia

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I've taken 2 of Antoinette's e-courses, "Understanding Porcelain" and 'Handbuilding with Porcelain".  The teaching modules were fascinating and well structured and wonderfully personal, A bonus was her husband Koos's skilled camera work that showed great details of her process. The students often posted photos of their work and received comments from Antoinette and other participants. Questions that came up were responded to with care and clarity, always very helpful with technique and information.  The pricing was reasonable and did not hold me back from enrolling. A bonus is the ongoing community of potters that communicated with Antoinette and each other on-line on the Facebook groupfor the classes. Some people in those groups are still active in the ongoing conversations as alumni when she repeats a class.   I would have loved to have taken the class that Marcia gave through Antoinette but I could not manage the time. I would like to hear how she evaluates her experience with the students as a teacher on-line as compared to her in-person workshops.

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Hi Linda,

I haven't taught the online course yet. We are still in the editing stages, but I was gone teaching workshops and now Antoinette and Koos are gone teaching workshops. So when we can all communicate further we'l get back to the editing. We are hoping to begin the course in early Fall.

I am looking forward to the new format of this teaching. I think it will be very direct communication between myself and the participants.

Marcia

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Last spring I took the online course Wheel Thrown Porcelain Dinnerware. The class was good and informative and I learned a good bit.

 

My only complaint is the videos were available for only 6 weeks after the course. My opinion is the videos should be forever available. I pay much less for instructional videos from CAD and get to look at them whenever forever. The pricing is OK, but we paid the price for online instruction, let us have access to the videos forever.

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Marcia:

This is a tough one for me to answer in all honesty. I make and sell tile: nothing to glorious about it until it gets installed and the art is really seen. I bought two books early on about tile making: problem was they were very limited in scope and focused more on the artist aesthetic rather than the mechanics. I see that alot with books and ecourses: a particular form or style: which is perfectly fine if it falls in line with your interest. I actually asked Ron if he ever gave thought to making a video of his clay formulation courses, which got an immediate and emphatic NO. So for me: I would like to see Ecourses centering around the "bones" of this biz, although I certainly support individual aspects of use.

Nerd

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I would like to think big, but I am still thinking mostly about the basics.  I think for many many more years I will be thinking about basics. Testing glazes, practicing forms, and firing schedules is the most important thing to me, and right now I feel that no one is really offering workshops that push the basics to explore new areas. Most people just host workshops to show what they know and how they got an effect, and I just don't enjoy that. I don't want to make work like your work! I want to make my own work and do my own things. It is amazing how many people make pots so similar to a workshop they have just taken, which is understandable. 

 

I think there is a huge market that isn't getting the attention it needs. I have talked to tons of people in person and online who feel that firing electric is just "meh" compared to other firing types, and I hate to hear that. I think that electric kilns do amazing things, but it is so new that people just dismiss it as a lesser thing because you can't easily get the results of randomness and beauty from the other firing types. I think eventually people are going to realize that through chemistry, lots of hard work, and years of testing some beautiful impossible things will come from electric firings.

 

I want to attend a workshop on a fundamental level on how to think about developing new glazes/schedules to pushing boundaries of cone 6, but not by THINK BIG, but THINK BASIC to DISCOVER BIG!

 

I am not sure if this turned into a rant post or not, but I just would like to see workshops based around "self exploration" instead of "how I do something, and now you can do it too". There are a few people out there doing this, but I feel like we need a more joined effort of discovery. A place we don't share every detail of the glaze recipes (as the individual recipes are not the focus of the group), but we share the details of the experiment and what changes created new brilliant discoveries and envelope pushing.

 

One can dream big right?

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As I said, I took both Think Big classes and I think that the format is very good. It is focused on America though. And the e-classes I took with Antoinette Badenhorst were really great. She is an exceptional teacher and lets you feel that everything you do and experience is all right.

 

I just want to respond to Joseph: I don't think your post turned out as a rant. It is important to know what people think about courses! You made a few really good statements. For me a course (be it e-course of direct workshop) is like learning to read, knowing how many characters the alphabet has and how I can put them together so that I have a sentence in the end. You call that basics, aren't you? So learning the basics, which clay for which glaze for which kiln for instance. Learning and trying different firing methods. Learning how a glaze is composed, what materials you need to get a glaze, etc. is absolutely necessary. Of course you can do the trial and error phase for years, but learning the basics from people who already know the basics, and then, with those acquired skills, you can make your own work, you can get brilliant results! As for the electric kiln: since open fires are forbidden here in Switzerland, and gas fires only either in the open or in a really good ventilated room, most of the Swiss ceramists fire in electric kilns. And I hope you all don't think that Swiss ceramics is less good than that of others who can do open fires?!!

 

I hope to see and read more posts about e-courses here! And I hope Antoinette finds the time to answer questions about her e-course (the video problem for example).

 

Evelyne

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In the previous threads too, I have had always mentioned and given great significance to the online courses. Come may not, I prefer joining these courses.It provides great insights Yeah, me have attended THINK BIG - 2 …which according to me is a perfect package covering from taking better photographs to art of pricing to generating sales..you think/imagine and you get here…Its nostalgic at times to hear individual artists (medium is audio/video)along with their innovative tips,experiences.

 

I feel we need to think out of the box,,,,,we keep sticking to classroom atmosphere……There is always a beginning that looks promising At least try to change the concept of mind or ring in to any online class and see the change.…where technology is impacting in every field these days and we're well connected through this technology ,so why not these online classes.If we are growing we need to be out of our comfort zone.

I define and look at the brighter aspect of these online workshops….ie…Quality interaction is key, enormous suggestions from all walk of life, who are enthusiastic to share their knowledge.
Looking forward to Marcia’s online classes….all my best wishes…
..

 

Life is one endless school.These workshop take us back for being a student always learning always getting better.

Dh Potter:Videos can always be downloaded and saved.

Joseph:agree we need to have basic fundamental online classes which is missing maybe sooner some pick this thread/idea or maybe you can come off with these classes.

 

 

Vinks

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So it was late at night when I wrote all of that and so should clarify a few things.

The think big workshop looks great it's by some of the leaders in the industry on selling online and using social media and stuff. I wasn't trying to hit on it or any workshop. I took Akira Stake workshop a year ago and it blew my mind. I didn't take any notes or try to recreate anything he was doing. I went to hear his thought process and way of looking at ceramics because my view at the time was very narrow. It was very rewarding and changed my work a lot.

As far as workshops on the basics, I guess this is where most people go to higher ed?

Maybe you can't get a good foundation of glaze basics in a few days of a workshop. Maybe there isn't a market for it. I mean what do I know I am just a noobie when it comes to ceramics world.

As far as Swiss ceramics I didn't mean to direct any dislike towards any group of people who fire electric. I just mean that I hear people talking about electric firing like it's the worse way to fire. They act like they are second class citizens. "I only fire electric.. frowny face." That was the attitude I heard by 90% of the people at the workshop I went to, everyone wanted to recreate what Akira was doing with his wood and diesel kilns. But everyone there didn't have access to their own wood kilns. So there was lots of sad faces around lunch when people were talking amongst each other. Even I admit I had this sentiment when I first started as I had looked at other firing technique and was in awe of the beauty. Of course then you find people who are at the top of their game at electric firing and their stuff is just as awesome in its own way. So I just get a little sad that no one is really hosting workshops to push electric glazes in new directions(there are a few). I would pay a good penny to get a proper glaze education at this time because it is the biggest problem I have with my work. But I am working to fix that now using some other methods to solve my understanding.

And btw I think Swiss and Danish are some of my favorite ceramics.

 

I almost signed up for the porcelain courses talked about above several times when I was learning to throw porcelain. I like e-courses as I feel there is more time for students to converse with the instructor. I also feel like its cheaper as you don't have to travel and people converse a lot easier on forums than they do in person because they don't have to be afraid to ask questions out of fear of looking silly.

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Good morning everyone. Whao! Evelyne you succeeded to bring a reunion of some of our online potters together in this discussion. Thank you for the remarks everyone, especially those positive ones, made towards our online classes.

Thank you for the opportunity to address some of the topics.

 

We are looking forward to Marcia's workshop. One of the great things about the way we structure all our classes, is the fact that we can add information that was overseen and take unnecessary information out(waiting on something to get ready for the next phase or repeating a process that is already taken care of). Also, since Koos is not a potter, with limited knowledge of the process, he can spot a question and ask the artist to address it. The relaxed, one- on-one atmosphere in which Koos and the instructor work( that is after we find out the camera won't bite!) allows the instructor to bring detail in front of the camera that may get lost in a regular workshop. The front row seat that every attendee has, makes this way of teaching almost unbeatable. If it is needed, Koos repeat an action from a different angle, so that attendees can see everything around the work in progress.

John, you did the class in March last year and I do not recall that you communicated much with us.

We are not in competition with the Ceramics Arts Daily as far as our videos is concerned and will not sell our videos right out, because that will take the uniqueness of our classes away. They create videos for popular artists, popular and/or new techniques. We are an online school. Other than YouTube videos, we provide a full service to our attendees, in some instances even teach them how to access their computers properly.  When attendees do not ask questions or communicate with us, we do not bother them. We will prompt some from time to time, especially if we have some background information (we ask everyone in the beginning to send us images of their work so that we can make a guesstimate of the level they are on).

There are several very good reasons why we do not offer the videos to be kept permanently. John, maybe you will agree that what you get from our classes, is more than what you would get from a regular workshop, where instructors rush against time, sometimes compete with talkers in the back row and food around the corner. In no regular workshop do you pay that little, do not have to drive anywhere and study at your own convenience. Nor do you have an extra time period of 4 weeks to review the instruction.  Also; it is seldom that an instructor that made a video or wrote a pottery book, will answer your questions. If they do respond to your question, it may be once or twice. In our classes, as you know, we encourage discussion. We do that for more than one reason, we want the potters to learn from each other and we want to know the needs of the potters so that we can address those needs. If I give you my videos forever, they will end up somewhere in a closet or you may even sell them on a yard sale. The way we do it, I can update information from time to time and keep the information fresh (just as we are doing right now with the Hand building porcelain dinnerware class)

Vinkee, our videos are not downloadable, at least not legally.

 

Joseph, I love your attitude! As a self-taught potter, I had to discover so much for myself. It put me in a steep learning curve, maybe too steep, but there are few things about clay that I cannot figure out for myself today. I do think however, that too much creative time and pottery material is wasted in my career. The few times that I had instruction, I tumbled head over heels forward. Any time when I do instruction, I keep that in mind and try not to spoon feed; in fact, just last night as I was reviewing one of my videos, I caught myself encouraging potters to find their own way and become leaders rather than followers.

I think any teacher should distinct themselves by delivering great potters instead of copy-cats. Instructors should be willing to keep learning and growing and any teacher should have the sensitivity to know when a student needs more than just instruction.

It is the last part that is probably the hardest thing to do with online students and I am sure that is the only part that has a huge possibility to fail. Because of that, we try to build our relationship with our students as good as we can.

BTW. I started with the first basic class earlier this year: “Pinching teapots†and when we come back from Europe, I will present my first full glazing class. On my website we have a questionnaire. One of the questions is: "what classes would you like to attend".

We also recognized the need for basic instruction in all fields of art, therefor we will start to address that sooner than later. Too often instruction is shallow, due to bad instruction and maybe time and money restraints.

Lastly I want to say that these online classes are our main form of income for the last 2.5 years. We started an online school TeachinArt.com, because we recognized the possibility to provide opportunities for other artists, not only to document their legacy, but to find a way to present themselves to the world and make an income from that. Our aim is to present information with substance, without the artist having to go through a college degree, so our prerequisites are directly aimed towards the experience levels of the attendee.

We are looking for good teachers, that are also good role models and not just popular artists. It is important, however that they have a following, because we advertise these classes mostly online.  If you know of any that you think may be interested in working with us, please refer them to us. 

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I'm not signing up for any online classes at this point in my career .Since I'm downsizing next year my amount of sales venues I feel i'm heading for less not more clay work.

This may change if the subject was one I want to learn but that has not yet been the case .I'm doing production work and most of the offerings are not geared for that type of clay work

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I'm with the techies, not enough in that area. Still even then it would be tough to get me to crack out the bank card as I get very little disposable income.

 

I have thought about making online courses but they are a lot of work. Got something in the slow pipeline like every other project...

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Antoinette,

Thank you for your response. The instruction was great, Koos video angles were great. I learned a lot, especially about bowls and plates.

 

Because I am not a full time potter (and I use potter loosely in describing myself) I don't throw all forms every few days. Take for instance the past 2 weeks have been consumed in throwing and finishing 6 decanters. Now I am ready to make some pasta bowls with very wide rims - I have never done this, but have an idea how to do it. If I could go back to your instruction on the proper way to throw a bowl, without the beginner's hump, I would view that portion of the video. But here is the problem; for 4-6-8 weeks I will be making other stuff. By the time I am ready to throw bowls again I have forgotten that one particular movement that makes it happen. So now I am floundering around trying not to create the beginner's hump, again. And BTW, bowls are the hardest for me to make. I can't figure out how to pull up that extra clay and not create the hump. Maybe I'm not using enough clay in the first place.

 

I feel like I am in a race against time. I am old. I have arthritis, everywhere. I don't have Joseph's youthfulness to spend years on trying to figure it out. I must get it from those who wish to teach. I put myself in this position more than 30 years ago. It was my choice on which career path to take. If only I could click my heels 3 times and go back...

 

I cannot go to workshops - and you know where I live so there are not any workshops near me. The total workshop package (travel, room and board, and the workshop fee) costs too much and takes too much time to take off from the bill paying job I have from 8-5 M-F. I have never been to a workshop. Online instruction and bought DVD's are it for me.

 

Koos has done an excellent job in protecting your copyrights. I tried to capture your videos using video capture software - it did not work.  Being a programmer I tried every trick I knew - no go. I don't want to own the videos on a DVD - just want to access them online from time to time. You could have a sign-in, just like you do now, then allow access only for the instruction for which the user has previously paid for.

 

The glaze class you are considering may be of interest to me. I need to see other techniques. I feel like I work in a vacuum.

 

Thank you all on this forum. I have learned so very much from all that share your experiences, wisdom and knowledge.

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Evelyne:

Thank you for opening an honest and open discussion.

Joseph: My supplier in St. Louis hires many MFA grads from a local college, with a long history in the arts. Last winter I showed up to pick up supplies when most were milling around due to weather. When I asked about glaze calculations, and clay compositions; I was rather amazed when they all told me they were not taught these subjects. Somehow I just assumed a BFA or MFA in ceramics automatically included these courses. I am coming to learn that every college has their own criteria. I have also noticed that glaze formulation changes from country to country. I know several in Germany that base alot on the acid index. Some places the Seger unity formula is the top dog, and yet others formula limits. Personally, I am a silica/alumina ratio kind of guy. All of it is relevant, but I find it interesting that certain standards are held higher than others, pending were people got their educations.

Having only been in the forum since Dec. 2015, I have already noticed that glaze problems seem to be the number one question, followed by clay, and then equipment questions. Individual technique question seem to come in distant fourth. With the exception of the Hamers' material guide, finding one book or course with quantitative information is rare. While glaze formulation/calculation courses are few and far between: I have yet to find one inclusive course for clay blending. Then again most rely on commercial products, so I can in part understand the lack.

Being a hobbyist historian, I have noticed about every 60-70 years major discoveries and changes come to the clay arts. It happened in the late 1700's when porcelain came on the scene. It came again in the late 1800's when glaze composition found its earliest roots. Changes came again in the 1950's and 60's when Leach and Sanders set the course for modern pottery. I follow many business and commercial clay and glaze applications, and I have seen many new frontiers being discovered and explored. I also see some of the old standards being changed and expounded upon. One area I have been watching and ran test with is: self glazing porcelains. I strongly believe the clay arts is on the threshold of more discoveries and changes.

Nerd

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Nerd ,
I had glaze calculation in my BFA program and again in my MFA program. I am amazed contemporary students don't get this in their programs. TImes change. maybe now there is more emphasis on Artist statements.My studies were in the 1960s and early 70s and also included kiln building. I. Took up burner design on my own. it was nice to get to meet you in KC. maybe we can get together and discuss glaze calc some time.
I know you met with Ron and enjoyed picking his brain. He is a great resource. it is a shame that people don't know how to resolve a crackle problem or running problem with a simple minute addition of silica or kaolin.
Mixing glazes rather than using commercial gLazes is so much more economical. Just my $.02.
marcia

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Marcia:

The pleasure was mine: I tried very hard to rearrange my schedule so I could stay another day-alas!! Ron told me before I left: " you made my head hurt."  LOL

So now I will climb into the pulpit and preach to the young people. If the opportunity ever arises in your life that affords you the opportunity to sit down with someone who has been in the clay arts for 25-40-50 years- take it!! Text books are fine, school is great: but nothing replaces the voice of experience. There is knowledge in those books, but wisdom only comes with experience. You might be able to google any topic: but it does not replace the hands on experience. Besides, your phone or tablet will never replace the experience of doing.

After sixty years of living I have gained enough wisdom to know to seek out those who have the knowledge I do not. Times have not changed that much: when I was a kid we called them the "old timers."  I learned more from Ron Roy in three days then I did reading a stack of books on clay. He knew things about clay that no text book even comes close to teaching: but then again I knew that old timer would. The good thing about old timers is they are more than willing to pass on their knowledge to the next generation: because they are wise enough to know they are the future.

Marcia: if you get anywhere close to St. Louis drop me a line: we will chat crystalline glaze over dinner- my treat. Bring Fred Sweet with you, I still feel this overwhelming need to pull his beard.

Nerd

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Guest JBaymore

glazenerd and Marcia,

 

Some colleges still include the "skills based" part of ceramic education.  But yes, I see that shrinking also. 

 

Ours (NHIA), for one, still includes it.  Both ceramic materials (clay and glaze chemistry) and kiln design and firing are required parts of our undergrad curriculum.  3 credits in materials and 6 credits in kilns.  They have the option of also taking second level courses in both, as studio electives should they desire to go that route (some do).

 

I teach all of those tech-type courses at NHIA (along with various other studio courses and one ceramic art history course in the Art History department).  My goal in those tech courses is to get them a START on their lifelong education in the "technical side".  In the short time frame available in a 4 year undergrad program... there is only time to scratch the surface...and hopefully make it interesting.  So that they'll hopefully continue to explore it a bit.

 

best,

 

......................john

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I had courses in the summers at Penn State. Not a good time to take classes, and definitely shortened. However, I did have a very good experience when Ron Gallas was an adjunct professor there one year, I think around 1975 or 76. He really put us through more of an academic exploration of knowledge and techniques.

I ended up leaving PSU before entering into a program as I was not available for an MFA, and the ED department was demanding more pedagogy than I was willing to commit to. I believed and still do that art teachers must have a well rounded background in the arts and crafts, and a specialization in one of the arts or crafts.  Theory of teaching is a great thing to have, but in the long run if you cannot succeed every time you demonstrate, and do not have breadth and depth of knowledge all of the pedagogy in the world will not do a bit of good when standing in front of a bunch of teenagers.

 

best,

Pres 

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John / Marcia:

Seems like everything is moving these days.  I think as a whole we have moved back instead of forward. There are certain "landmarks" in clay and glaze that should not be moved, or put to the side. Not sure how any student with serious aspirations of being a studio potter would be able to produce, without the working knowledge of the materials. With the advent of glaze calculators; much of the work has already been done for you.

I wonder if anyone has made a working database of all the books on clay and glaze? "The Library of Clay Arts."  Hey, if Congress can have their own library, so can we!

Nerd

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To answer the original question:

 

In January of this year I took my first workshop. It was splendid and eye opening so a couple months later I took another one, which was disappointing. The difference for me upon consideration is that in the first class each student brought their own pot and were encouraged to decorate it as we wished in the technique being taught. The second class taught not just a technique ... when it came time to put to use what we were learning everyone was set to make the same thing with very little wriggle room. I was not happy because it isn't what I would have chosen to make. It's in my studio waiting to be fired and I kind of just want to scrap it.

 

The first class set my imagination on fire and was inspiring dozens of ideas before it was even over. The second class, (while I learned some useful tips, don't get me wrong) didn't float my boat.

 

It's tricky because in this area affordable workshops are few and far between. One potter nearby charges $150 for a two-hour class. I see posts of her students' work and I can tell she doesn't just teach a technique, she teaches what SHE makes. So yes, I would be willing to take the right kind of online workshop but I would need a taste to make up my mind. I would definitely take online classes if they were a topic that interested me.

 

Joseph, not only do I fire electric but I use commercial glazes. So I definitely don't look down on anyone although there are those who look down on me (for making different choices with my work, such a sin!). I'm not a purist who feels that the only pottery that is REAL pottery is made with hand dug clay and wood fired. I'm using all the time and materials that are available because I want to MAKE THINGS. I've come to think of it as a baker who uses bought raspberry jam or lemon filling in their doughnuts. Would homemade be better? Yes. Does it still taste good? Yes.

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I also took the first round of "Think Big" last January. It sounds like Think Big 2 was better. I was expecting something else, (more along the lines of how to make a business plan if you're an artist), but I think most of the information was useful. It was all stuff that I wasn't prepared to enact yet, and indeed may never be ready for in the case of how to deal with an agent. That said, the information on how to go about approaching some larger retailers that are interested in potters as either suppliers or designers has been something to work towards.

 

The thing that I was disappointed in most was the relative lack of open participation in the forums from the other students. There were both local potters of my aquaintance and big names in the industry that had a lot to offer to the discussion, but remained silent. There were a bunch of us amateurs chiming in on the discussions after the videos, but it would have been nice to hear from the voices of experience.

 

I love the idea of the accessibility of online workshops, particularly because even in a town where there are a couple of really good workshops available a year, they can still be hard to get to if you have things like a day job or a young family. I live 2 hours from Medalta and Banff, so residencies are within my grasp, but timewise are beyond my reach until my kids are more self-sufficient. (They're 8 and 4). So online is what I've had access to. They are a great deal better than nothing, but the same level of class participation isn't there, and I have found only half of the good information in a workshop is from the instructor. The other half is from the other students.

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