The Value of Community Workshops

Workshop with Art in Rhythm

Image via Wikipedia

I will be teaching some community art workshops at The 100th Monkey Studio in Portland Oregon starting March 23rd.  There will be an opportunity to register for these  classes at the end of this post.

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Mitch Albom

Over the past ten years I have learned to value reasonably priced classes designed to bring art to people of all skill levels.  There are many ways these workshops enrich the community, from allowing adults who might not  have access to the arts a chance to participate, to providing art instruction to children with few (or no) art programs in school, to providing people with a structured environment to get out and interact with others.

My first experience of learning in a community classroom happened several years into earning my degree.  I had been working full time and going to school on a part time basis when I was struck with a debilitating and life-altering series of chronic illnesses.  Early on, I could only physically be out of bed for two to three hours per day.  Longer, and it felt like torture.  My doctor told me that I had to stop everything –  no work, no school.  I was essentially restricted to bed rest with limited activity when I felt well enough.

One of my first paintings ever - the first painting in my "Undulating Abstractions" series. "Dreamweaver", acrylic on canvas, copyright 2000 All Rights Reserved. Private collection of the Walsh family.

I didn’t want to spend that time (two years total) with nothing happening toward building my career, so I taught myself to paint with acrylics and started exhibiting my work.  I was at home alone for most of a year when I registered for my first community education workshop.  For a few hours each week, I knew I would be in the company of people with a shared interest in art.  That lifted my spirits and gave me something to look forward to.

Since going back to school and completing my degree, I have attended community art workshops not only for companionship, but to break out of  creative ruts.   Sometimes I find myself taking my art too seriously, and want a fun and affordable “excuse” to give myself permission to play.  Loosening up and not worrying about the end result all the time keeps me motivated and fills up my creative well, so I have more to draw from in the future.

Small, playful piece I painted after taking a community workshop. (Scan is half size) "Serenghetti Betty, Your Safari Sweetheart", acrylic on board, copyright 2008 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved.

Not only have I experienced the  impact of community art education as a participant, I have heard positive feedback from students and parents who participated in my workshops as well.  One mother came to me at the end of a workshop series and thanked me for helping her child find something that she enjoyed and excelled at.  Her family was full of people who were good at sports but her daughter felt she wasn’t good at anything.  Completing my four week painting workshop helped her build confidence and self esteem.

As we have seen, community art workshops can help people combat loneliness, stop being so serious/have permission to play, build self esteem and and give them something to look forward to.   If, as Haniel Long said, “each of us is a being in himself and a being in society”,  these positives make a difference not only in the lives of the individual, but in the various communities that they are a part of, as well.

Have you ever participated in a community workshop of any kind?  Did you like it?  I’d love to hear your experiences.

If you are interested in taking fun, stress-free workshops and live in the Portland/Vancouver area, please register for my upcoming classes at The 100th Monkey Studio.  I would love to see you there! (See class descriptions below/how to register at the bottom.)

Acrylic Painting 1 – Painting From Life

Wednesdays, March 23 – April 13, 2011  6 – 8 p.m. Registration:  $65 plus $15 supply fee.  Materials list provided upon registration.  Class limited to 10 people.

One of Amy Buchheit's paintings from her "Toy Stories" series. "The Band Room", acrylic on canvas board, copyright 2005 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved

In this no-pressure workshop series, Amy Buchheit will guide you through the basics of acrylic painting, from selecting your materials and color mixing to creating a completed piece.  We will be working from life, painting simple subjects to support you in learning how to paint with volume and dimension.  You will be able to make arrangements to use the 100th Monkey Studios work space if you would like to practice painting or work on your piece between classes.

A $15 fee provides you with one painting support, use of a tabletop easel during class and access to limited supplies.

Vision Boards Workshop

Sunday, May 1 2011   1 – 4 p.m.   Registration:  $30.   Class limited to 10 people.

Sample - one of Amy Buchheit's vision boards.

If you visualize it, you can have it.  This is a concept that high-powered professionals and world-class athletes have been using to for decades to achieve results.  In this fun and inspiring class, you will have the opportunity to visualize what you wish to create for the year and learn to put them in a tangible format by using fun, easy and inexpensive supplies.  Though you may choose to bring optional materials, supplies are included in the cost of this class.

How to Exhibit Your Art

Sunday May 15th, 2011  1 – 3 p.m.    Registration:  $25.   Class limited to 20 people.

Amy Buchheit at the "Recent Marylhurst Graduates" exhibition in 2006.

In this lecture-style workshop, Amy Buchheit will share her eleven years of exhibition experience to assist you in showing your own work.  You will learn the basics, from approaching local coffee shops to entering juried exhibitions.  Handouts will help you remember the information as you move forward, and a question and answer session at the end will allow your specific queries to get addressed.  This class is designed for advanced amateurs who want to try their hand at exhibiting and artists interested in beginning a professional career.

To register for classes, call the 100th Monkey Studio at

All class fees are due at registration.
Cancellations must be made one week prior for full refund.
Studio members receive a discount on all classes and some free!

Part Four of “Why Does Art Cost So Much?” will be run next Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011.

© 2011 Amy Buchheit All Rights Reserved


About Amy Buchheit

I am a Signature Member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters and an Ambassador for Artist Trust. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marylhurst University and have exhibited on regional, national and international levels since 2000. I am committed to connecting with the viewer through my work - stirring buried emotions to the surface for further inspection and introspection. The inspiration for my art comes from direct observations, research of subjects I am passionate about and personal experiences. For more information about my art, workshops and exhibitions, visit my website at My blog "Fantastic Voyage" can be found at, and I can be found on Facebook under Amy Buchheit Art and on Twitter as @AmyBuchheit.
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