Monday, June 28, 2010

Ovanes Berberian Workshop 2010

Just getting back from the workshop of a lifetime taken from the great Ovanes Berberian who is one of the top colorists in the United States. It was such a delightful experience to get to travel to Rigby Idaho. Yes I said Rigby. ;)  After days of packing and shopping for an extensive supply list that was needed for this trip I packed up the truck with my paints and grabbed my easel and off I went! 3 1/2 hours later I had arrived.
Here is the driveway going up to his property.....just remembering being anxious about what was to be in store for the week as this was my first workshop ever.
After parking, this was all I saw when I first walked in.....a wall full of....... well stuff that looked like the inside of my parents garage, except outdoors on shelving. I guess this is where he keeps all of  his still life set ups.
Everyone was busily setting up their tents to paint the beautiful still lifes that had been arranged for us. So many still lifes set up that we got to skip around a bit throughout the day in order to try and capture the sunlight. I made sure to take lots of pictures of all of them, but posting them would of taken forever, so if you want to see more you wil have to come visit.
There were painters from all over, North Carolina, New Hampshire, San Francisco, Oregon, Seattle, Brazil and even a few Art Teachers. I had fun getting to know them all. Check out Ovanes's house/studio in the background, it screams Artist!
Here are a few peeks at the still life set ups:

and this one must of been for the guys because you would of never found my umbrella setting up for this one! Ick!
We were told that this was a good way to organize our palette, and so I spent many hours mixing my oils to the right consistency and a few Art store trips later to buy this much paint that I hadn't planned for.
During the week we were on our own alot, workshop hours were 9-4 pm and we could come early or stay late. We would usually see Ovanes around 4-5 as he would come out and critique for about an hour or so and do a little bit of painting on some students canvas for a demo. Ovanes also did 2 demos during the week on Tues & Thurs. in his studio from 9-1:30 am! He must be a night owl. We were all so in awe at his paintings that we didn't have a hard time at all staying awake.
Ok, so don't laugh, here is one of my set ups....remember this is my first workshop and first time painting still lifes outdoors! We were told to do washes and stay in the abstract phase as long as possible. We really weren't supposed to resort to how we were used to painting and to try what he had recommended. That's actually quite hard to do!
and here is one of my 2nd ones I worked on throughout the week. I had originally brought small canvases to work on and on the first day he saw how my paintings were suffering by trying to be squeezed in and said you need to paint bigger, you have alot of energy, go get you some bigger canvases. So I found some board and gessoed it. Boy was he right, it WAS cramping my style!
At the end of the week I found this workshop very insightful, I will never paint the same again, mix my oils the same and I have learned alot from Ovanes and other students. It was exhausting work but so worth it, especially since I heard this might be Ovanes's last year teaching.
My friend, Tonya from Brazil got to take 2 paintings home that were painted on by Ovanes during his demo's outside. I told her I would ship them to her so they had time to dry but she didn't go for that. lol She must know how much they are worth!

The drive home was beautiful, I never looked at Idaho as that but for some reason this trip changed my mind. I saw so many new colors in the sky on the way home and amazing landscapes were all over the place!
Just a few facts:
I did read some reviews about this workshop before I went and found some negative comments about it, but from my experience none of it was true for me. I found Ovanes very open to answering questions and helping when you asked. He also shared alot of his studio setup ideas and painting materials which he didn't have to do. I ended up buying 2 of his demo dvd's to watch, a still life and a landscape and can't wait to watch them. His demos are amazing! I wish I could say I came back refreshed but overall it was alot of work and alot of information to take in! It might take a year or so before it all sinks in.


  1. Oh how beautiful the set up are. Be still my heart...florals!!! Why couldn't we have done that in school! I would become a painting major for sure :) I'm not sure who did the last one, but it is my FAV!!! Beautiful. So happy you gained so much from this. That is how I felt on all the Ballet workshops I went to when younger. Scary and yet excited at the same time. What an amazing experience! I can't wait to see your finished works!


  2. Wow shellie, I am almost at a loss for words at this amazing adventure. first of all I would want to start digging in that wall of still lifes on the shelves and then want to start rearranging them on the tables...SINCE I CANT PAINT AT ALL!

    That must have been quite the experience to do something like that from what I can see. And such a nice peaceful atmosphere.

    Thanks for sharing all the photos, its much easier to understand what is going on.

    Glad you could get away and do this, kind of priceless isnt it.

    Looking forward to your new fun!
    And I am proud of you for trying this.

  3. It was an experience that's hard to put into words. Rule #1 was that we couldn't touch the set ups. I so wanted to move a cup or vase just a little to the right or throw it out of the picture plane. ha ha You wouldnt of survived!

  4. Shellie ~
    Wow what an awesome experience !!
    Your work came out beautiful !!


  5. Hi Shelllie, how are you?
    I'm happy to meet you in your blog.
    I miss you and the workshop's friends, and the Ovanes Berberian.
    The pictures arrived well in Brasil. They dried.
    Everybody loved the paintings.
    Shellie, thank you so much for everything...
    I don't have a blog. My email is
    Tania Barbosa Pagliato

  6. WOW! I bet your brain wants to exPLODE lol with all that fun new stuff! I can't wait to see more of your paintings!

  7. enjoyed this post...your workshop work was lovely..I have been trying to get an Ovanes DVD for ages. Any ideas?

  8. Now that I have read this blog I am dying to take Ovanes workshop. Is it hard to get in?