The first day got everyone warmed up with half-day demos and lectures (saving the full-day workshops for the rest of the weekend). In the morning I watched Scott Burdick give a portrait demonstration. Scott's work is very thick and usually starts by blocking in the large shapes, he then layers ever-thicker strokes of paint as he defines and refines the details.
Around noon, Richard Schmid gave the keynote lecture, "The Adventures of Painting from Life," which was a perfect way to start off the event. Getting to view many unseen paintings, process images, and hear some good stories was proof that if artists want to accurately portray the beauty of life, they must get their inspiration and information from life itself (not a photo, or second-person account).
In the afternoon, I spent most of my time watching Rose Frantzen's portrait demo. Rose is such a dynamic teacher and had all the attendees mesmerized with her stories and amazing painting.
The evening event was a panel discussion moderated by David Leffel. The main and first topic was related to "Beauty," and it's relationship with art. The responses were a mixed bag with some saying that beauty was merely subjective while others saying that it was objective even though we apply our own subjective feelings.
Seeing that you have read this far, I guess you will stick around for my thoughts on this topic: As an artist, I have been able to take the time to observe and study the world we live in. It is very apparent to me that there is order and creativity in all things.
Just as my paintings are evidence of their creator (me), this world is evidence of it's Creator. And for all the hours I spend on deliberately laboring over a single piece of art, it is merely a glimpse or sliver of this world. Imagine the skill and awesomeness of the Creator of the entire universe!
Whether you ever see my painting or not, my painting is still here (probably in my closet) and is no more beautiful or ugly for your opinions of it. The same would be true for us and this world. If you apply your subjective ideas of beauty and ugliness on this world, it stills exist as a work of "art" just as if we were not here. As a masterful piece of art, this world is not all beautiful and vibrant objects, but a harmony of beautiful "color" and not-so-beautiful "greys". Some may say the grey is ugly, but they exist to lift-up the colors and promote them as beautiful. Yes, each human applies subjectivity to our world and self-defines what beautiful is, but think of it as a location on a pre-existing scale.
As artists, there is a world that we attempt to portray, it embodies beauty, and we try and capture a glimpse of it within our canvases. -- we are subjective creatures in an objectively beautiful world.
Back on topic . . . the panel discussion also veered of course and eventually became a battle between drawing vs. painting and highly-rendered vs. painterly -- entertaining and drama filled (which is what you want from a panel discussion I suppose).