A Workshop Experience with Michael Workman
I recently had the opportunity to take a workshop with the renowned and exceptional Utah artist Michael Workman. I must admit, this has been a bucket list workshop for me since the beginnings of my landscape painting work. I have loved George Inness as Michael does and there are many common threads of artistic voice and preference. He is SO incredible with his mood, compositions and risk taking. The workshop was put on by my dear friend Steven Lee Adams at his impressive Helper, Utah studio. Steven put on an absolutely FIVE star workshop with cuisine made by his chef extraordinaire mom Gian Ferrari. With a fully stocked bar of fine wine, beer and bubbly water we were all in heaven after hours. There were already easels set up for all of us and even community paint colors for those that flew in. The lighting was wonderful, there was a big screen so everyone could see the details from wherever they were in the room. The art hanging on the walls inspired everyone! The little town of Helper, Utah has been turned into an artist community with all of the empty storefronts turned into beautiful galleries. There are wonderful, albeit small quantities of fantastic restaurants and the community spirit of the folks that live in Helper feels like a step back into the 50’s. Smiles, conversations and gorgeous landscape are in abundance in this old railroad and mining town. The resurgence has been all about art – art galleries, art festivals, music, art walks, etc. University of Utah professors David Dornan and Paul Davis started the process in the early 2000’s building an exceptional art school. After the economic fall in 2008, growth started slowing down a bit around Helper, but then came Steven Lee Adams! He came down to get away from the city, found a studio with minimal rent and started to fall in love with the town. He eventually purchased the JC Penney building he was renting and got to work. The building has been transformed into the studio of every artists dream, with living quarters upstairs and in the back. I must admit, that little green envy monster was lurking with every student in the place. After Steven took the leap of faith, others started following suit. Almost every building on main street has been purchased and the art spirit is coming together rapidly! Check out the website https://www.helpercity.net/art-music-film-festival to see more!
On to the workshop! Michael Workman is a generous and experienced instructor. He has a very authentic and timeless voice with a following that sits in anticipation of the next finished painting or class! He is represented nationally by the prestigious Meyer Gallery in Santa Fe, David Ericson Gallery in Salt Lake City, and Gallery 1261 in Denver, Co. His work is so sought after that it does not last long once it is delivered and the most knowledgeable and passionate collectors have his masterpieces in their art collection.
Almost all of Michael’s work is inspired by his central Utah surroundings. Within ten miles of his studio are the iconic cows, horses, mountains and farmland that come to life on his surfaces. More important than the subject matter at hand is his method of deconstruction and simplification of information that reflects his philosophy and spirituality of life. What is taken out of a composition is sometimes more important to him than what is left in. Changes, exploration, essence and soul are what is left and the viewer is engaged in their own conversation and personal experience when exploring a Workman painting in front of them. They truly are a religious experience in every sense of the word. The abstraction is so much more than the details! I won’t get into the details of the workshop as it most imperative for you to experience it for yourself. He doesn’t teach often, so if you see a workshop coming up, you had better sign up fast because they are filled immediately. They are for every level – beginner to professional and everything in between. He meets you at the level you are at and challenges even the very best. Michael is salt of the earth and encouraging of all students ready to step up their work to something “more”! And by the way, the only way to take a Michael Workman workshop is now exclusively through Steven Adams Studio and the next one is already full. There should be a waitlist though and maybe if enough sign up, there could possibly be a second week. I highly suggest you sign up soon!
When I first opened this page I thought they were your paintings Shanna, hanging at the Michael Workman Gallery. What an amazing experience that must have been! To have taken over a JC Penny’s store and turn it into a gallery is brilliant! Hope he and his wife have a nice apartment there, with mom and family too. Wow – great experience, thanks for bringing us along with you! Your work is so comparable to his!!
How wonderful to have this great experience and how enlightening and encouraging to see a little town like Helper be revived as an art town. Kudos to Steven Adams for having the vision and fortitude to bring his dreams to life! Thank you Shanna for such a well written piece about the experience!