Archives for posts with tag: Sterling Edwards

(I apologies for the erratic fonts, as this letter was copied and pasted, wordpress did some weird stuff to it as I tried to format (delete) the extra spacing. I don’t know a lot about wordpress, (i.e. can you choose fonts or sizes?) If anyone knows how I can fix this, please let me know.


Dear Robert & Monica
Hope  you had  some  nice  quality family  time before getting back to the full swing of your busy time.
We have a deep appreciation to both of you for providing us with great classes & a lifetime of exquisite memories.
Rather than telling you the details of my over all impressions I should send you the Email I sent to LoisAnne & Nyla . 
LoisAnne wanted  to know all about our 2nd week experiences.
It might be interesting for you to  see a  different point of view from outside in.
It was originaly typed  by Mike because I have been a proud cave woman…..never have
touched a computer.  But for the first time I decided  to come out of the cave and learn
the darn thing !

Here is  the  letter…

Dear Loisanne & Nyla
Thank you for the wonderful email Loisanne.

Yes, We really missed our  Sterling’s classmates, especially you two.
It was so sad to say goodbye to the friends we shared the classes, good times, and meals
 with for a week.
We had only five people besides us for the creative art class . This time Mike was the only man and had to be a participant.  It was a small but colorful group.
I know that last year they had the same class after Sterling’s but I didn’t expect anything could be as great. But it was sooo different and I needed to come out of my square mold and it was good for me.
The instructor, Donna Estabrooks was a fun loving person who can produce a huge size artwork in a short time.  One day we were working on a cloth canvas trying to set the mood with colors. When I heard the lunch call, I said ” I”ll do it after lunch.”  Donna’s reply was  “you can do it in two minutes”.  Imagine, i’m a very slow worker but I did it in Two minutes!. You two have got what  it takes and you’d have fit right in! 

Part 2 
“Creative in Art”. This was anything goes.  Painting with rollers, dripping, and spattering the paints, sprinkling sparkles and making collages with found objects. I made a nice piece with a discarded tile , driftwood shells, and beads.  I don’t look at objects the same way now, they can be parts of wonderful art.      I said ” that means we can all become hoarders?”  One person said that she is already on the borderline.( of hoarding) . I’ve never done anything quite like this , but it was an eye opening experience.   It’s almost like going back to your childhood and rediscovering the hidden or repressed artistic side that every one has, then just enjoying the process.   It was so good for me to step out of the old boundaries.

The first event that we all took part in was a trip to the village of Tuito in the mountains to experience the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe . Everyone, old and young was dressed in
colorful costumes and there were vendors and food booths on the street as well as carnival rides. There were many strolling guitarists and mariachi bands all through the village. Other villages from all around came to the festival and were represented in the parade. Singers, dancers, musicians and just families all marched in the parade. They ended up at the church of San Pedro with offerings . It was a moving sight to see.
Just like the first week, we enjoyed a trip into town.  At a gallery,  Robert was excited because he found a beautiful alpaca sweater on sale for half
price . In the meantime , the owner of the gallery served all of us some tequila which he poured
 from a miniature cask . Most of us who drunk the tequila ended up purchasing something there.
Imagine Robert and Mike buying alpaca sweaters in Mexico!!   No wonder they were on sale.
It was eighty degrees outside!   A sculptor from San Francisco, Susan bought two different
Skelton sculptures, one a dog and the other a dragon . It must have been very powerful tequila!!

Our boat trip this time was to the village of Yllapa. Some of us went up a trail to see a beautiful waterfall on a hill side above the village . Robert got into the pool and waded right under falls . It is a very sacred practice in Japan to go under waterfalls and meditate among spiritual seekers .  But I haven’t heard of anyone around where I lived actually doing it. I couldn’t believe it!   This was one of my biggest moments . The opportunity presented itself right in front of me , when I least expected. I got into the water and Robert escorted me right up to the falls and Mike soon followed It was so cold but exhilarating. I let myself go and water just flowed all over me. What an experience !  Since I have this waterfall ritual under my belt , I can’t wait to tell my family back home. 

Afterwards , we all enjoyed a short lesson from Robert on the beach with margaritas in our hands. That’s the way to study! Our last event was a visit to the Botanical Gardens, led by Robert and Monica. We never expected it to be such a spectacular place…..In the middle of the mountains looking Down into a beautiful  valley .    The place was literally covered with layers and layers of bougainvillea. There were comfy chaise lounges set up in an open air room. among lovely Orchids and other flowers. We laid on the lounges. And enjoyed watching exotic birds  and Hummingbirds  coming to the feeders outside. It felt like time stood still. We could be there forever…….  
You wanted to know about Robert’s class …. All I can say is we loved it very much ! He is a kind and wonderful teacher. He showed Mike how to paint two different watercolor  washes with positive and negative Painting techniques on them .  It attracted everyone’s attention. Mike produced two paintings with Robert’s help . I’d better keep up with my painting so Mike will not say, “Iko move over.”
Are you recovered from the trip yet?    I’m having a hard time coming back to reality…. after spending an extraordinary two weeks in paradise . 
Nyla , your roosters were still up in the trees when we left , alive and well maybe too well.
Your speech at our last dinner on the beach was so thoughtful and touching .
LoisAnne, my painting buddy, you were my inspiration 
Let’s keep in touch and keep on painting 
Your friend


Thank you so much again for the beautiful watercolor painting….you don’t know how much It means to us . We are also enjoying…..We call Casa music you gave us. We are back at the Casa every time we listen to the music …which is every day .
We are even considering to attend Sterling’s workshop next year again .
                                                         Sending love to you both.
        Iko   &  Mike

ob under the falls, Yelapa
church, El Tuito
dinner on the beach in Boca

Aside from all the earlier posts we have made that should convince you of the value of an art workshop vacation, when I read this description in the newsletter of master aqua media painter and renown workshop instructor Sterling Edwards, I was compelled to repeat it here. Hearing from an experienced, seasoned professional artist-instructor on the subject of his own experience is of great value and Sterling was kind enough to allow us to reproduce his writing here for you.

Sterling Edwards and Bob Masla in the Mt. town of El Tuito after Sterlings plein air watercolor demo

Sterling Edwards and Bob Masla in the Mt. town of El Tuito after Sterlings plein air watercolor demo

Why take a workshop?There are a lot of very good reasons to take a workshop regardless of your experience or medium. When I was first trying my hand at watercolors

I read magazine articles and purchased a few books to help me understand more about the medium and materials. This was time well spent but I was still having a lot of difficulty controlling the paint and achieving any kind of satisfactory results. I was doing exactly what the book or article said to do but the results were far from satisfactory. After about a year of trial and error, not to mention a lot of paper ruined and expensive paper, I decided to invest in a watercolor workshop. An artist named Zoltan Szabo, whose book I had been reading, was coming to Asheville, NC to teach a five day watercolor workshop. Economically this was a real stretch for me because I had a young family and all of the bills that came with them. It took a lot of saving and rescheduling but I took the plunge and registered for the workshop. To say that I was a little insecure about all of this is an understatement. I was going to spend five days studying with a world class artist not to mention all of the other artists from around the country.

The first morning of the workshop there were twenty-five of us setting up our materials in a meeting room while introducing ourselves to each other. It was a great group of people and I learned that many of them were relatively new to watercolors and experiencing the same problems that I was experiencing. At the front of the room was an overhead mirror on a stand with lights attached on each side angled at the surface of an eight foot table. On the table were an array of paint brushes, tissues, a watercolor palette, and a piece of paper taped onto a mounting board. In walked the master himself, Zoltan Szabo. An announcement was made for everyone to come to the front of the room and have a seat in rows of chairs that were sitting in front of the mirror. After a few introductions Zoltan began working on a full sheet watercolor painting. My first thought was that he would spend all week working on that one painting, especially considering that it was so large. I had never attempted anything larger than a quarter sheet painting and even those took days to paint. To my surprise, and total disbelief, he completed the painting in a little over two hours. The end result was a glowing and expressive watercolor painting that looked as though it should be hanging in a major museum.

This was pure magic! Once I picked my lower jaw off of the floor it occurred to me that I had learned so much watching him paint this masterpiece. I was able to see just how wet his paper and paint were at various stages of the painting. The fine balance between wet paper, wet paint, and wet brushes had always been a source of aggravation and confusion for me. Now I had a much better understanding of what to do and when to do it. I was also very surprised to see all of the different ways that he manipulated his brush while painting. All of this, plus his detailed explanations of color mixing and building a strong composition made that first day of the workshop worth every cent that I had paid for the entire week. I learned more in one day than I had learned in the last year. Each day it made more and more sense and I left at the end of the week with a totally new understanding of where I was going with my art and how to get there. I also made several new friends who were very willing to share their ideas and experiences.

I spent the next twenty years going to at least one workshop a year and occasionally two depending on my budget and work schedule. I left every workshop with new friends, more insight about watercolors , and inspiration to keep developing my existing skills and continue to learn even more. Workshops are an investment in time and money but the rewards can be substantial. There are a lot of very good workshop instructors from which to choose. It’s always a good idea to research the instructor that you’re considering and see if they paint in a way that is both desirable and challenging in lieu of your experience and the style and medium that you wish to learn. I have taken workshops with several artists and have never taken a workshop where I did not learn new and exciting tools that have helped my painting evolve to where it is today.

Click this link to read more and see videos of Sterling at the Casa

To read more about Sterling, buy his book, brushes, DVD’s, etc., visit his website: