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anderson ranch et al.

updated sun 9 nov 97


Carol Craiglow on sat 8 nov 97

Since I am a self taught sculptor (my formal education being in geology),
I've taken seven or eight workshops all over the US to learn various
techniques. Based upon my experience, the most important thing to
determine is whether or not the instructor likes to teach and if they're
teaching what you are interested in learning. I've taken two workshops
at Anderson Ranch that were very disappointing. In one the instructor
seemed to be on vacation and was very impatient with students and did not
teach the techniques that were in the course description, and in the
other the teacher wanted to "do something different than he normally did"
which resulted in not teaching the very things I had come to learn.
Experimentation is fine, but those workshops aren't cheap and I view them
as valuable learning time. In the second instance, I had researched
extensively the teacher's sculpture reviews and work so that I could get
the full benefit of the workshop. His ceramic sculptures are
incredible. Unfortunately, we learned nothing about them or his

I should mention that this problem could happen anywhere and the vast
majority of people I've spoken to about their workshops at the Ranch have
been very pleased. It's all instructor dependent. Doug Casebeer does a
wonderful job with the program, and this summer a second ceramics studio
was added as well as a new sculpture studio/program. And the neat thing
about the ranch versus taking a single workshop elsewhere is that there's
lot going on (painting, printmaking, woodworking + guest lectures), so
it's a very stimulating environment.

The only way I know to avoid the problem is to contact the instructor
personally prior to the big outlay of cash to determine what they really
are planning to teach. Sometimes I don't think they read the course

Some of my favorite instructors, those that loved imparting their
hard-learned secrets plus exploring new ideas, have been Roberta Laidman
(slab sculpture techniques), Robert Piepenburg (sculpture + raku)...he
has a very spiritual approach to clay, George Kokis (ceramic sculptor
from the University of Oregon - Eugene), Peter King (architectural
ceramics) and David Stabley (sculptural ceramics). I highly recommend
them if you are interested in their areas of expertise.