In this four-week workshop, participants have the opportunity to paint on canvas and display their art at a local exhibition. The date and venue for the exhibition should be decided early on in the workshop period, to give time for the necessary planning of the event. The aim of the workshop is to encourage creativity, self-expression, promote self-esteem and confidence and teach basic painting skills.
Some of the participants may never have tried painting before, so they will need guidance on basic painting techniques. It will be helpful if the facilitator has experience with painting, or is able to consult with or invite someone with painting experience to co-facilitate. Although the focus of the workshop is on encouraging and enabling self-expression through art, it can also be a frustrating experience for participants who are unable to express themselves and so participants may need support from time to time.
The number of participants should not be more than ten, as each participant is likely to need quite a lot of attention and guidance from the facilitator(s).
If possible, hold the workshop in the same venue, so that the materials and paintings can be stored safely during the four-week period.
This workshop is divided up into an introductory meeting, weekly painting sessions, a reflection and exhibition planning meeting, exhibition set-up and hosting, and closure and the final reflection meeting.
1. Welcome the participants and explain that this is the first of a series of workshops, where they will have the opportunity to paint.
2. Show the participants the different materials they need: canvases, different paints, mixing trays, different sized paintbrushes, etc.
3. Now show the participants where each of their painting stations will be, and ask them to take a set of materials to each of their stations.
4. Ask the participants how many have experience with painting on canvas. If some say yes, ask them to share what painting they have done, and to give any tips to those who have never tried painting before.
5. Ask the participants to sit quietly for a moment and think about what they would like to paint.
6. Use the remaining time for the participants to start on their paintings.
7. Walk around and ask each of the participants what they have decided they want to paint.
8. When the time is up, ask them to clean their brushes and tidy up their painting stations, and to place their paintings in a safe storage place.
Weekly painting sessions
Arrange one or more scheduled times per week where participants can come to the room to continue working on their paintings. Some may need more time than others. Schedule time when you or your supporting artist and co-facilitator can be in the room to provide guidance and support to the participants as they work. Expressing yourself through art can be a very rewarding, but also an emotionally overwhelming experience.
During each painting session, check with all participants that they feel comfortable and are making progress and that they are on the right track. Offer advice when asked and provide technical support and encouragement to all participants. Remember there is no right or wrong approach in people’s self-expression.
Reflection and exhibition planning meeting
When the participants have completed their paintings and are ready to exhibit them, hold a reflection and exhibition planning meeting.
1. Thank the participants for coming, and start the meeting by praising the achievement of all the participants in producing a painting. Explain that in the meeting today you are going to invite all the participants to present their painting to the others in the group, and to share what the painting means to them. When everyone has shared their painting, you will discuss the planning for the exhibition.
2. Ask the participants, one-by-one, to display their painting, and to share what they wanted to express with this painting and what it means to them.
3. When everyone has shared the meaning of their painting, ask the participants to reflect on the process of the painting project. You can ask some of the following questions:
• What was the process of painting like for you from beginning to end?
• What did you find challenging?
• What have you learnt from doing this painting?
4. When everyone has had a chance to reflect on the process, explain that you now need to plan the exhibition together. Art exhibitions often have an official opening where friends, relatives and other community members are invited to come.
5. Some of the issues you could discuss are listed below. There may be others relevant to
• Where will the exhibition be?
• When will it be?
• Will there be refreshments available at the exhibition opening?
• Who will be invited? How many people should the venue be able to host?
• Will all the artists be at the exhibition all the time?
• How will the paintings be displayed? For example, on the walls or on stands or on the floor?
6. Make a list of all the tasks needed for the exhibition, and who is responsible for them. Make sure everyone understands what they are tasked to do, and how they will do it. List all the resources needed and make sure they are available.
Make sure the venue and resources needed are available to set up the exhibition. Ask the participants to be there a few hours before the exhibition is due to open to help set-up and make sure everything is ready.
If you host an official exhibition opening, it is preferable that all the artists are there so that they can present their own paintings. If the exhibition is open over a longer period of time, for example for a week, ask the participants to take turns in being at the venue.
Closure and final reflection meeting
When the exhibition is over, call a final meeting with participants to end the painting workshop and allow for a final reflection on the entire process.
1. Welcome the participants and ask them to sit in a circle.
2. Congratulate them on a successful exhibition, and ask them to share what they experienced at the exhibition.
3. Explain that you would like to end the painting workshop by reflecting on the entire process (i.e. from when they first began to paint, to preparing for the exhibition, and then to presenting their paintings to others at the exhibition.)
4. Go round the group and give every participant the opportunity to share his or her reflections. You can ask some of the following questions:
• How has this painting workshop been for you?
• What have you found challenging?
• What have you liked the most?
• What did it feel like to display your painting in public?
• What have you learnt about yourself through this entire process?
• What could be done to improve this workshop in the future?
5. End the painting workshop by thanking the participants for all their hard work and congratulating them again on their pieces of art.