By Bob Bahr
Georgia Mansur is in demand.
The watercolorist fills workshops all over the world, from her native Australia to France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Mexico and… Dubois, Wyoming. Mansur is one of the three featured instructors for the Susan Kathleen Black Dubois Workshop in September.
Tracking her down for an interview can be tricky. Her spirit is willing, but her person is usually en route or on location, teaching and painting. We emailed her some questions in regard to her visit to the SKB workshop so that participants unfamiliar with this enthusiastic artist/instructor could begin to get to know her.
Mansur’s stint as an SKB artist was several years in the making. “I was participating in an international KAWA (Kick Ass Women Artists) event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming several years ago and it coincided with the dates of the SKB workshop where my good friend Mark Mahaffey was teaching, so we made a plan to meet up and paint in Dubois together before the gathering took place,” Mansur recalls. “It was a magical sunrise start on a canyon lake, painting en plein air in this blissfully peaceful area. And, we were lucky enough to see an eagle nesting nearby!” [shown above]
Mansur shared a lunch with the SKBers that year, which gave her a sense of what it feels like to be a part of SKB. “It felt like such a fun buzzing atmosphere of creativity,” says Mansur. This year, she’ll be fully immersed in the experience.
So what should SKBers expect? Her watercolors resist categorization, with some pieces exhibiting strong color, and others taking a more muted approach, as the subject matter suggests or the artist desires. She is comfortable painting architecture and landscapes, flowers and seascapes, and Mansur capitalizes on watercolor’s mercurial personality to utilize loose washes and tighter focal points. Her zest for life is evidently the key to her vibrant paintings. “It is different for everyone, but for me art is being able to express myself fully where words are not necessary,” says Mansur. “Successful paintings have the ability to tell a story or capture a moment in time. It is my goal to touch, move and inspire others through my work and leave a lasting impression that brings joy and beauty to life.”
It’s difficult to discern whether she’s more successful as an artist or an instructor. Her busy, international workshop schedule demonstrates Mansur’s professionalism in art education. In Dubois, the Australian painter will be teaching watercolor. (She also paints in acrylic.)
Mansur sent us her course description. “This course sets out to simplify what is considered by many artists to be ‘the most difficult medium’–watercolor,” it reads. “In reality, there are simple steps that once mastered, can help you create lovely, fresh, and glowing paintings. Watercolor is one of the most beautiful and expressive forms of painting, and it is contagious, once you are shown the proper way to use your materials and begin to get some degree of success. Understanding the impact of your color palette and mixing to create harmony will be a challenge, but it is worth your effort and time–I will be helping you every step of the way, breaking it down into manageable steps. Your success will build on each new lesson and information learned whilst in class. I will be offering lots of new techniques and concepts that will help you approach your painting with fresh eyes and an open mind to express yourself more personally–my goal is to give you tools in your toolkit to find your own ‘visual voice’.”
Mansur explains further what she means in regard to giving participants the tools to succeed in watercolor. She makes a point of saying that she will simply give participants access to existing tools. “Giving access to the tools students need for their own creative expression is the key, and I achieve this through clear communication and demonstrations,” says Mansur. “There are lots of amazing artists out there, but being a good teacher requires so much more. I love helping others along their creative path. It is critical to help them learn the skills and techniques necessary to make it possible to explore and find their own unique artistic voice. I don’t teach students to paint like me, I teach them to paint like THEM, giving the confidence to experiment and learn from their necessary mistakes and build on their successes.”
We asked Mansur one final question, which she answered while painting in Provence (tough gig): What is one thing you hope participants learn from you during the workshop?
“To ‘have a go’ and ‘let go’ of perfectionism, which can be so counterproductive to creative growth and development,” Mansur answers. “Surrendering to the process and withholding premature judgment is necessary to true artistic growth, but people often find it difficult to actually let this happen. Having an open mind and an open heart yields more creative fruit!” Ω