by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Focusing on the needs of her students, Cascade Fine Art Workshops Founder and Owner Sue Manley has hit upon a successful formula for offering artists a unique workshop opportunity. An artist herself, Manley approaches the series with the goal of inviting instructors who are not only wonderful artists, but also excellent teachers.
As with many entrepreneurial endeavors, Cascade Fine Art Workshops formed out of recognizing an untapped opportunity. Seven years ago Manley and a few friends invited watercolorist Stella Canfield from Whidbey Island, Washington to visit Bend and share her watercolor expertise.
At the success of the first workshop she started thinking bigger than a few friends in a small studio, and decided to take up the duties of beginning a workshop series. “I really enjoyed running the workshop and wanted to make it more serious, to make it a business instead of a hobby,” she explained. “I had been laid of my job and I needed to find another source of income.
“I wanted to approach the workshops through the eyes of the students; most are pretty serious painters and they invest a lot of money and emotion into the workshops,” Manley said. “I wanted to make sure I got instructors they thought would be wonderful artists and wonderful teachers, they don’t always go hand in hand.”
To find the right instructors for her workshops, Manley began by sending out an email to all the artists in the area she was in contact with asking for suggestions of instructors/artists they would like to study under. “I asked them who would be more of a mentor type of instructor, and once I had a list of names, I approached them and asked for their participation.
“All the instructors over the years have been wonderful. I haven’t had a bad experience; they love to come to Bend,” she continued.
Manley strives to keep variety in the types of workshops she offers and instructors she invites, as well as keeps the class size to 15 to maximize the student/instructor time. About half of her students are from out of the area, but she also likes to provide unique opportunities for local artists to study by not duplicating classes that other workshop providers offer.
October’s class featured local artist/instructor Judy Hoiness in Create and Embellish with Water Soluble Mixed Media. “Judy hasn’t been teaching for quite a few years here…I’ve had trouble filling workshops with local artists [in the past], but she is doing different work than she used to do.”
Finding the right space for the small workshops has been an ongoing issue, and while Manley would love to have a permanent space, until that is financially possible, she has had great success in holding her workshops at Atelier 6000 (A6). When the studio space in A6 is occupied, she began holding classes at Cascade School of Music (CSM).
“A6 is a wonderful place to hold the workshops, but when they started getting busier, it got harder. Pat Clark has been very helpful in mentoring me along in this business as well…Cascade School of Music allows me to rent a large, fairly empty room right on the river. People can walk downtown and students really enjoy that space where they can work and then go sit outside by the river,” she explained.
“I would love to have a permanent space…I have been working with Pat over the years, and our dream is to get an art center here in Bend [where I could hold the workshops].”
Manley plans to start offering more workshops, and a new job as CSM’s program assistant will free up more time to devote to the series. “I [will continue] to focus on the needs of the students and make sure that they are happy and these workshops will give them tools to advance their careers.”