Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

The Benefits of a Good Teacher

Abstract painting in orange and blue by Marianne Morris

“Fire : Water”, Parts 1 and 2.  11×15″ Abstract acrylic painting on paper. Available.

Every year I go somewhere to take an art class. It started in 2012 when I went to Seattle for Art Fest. It was such an amazing experience I decided I should do it again. Maybe a bit closer to home so it wouldn’t be quite so expensive. This year I went off to Haliburton School of the Arts, an arts college in Ontario that has a regular program all year round, and has week-long workshops during the summer.

This year’s workshop was a week with Lila Lewis Irving, a local abstract painter who is somewhat of a legend around here. Any artist I told of the upcoming class gave me the same spiel. It was so difficult. It was so freeing. It changed the way I paint. And after having done it? Yes, it was all of the above. I loved every minute. Well, except maybe the first day where I was frustrated and completely sure I was in way over my head. But apart from that. She pushed us to try a new way of working, with new tools. We even had to try a new paper (terraskin… made of rock), which reacted to the paint in a totally new way. You had to be bold. And by Friday everyone there had made great progress.

Over the week I finished off about 10 paintings. Some were for learning and will go in a folder. They are not anything I’d want to frame, but they illustrated what we were learning. A few were good enough to surprise me. I even sold one on the same day I painted it. That never happens. I’ll be posting the new ones over the next couple weeks…. we did a thorough critique the last day where Lila analyzed what was working and what wasn’t, and gave suggestions on how to fix the problems. I will be going through the pieces one at a time to see if I can fix up the problem spots, and then photographing them properly instead of just uploading a snap from my phone.

I don’t know how much longer Lila will be teaching (I think she’s around 80), but I am SO glad I got to be in her class. I came back here anxious to get back into the studio. I will find a way to work what I’ve learned into what I am working on, and I’m sure my paintings will be that much better. If only I had been lucky enough to have had a teacher like her when I was in University, I might not have wasted so many years not painting. But at least I got there. It took a while, but was so worth it.


  1. I can’t wait to see your paintings. I had never heard of Lila. I just went to her website. WOW!! The class sounds so incredible.

    • lila is amazing. I’ve been to 2 classes and love what we do and the complete change in 5 days. Painting has always been different since her class. Everyone should go. Ottawa

    • The two above were among the few she didn’t have changes for… unfortunately my tendonitis is acting up right now so I’m not able to do much. But I agree with Karen, Lila ranks among the best teachers I’ve ever had. If you get a chance to do a workshop with her, do it! (and with the Canadian dollar being what it is right now, it would be a bargain for you). 🙂

  2. I should have known you are a Lila alumna. I couldn’t afford the Halliburton week, but I was over the moon to learn that she taught at Visual Arts Mississauga and I signed on for her 5day intensive workshop (workout?) An incredible experience that stays with me every day, although with my grasshopper mind, I continually stray. I consider Lila a dear friend and try to help whenever she has an open house – what a fantastic house, it is. Love your work and your excellent blog.

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