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Awaken the Artist Within – 2 Day Workshop with Tom Birmingham & Erin Lee Gafill

Awaken The Artist Within

With Erin Lee Gafill and Tom Birmingham

These workshops were recently presented at the Humboldt Arts Center, Sea Ranch and Gualala Arts Center.

Thursday and Friday, September 22nd and 23rd, 2022
Ages 18 & Up 

24 spots available – register for yours now!

10am to 4pm with a lunch break
Registration fee – $400 (includes $50 materials fee)

Tapping the Source – During this jam-packed, two-day workshop you will explore a variety of mediums and techniques to find entry into creative expression. Together we will explore elements of design including line, proportion, texture, value, contrast, color, and more. Whether you are a seasoned professional in the arts, or you’ve never picked up a paintbrush, these two days will awaken your artist within and help you to make peace with your inner critic.

While this workshop will use and demonstrate a variety of techniques, its primary intention is to help you to find your own creative voice and break down blocks that inhibit a personal creative practice. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Erin or Tom –

The only thing you need for this workshop is a desire to find your own creative expression. For those who already have a creative practice, this workshop offers a jumpstart of inspiration and possibly a new path forward. If you have never found a way into the creative arts, but you’ve always wanted to try, this is a great place to start.



Artist Bios

Erin Lee Gafill

Born in Big Sur California in 1963, Erin is an award-winning writer, painter, and teacher with deep roots in the California arts community.

For almost 30 years, Erin has taught arts, crafts, and creative writing programs to children and adults up and down California’s central coast. She co-founded the nonprofit arts education organization Big Sur Arts Initiative in 1998 to provide arts and cultural opportunities to local children and their families.

In 2001, Erin was honored to serve as the first American artist-in-residence of the Hamada International Children’s Art Museum, Hamada, Japan.

In 2008, after almost a decade of nonprofit work, Erin and her husband Tom Birmingham opened their own art studio in Monterey’s historic Doud House, offering workshops, art exhibitions, and a space for local arts groups to meet. In 2011 the Museum of Monterey presented a special exhibition, “Cultivating Creativity” featuring Erin’s Doud House paintings.

In 2009 Erin and Tom were honored by the Arts Council for Monterey County as “Champions of the Arts” for their service to the community. In 2010 the couple launched a nationwide arts education tour visiting 17 cities over 9 weeks.  They staged art shows, art salons, interviewed arts professionals, held workshops, and taught free art programs to children and their families.

Most recently, Erin’s still life work was featured in the summer exhibition, Color Duets, a retrospective on thirteen annual painting retreats with her uncle, textile designer, Kaffe Fassett.

Erin credits her deep familial roots in the arts for her on-going work today.  Her maternal grandparents Lolly and Bill Fassett built Big Sur’s famed Nepenthe Restaurant, a mecca for artist, poets, writers, and bohemians since opening day in 1949.  Erin’s great-grandmother was Jane Gallatin Powers, a Modernist painter who had the first artist’s studio in Carmel in 1903.

Erin is on the creative arts faculty for Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, and teaches her “Passion of Painting” and “Art of Now” workshops throughout the United States, Italy, and online. She is the author of the inspirational memoir “Drinking From a Cold Spring, a Little Book of Hope”.  Erin Lee Gafill is the lead artist at The Sea Ranch Lodge during February, 2022 for their Month of Inspiration. Work from this month-long painting retreat will be featured in June in a solo exhibition at the Morris-Graves Museum of Art in Eureka


Tom Birmingham

Tom Birmingham is an artist, photographer, and teacher living and working in Big Sur, California. As a founding director of the Big Sur Arts Initiative, Tom has provided instruction and enrichment in the creative arts in a variety of mediums. For ten years he taught art in the summer children’s theater program, StageKids. He has taught photography and drawing at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, and for years he and his wife, Erin Lee Gafill taught painting and sketch on their annual retreats to Italy.

Tom was the director of the Big Sur JazzFest, founding member of Big Sur’s Hidden Garden’s Tour, and currently manages Studio One – Big Sur.

More recently, Tom is the founder of 26Letter Press, a small publishing company dedicated to printed materials celebrating and inspiring creative expression.

In the summer of 2020, Tom designed the museum exhibition, Color Duets – Kaffe Fassett | Erin Lee Gafill, which was the headlining show for five months at the Monterey Museum of Art.

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