My name is Charlie Visconage, and I’m a self-taught artist.
I’ve been making art for the past 10 years, and up until late last year, I was living in Washington, DC, in the United States.
In October of 2023 after months of planning, I moved to the north of Portugal outside of Porto, seeking a simpler life with more time for my art practice and easy access to the ocean, as I am a bodyboarder.
When I arrived in Portugal, I connected with subcultours, looking for ways that I could share my art with others to generate extra income. In early January, a request arrived:
"Would I be interested in teaching a corporate teambuilding art workshop for 20 people in Lisbon in a few weeks?"
I said yes.
I’ve taught a number of art classes for children and adults in the U.S., but this was to be my first international and corporate teambuilding art workshop. Although the client was a little different, the approach would be the same. I prepared a budget and after it was accepted, I got to work on preparation.
Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
One does not simply walk into an art workshop, least of all one in an office building. The request was for 3 teams of employees to collaborate on 3 large scale art pieces reflecting the company’s values, and although I didn’t have a photo of the room where they wanted this workshop taught, the other request was to have kraft paper to cover the surfaces so they didn’t get any paint on them.
I went to Ponto Das Artes in downtown Porto and made a large purchase of everything that would be needed - paints, brushes, disposable palettes, a roll of paper, and five canvases. Three for the workshop, and two as backups in the event of a painting going horribly wrong. I didn’t expect anyone to punch a hole in their canvas or anything, but you can never be too careful!
Once home, I prepped all five canvases by covering them in white acrylic gesso, spending about 20 minutes on each canvas. Cotton canvas is very dry and thirsty without a covering, and I didn’t want participants to have to struggle in getting color on their new artworks. I took the other tools out of their packaging, loosened the lids of paints, and then wrapped the canvases in paper.
The Day Of The Company Teambuilding Event in Lisbon, Portugal
I put everything near my apartment door the night before I left, and in the morning I picked up my rental car, returned to my apartment, and loaded everything up. The drive from Porto to Lisbon is straightforward and it was a clear day so I saw some beautiful sights along the way. I checked into my hotel room, changed clothes, and headed to the client’s office, only 10 minutes away by car.
I was met in the lobby by 2 employees, and we took the elevator up to the client’s offices. The office was a modern start-up style floor with comfortable floors, yoga balls, and snacks. The Teambuilding Art Workshop was to be in the café area, a little smaller than I had initially expected, but it was no problem.
The purpose of the entire day was to celebrate the new office, so the employees were in a good mood and went to play a game in a small conference room while I set everything up. I covered the tables in paper, set out the canvases, and arranged the paints. It took me about 45 minutes to set everything up nicely.
My participants came back right at 4 pm on the dot, and we were off. Although the company was located in Lisbon, the employees were from all over the world, so I delivered the teambuilding art workshop in English.
I gave a little speech introducing myself and the purpose of the workshop, which was for 3 teams to create original art based on that company’s 3 core values, which were
Trust, Adaptability, and Knowledge.
The teams selected themselves, and I offered what we were there to do:
Over the next 2 hours, they were to work collaboratively in teams to make paintings based on these values – can be literal, abstract, a shape, a color, anything.
This is a NO BAD IDEAS environment - in order to work together, support what everyone says.
Add, don’t cover up.
A natural leader might emerge within the group, even if they are not usually the boss or in a leadership role in their day job. Some people only find this out when an occasion presents itself, so today, follow them.
Make your art look like you did it that way on purpose. Or to put it another way - there are no mistakes. If you "mess up", lean into the mistake more.
You might get messy - this is normal.
I demonstrated the right way to get paint, load up a brush, and clean the brushes in between use, and with very little prompting, the teams were off!!
Over the next two hours, I floated between the 3 teams to offer guidance, color-mixing advice, and encouragement. Two of the teams had natural leaders with ideas arrive immediately, and they followed them.
For Adaptability, they painted a multi-colored chameleon. For Knowledge, various images of intelligence such as books, math formulas, and SQL server code.
The Trust team needed a little more direction, so I gave them the most attention. I encouraged them to not be quite so literal when they were stuck, and one person in the group suggested painting their hands and making a mosaic flowing outward, implying Trust across many offices all over the world.
I encouraged them to go with that idea rather than analyze other ideas forever, and they did! This team laughed, participated completely, and ended up surprising themselves with how much they enjoyed the experience despite their earlier hesitation.
The Adaptability Chameleons finished first, and they were clearly proud of their achievement in such a short time. I was too! The others followed, with a lot of smiles and laughter throughout the entire event.
Once fully dried, I was told that the paintings would hang in the main offices of this company, and I knew the employees would never forget the contributions they made. I had a great time encouraging them, and they had a great time making art too.
A few people helped clean everything up, and remarkably no one got any paint on any expensive furniture. They were better than me in that regard!
I can’t wait to work with another fantastic group of employees turned artists.
Are you also interested in booking a company team-building workshop with us?
Reach out to Kat and subcultours Team!
I hope to meet you soon in real life,
Your Charlie Visconage