Another fun and productive artist retreat week came to a close last Saturday. We enjoyed seeing the “regulars” as well as meeting several new artists. Some folks came for the full 6 nights and some for 3 nights.
John Skrabalak is one of our regulars and calls the retreat his muse. He completed at least 10 canvases this week! Last year his retreat paintings all went to a one-man show in which several of the pieces sold.
As is was a smallish group this year, everyone was able to take full advantage of the space in the studio to spread out around multiple tables.
Colleen was amazingly productive, too, even though she was here for only three days. She worked on multiple pieces at the same time. Colleen originally discover us when her medium was fiber/fabric, but then she discovered a collage technique that allowed her to still work with the layering of color but at a much faster pace!
Colleen’s friend Dawn also painted some fabulous abstract collages in grays. I loved these!
Meanwhile, outside we had unusually warm weather and bright sunny skies, perfect for walks around the “back forty” to work off the chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies enjoyed during cookie break time!
Mel Stabin has been teaching watercolor workshops at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops for decades. If you’ve ever taken a workshop with Mel, you understand why he is such a popular teacher.
Mel taught here this past summer and, of course, is already scheduled for a return engagement in 2016.
We interviewed Mel prior to his workshop and these are his responses to our questions.
How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?
I have been conducting watercolor painting workshops throughout the US and abroad for over 25 years. My teacher and mentor, Ed Whitney, who I studied with at Pratt Institute, was renowned as one of the great teachers of his time. His love of teaching and his love of the medium of watercolor had a profound influence in both my advertising career and subsequent career as a watercolor teacher.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
Relating to students by helping them discover the joy of watercolor and its magical and transparent qualities.
What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?
To gain more confidence as an artist by learning the many aspects of painting, to be in the company of fellow artists, and to have fun.
What are you currently working on in your own art?
Painting nature’s varied moments.
Where is your art currently being exhibited?
The North East Watercolor Society.
Do you sell your work in any online gallery?
The New American Gallery at www.newamgallery.com
What is your favorite art quote?
My favorite art quote is by the American artist and teacher Robert Henri… “There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.”
Describe your studio.
My art studio occupies an entire floor. It is a large room with many windows and a skylight, which provide abundant natural light. I have a drafting table to paint on and a floor to ceiling wall of shelves which hold all of my art books and art supplies. I also have a wooden cabinet with ten drawers large enough to store my watercolor paintings of all sizes as well as extra watercolor paper.
Name five of your “can’t” do without tools/products.
- Hake paintbrush made with goat hair by Holbein.
- Backpack that holds all of my equipment including my easel, paper, paints, brushes, etc. When traveling, it conveniently can be stored in the overhead compartment of airplanes.
- Mat cutter… I cut all of my own bevelled edge mats.
- Sketch pad so I can use some of my sketches that I’ve done during my travels as reference for future paintings.
- Camera to take pictures of people and places for my photo albums of my travels and, as with sketches, to use as reference for future paintings.
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