Painting Loose with Award-winning Watercolorist, Eric Wiegardt

Eric Wiegardt is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society (Dolphin Fellow), National Watercolor Society, Transparent Watercolor Society of America (Master Status) and others. He has been awarded the 2012 AWS Gold Medal of Honor, among many other national and international awards. 


Eric returns to the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops May 15 to 21, 2016 to teach his popular Secrets of Painting Loose five-day watercolor class. Late spring is a superb time of year to mix Studio and plein air painting in the Catskills!

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How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

I have been teaching for 30 years, ever since I started my career in watercolor. I found it a way to earn extra income and pass on my painting techniques  I have gathered over the years.


What is your favorite part about teaching?

The satisfaction in knowing that I have helped someone in their watercolor journey.


What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

Concentrated time in learning with one who is a professional in the field,  camaraderie, and fun! 

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What are you currently working on in your own art?

Working more from my mind, rather than from a reference.  It is very freeing.


Where is your art currently being exhibited?

Wiegardt Studio Gallery, Ocean Park WA.  River Sea Galley, Astoria, Oregon.


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Is your work represented in galleries, and if so, what hints would you give to artists looking for gallery representation?
Not applicable, as most of my work is sold out of my own gallery.

Do you sell your work in any online gallery?

We sell some work on line through my own website.


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What is your favorite art quote?

“A slightly false statement, yet fresh, is much better than a tiresomely truthful one”.  Irving Shapiro


Describe your studio.

I have a studio gallery in my great grandfather’s house, built in 1897.  The lower portion is mainly display area, framing in what used to be the kitchen, and my studio is two bedrooms opened up with a large north light window.

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 Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products.

Truly, my signature five brush set.  Everything else I am flexible.

Savor the Stitches with Sue Spargo

“The class was beyond my expectations, not only is Sue a fabulous teacher, the 5 days really gave us time to learn many more than the usual one or two day workshop. The classroom was perfect! As a vegetarian, I thought the meals were A+” – Dorie J. “The class was above and beyond my expectations. A stellar teacher!!” – Phyllis N. The wonderfully creative Sue Spargo taught a workshop for us for the first time this past November. What a fun class! We can’t wait to have her back in 2017. IMG 1227
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IMG 1232 This is Sue Spargo’s latest book, Stitches to Savor. IMG 1233
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Marge Tucker Interview: Improvising Lush, Pieced Designs in Art Quilts

Marge Tucker is an award-winning quilt designer and quilting instructor. An eclectic quilter, she started with traditional pieced quilts, dabbled in applique and is now enjoying the liberated style of piecing as taught by Gwen Marston.


Marge has embraced and focused on this style of abstract quilting and design for the past several years. Her quilts are in private collections in Canada and the United States.


Marge will teach a three day Workshop at the Hudson River Valley Fiber Arts Workshops, March 19 to 23, 2016. Urban Cabin + Going in Circles. This workshop covers two techniques: improvisationally pieced log cabin blocks (Urban Cabin) and improvisationally pieced curves and circles (Going In Circles).


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How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

I have been teaching quilting for eight years, two years I was just teaching part-time as I was also working at the quilt store in which I was teaching.  The remaining six years I have been teaching quilting full-time.  I got started teaching because someone in the quilt store said to me “You should teach a class”.  And I thought “Why not?”  It was a natural progression from helping customers in the store and doing mini-tutorials to teaching classes.

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What is your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part about teaching is sharing my passion for quilting and hoping to instill some of my enthusiasm in the students.  I love having students leaving the class/workshop so excited about what they learned that they go home and send me a photo in a couple days of their finished quilts. How great is that?


What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

Having dedicated time to immerse yourself in learning is like nothing else, especially having multiple days where the only thing you are responsible for is learning and creating. 


Being surrounded by like-minded people adds so much to the workshop.  I find that students inspire each other (and myself!) with the work that they are creating.  I call it cross-pollination.  One student will try something new and share it with the group and they can use however they see fit.  I often am thinking “Now why didn’t I think of that?


Quilters are known for being one of the friendliest groups of people.  If you come by yourself or with a friend, you will leave with many new “fiber friends”.


I foster a very supportive and encouraging environment.   One student recently said “This workshop is so Zen!  I haven’t been this relaxed in ages.


What are you currently working on in your own art?

I am continuing my exploration of the “Going In Circles” technique of curved improvisationally pieced circles.

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Where is your art currently being exhibited?

I do not currently have any work being exhibited.


Is your work represented in galleries, and if so, what hints would you give to artists looking for gallery representation?

No, unfortunately, art quilts are still under-represented in galleries.


Do you sell your work in any online gallery?

Not at this time.


What is your favorite art quote?

“Great art deals with simple subjects freshly.”  Alfred North Whitehead


Describe your studio.

A hot mess.  Maybe a better term would be “actively in use”.  I’m in my studio everyday and enjoy the light-filled space.  It could be a little bigger, but having a dedicated studio space in my house is wonderful.  It’s also nice to be able to lean to the right every once in a while as I sew to catch a glimpse of the ocean!

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Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products

1) My sewing machines, I use a Singer Featherweight and “Bertha” my Bernina sewing machine

2) Fabric!!

3) Rotary Cutter for cutting fabric

4) A design wall

5) My idea journal and colored pencils — to capture design ideas

Koo Schadler: Techniques for Exquisite Egg Tempera

One of our most popular instructors, Koo Schadler, returns to the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops this Spring. Koo’s Egg Tempera Painting II Workshop will be held April 24 to 30, 2016. This comprehensive five-day workshop, taught by an internationally recognized tempera painter, offers the opportunity for in-depth work in egg tempera: students will spend five full days working on a painting of their own design.

Koo shared some insights on her style of teaching, and her creative process with this unusual and timeless medium.

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How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

Shortly after my first solo exhibition a local art center asked me to teach a workshop.  There are not many full time egg tempera artists and even fewer who teach the medium, and they were excited by the possibility of offering a class in tempera.  I had neither considered nor knew anything about teaching – a complete beginner!  But I took to it immediately, learned a lot and loved it.  That was 20 years ago.  In the intervening years I’ve taught workshops (several every year) all over the US and abroad.  It is one of the most rewarding parts of my career. 

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What is your favorite part about teaching?

Taking a workshop requires time and resources, and speaks to a person’s commitment to his or her artwork.  I’m very impressed by this so it’s important that, in return for making the considerable effort to attend a class, a student goes home with clear, practical ways to strengthen their technique and imagery.  My favorite part of teaching is giving students concrete, specific skills and as a consequence seeing immediate improvement in their work. 


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What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

1.  No matter the subject matter or stylistic preferences I’m confident I can help a student improve.  I believe one of my strengths as an instructor is the ability to diagnose and solve problems.  I’m practical in my approach.  I don’t offer vague concepts or clever aphorisms.  I give specific solutions, both technically (how to light subject matter, mix colors, turn a form, etc.) and in design (how to arrange values, colors, shapes, etc., into a compelling image).  I’ve had many students with MFA degrees tell me they learned more at one of my workshops than four years of art school.  I don’t mean that in a boastful way, only to affirm that I teach useful, applicable skills.  If a student is willing and able, I’m confident he or she will leave my workshop a more capable painter.


2. A room of a dozen or more painters offers an incredibly diverse range of skills, ideas and perspectives.  I have learned so much from my students!  In addition to what I offer, students invariably are inspired by and learn from one another. 


3. Contrary to its reputation, egg tempera is not solely about meticulous, fussy brushwork (although, for those who enjoy fine brushwork, there are plenty of opportunities!)  I teach a wide range of working methods.  Expressionistic, loose painters like the splattering, faux finish demonstration, crafty painters get to work with stencils and rubber stamps, traditionalists learn about under paintings and glazing.  I tailor the curriculum to suit each student’s individual nature and goals.  In short, amidst the challenge of learning a new medium, I make sure everyone has a rewarding and genuinely fun week.   


11 5 10 Portraits 0014What are you currently working on in your own art?

Tempera is a relatively slow medium.  Creating enough paintings for a solo exhibition takes time, which means I will spend this entire year working exclusively for a solo show at Arden Gallery scheduled for December 2016.   I currently have two triptychs (three-paneled paintings) on the easel, each with a fairly ambitious and complex composition.  These two pieces should keep me fully occupied for a couple of months, at least.


Where is your art currently being exhibited?

This winter I have a silverpoint drawing in a group show at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California.  Arden Gallery in Boston, which represents my work on an ongoing basis, is featuring a mini show of my paintings this winter as well.  I have a larger solo show planned at Arden for next December.  


Is your work represented in galleries?

The J. Cacciola Gallery in NYC has represented my work for over a decade.  Arden Gallery in Boston has also shown my work for many years.   About once a year I send one or two pieces to a gallery hosting a special event; for example, I’ve participated in M. A. Doran Gallery’s Annual Realism Invitational a few times.  I also often have work in various museum shows, such as a solo exhibition at the Huntington Museum of Art last year, and a piece in the silverpoint drawing show currently at the Morris Graves Museum in California. 


What hints would you give to artists looking for gallery representation?

Before trying to get a gallery, an artist should be sure he or she can produce a consistent body of work, frame it properly, get it photographed, have a sense of how to price it, etc. Don’t go in with amateur skills; a good gallery wants to work with a pro.  Look for galleries where your work fits, both stylistically and pricewise.  Make sure they are reliable and have a good reputation (which you can learn by talking to other painters). Find out the gallery’s submission guidelines and follow them precisely.  Galleries get scores of requests from artists; a good way to stand out is a personal reference (such as a friend who shows there). Once you have a gallery be sure you understand their terms and expectations, and ideally get it in writing (i.e. a signed contract).  In return for promoting and selling your work a gallery takes a commission, often 50%.  A good dealer earns and deserves it.  


If you aren’t quite ready to enter the gallery world, a good warm-up act is to organize a show yourself.  It could be either a solo or group show, but if you can produce enough work I suggest going solo – no problematic group dynamics, and then you are responsible for everything: producing a body of work, framing and photography, advertising, pricing, organizing the opening, etc.  Start modestly and pick a local venue such as a café, library or community art center.   A relatively low-stakes solo show is excellent practice to see if you have the interest, ability and discipline to not only produce a body of work, but also attend to the various tasks required to market and sell it. It demonstrates to galleries that you are serious and is a helpful addition to your resume.


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Do you sell your work in any online gallery?

The galleries that represent my work all have a presence online.  I prefer to leave marketing and sales to the galleries so I can spend more time at the easel!


What is your favorite art quote?

I have many beloved art quotes, posted all over my studio.  My favorite is by Cennino Cennini, a 14th century painter.  In his treatise “The Craftsman’s Handbook” he wrote,


“Begin by adorning yourself with these vestments: love, reverence, obedience, and constancy.”


In my experience these traits are precisely what is required to succeed as a painter.  


Michelangelo was a poet as well as a sculptor and painter.   Among his many quotable lines, I especially love this one:  “Beauty was given at my birth to serve.”  I too feel in service to the mysterious, demanding, wonderful job of being an artist.

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My Studio 

My husband Jeff and I spent many years moving from house to house (because for a time he worked in renovation) so in my twenty-year career I’ve had fourteen studios.   They ranged from a 1000 sq. foot warehouse space to a 4’ card table; heated and unheated; with and without water; visual delights to utter eyesores (including two dusty, moldy, spider-filled basements!)  At this point I have a wonderful studio, which undoubtedly helps with my concentration, contentment, and production as an artist.  Still, with sufficient commitment and determination I’ve found it’s possible to paint almost anywhere.  

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Right now I actually have two studios.  For eight months of the year we live in New Hampshire.  Jeff designed and built a beautiful studio building as well as the furniture within that keeps the space organized (such as my blue pigment shelf, tailored to various-sized jars).  My NH studio is fully stocked: art supplies and tools of every kind, a large library, copy machine and printer, desk, long work table, a couple of sinks for clean up, shelving to display work in progress.  It’s a great environment and I get a lot done in it.

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From December to March we live in a small village in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, where eight years ago we bought and restored an old adobe fixer-upper.  The property came with a concrete outbuilding that serves as my winter studio.  It is a small, spare room stocked with the bare minimum: a desk and chair, painting supplies, lights – that’s it.  From my perch I look out on a courtyard of flowers (jasmine, gardenias, roses) and citrus trees.  Despite its simplicity, my Mexico studio is also a great environment and I get a lot of work done there too! 

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Grace Errea: Amazing Quilts: No Sewing, No Drawing!

Right at the beginning of our 2016 calendar, fiber artist, designer, quilter and author Grace Errea, will teach her techniques From Inspiration to Amazing Quilt Top at the Hudson River Valley Fiber Art Workshops. This is a three-day class, March 30 to April 3 – fun, inspiring, and NO SEW!


Grace is a self-taught artist and her work illustrates and has been recognized for exceptional primary use of values and secondary use of color. Her focus on value makes it easy for her and her students to create inspiring botanicals, landscape scenes and portraits, in any color.


Grace recently shared with us her philosophy on teaching, and art.

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How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

It seems like I have been teaching my entire adult working life. My first job, albeit not in textiles or quilting was teaching. I taught programming at IBM where I worked.  Later I spent many years in the management ranks but when you think about it, management is also teaching and coaching.

I started teaching quilting around 2003 on a part time basis.  Once I retired in 2005 I taught quilting and textile art, first in quilt shops, and later and now at Quilt Guilds, Seminars, and Retreats.


What is your favorite part about teaching?

Sharing what I know and am passionate about.  Above all I love seeing students suddenly “GET IT!”  Teaching and being out with students is a means of meeting new people with similar interests, helping them solve textile challenges, and it is also a great way to learn from students some of what they know.


What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

There are so many of us (and I started as one) who do not know how to draw, have no time to learn, or no patience.  In this workshop one of the things that attendees will learn is how to take a favorite photo and with simple tracing, develop a winning pattern to create an amazing quilt. 

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When looking at their photo students will develop an awareness of shapes and how to find them.  Shapes can be selected by recognizing their value (light and dark).  In this class students will learn my amazing 8-Value Scale which will enable them not only to identify the shapes in the composition but also value-lize them.  This will then allow them to select the fabric in any color rather than having to follow the photo.

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Finally, once the pattern is created and they start the construction of their art piece students in this class will learn an amazing and revolutionary new machine appliqué technique that I developed and call “Heat-Set”.  This technique is extremely easy to do, allows total flexibility and control while working with it, the product used stops any fraying that you may have with raw-edge appliqué but the end result still feels like soft and manageable fabric.  This technique is so easy and fast, it takes the drudgery from appliqué and will allow you to focus on the creativity of the art rather than in the method.


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What are you currently working on in your own art?

So many things, so little time to do them all!  Inspiration is all around me so I continue to focus on Fauna and Flora quilts depicting nature to encourage the viewers to see the beauty in it.  


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I am experimenting with new ways of doing things, new techniques and easier, more creative ways to do textiles.   I am now beginning to develop my “Negative Appliqué”, not that is a new technique but I am looking to make it easier to do.


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Pieced method used in both my “Women of Color” and my “Bleeding Heart” quilts shown on the Hudson River Valley Art website. Now I am working on a “Randomly Appliqué” background as seen in my “Columbine “ quilt below.

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Where is your art currently being exhibited?

At this moment I have some of my work exhibited at the Road to California Quilt Show, the Wisconsin Museum of Fiber Arts, a traveling exhibit of “Seasonal Quilts” by SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates).


For the latter exhibit I was assigned “SPRING” as my season.  “Family is Coming” shown on the left, was my interpretation of Spring where I live.  But I so enjoyed the-not-so-California dogwood flowers that I remember from New York when I lived there.


Is your work represented in galleries?

No, I sell my pieces directly to buyers or I do commissions for sale.  Here is Jack, one of my commissions.

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Do you sell your work in any online gallery?

I sell my pieces directly from my online website, Quilt Shows where I participate or by commission work.


 What is your favorite art quote?


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao-Tzu

Describe your studio.

One of my workspaces is a small 10ft x 12 ft bedroom.  I converted it into my studio.  By the time I put my sewing machine table, my worktable  (large conference room wooden table), ironing station, and all the storage I need for my fabrics, there is really not much room for anything else.

The closet has all my books and my fabrics and it is the whole width of the room.  The doors to the closet are mirrors so; I placed my design wall opposite it.  This way when I am working, I can inspect the growing piece via its reflection in the mirrors.  It is amazing how many little problems can be easily found this way instead of looking at it straight on.

My second workspace is a bedroom that I took over after my younger daughter moved out on her own.  I use it for my computer work both in the communication and business aspect as well as my computer tools that I use to create my patterns.

Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products.


1. Freezer paper

2. My “Bernina” sewing machine.  I have two; one for back-up or to use while the other one is being serviced

3. The “Heat-Set” Product I use

4. My Apple desktop and iPad

5. Best quality fabrics.  My favorite is Hoffman of California Batiks and hand dyes


Photo to Art Quilt with Sue Rasmussen

The class exceeded my expectations. Sue teaches a lot about the physics and science that applies to fabric art. She was very nonjudgemental and highly supportive of student confidence. She made the daunting seem very doable. I truly loved this course. I enjoyed the total atmosphere of the inn and everyone I met. – Donna M.

I learned not only the technique of designing and piecing landscape quilts, but also a lot about fabric and color. I know the next time I walk into a fabric shop, I will be looking at fabric in a whole new way. The class was fun and the days sped by. I would definitely take another class with Sue if she were to return to Hudson River Valley Art Workshops! – Laura T.

California fiber artist, Sue Rasmussen was here this past November teaching her methods for interpreting a photograph in to a patterns for an art quilt. She shared her wealth of knowledge acquired from a degree in Textile Sciences and years of teaching. IMG 3709
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