April 13, 2016
Rayna Gillman is an internationally known artist and teacher whose work has appeared in galleries and museums across the US. She works spontaneously in mixed media, often using collage and printmaking techniques to add texture to her work.
Rayna brings her intuitive sense of color and design into her work and her classes, infusing her students with a sense of play and encouraging them to use the words “what if?” as they experiment in their own work. She was nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award in 2010 by Professional Quilter Magazine.
Rayna returns to the Hudson River Valley Fiber Arts Workshops to teach the creatively liberating Free-form Design Spa Workshop, August 21 to 27, 2016.
How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?
I’ve been teaching for 15 years. I started teaching after I appeared on Alex Anderson’s Simply Quilts program. After the program ran, I got tons of emails asking “do you teach what you do?” So, I put together some classes and asked my local quilt shop if I could do a beta test for Jump Starting the Art Quilt. There was a waiting list, so I taught it twice — and the rest is history. I’ve been fortunate to have taught in Canada, the U.K., in South Africa, and coming up – in Switzerland. This past summer I taught in Alaska, invited by a student from my 2013 class here. How lucky I am!
What is your favorite part about teaching?
Seeing people’s eyes light up when they realize they have created original work and had fun doing it. I also love the energy in a classroom that you can’t get when you work alone.
My best reward is when students send me photos of quilts they have started in class and I can see the results of what they learned. What a joy! I just received an email from a student who entered a quilt she made after she took my class. It won a ribbon in the art quilt category. She was thrilled and so was I. Here are a couple of student pieces in-process from my last Hudson River Valley class.
What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?
They give me me their own reasons because the first thing I ask them is why they are here and what they’d like to walk away with. In no particular order, the most frequent answers are:
1) I want to be freed up and learn to relax and have fun while I’m working.
2) I want to make my own work, not something based on a pattern.
3) I love your work and just wanted to take a class with you.
I can’t speak for why anyone wants to take a workshop in general because every teacher is different. But I could add to the reasons above…
4) To experiment and learn something new you can take home and apply to your own work.
5) To absorb the energy of working with other people, to share ideas, and to learn from seeing what others are doing.
6) To have fun, because if you can’t have fun while you’re working, what’s the point?
What are you currently working on in your own art?
Asking myself “what if?” and playing around with some new ideas. Right now, too many ideas and not enough time!
Where is your art currently being exhibited?
It just came down from a three-person exhibit in NJ and prior to that, a solo exhibit at Brassworks Gallery, also in NJ. At the moment, I am in Florida and my work is still in New Jersey.
Is your work represented in galleries, and if so, what hints would you give to artists looking for gallery representation?
I don’t have gallery representation. The NY metro area is not hospitable to art quilts; they still don’t take us seriously as artists. There was a dedicated Art Quilt Gallery in Manhattan but unfortunately, it is now closed.
Do you sell your work in any online gallery?
Yes, I sell work from my website.
What is your favorite art quote?
Ask yourself “what if?” and then try it. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t — but you will always learn from it. (I’m quoting myself – LOL).
Describe your studio.
Hahahahahaha. I have two studios – my wet studio away from the house and my sewing room at home in New Jersey. They are both a mess. In Florida, my studio is my dining room table. Here it is, as we speak.
Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products.
My reading glasses.
My rotary cutter.
My iPad/ iPhone/digital camera (this counts as one)
My sewing machine, naturally.
** (notice that “ruler” is not on the list)