Five Questions for Artist Alvaro Castagnet

Returning to the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops this year, all the way from Uruguay is watercolor artist Alvaro Castagnet. This year, Alvaro will be instructing a three-day workshop on an Impressionist Approach to Watercolor for intermediate and advanced students from August 3-9, 2017. In advance of his workshop, which is almost full, he kindly took a moment to answer a few questions for us.

Q:Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AC: The hustle and bustle of life!

Q: What are you most proud of in regards to your art?
AC: Proud to be able to; get into the studio everyday, be honest with myself, and affect so many people in a positive way.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
AC: The biggest challenge is to get my hand to reproduce what my heart feels.

Q: What advice has influenced you?
AC: Follow your heart, do not let anyone distract from your gut feeling.

Q: Is there something you are currently working on, or excited about starting that you can tell us about?
AC: I am always working towards improving my own work, to express with honesty my feelings and my personal view about art. This is why everyday is so exciting for me! A new opportunity!

Learn more about Alvaro’s workshop with us here.
Learn more about Alvaro on his website and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Five Questions For Fiber Artist Rosalie Dace

Coming to us all the way from South Africa in late autumn is fiber artist Rosalie Dace. From October 29th-November 4th, she’ll be instructing her workshop on African Cloths, Colors, and Quilts. In advance of her workshop, Rosalie was kind enough to share a bit more about her approach to art.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RD: Inspiration is everywhere! I am in awe of the natural world and the richness it offers. How other artists respond fascinates me, whether they be painters, sculptors, weavers, writers, musicians, architects, or anyone else engaged in creating. Human experience and vision is always a source of inspiration. With this, comes the inspiration and expression of my own life.

Q: What are you most proud of in regards to art?
RD: That I have managed to create a body of work that reflects a personal history in textiles is amazing to me. Non of it existed before I made them. I am also proud, (and a bit scared!) of being involved in assessing other people’s visual work. I am proud of helping my students develop their creativity in the direction of their interest, and having them believe in themselves.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
RD: My biggest challenge is often the start of the work when I have to move from the excitement of the possible, and actually do the work. From there, the challenge is the battle of wills of what I think, and what the work wants to do anyway as it becomes itself and takes on a life of its own! Keeping going when I feel lost is always a challenge.

Q: What advice has influenced you?
RD: Just do the work! I think Michael James says that in his book. Picasso also said, ” I get an idea and then it changes.”

Q: Is there something you are currently work on, or excited about starting that you can tell us about?
RD: I am continuing work on a couple of different things that may seem unrelated at first (one on windows, one of maps, and plans among others), but they’re actually all about identity and place.

Find out more about Rosalie’s workshop here.
Learn more about Rosalie on her website here.

Five Questions for Quilt Maker Joe Cunningham

Another new-to the Hudson River Valley Fiber Arts Workshops instructor this year is quilt maker Joe Cunningham! Joe began making quilts professionally in 1979, after a ten-year career as a musician in Michigan and will be teaching our students unique ways to use both piecing and appliqué from August 13-19, 2017 in his Subject to Interpretation workshop. To welcome him to our cadre of instructors, we asked Joe five short questions about his approach to art.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
JC: As a student and lover of 19th Century quilts, I draw a lot of my inspiration from them. But I also stay in touch with current events, and use them as thematic material. Ultimately, though, I end up using everything I have ever seen, thought, or felt as source material for my work.

Q: What are you most proud of in regards to your art?
JC: I suppose the thing I am proud of is that I have figured out a way to make human-sized blankets that look at home on museum walls.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
JC: The biggest challenge for me, aside from pesky technical challenges that are always there, is to find a path in my work where I am not over-thinking it, and where I am not under-thinking it. I am trying to let the content of the piece express itself through me with a minimum of mediation, with a maximum of fidelity to my concept Sometimes it is hard to judge when I am veering off that path. Another way to say it is that my challenge is to stay open and free and true to my original idea.

Q: What advice has influenced you?
JC: Seeing in my artist’s sketchbook this quote: “If it looks like art, it must look like someone else’s art.” My wife, Carol LeMaitre, has helped me stay on track over the years by reminding me that I am not here to please anyone else with my work. William Wiley has told me that I don’t need to worry about anything by making my own work, whatever it looks like.

Q: Is there something you are currently working on, or excited about starting that you can tell us about?
JC: I am currently in the beginning of a new series of quilts inspired by the Clovis people of 13,500 years ago. They invented spear points so elegant and effective at killing mammoths and mastodons that they drove them extinct. Also I have just begun working on a book about my work of the last 20 years.

Learn more about Joe’s workshop here.
Learn more about Joe on his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.


Five Questions for Fiber Artist Susan Else

We couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming fiber artist Susan Else to our fiber art workshop series for the first time. From August 20-26, 2017, Susan will be with us instructing a workshop on constructing large scale figures in cloth. In advance of her workshop, Susan was kind enough to share her perspective behind making art.

Q: What do you want your work to do?
SE: I want my work to engage viewers. I see making art as a conversation, and a sculpture would not be finished for me if no one were to see it. Because cloth has so many domestic and comforting associations, I often use that “safe” surface (as well as humor) to draw viewers into my work, where we can think about more challenging issues.

Q: How has your work changed over the years?
SE: Wry commentary has been part of my work almost from the beginning, but as the years go by I find myself more and more drawn to “serious” topics; wars, recessions, mortality—you name it. At the same time, I’m in love with the pure beauty of color and pattern, so the work has become a balancing act between the two impulses.

Q: How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your work?
SE: A friend once told me to charge enough that I wouldn’t be sad when a piece sold, and I still think that is good advice. The truth is that very few fiber artists are able to make a living from their work alone, so teaching and day jobs (and spousal income) often fills the gaps. Making sculpture multiples is the usual ridiculous amount of time it takes to create textiles, so I have never had the expectation that my career would be particularly profitable. However, I grew up in a family of serious artists who made work with the intention of selling it, so I don’t have much difficulty parting with pieces once they’re finished to my satisfaction.

Q: Do you have a motto?
SE: Play. Take risks. Never believe that it’s impossible to figure out the mechanics of implementing the vision in your head. My entire career has been one long process of figuring out the technical aspects of something that no one else was trying to do. I’ve collaborated with a number of engineers and practical makers to get the work done.

Q: Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? Where and when?
SE: This year I am working hard to complete a twelve-piece installation called “Without a Net,” which focuses on the old-fashioned circus and sideshow. Many of the twelve works are mechanized, lit up, and include sound, and together they will create a total experience for the viewer. The circus is a great venue for exploring the confluence between the splendid and the macabre, between fantasy spectacle and gritty reality, and between the celebration of human prowess and a fascination with (and exploitation of) human peculiarity. The installation will debut at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in 2018.

Get more details about Susan’s workshop with us here
Learn more about Susan on her website.