Workshop Report: Studio Painter’s Guide to Success with Plein Air & Still Life with Leah Lopez

It was a week of all varieties of weather for Leah Lopez’s indoor/outdoor workshop guiding studio painters through both plein air and still life painting. The week concluded with two beautiful days of painting on Fredrick Church’s historic Olana.

As always, we’ll share a few of the images we captured here on our blog, but encourage you to also check out the full gallery on our Facebook page. You can also scroll back in our Instagram feed to see what we captured during the class.

And of course, our video for the week, found on our YouTube channel!

Five Questions for Artist Peter Fiore

Joining us from May 6-12, 2018 will be artist Peter Fiore for a workshop on landscape painting from photographs. Before his workshop, Peter took a moment to give us a taste of his approach to art through our five question interview series.

Q: When did art first enter your life?
PF: Art entered my life when I first opened my eyes — seeing and remembering — my first memories are about light.

Q: Do you have certain themes in your work or subjects that reappear?
PF: I use the landscape to convey the feeling and quality of light. Light is the true subject of my paintings.

Q: If you could give only one piece of advice to a beginning artist, what would it be?
PF: Don’t expect to make the finished painting in an hour. Making art is a life time battle.

Q: What drives you to produce new art?
PF: The need to communicate. The need to make things.

Q: What show, project, or event are you most looking forward to in 2018?
PF: I’m embarking on a new body of work.

Learn more about Peter’s Landscape Painting: Beyond the Photograph workshop here.
Find out more about Peter on his website and give him a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Five Questions for Artist Christine Camilleri

This spring, we look forward to welcoming British Columbia based artist Christine Camilleri for a five-day studio workshop from April 29-May 5, 2017. Christine’s workshop will focus both on color and composition. In advance of her workshop, Christine took a moment to help us get to know her a little better!

Q: What’s been your most unexpected source of inspiration?
CC: I am inspired by many unexpected things: an unusual perspective, a story line, an abstract design that makes me think of something to work up, a shock of color where I didn’t expect it. I always want to challenge myself and my viewers.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?
CC: I took a workshop once where the instructor said, “Every time you pick up a pastel or a brush loaded with a particular color you should be able to tell anyone what you’re using that for”. That was a breakthrough moment for me: before hearing this I was experimenting (producing “mud”) and adding marks without intent. I then challenged myself to have a ready response and to understand that if I didn’t have one, then I, and the painting, were losing direction. I take that thinking into my painting classes to share with my students. 

Q: What’s one tip you have or trick you use for keeping your studio space organized?
CC: In order to stay creative and focused I clean out my studio once or twice a year. I don’t mean wash the floors and dust. I mean I throw out old ideas, sketches and half finished paintings. I find I have to be ruthless. It clears my mind and helps me to see where I am going. I don’t want to fill my visual space with things that are half done or forgotten pulling me back to “finish” them one day, some day. I also keep my mediums separate and work on one medium for weeks at a time. Oils in one corner, pastels on a big table, acrylics on another table. Some paintings lend themselves to a certain medium and that way they are accessible at a moment’s inspiration.

Q: Who are your art heros? Who do you admire and why?
CC: I enjoy artists who exert competence, color mastery and story telling ability: these include but are not limited to Howard Terpning, Charlie Russell, Richard Schmid, Sheila Reiman, Liz Haywood-Sullivan, Jeanie Dobie, and Skip Lawrence.

Q: What exciting projects are you working on right now or big dream projects you would love to begin exploring?
CC: Bison have become a fascinating focus and I am drawn to wide, open landscapes like the prairies they once roamed. I am planning a series of paintings inspired by the last of the intact prairie areas in Canada and the US and hope to capture what these may have looked like before settlement. 

Learn more about Christine’s Let’s Boss Around Color & Composition Can Be Fun workshop here
Find out more about Christine on her website!

Five Questions for Quilt Artist Paula Nadelstern

We look forward to welcoming quilt artist Paula Nadelstern back to our workshop series next year from April 8-14, 2018! Paula’s workshop will cover unique machine-piecing techniques that are basic and intuitive, as well as both color and fabric guidelines for creating the complex and mobile reflection of a kaleidoscope – specifically for intermediate to advanced students. Get to know a bit more about Paula and her approach to art in our interview with her below!

Q: What’s been your most unexpected source of inspiration?
PN: My own fabric designs inspire me. I’m often asked if I design a specific fabric for a specific new quilt idea. If I understand the question correctly, the answer is no. First come the patterns and then come the quilts. I can’t wait to see where the fabric will lead me; I need to physically handle it to uncover its secrets. I’m as curious as if I hadn’t been part of the process.
I don’t have an art or textile design background. My degrees are in Occupational Therapy with a Masters in Psych, although I haven’t worked in the field in a very long time. Until my unplanned, unexpected apprenticeship with textile designers, everything I knew about color I learned as a kid from my prized box of sixty-four, kid-worthy crayons.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?
PN: It’s not until you teach something to someone that you understand it really well. Breaking down your own creative act, first by identifying your personal strategies, and then by dividing them into a sequence of steps, forces you to reflect on what things aren’t as well as what they are. This exploration steers you in lots of valuable directions. It leads you to the vocabulary needed to articulate your private visual language. It helps you recognize the kinds of mistakes students are likely to make and head them off at the pass. And it awakens new ideas, pushing you, the artist, further along your creative path. 
A major distinction between the work of a teacher and that of an artist is the proximity to the creative act. The artist initiates and implements the work, investing her entire self into the art. Teaching is also creative but in a very different way. The teacher initiates by sharing an approach but someone else implements. It requires the ability to derive satisfaction from other people’s accomplishments. To be content with being the source of inspiration rather than the one inspired.

Q: What’s one tip you have or trick you use for keeping your studio space organized?

PN: I have no tips for keeping my 12 feet by 15 feet studio organized. Buy a magic wand on Ebay? If you get any good ones, send them my way — if they don’t need a lot of space or take up an inordinate amount of time. 
However, here’s how I store my quilts in a two-bedroom, 9th floor New York City apartment. In the living room, I’ve had two 12” wide by 28” high cabinets built. Placed against two walls, the one behind the couch is 92” long and the one under the TV is 72”. There is a door at each end. I roll up the quilts and slip them into the cabinets. 

Q: Who are your art heros? Who do you admire and why?

PN: Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003) was a Japanese textile artist. He was most famous for reviving and modernizing a lost late-15th- to early-16th-century textile-dyeing and decorating technique called tsujigahana (literally, flowers at the crossroads). Kubota’s grand scheme was a series of kimonos called Symphony of Light, intended to depict the “grandeur of the universe”. At the time of his death, he had completed 40 of his projected 80 kimono in the series. Kubota’s unique vision for this series involved a decorative landscape design that flowed from kimono to kimono, resulting in a panorama of seasons and views. 
I am in awe of his highly refined process creating a fluid, rather than static, surface. Each kimono offers a fresh revelation of the complexities inherent in Kobota’s labor-intensive approach. As he said in his video: he makes you see brown where there is no brown. 

Q: What exciting projects are you working on right now or big dream projects you would love to begin exploring?
PN: For the past two summers, I’ve been working on a giant quilt referencing the Old Prague Synagogue Ceiling. As soon as I looked up at this ceiling in 2014, I knew I’d found a quilt idea. I am a Patternista, hardwired to see pattern everywhere and here was a glut of designs bumping into each other. I think I could work on this one quilt for the rest of my career, editing, auditioning and refining as the nuances and possibilities of the concept evolves. It will be the forty-first quilt in my KALEIDOSCOPIC series.

Learn more about Paula’s Kaleidoscope Quilts workshop here.
Find out more about Paula on her website.