Three Questions for Denise Labadie

Three Questions for Denise Labadie

Have you ever found yourself unable to find just the right fabric or materials for your creations? Take some inspiration from one of our 2019 fiber art workshop instructors, Denise Labadie, and create your own! Denise is constantly asked about the “stone”, landscape, and sky fabrics she uses in her quilts. There just isn’t much commercial fabric with the types of colors, textures, depth, and complexity that many quilters are looking for. So during Denise’s August 25-31 workshop, participants will create their own!

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life? Do you work on it every day? Block off certain time periods for it?

DL: I love sewing, and art quilting. I love working with fabric, even if just to hold it. My art is not separate from the rest of my life; it is fully complementary. I work on it when I can – which is usually daily, though not always – and often until late at night (or into the early morning), but it is not “work” per se. I love just being in my studio, and with my fabric. While my art Is a high priority in my life, I thus do not force myself into a highly structured, rigid work schedule. For me, creativity is not enhanced by a fixed and imposed work environment, but by a dedicated but balanced work ethic.

Q: How do you approach critiques in your workshops?

DL: My workshops are about quilt composition and construction “best practices”. I basically try to teach the “what, why, when, and how” of both new and (oftentimes repurposed) traditional fiber art and quilting techniques. My workshops are highly interactive, are very hands-on, and are focused more on the development of participant creativity, confidence, and experiential exploration and learning than on rigid, one-size-fits-all lesson plans or patterns. 

I therefore view critiques as, first of all, one-on-one opportunities to promote the above learning and creativity objectives – perhaps suggesting alternative approaches or techniques, but always while affirmatively and positively empowering the student, not using critiques to get them to do things the “right” way or, worse, “my” way (this is one of the key benefits of not teaching via the use of patterns or rigid “rules” that must be exactly copied). And, to me, “critique” does not mean “criticism”; it instead should represent positive and empowering feedback. I will also promote group feedback depending on my feeling about the group as a whole, i.e., that they have shown and demonstrated the above type of thoughtful co-participant caring and creative support. 

Q: How has your work evolved over time? 

DL: I no longer have to explicitly “think” about techniques; they are now just friends that I intuitively call on as the need arises. I am now – compared to earlier in my career – absolutely comfortable with the “what, why, when, and how” (as noted above) of quilt construction. I have come to similarly trust my design sense: a native and experienced-based understanding of what will likely, and not likely, work. I am also far more comfortable – based on lots of hard work, multiple complementary art classes, feedback from my treasured (multidiscipline) art critique group, and the like – with the many integrated nuances of composition, color, shadowing, and perspective (all of which are central to my “style – see next question). 

Because of the above, I am a much better problem-solver than earlier in my career, so with every new quilt I now purposefully take on compositions that I would never have previously attempted, applying my skills to the solving of ever more complex compositional and/or construction challenges.

Learn more about Denise’s workshop on our website.

Three Questions for Debora Stewart

This week we’re getting to know more about new-to-us instructor Debora Stewart and her work in abstract pastels & mixed media! Debora is the author of the best-selling Northlight book, Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media and a series of Northlight videos on abstract painting. She teaches workshops throughout the United States and has juried national competitions in pastel. Debora is a Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America and in the Master’s Circle of the International Association of Pastel Societies.

Debora will be joining us from July 7-13, 2019 for a 5-day workshop on Creating Expressive Abstracts in Soft Pastel.

Q: What are some of your favorite tools for creating your work?

DS: I like to use a mixed media approach to my soft pastel paintings. I really like to develop an abstract structure on which to develop the pastel painting. This underlying structure can be developed from a variety of materials including black gesso, fluid acrylics, inks, water soluble graphite and charcoal and other various mark making materials. I also build a textured surface with clear gesso. My favorite pastels are Unison and Girault but I use many others. One can never have too many pastels! 

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

DS: I do have a structure that I follow. Each day has a different focus from creating abstract compositions, color theory, use of underpainting and ground, developing a series, finding your style and evaluating your work. Each day includes power point discussion on the days objectives, short demonstrations of techniques, exercises to help artists learn techniques, individual working time to explore the technique and ending in individual and group processing of the day. Each day builds on the day before so that by the end of the workshop artists will have a thorough understanding of how to proceed on their own. 

Q: What influences your work? 

DS: Nature influences my work. Most of my work is a reaction to time spent in nature. Sometimes you can see the evidence of more observational drawings I have created from gardens. Other times my work is memory based from a specific place. The materials also influence my work. I love the act of drawing and the physicality of making marks on paper. I really try to absorb time spent quietly in nature and allow it to come out later on paper or canvas. 

Learn more about Debora’s workshop on our website.

Three Questions For Dani Ives

We’re thrilled to be expanding our line up of fiber art workshops into a new art form next year with Dani Ives teaching us how to paint with wool! In her workshop participants will explore the diversity of using wool fibers as a “painting” medium by diving into the world of two-dimensional needle felting.

Dani is a self-taught fiber artist and founder of Good Natured Art. Her enthusiasm for the natural world from an early age took her on a university and career path based in biology and conservation education, after which Dani worked as an educator at a zoo for ten years.  Over the course of a few years, Dani developed her distinct style of needle felting that she calls “painting with wool.”  With this style, instead of using paint and a brush, she uses wool fibers and a felting needle to create the effects of layering color, creating texture and depth.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

DI: I hope my students come with a few ideas that they’d like to conquer. I find the best way to learn my style of needle felting is with a bit of guidance on technique and then some trial and error. There’s a bit of a learning curve for those that have never needle felted this way before, but I have all the tips and tricks ready to share. We will also have a few exercises to really practice a few techniques that will come in handy on most future projects. 

Q: How do you work through or get over the occasional creative block?

DI: Luckily, I haven’t encountered a creative block, but I think there’s a few reasons for that. I keep a running list of commissions, but I’m also constantly working on other projects. I think jumping back and forth between the two types of work helps to keep my mind from going blank on what to do next. I also keep a sketchbook that I work in every day. Often, these sketches/paintings have nothing to do with my current fiber art, and they’re a way for me to explore new mediums and subjects. Often, some of those pages end up influencing a fiber art piece in the future. Lastly, I go outside. My best ideas have come to me while I’m on a trail in the middle of the woods. I spend as much time as I can hiking and exploring. 

Q: What influences your work? 

DI: My science background tends to have the most impact on the work that I do. I’ve only been comfortably calling myself an artist for the past three years. Before that, I worked as a conservation educator at a zoo, and studied biology, chemistry and conservation education. I spent so much time learning about and observing animals and the natural world, so tending to details in my art is second nature and enjoyable. With that said, lately I’ve been challenging myself to use color rather than detail to portray subjects. It’s been difficult to let go of intricacy, but I’m having a great time learning and developing new processes and skills. 

Three Questions for Koo Schadler

Next year’s workshop line up includes the return of Koo Schadler and egg tempera painting to our studio. Old as the Egyptians and made most famous during the Renaissance, egg tempera painting is becoming increasingly popular with artists today. Tempera has unsurpassed luminosity, dozens of glazes can be applied in a day, and yet the medium also allows for meticulous linear details.

Koo is a Master painter of The Copley Society of Boston. She is a contributing editor at The Artist’s Magazine and a board member of the Society of Tempera Painters. Koo teaches painting and design workshops around the US and abroad. In advance of her workshop, she took a moment to share a bit more about her life behind the scenes as a working artist.

Q: How do you approach critiques in your workshops?

KS: My goal is twofold: to offer a specific suggestion as to how a work can be improved, and to make a genuine affirming comment. Both beginners and very good painters need a mix of encouragement and critique in order to improve. An experienced instructor who really looks at any artist’s work can nearly always see something being done well and an area that needs improvement. 

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

KS: Like most full time painters, I just keep trying with all my effort to improve. And I think my work has, very gradually, gotten stronger – more organized visually and with better technique. I’ve become less interested in the “story” within a work of art, more interested in just making the best possible visual experience I’m capable of – i.e. a beautiful work of art. That is my ultimate goal. 

Another change is that I’m focusing increasingly on metalpoint drawings, often combined with other mediums (such as metalpoint colored with egg tempera). I love old fashioned ways of working and am always working to expand my knowledge and experience of traditional mediums, to help bring them into current usage. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to artists looking to sell their work?

KS: Be very professional in every respect: Paint the absolutely best work you are capable of, photograph it well, present and market it professionally, follow through on your commitments. At the same time, stay true to yourself; what you love to paint, how you love to paint. Love is what keeps you an artist.

Three Questions for Sue Stone

Leading off our series of short interviews with new-to-us fiber art instructors is UK based textile artist Sue Stone! Sue studied Fashion at St Martins School of Art and then Embroidery at Goldsmiths College in London. She is current chair and exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She’s best known for textural, figurative compositions that often feature a fish.

Q: How did you first begin creating art with the medium(s) you’ll be using in your workshop?

SS: I grew up surrounded by cloth and making. My mother was a talented tailor and I started designing clothes when I was very young. Fashion/ textiles was a natural specialism when I went to art school. I studied embroidery and graduated with a degree in Textiles/ Embroidery from Goldsmiths College, London in the 1970s. I had a long career as a clothing designer and manufacturer after leaving college but always longed to start stitching again. I returned to embroidery in 2002 and I’ve been making figurative embroidery since 2006. My recent work is mainly hand stitch sometimes with the addition of machine stitch or paint.

Q: How do you work through or get over the occasional creative block?

SS: All of my work is based on ideas and I am an avid collector of the seen, the heard and the experienced. My thoughts and observations are written in a notebook or a virtual notebook like Evernote on the computer. If I get a block I can delve into a myriad of ideas I have already collected to help me get going again. I use sampling to clear space in my mind to be able to think. The samples are never just samples. The samples spark ideas and explore the nature of marks left on the surface of the fabric by different threads, paints or crayons. They provide an important means of problem solving and a springboard from which to move forward.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

SS: The workshop will start with a short digital presentation to introduce students to different ways to tell their story. The focus of the story can be a single figure or a group of figures. I will share the simple processes I use myself to make my work. The workshop itself will be fairly free form with individual guidance throughout. Students will be able to ask questions at any point. It’s very important to me that students produce their own work not a facsimile of mine. Students will have the opportunity to use their own drawings or photographs and ideas as a starting point so they can make their own choices. In short I like students to think for themselves but never be afraid to ask for help when they need it. 

Learn more about Sue’s Every Picture Tells A Story workshop.

Three Questions for Alain Picard

Joining us for the first time next season will be Alain J. Picard, an award-winning artist, instructor, author and speaker. His acclaimed pastel and oil paintings have been exhibited throughout the US, Europe, China and the UK. Alain travels internationally as an art instructor, demonstrator, speaker and artistic advocate for the vulnerable.

In advance of his March 31-April 6 workshop on Painterly Landscapes & Portraits, Alain took a moment to fill us in a bit more on his personal practice and approach to his workshops.

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life? Do you work on it every day? Block off certain time periods for it? 

AP: I’ve heard it said that the good is the enemy of the best. With many competing responsibilities, all of which are good, it’s crucial to design a schedule with studio time that is protected and nurtured. I teach, lead, write, speak, husband, father, and create. With all these roles, a very disciplined approach to studio time is vital. Currently, I have studio painting hours protected for every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then teaching and leadership roles are allocated as well throughout the week. This plan gets assessed for each new season to ensure there’s time to prioritize the best. I spent 12 years painting every day and logging my 10,000 hours of painting time before life began to get increasingly complex. We all have competing priorities and challenges, and studio time gets swallowed up by the tyranny of the urgent if we don’t have a clear plan of action. As artists, art-making is an essential priority which must be protected to foster growth. Read Greg McKeown’s book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” for an outstanding wake up call on how to pursue less and gain more. 

Q: How do you approach critiques in your workshops?

AP: I like call critiques a “constructive review and celebration” of our work together. I think critiques are vital to the growth of an artist as a feedback mechanism to assess progress, but they are also a positive affirmation tool to verbally reward a student for stretching into new territory and leaving their comfort zone. Yes, we evaluate what works and where opportunities for improvement lie. But we also look at some perceived “failures” and celebrate them as new departures into unknown territory. We must “fall forward” to reach a new level. So I like to get the whole class excited about growing together, and being comfortable with making mistakes along the way to new breakthroughs in technique. Critiques in my workshop are a wonderful time of learning and celebrating together. We have fun, and look for insights into opportunities for growth. I believe critiques when handled well can be quite revelatory for an artist in perceiving the way forward in their work. 

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

AP: I have developed from being more focused on realistic portrait and figurative work early in my professional career to now enjoying the landscape, and incorporating a colorist approach into all my work. My style has evolved to allow a more painterly and impressionistic application of marks. While I still love portrait and figurative subjects, I am interested in exploring themes of culture and identity in my figurative work, and utilizing techniques that will best tell the story of each subject, whether loose or more refined. I have a love affair with mark making in pastel, and continue to explore composition and color as new frontiers in my landscape and figurative work. 

Three Questions For Kellee Wynne Conrad

We’re excited to be launching our 2019 Instructor Interview series with new-to-us artist & instructor, Kellee Wynne Conrad!

Now settled in Maryland with her husband and three boys, Kellee has dedicated herself to the creative process, revealing complex layers of paint and emotion in her work. 2017 brought the birth of the Color Crush Creative, a thriving, internationally followed online community of color loving artists. It is through this program that Kellee has been able to connect with the hearts and souls of artists around the world, discovering that teaching her love of color and paint is her true calling.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

KWC: I believe that a workshop should be a good balance between learning new techniques and foundation principles while still having the opportunity to grow and explore as an individual. I build on these principles each day with lessons and demos and then turn over the time to the student to explore what excites them the most. If I haven’t got you asking “What if?” in total excitement by the end of class then I know I didn’t work hard enough to tap into your curious nature. Art is supposed to be a fun exploration and I am always excited to go on that journey with my students because we learn so much together.

Q: How do you work through or get over the occasional creative block?

KWC: Artists block is a real thing. I’ve learned to embrace it and accept that it happens rather than fight through it and feel frustrated. When I feel blocked, it’s usually because I’ve been neglecting other parts of my life and have outside influences that I’ve been ignoring. I give myself grace and take some time off from the expectations of making art. This usually means that I end up doing something equally creative but different, like gardening, reading, going to museums, playing with my family more or cleaning out the closets. It doesn’t take long before I find myself sparked by a new ideas and craving my paints again.

Q: What influences your work?

KWC: Everything. I really try to observe the world and the elements and express my relationship to that experience in marks, color and motion. At the moment I am really taking in the fall colors and natural elements and I feel like a child observing autumn for the first time, but in another month I’ll be traveling and I am sure the old architecture of Europe and layers of history will capture my heart. By spring there will be something about the burst of color as everything grows that will keep me craving more flowers and then in time the sky will begin to fascinate me again and I will have no choice but to look and see and feel and figure out how to capture all of that as art….but it could just as well be the stars or an old book or a conversation about time and mystery. I just try to keep my eyes open with great wonder and see what flows through me.

Five Questions For Fiber Artist Ana Buzzalino

Joining us for the first time this autumn is award winning fiber artist Ana Buzzalino! Before her workshop kicks off, Ana took a moment to tell us more about herself and her background in fiber art.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of inspiration?
AB: A few years back I fell in love with the old wooden grain elevators that still dot the landscape of the Prairies, so I set out to photograph as many as I can before they are torn down and disappear. The textures and grayish tones of the old wood, the peeling paint, the effects of time, all that gives me ample material for new work. 

Q: How has teaching impacted your person art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?
AB: Teaching is what keeps me current and engaged. Time spent with students is time that I have to share what I know and love and at the same time, learn from them. Every class I teach, teaches me something new. I have grown in my art in the past few years and I find that those changes inform my teaching; I want to share everything I know and love: all the techniques, the tips, the tricks that allow me to work in my own style. I love to help students how to find their own voice, and this particular workshop I am teaching is one way of doing that as everyone works on their own designs. I give them, hopefully, a few more tools to be able to translate their visions into actual fiber pieces.

Q: What’s one tip you have or trick you use for keeping your studio space organized?
AB: I have just finished renovating my studio so everything is organized and nicely put together right now. I have an entire wall covered in built-ins with drawers, shelves and baskets which allows me to keep tools organized and projects together. As I tend to work on several pieces at the same time, I can set aside the ones I’m not working on at the time in their own drawers until I am ready to work on them again. The one thing I cannot live without is my design wall, which covers one wall in my studio and sits right across from my sewing table. I pin up pieces in progress so I can look at them and let them “percolate” for a while. 

Q: Who are your art heros? Who do you admire and why?
AB: I have so many … I admire so many artists in different media, such Georgia O’Keefe, Robert Rauschenberg, Sean Scully, Anne Moore, Fran Styles, and so many more painters and mixed media artists. Quilters and fiber artists such as Laura and Linda Kemshall, Hollis Chatelain, Michael James, Sara Impey, Bethan Ash, Eszter Bornemisza, Willy Doreleijers, Cecilia Koppmann, Sue Benner, Pamela Allen, and so many more. Each artist, in their own media, creates work that moves me and resonates with me. I wish I could spend one week in each of their studios, just observing … and absorbing…

Q: What exciting projects are you working on right now or big dream projects you would love to begin exploring?
AB: I am working on new samples for classes coming up, but I am also working on larger pieces that have sat percolating for a while and are ready to be finished. Plus a few more that right now reside in my head, one in particular that has been developing in the last few months which means I need to work on creating a few more pieces of fabric using mono printing, screen printing, etc.

Learn more about Ana’s workshop with us here

Five Questions for Quilt Artist David Taylor

We’re looking forward to having quilt artist David Taylor back with us to round out our 2018 season! Get to know a bit more about David and his practice through our short interview with him below.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
DT: My works have been the result of an emotional connection to images. When I try to force a subject matter, the results are never as fulfilling. I want the viewer to be able to see the story.

Q: What are you most proud of in regards to your art?
DT: When I have reviewed past images of my quilts, I’m often amazed at how much I’ve accomplished. Sometimes I can’t even remember the process of making them. Perhaps it’s because I truly enjoy the ‘creating.’ The more difficult the project, the more satisfaction I feel in solving issues. If the process was ‘too easy’ there would be nothing to gain.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
DT: By far, the biggest challenge I’ve had to face is the gas explosion and fire that destroyed my studio in 2016. It’s been more than two years, and I’ve heard from other victims of home fires that this is typical. Every day gets a little easier, yet every day is a little harder – facing what has been lost. My brain tells me to move forward, but my heart is caught in the past.

Q: What advice has influenced you?
DT: I was given a nugget of insight by a consultant in my first full-time management position. I was working in a print house. The shop was very busy, and it seemed there was never enough hours in the day. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get all the day-to-day tasks completed. He advised, “Never try anything. Do it.”

Q: Is there something you are currently working on, or excited about starting that you can tell us about?
DT: There are so many ideas and plans in my head, it seems there won’t be enough years remaining to bring them all to life. The hard part is bringing what I see in my mind into the physical world.

Learn more about David’s workshop with us here.

Five Questions for Artist Wen Redmond

Artist Wen Redmond will be teaching Digital Explorations in Fiber & Mixed Media from November 28-December 2 this year and well before her workshop, she took a moment to fill us in on her background and approach to art.

Q: What’s been your most unexpected source of inspiration?
WR: Inspiration abides everywhere! When I first started selling my work, viva a craft booth at shows, I found my work had stories, not just the construct but also the inspirations, the unconscious absorption of what I gain with my senses. As I talked, I learned about my own work and the ideas that went into it. This was the surprise! 

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?
WR: Teaching is sharing inspirations. The connection and communication one experiences when with a group of like-minded people is a precious thing. It takes time to prepare a workshop that instructs and yet allows students creativity. It takes time to gather materials. Energy required for this equals energy not available for ones own work. There has to be a balance, difficult to achieve. 

Q: What’s one tip you have or trick you use for keeping your studio space organized?
WR: Presently, I have a relatively small studio in my home. A home studio suits my mode of working. Every space is used and thoughtfully planned out. The best thing I can do is simply replace items used as I finish with them. There is nothing worst than being in the throes of creativity and not being able to find the proper tool I need! That said, I like my storage to be visible, not behind doors. Visibility reminds me of the tools I have and the possibilities of using it.

Q: Who are your art heros? Who do you admire and why?
WR: So many, all medias. So hard to nail down. I love the adventures you can have, not only making art but viewing what others have made. I love the collage works of Joan Schultz and Fran Skies, the texture of Dorothy Caldwell, Sue Hammond West, and Jill Kettulla, the photography of the Starn twins and Michael James, the grubbiness of Anselm Kiefer, the painterly work of Deidra Adams, the journals of Roxanne Evans Stout, the encaustic work of Bridgette G Mills, the paintings of Patricia Larsen, Georgia O Keefe, and abstractionists, the pottery of Paulus Berensohn and MC Richards, the mixed media work of Masha Ryskin, Seth Apter, Takahiko Hayashi, Cas Holmes and so many others, and the nameless dozens of women who made art with fabric over the centuries.

Q: What exciting projects are you working on right now or big dream projects you would love to begin exploring?
WR: I’m looking forward to returning to my art and exploring all of the ideas in my file. Some of these ideas happened as I was writing my book! I’d make a sample and get ideas for another! I had too many for the book so I saved them to explore later. Ready and waiting for me! Recently I did a short video for CT Publishing on Shiny Surfaces, an extension of that section in my book. You can find the link in this blog post

Learn more about Wen’s workshop here.
Find out more about Wen on her website and give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube.

Five Questions For Quilt Artist Gloria Loughman

We’re so thankful to have Gloria Loughman returning for another fiber art workshop this year! Her workshop, The Textured Landscape, still has spots available and will run from August 26-September 1, 2018. Well before her workshop and in fact, right before she left on a quilting cruise – Gloria took a moment to share more about her background and approach to art with us.

Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
GL: When I was growing up I like to play every sport available. I loved to run, climb trees, swim, sail and it never entered my head to sit still and paint or stitch. I actually failed needlework in year 7 when we had to stitch two samplers by hand and after that very negative experience I thought I would never attempt anything to do with sewing.

After finishing high school, I went to University and trained as a teacher of mathematics and physical education. Later on I went back and studied to be a teacher of students with special needs. It was after the birth of our second daughter, my husband surprised me one Christmas with a gift of a Bernina sewing machine. He now maintains it was his ‘biggest mistake’ as I set off to make cute clothing for our daughters and later on formal dresses.

In 1988, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, still in my 30’s it was a tough time in our lives but as I was recovering from surgery and chemotherapy, a friend invited me to a quilting class. I loved the whole process. The precision cutting and piecing, choosing colors, fabrics and patterns, designing my own traditional quilts etc. After making quilts for our family and lots of wall hangings, I became frustrated that I knew nothing about color or design so I enrolled in a Diploma Of Art which I did by distance education. It was a really busy time as I was teaching at school 4 days a week and busy doing my course the rest of the time. I had no time for making quilts. Once I had finished, I began making my large landscape quilts and then things have just progressed from there. What an incredible journey it has been!!

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next?
GL: I tend to work on one project at a time although I am always thinking about the next one. I tend to work in a series whether it be technique or theme based. When I have been working on my books, I sometimes have more than one project on the go.

Q: How do you come up with ideas to begin something new?
GL: This never seems to be a problem. The problem is being home long enough to work through my ideas. I travel a lot. We love going camping in Australia, especially in the wildness areas. We also love wandering through old cities taking photographs. It has to be one of my favorite pastimes that I share with my husband. Taking photographs of old crumbling buildings, unusual color schemes that clash and I would never think to put together, close ups of unusual and fascinating textures …

So I am never short of inspiration and then it comes down to experimenting with a way of producing this image in fabric. I love art that is semi abstract and leaves the viewer filling in some of the spaces. This is what I am trying to pursue in my won work at the moment rather than reproduce a realistic copy of my inspiration.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
GL: I just love time in the studio and then I love sharing my techniques and ideas with others. I think I will be making art for the rest of my life and as I am nearly 70, I probably should stay home more and spend more time in the studio. Because I am away so much teaching classes and camping in Australia with friends, my time at home in the studio is precious and I value every minute of it. Sometimes it is just playing and other times it is working long days on a project. Always a treat!!

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
GL: I think the biggest risk I have taken was to leave my position as a team leader in a special school setting in a secondary school to teach quilt making. Our youngest daughter had just left school and we were supporting her at University in Melbourne. Financially it was quite a risk but after having breast cancer, my husband and I decided to take a chance and see how things worked out. It was a great decision. My husband is retired and usually accompanies me as we travel to so many amazing and beautiful places. We have friends from so many countries around the world and we even get the opportunity to host some of these friends at our home in Australia. We feel very fortunate.

Learn more about Gloria’s workshop here.
Find out more about Gloria on her website and give her a follow on Facebook.

Five Questions for Fiber Artist Ann Shaw

We’re so pleased to have fiber artist Ann Shaw joining us for a fall workshop on designing quilts from photographs from October 28-November 3! Before her workshop, Ann took a moment to fill us in on her background and approach to art!

Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
AS: Working full-time as a quilt artist blossomed for me after I retired from an academic career as a biological anthropologist and forensic specialist. Though I have been passionate about quiltmaking for many years, I now have enjoy the time and freedom to explore pieced pictorial quilts as a artistic medium. This style of quilting is tactile, has explicit connections to the traditions of patchwork yet poses fascinating challenges such composition, color, texture, and abstraction. For me designing new quilts and sharing my ideas and techniques through teaching and inspiring others are part of the same creative spectrum. 

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next?
AS: I tend to work on multiple pieces concurrently. Some are pieces are new designs that join my quilt pattern series. Other pieces are one-of-a-kind designs that explore how the technical aspects of pieced quilt designs affect the visual impact of the completed piece. And then there are the bed quilts I make for my family, often based on traditional quilt blocks…… the walls of my quilt studio often have a number of different projects as well as piles and piles of fabric that sometimes get intermixed from project to project!

Q: How do you come up with ideas to begin something new?
AS: I am a very visual person and I enjoy taking pictures, so my pictorial quilts begin with photographic images. I am constantly working to develop my skill of “seeing”, that is looking at the world and in my mind abstracting from it elements that make an interesting composition, that tell a story. For me, attempting to capture these images photographically is the first step to creating a quilt design. I keep many portfolios of images and ideas that inspire my work. When starting a new project, I select something that inspires me or is important to me in that moment.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
AS: Both the personal sense of satisfaction of seeing a project through to completion and the satisfaction of sharing my work with others keep me motivated.

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
AS: For many artists, it is a big “risk” to share one’s work with others. Pouring one’s heart and soul into projects not knowing how it will be received by others creates both big risks and big rewards. I think it is the push and pull of those elements that makes one’s creative life interesting.

Learn more about Ann’s workshop here.
Find out more about Ann on her website and give her a follow on Facebook & Instagram.


Five Questions for Watercolorist Judi Betts

Watercolorist Judi Betts will join us from September 16-22 for a 5-day workshop on Watercolor . . . Creative Design & Innovative Color Patterns. In advance of her workshop, Judi took a moment to tell us a bit more about her background and approach to art!

Q: When did art first enter your life?
JB: Art has been important to me all my life. I was an art major at Indiana University and graduated in 1958. Teaching art in public schools, colleges and universities and teaching workshops around the world has been my passion, along with painting, since then. In other words … “I never put my crayons away.”

Q: Do you have certain themes in your work or subjects that reappear?
JB: In the mid 1960s I chose watercolor as an emphasis. Although I studied abstract expressionism I moved into what I call creative realism. Farm animals have been a reoccurring theme as I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and my father’s family was in the dairy business. After I was married and we moved to Louisiana, I became fascinated with boats because my husband was in the barge and tow boat industry. We were around ocean going vessels, fishing boats of all kinds, and smaller boats for streams and bayous. My passion for painting architecture developed because I have lived in the South for over 50 years and sunlight and shadows on old buildings has intrigued me. Having traveled extensively, I’m always delighted to paint the local scene.

Q: If you could give only one piece of advice to a beginning artist, what would it be?
JB: Sketching is very important to all of us. I encourage people to fill sketchbooks with drawings, paintings, and writing.

Q: What drives you to produce new art?
JB: I’m always excited to try something different and to make new compositions. It seems I never run out of ideas. My creative thoughts flow continuously.

Q: What show, project, or event are you most looking forward to in 2018?
JB: I look forward to the workshops I’ll teach in 2018 and to almost daily painting and designing.

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

Five Questions for Artist Patti Mollica

One of our most popular workshops each year we can get her is with artist Patti Mollica! Leading up to her 3-day Bold, Brilliant, & Fearless Painting workshop from July 28-August 1, Patti took a moment to give us a bit more information on her background, teaching, and approach to art.

Q: What’s been your most unexpected source of inspiration?
PM: When I moved to NYC in 1992, it was such a visually exciting experience, I’ve been inspired to draw and paint it ever since.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?
PM: In order to teach effectively, I have to be clear and articulate on my process, and be solid in my understanding of the foundational blocks — values, color and brushwork. Teaching has facilitated my own understanding and artistic development in these all-important areas. There are basic reasons why a painting works or doesn’t work. Being able to analyze the strength or weakness of a painting based on it’s foundational underpinning is the key to creating more consistently successful work. In my own personal art there is a continual flow of new artistic discoveries and creative exploration. I’m curious and intrigued by various styles and techniques, which factors into my being very open-minded in my teaching style, and my appreciation for interesting artistic approaches.

Q: What’s one tip you have or trick you use for keeping your studio space organized?
PM: I have to continually organize to keep my space neat so that if an idea or technique crosses my mind while I am painting, I can put my hands right on whatever tool or material I need. At the end of a day’s painting session, I clean up thoroughly before starting in again the next day. All my materials are stored in labeled shelves and boxes. Its pretty organized, and the only way I can work.

Q: Who are your art heros? Who do you admire and why?
PM: I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to take a workshop with Charles Sovek, whose no-nonsense approach to composition and simplification influenced me. I also studied with Ken Auster, master of urban landscapes using a very painterly style. My all time favorite is probably Joaquin Sorolla, for his strong compositions, draftsmanship and brilliant use of color.

Q: What exciting projects are you working on right now or big dream projects you would love to begin exploring?
PM: I’ve recently moved into a larger studio space which will allow me to do a series of larger urban landscapes, which will be a blend between abstract and representational. I’ve already worked out the small studies for the series, and am excited to jump in with larger brushes and more paint! 

Learn more about Patti’s workshop with us here.
Find out more about Patti on her website and give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

Five Questions for Watercolorist Mel Stabin

One of our most popular watercolor instructors is back this year! From August 5-11, 2018, join us for a workshop with artist Mel Stabin! In advance of his workshop, Mel took a moment to share a bit more about his background and approach to art.

Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
MS: I’ve always enjoyed drawing from an early age. I attended fine art and advertising classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Edgar Whitney was my teacher at Pratt. He was my mentor and friend and he introduced me to watercolor painting. When I graduated from Pratt, I became an art director for various advertising agencies in New York City in the days before computers when you had to know how to draw. After 30 years creating major campaigns for clients, I retired from advertising as a creative director and began conducting watercolor workshops throughout the country and abroad. 

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next?
MS: I focus and complete one watercolor painting at a time. Whatever grabs my attention at the moment, I respond to. People, people in landscapes, pure landscapes, and portraits are all of interest to me. 

Q: How do you comie up with ideas to begin something new?
MS: The choice of subjects to paint is endless. Watercolor is the most free of all the mediums to paint so if I (like everyone) get in a rut, sometimes I will just throw paint around (often on wet paper) and let nature take its course. I respond to what the “out of control” watercolor is doing and then I create something out of it.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
MS: Studying the Great Masters… Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Gaugan, Sargent… and going to museums, galleries, and exhibitions. 

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
MS: I take risks every time I begin a watercolor painting. It’s all about challenging yourself each time you pick up a paint brush. As I tell my students in my workshops, taking risks is essential in watercolor painting. Don’t be concerned about failing. We learn more from failure than success. Failure teaches us what not to do. Success can make one complacent. Continue to acquire knowledge and never be discouraged.

Learn more about Mel’s workshop here.
Find out more about Mel on his website.

Five Questions for Art Quilter Deborah Boschert

Another new addition to our fiber art workshops is art quilter and instructor Deborah Boschert! She’ll join us for a 5-day workshop from August 19-25, 2018 on creating art quilt collages with layers of fabric, paint, and stitches. Learn more about Deborah through our short interview with her below!

Q: When did art first enter your life?
DB: Oddly enough, my earliest memory is creating a Christmas ornament in pre-school. I must have been about four. We cut letter shapes out of construction paper, put them in some kind of plastic, then cooked them in the oven to seal the letter inside. I still have it and enjoy hanging it one the tree every year. I am delighted to say that I’m still cutting out shapes, but now I used fusible web and an iron to seal everything together.

Q: Do you have certain themes in your work or subjects that reappear?
DB: I do! Lately, I’ve been exploring bowls. They symbolize all the things we contain in our lives. Sometimes life feels like it’s overflowing and sometimes it feels empty. My art quilt collages are created with layers of fabric, paint and stitching, but also explore the layers of experiences in my life. I try to create art with a strong visual impact from across the room, but with several small, intimate details that the viewer can only appreciate upon close viewing. This is also like life — the big events are as important as the day-to-day routines. Other personal symbols I’ve used regularly in my art include ladders, houses, trees and stones. I also love to include handwriting as a graphic element. It suggests that there is a narrative behind the work. Every artist has a story to tell, an idea to explore or a message to convey. Sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s a bit more undefined. 

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning artist, what would it be?
DB: Pull out some supplies, grab on to a bit of inspiration and begin! Just see what happens. As you create, think about what materials, techniques and ideas you enjoy working with, and continue with those. Use your head, heart and hands! Explore ideas that interest you. Use materials and techniques you love. Find techniques that fit your skills and ability. 

Q: What drives you to produce new art?
DB: Well, what else am I going to do with all this fabric? Seriously though, I am always curious to see what I can create with different shapes, textures and fabrics. Usually it’s just a small bit of inspiration that eventually finds its way to a completed piece of art. It might be a song lyric, a scrap of fabric, or an interesting shadow.

Q: What show, project, or event are you most looking forward to in 2018?
DB: Besides five-days exploring art quilt collage at the Hudson River Valley?! I’m just beginning to think about creating some three-dimensional work. I may explore small sculptural pieces, or maybe vessels or possibly something related to the form of books. Also, I’ve joined a new yoga studio. I’m looking forward to lots of great, sweaty yoga classes!

Learn more about Deborah’s workshop here.
Find out more about Deborah on her website and give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, & Twitter.


Five Questions for Watercolorist Fabio Cembranelli

Another new artist for us in 2018 will be Brazillian-based Fabio Cembranelli! We’ve had so many of you recommend him as a terrific watercolor instructor and his workshop has certainly created plenty of buzz on our Facebook page! In advance of his workshop, Fabio took the time to let us know a bit more about his background and art practice.

Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
FC: I’m an architect by training, although I’ve never worked as one. One year before my graduation I started learning watercolor technique at the University of Architecture and Urbanism, in São Paulo (USP) just to add some colors and interest to my projects. It was an acessory to represent my projects but when I handled a brush for the first time I noticed that I wanted to use this medium to portray much more than a project illustration; it was the right tool to express my feelings. 
A few teachers at the University showed me the basic principles of watercolor, so after that I started painting and learning by myself as I wanted to develop the technique in another way (not only as an illustration resource), so I started trying and trying to paint in watercolor every evening, just as a hobby.

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next? 
FC: I work one at a time. My style is intuitive with an spontaneous approach to the subject, painted in a wet on wet style. I like to portray the essential of each subject: a light effect, a colorful contrast, an interesting play between hard and soft edges, foreground and background. All these things are very important to each artist but the difference in my technique is that I aim to make an intuitive painting very quickly. Timing is very important in my technique so I must start and finish in a couple of hours each piece. It’s an emotional work, I wouldn’t be able to work in many pieces at the same time, it’s an intense and unique process.

Q: How do you come up with ideas to begin something new?
FC: I teach workshops around the world, so most of my inspiration comes from my travels. Each country has specific flowers, skies, greens, buildings, and mood. There are beautiful, sometimes gray skies in Scotland, for example, quite different from the golden light of Australia.There are wonderful and exotic flowers in South Africa and they are different from flowers from France or Canada. Fall in New York state is so different, not the same colors of anywhere in South America. As an artist I am exposed to all these influences. 

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
FC: That’s my job, my work, I paint everyday and I love sharing my painting experience, so teaching is something very important in my life too. My artwork is colorful and vibrant and I aim to cause some kind of reaction in each viewer. I hope they are attracted by the diversity of colors, shapes, light and shadow effects. I want them to feel a joyful sensation, how interesting and particular is my way of portraying a subject.

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
FC: My painting technique is a challenge, I take a risk everyday. 
I don’t draw everything in my paintings. I want something unexpected to happen during my painting process. I need to feel that I am working in a subtle line between a good piece and a bad one. My preferred paintings are those painted intuitively. Like a challenge, I need to discover the best paths at the moment I am painting. 
In a business sense I am a bit more careful, I get a lot of invitations to teach but I think I have a “feeling” about what’s worth or not. Maybe this “feeling” came after 15 years of experience but when you are invited to teach or exhibit your work, try to check all info about who is inviting you. Take a few risks, some risks are worth to (a new country or a new workshop venue) but try to be as professional, transparent, and honest as you can. In general, I believe that good people “attract” good people, and also in the business world. 

Learn more about Fabio’s workshop here.
Find out more about Fabio on his website and give him a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube.

Five Questions for Artist KathyAnne White

Bringing us a different and much needed type of workshop this year will be multi-disciplinary artist, KathyAnne White. From July 8-14, 2018 – KathyAnne will work with students to develop their own voice as an artist in whatever they’re medium of choice (within facility parameters of course!). The workshop will include an advanced consultation of KathyAnne, so she can tailor the workshop to the participating artists. Learn more about her workshop on our website and read on to learn more about KathyAnne!

Q: When did art first enter your life?
KAW: Art first entered my life when I was seven. My grandfather was a tailor so we had several sewing machines. He gave me a 50’s style (it was the 50’s 🙂 Good Housekeeping Book on sewing. There was nothing free style about any of it, but I made my first skirt after learning some of the basics of a machine and joining seams. The skirt had a waistband and gathered bottom. 
Crocheting came later that same year in the style of a ripple afghan. Today most of my crochet work is with wire, but I also have an insane collection of my crochet ponchos I can’t seem to stop making.

Q: Do you have certain themes in your work or subjects that reappear?
KAW: The stark trees here in the southwest have long influenced my work. Their skeletons remain growing out of rocks and off the sides of hills. Burnished and twisted roots of a bristlecone pine become a sculpture of wind and tenacity. My depiction of these elements have traveled through various mediums throughout the years. Their shape and form is evident in my sculpture.

Q: If you could give only one piece of advice to a beginning artist, what would it be?
KAW: Find a medium you are drawn to and would like to explore. Get in touch with what moves you about it and what you might want to do with it —and then dive in. Learn about the media create, create, create. Don’t worry about anything just work it. The more you work the better you get. Express yourself with the media — make a piece and do another and another and another….. 
Develop an active art practice and don’t look back just keep going. All the artists that inspired you started somewhere. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, these can be happy accidents. Just keep working and enjoy the ride.

Q: What drives you to produce new art?
KAW: Not sure there is one thing that drives me–driven seems to be my natural state. Maybe I could say curiosity and pushing my media. Making art is part of me. My art practice leads me to what is next intuitively. I explore and play with new ideas on construction or added elements constantly. If I have something that I am considering creating— I start actual construction on the ideas running around in my head. This way I know how they could influence the work. I would say I am more inspired than driven to produce art.

Q: What show, project, or event are you most looking forward to in 2018?
KAW: Well there are two – one is related to teaching and the other to an art project. 
Coming back to teach at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops is one of the events I look forward to the most –for 2018. I love teaching there and meshing with the students who participate. The classroom is available for learners to work as much as they want—so the entire stay at HRVAW becomes a retreat. My class will be an exciting, exploratory experience as artists come together and learn to show their voice with their work in any media. Everyone is different and that is a good thing. The facility is great for this workshop. 
The second is I am starting work on a new project to expand my current body of work. There is a bit of a learning curve so most of what am doing is in the early stages. Once it gets past that I will be publishing videos on my youtube channel on my ideas and how it is working. 

Learn more about KathyAnne’s workshop here.
Find out more about KathyAnne on her website and give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, & YouTube.