Five Questions for Natalya Khorover Aikens

Natalya’s art is an extension of her commitment to using recycled and repurposed materials, a lifelong advocacy. Her detailed works are nuanced and reimagined images inspired by the lines of the urban environment. A close examination of Natalya’s art reveals delightful and unexpected combinations of materials as diverse as vintage lace, plastic sheeting, and candy wrappers, layered and collaged with machine and hand stitching.

Natalya will be bringing her Nature in Plastics workshop to our studio from December 2-6 this year. In this three-day workshop, you’ll learn a creative way to craft an art quilt while also cleaning up our planet by using single-use plastics as your fabric. They come in a myriad of colors, thicknesses, patterns and even textures, and can sewn almost like fabric.

In advance of her workshop, we asked Natalya a few questions about her work and approach to teaching.

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

NKA: I was first attracted to the colors and translucency of the plastic bags years and years ago. Can’t pin an exact date on it, but I started saving them for a while before it occurred to me to start stitching them. I think I must have been looking for a specific color in my fabric stash and came across it in a plastic bag. I learned quickly that most plastic bags are very fabric like to stitch through and the multiple stitched layers are quite sturdy. I thoroughly enjoy layering the bags and getting new shades and colors due to the translucent nature of most plastics.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?

NKA: My biggest challenge is time and lack there of. How to deal with that? By taking every available minute. I am lucky to have my studio in a dedicated space in my home, so that I can leave whatever I am working on as is, and get back to it as soon as I can without having to take everything out again. I learned to work in small increments of time when my daughters were little and all I had was their nap times, and seems to have served me well. The only time I must have a long stretch of uninterrupted time for art is when I’m in the initial design stage, after that I can work in short bursts since I already know where I am headed.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice?

NKA: As I think most teachers will tell you, we learn as much from our students as they do from us. I always feel inspired by my students and that gives me an extra boost of energy in my studio.

My personal approach to art is called “go with the flow”. I let my artistic intuition lead me through the work; lack of certain materials teaches me to be inventive; time constraints lead to reevaluation and streamlining of the process or the design. The same approach helps in teaching – I am able to adapt to my students needs, knowledge levels and the time constraints of the workshop, and we figure out the best way to get the most out of each class.

Q: What advice has influenced you?

NKA: “The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone…. Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s all in a nutshell“. ~Twyla Tharp (The Creative Habit)

Don’t wait for inspiration, it comes while working“. ~Henri Matisse

It is absurd to look for perfection“. ~Camille Pissarro

When you’re terrified, embarrassed, don’t wanna put it down on paper, I’ve found through the years, usually you’re on to something good“. ~Erica Jong

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

NKA: A thorough cleaning after each major project is completed!

Five Questions for Philippa Naylor

Born in Yorkshire, England, Philippa discovered a love of sewing and knitting as a child. A second-hand sewing machine for her thirteenth birthday enabled her to progress from making dolls clothes to full sized garments for herself, family and friends. After training to be a clothing designer she worked in industry for five years designing lingerie for Courtaulds Clothing. After this she moved to Dhahran Saudi Arabia with her husband Peter, who at the time was working as an English language teacher. Here she set up a business making bespoke wedding and evening dresses, and had two sons Daniel and Benjamin. A chance meeting, in Saudi Arabia, in 1996 led to a short quilting course, after which clothing became less interesting and quilting an all-consuming passion.

Philippa joins us for the first time from November 1-7, 2020 to teach her Machine Quilting Masterclass in our heated studio space. In advance of her workshop we asked her a few questions about her work!

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life?

PN: Oooh tricky! As much as I can which might be every day and might be weeks before I can get to it due to teaching/filming my online classes/looking after family and so much more…

Q: Has your work evolved over time?

PN: Definitely. I never stop learning and I think i get better technically and in design terms as well. After all these years I’m still totally enthused and always itching to sew and create.

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist?

PN: Don’t see any of this as a risk. See it all as an adventure and journey.

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time?

PN: One piece at a time. If I have a talent it is persistence. Deciding on a new piece is not hard. Finding the time is hard.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop.

PN: A mix. We will begin with specific tasks to build skills ans explore possibilities. The students will then take what they have learnt and develop the ideas ans techniques in any way they wish with me on hand to assist and offer technical and design led possibilities.

Five Questions for Judy Coates Perez

Join Judy Coates Perez from October 18-24 in her five-day workshop to print your own personal fabric line, then use it to make an improvisationally pieced modern quilt top! Explore a multitude of ways to apply color to fabric using acrylics inks with broad brush strokes, salt, pleating and shibori techniques. Learn the art of hand printing fabric and applying pattern.

Judy is an International award-winning mixed-media textile artist and author, who travels globally to teach painting and mixed-media techniques and lecture about her creative process and sources of inspiration. She received my BFA in graphic design from The Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, but found her true passion when she began working with textiles.

In advance of her workshop, we asked Judy a few questions about her work and approach to teaching workshops.

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

JCP: About 10 years ago, I began experimenting on fabric with acrylic inks, because I was curious about how they would behave when used on fabric given they are very thin and runny, and are also an acrylic based paint. Acrylic inks are generally used for calligraphy and illustration on paper and other porous media, but I saw immense potential in using a paint medium that could possibly behave like a dye, but without the toxicity or chemistry involved, or harm for the environment that dyeing can cause when living in an area prone to drought, because dyeing fabric uses a lot of water in the rinsing and washing out stages.

I love the instant gratification of acrylic inks, there’s no batching, rinsing or washing out needed. Once the fabric is dry, it’s permanent.

I also found that acrylic inks work well with stamps, and are fantastic when used in combination with Japanese shibori resist techniques for creating gorgeous pattern and texture.

I like to use thermofax screens to print designs on fabric in my Tea & Ephemera and Prayer Flags class, so it was only a matter of time before I started to explore printing on the textured fabrics I was making with acrylic inks. I love the ability to use a variety techniques to create unique fabrics filled with pattern and texture that I can use in patchwork and applique. There’s endless possibility to create beautiful fabrics in such an easy way.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of inspiration?

JCP: I don’t think I have any unexpected source of inspiration, I see potential all around me and would have hard time qualifying anything as ‘unexpected’, but there are probably some people who would be surprised by some of the things I’ve used in my work over the years.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?

JCP: Time. There’s never enough time. Because I am financially self supporting with my art and teaching there is always business related tasks that need to be done that take away precious time from creating.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice?

JCP: I think my art practice has had far more impact on my teaching than the other way around. My work is always evolving and changing, and when I go off in a new direction I get very excited about it and want to share it with my students. My classes are generally technique driven with exploration highly encouraged, my goal is for students to create unique work with their own voice and vision.

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

JCP: Organized? HA HA Ha ha ha ha ha ha….

Five Questions For Seth Apter

Multimedia boxes

We’re thrilled to have New York City based artist Seth Apter join us this year for a totally new kind of workshop for our studio! In Bento Box you will be make a series of small-sized projects, each of which will nest inside its own container – for example, tins, boxes, bags, etc. Each of these will in turn be placed and housed inside one larger box, creating a very special treasure chest. In the process of creating your unique artwork, techniques you will learn will involve acrylic painting, collage, book binding, hand stitching, mark making, surface design and alteration, heat embossing, mixed media layering, stamping, assemblage, and more.

Seth is a mixed media artist, instructor, author and designer from New York City. His artwork has been exhibited in multiple exhibitions and can be found in numerous books and national magazines. Seth has published two books, The Pulse of Mixed Media and The Mixed-Media Artist, and eight mixed-media workshop videos with North Light Media. He is an instructor at Pratt Institute in NYC and his live workshops have been held throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and the UK. Seth is also a product designer, with multiple art lines with Impression Obsession, StencilGirl Products, PaperArtsy, and Emerald Creek Craft Supplies.

To get to know Seth a bit more, we asked him a few questions about his approach to art and teaching.

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life?

SA: The longer I have been involved in the art world, the more I realize that my art practice is really not separate from my life in general. I work on some aspect of art everyday – sometimes creating new work, sometimes focusing on the business end, and (very often) spending time on social media. Most often, the different aspects of my work collide and they are all happening at the same time.

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

SA: My work has become increasingly complex as I have become more comfortable with pushing myself further and taking creative risks. Initially I focused mostly on 2-dimensional works on paper with a relatively, small set of supplies. As time has passed, I have stretched myself further in terms of supplies, art domains, and techniques. My work has become more and more layered, textured, and dimensional whether working with paint, art mediums, paper, fiber, assemblage or found objects.

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist?

SA: While becoming a full-time artist was a plan that unfolded for me slowly, over time, making that choice was certainly a risk for me. Carving out a living as an artist while living in New York City is most certainly a challenge. Leaving the comfort and stability of my previous career as a Psychologist was also a huge move for me. But my experience in life has always been that the times when I have chosen the risk and taken a leap are the times that are the most meaningful, memorable and enjoyable.

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time?

SA: I always work on multiple pieces at the same time. For me, that has been the key to never having experienced the dreaded artist block. I rarely finish a single artwork in one setting, so the ability to step away while I work on another piece fits well into my approach. I also find that the time away gives me the opportunity to see the work I am doing with new eyes and a fresh direction.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop.

SA: The workshop I am teaching, Bento Box, is a balanced blend of structure and exploration. Part of each day will will revolve around focused and detailed demonstrations and instructions. Other periods will allow each participant to get into the zone without interruption – something I think is very important for a creative individual. A significant amount of one-to-one creative mentoring will also be included during which time direct feedback will be provided.

What’s New With Elizabeth St Hilaire?

a flower bouquet made out of paper collage

We’re pleased to have Elizabeth St Hilare back in 2020 with a brand new workshop! From September 13-19 – she’ll be teaching Fabulous Florals! In advance of the workshop we checked in with Elizabeth to see what’s new with her!

Meticulously torn bits of hand-painted papers, delicately put together, form the exceptionally vibrant collages created by Artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire. Born and raised in New England, Elizabeth has lived in Central Florida for the past 20+ years. She holds a B.F.A. in Advertising Design from Syracuse University, which prepared her for a dual identity as both communication designer and a painter–these days she’s a full-time fine artist who’s only graphic design client is herself.Teaching and sharing her collage technique through an intense Paper Paintings workshops has become a passion.

Q: Tell us what’s new in your personal art practice!

ES: Recently I have moved from FL to CA where I will be living in Sacramento, Northern California. I have been accepted into the Journey of Hope show there, which focuses on mental health awareness. I was paired with a writer in order to create a piece of visual art which embodied the essay I was provided with on the topic. I took some of the skills I explored in a recent on-line workshop with Ardith Goodwin and applied them to my piece, a portrait, which was a new direction for me. I am very much looking forward to the opening of this show in October at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center. The show will also open at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center and then ultimately at the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento.

Q: What will be new or different about your workshop this year?

ES: This year I will be teaching my all-new workshop Fabulous Florals! Which involves drawing from life and collaging flowers. This is the first year I am teaching this workshop and it has been a great success both on-line and in Tuscany, Italy.

What’s New With Fiber Artist Lyric Montgomery Kinard?

pink fiber art quilt

Fiber artist Lyric Montgomery Kinard joined us for the first time in 2018 and we’re thrilled to have her back for a 5-day workshop from August 2-8, 2020. This year’s workshop will focus on how to find your voice!

Lyric encourages deep personal exploration and seeks to help you gain the skills to confidently work within your own unique vision. She can help you learn to speak the visual language as only you can.

Lyric is an award winning artist with a passion for sparking the creativity that she knows each of her students posses. With playful support and gentle encouragement she will take you through your first steps on a new path, seeing the world through the eyes of an artist. As an artist, author, and educator she transforms cloth into art in her studio and timid spirits into confident creatives in the classroom.

Q: Tell us what’s new in your personal art practice!

LMK: 2019 kept me busy working on a solo show called Stone, Water, Time that exhibited for two months at the Cary Art Center. It was a collaborative effort with poet, Maura High, exploring the history and geometry of historic mill wheels in North Carolina. 20 artworks and 9 poems and two months of events including gallery walks and poetry readings.

All this along with inspiring travel around the US and to both New Zealand and South Africa to teach and share my love of the visual language of art.
2020 will be a time of regrouping, doing a little less teaching travel and spending more time developing new online courses and working on a new book on Abstract Design.

Q: What will be new or different about your workshop this year?

LMK: Every time I teach it is new since my courses are always student driven. The chance to spend extended time with a small group of students will allow us to delve deeply into each person’s own artistic explorations. I help my students to better understand and articulate their own unique visual language. We work on surface design techniques but mostly we learn the creative analysis skills that help artists compose their work and problem solve during the design process.