oil and wax workshop in door county, wisconsin
I was in Door County, Wisconsin (the state's "thumb" that juts into Lake Michigan) for the past few days, teaching the techniques I use in my work at Peninsula Art School
. This location had all kinds of attractions, beyond the pleasure of teaching--Door County is a beautiful part of the state, the fall leaves are at their peak of color, my husband and I were given the sweet little faculty cottage behind the school for our stay, and the facility itself is excellent--spacious and staffed by gracious and accommodating people.
As lovely as all that was, it was undeniably three days of hard work, and very tiring--I'm taking it a bit easy today, unpacking and doing a few things in the studio. As I painted for a while this morning, I found myself mulling over a question that came up as we were wrapping up on the last day. Everyone said that they had learned a lot from the class--from me, and from each other. Then someone asked me if I had also learned from the students. I knew I had--I always do. And I said as much--but I was a bit vague and did not offer much in the way of examples (probably because my brain had started to shrivel up in exhaustion by then.)
Today though, I started to think about what this particular class had taught me. There were some helpful technical things--for example, several people knew (or invented on the spot) ways of transferring images, both drawings and photos...others thought of interesting approaches to texture, using metal washers, coffee cups, copper sheeting, carbon-coated string and mica flakes. One artist very successfully divided a panel into sections using blue painter's tape. Information was traded around product manufacturers, websites, artists, exhibits and art supplies.
In the work itself, I noted surprising and effective color combinations, and the application of the cold wax in a wide variety of ways--from thin, ethereal veils to rich, substantial layers. I was impressed again with the many variables of this process, and the individuality that different artists bring to it. As with every class so far, the students' willingness to experiment with these techniques reveals more and more of its potential.
For me, the best thing about each workshop is meeting artists from around the country--talking, seeing their work, and hearing their thoughts, questions and challenges. This group was the largest I have taught so far--twelve in all, hailing from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and New York. Perhaps it was this particular combination of people, or maybe the size of the class, but in any case there was an unusually high level of interaction and discussion. Quite a sociable group (we even had happy hour--a few bottles of wine appeared near the end of the second day!) And very focused and hard-working. Quite a few students arrived early and stayed beyond the official 4pm end of each day.
Thanks to all who attended and to the Peninsula Art School. By the way, I signed on to do this all over again a year from now...if this sounds good to you, please consider joining me then.