Workshop & Retreat Guide: Which One is Best for You?

I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants.

I hadn’t really given this question much thought until it was posed to me during my interview with Alyson Stanfield for her wonderfully informative Art Biz Podcast. I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants. To my knowledge, no one has formally defined these two things so I’d like to add a bit of a disclaimer that the following guide is based on my own experience and are the guidelines I personally use when promoting and organizing my classes.

Artist Workshops are:

  • A gathering of like-minded individuals for a week or less for the purpose of learning, completing a project, exchanging ideas and/or discussion.
  • Usually takes place at a facility/house/room/building equipped specifically for the workshop, but may also be used for other purposes at other times.
  • Taught by a 1-2 professional instructors.
  • Although some may travel a distance to participate in a workshop, many may be also be local. Accommodations and meals may be, but are not always included as part of the workshop.
  • Offered multiple times a year.

Artist Retreats are:

  • The same as workshops in concept (see point one above), but are scheduled for a longer period of time-at least a week or more.
  • The location is important, is most often a destination locale and is often explored as a significant part of inspiration for the retreat.
  • There are side/field trips scheduled as part of the workshop inspiration.
  • Food, yoga, meditation, spa, and other body pampering activities are scheduled or available to the retreat participant.
  • Participants likely travel to the destination and are encouraged to stay at the location for the duration of the retreat in order to totally immerse themselves in the experience. Accommodations and meals are usually included as part of the retreat.
  • A unique experience and may be offered as a once in a lifetime or as a rarity.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and informative. Please see this post for a comprehensive listing of my 2020 Artist Workshops & Retreats.

Exploring Landscape Through Photography, The Figure & Encaustic: An Artist Retreat

A collaborative teaching venture with artists, Leah MacDonald & Lorraine Glessner. Utilizing the natural luminosity, textural and layering possibilities of encaustic, participants will experiment with photographic imagery, collage and marks to depict the spirit and essence of the land during this Artist Workshop Retreat in rural Vermont.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

What
Exploring Landscape Through Photography, The Figure & Encaustic: An Artist Retreat

Limited to 12 participants!
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
$1300 includes accommodations** (See the list of available rooms below), breakfast and lunch and most workshop materials (see supply list below)

Not Interested in Lareau Inn Accommodations, breakfast or lunch?
$750 includes workshop fee and most materials (see supply list below)

Registration Instructions if staying at Lareau Inn:
1. Visit the Lareau Inn web site and choose your room. See the list below of available rooms. DO NOT book the room from the web site!!!
2. Contact Lorraine via email lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com with the name of the room you’d like to book and for payment details.

Available Rooms at the Inn as of 10/9/19
• Love
• Hope
• Remembrance
• Forgiveness
• Peace
• Kindness
• Patience
• Beauty
• Gratefulness
• Compassion

Payment Payment of 50% of the workshop fee + materials + accommodations ($650) is due at the time of registration with the remaining 50% ($650) due approximately 6 weeks before the workshop date. Please contact Lorraine lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com for payment details.

**Additional Accommodations Although the workshop continues through Friday, you must check out of Lareau Inn on Friday morning. If you would like to stay in the area Friday evening or beyond, there are many places in the town of Waitsfield and in nearby Stowe.

For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com

When August 17-21, 2020
(Scroll down for detailed daily itinerary)
Monday 7-9pm Orientation
Tuesday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm Workshop Hours
Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30-10pm optional night studio hours

Where  Lareau Farm Inn, Waitsfield, Vermont

Who A collaborative teaching venture with Leah MacDonald & Lorraine Glessner (Scroll down for more about Lorraine and Leah.

Workshop Description
The mark of nature combined with encaustic painting creates timeless works which reference memory, change and time. Utilizing the natural luminosity, textural and layering possibilities of encaustic, participants will experiment with photographic imagery, collage and marks to depict the spirit and essence of the land. Easy to moderate hike(s) exploring the rugged natural beauty of Vermont are led by Lorraine and Leah, during which students will explore the photographic possibilities of a live model within a landscape environment. Along with daily journaling, meditation, readings and expressive mark-making exercises, these immersive hikes and photo shoots will provide the inspiration for which to develop ideas and provide areas of focus for series based work while also developing your personal artistic voice. Considerations of our body’s connection and it’s direct relationship to landscape will also be discussed. Optional individual critiques with both instructors will be offered to all participants.

Detailed Workshop Itinerary

Monday 7-9pm Orientation
Meet & Greet Wine and Smores by the Lareau Farm Fire Pit

Tuesday 9-4:30 Workshop, 7:30-10pm Optional Night Studio
The first day of the workshop will be a two-part photo shoot — students will photograph a model in the studio (our “main character”) and then we will go out on an easy hike to photograph on location in the landscape environment. Leah will teach you techniques and tips for working with a model, arranging props, and creating interesting compositions.

Wednesday 9-4:30 Workshop, 7:30-10pm Optional Night Studio
Students will review their images and have a personalized editing session with Leah and Lorraine to discuss ideas for a visual narrative and select images that will work best in a composition. Leah will discuss and give students tips on the best types of ink jet papers for printing photographs on your home printer. 
Lorraine and Leah will introduce photo transfer, collage, texture, surface manipulation and mark-making exercises, encouraging students to think creatively, symbolically and intuitively throughout the creative process.

Thursday 9-4:30 Workshop, 7:30-10pm Optional Night Studio
Lorraine and Leah will continue with photo transfer, collage, texture, surface manipulation and mark-making demos and exercises, encouraging students to develop a personal artistic voice. Leah and Lorraine will be conducting personalized individual mentoring sessions.

Friday 9-4:30 Workshop
Morning work time to complete projects and individual mentoring with Lorraine and Leah. Afternoon project show and tell with the group, clean up and good-byes.

What Else?

  • Color relationships, composition, application, content, proportion, scale as an effective foundation for other painterly information.
  • Learn how to use encaustic’s strengths (layering, transparency, luminosity) to tell your story.
  • Mark-making exercises geared toward making simple or complex marks to generate a personal language.
  • The option of an Individual Consultation/Critique discussion with each instructor. Bring a piece of work, a question, a concern, a problem and discuss it with Leah and Lorraine.
  • Some guided meditation time and planned hikes will relax and open your mind and spirit to the land, helping to support and nurture your unique creative voice.
  • A slide talk with examples of contemporary artists whose work applies the ideas and concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration.
  • Lots of open studio time to explore and interpret the inspiration gained from the meditations and hikes.

SCROLL DOWN TO THE END OF THIS POST TO SEE images of student work and fun scenes from artist workshop retreats hosted and taught by Lorraine and workshops taught by Leah. For more images of past Artist Retreats co-taught by Lorraine visit here, here and here and Lorraine’s Workshop Web Site. Additional blog posts related to artist retreats co-taught by Lorraine are here, here and here..

For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com

About Lareau Farm Inn & Barn
Nestled on 25 acres of natural beauty, with the Mad River just steps away as well as trails for walking, hiking, mountain biking, Lareau Farm Inn and Barn is the perfect place to spark and inspire your artist vision. Our workshop studio is in the Historic Dairy Barn on the Lareau property, featuring rough-hewn beams, centuries-old hardwood floors and tons of space in which to create. The rooms at Lareau Inn feature antique furnishings, comfortable beds, and charming baths in a Vermont farmhouse setting with delicious farm to table dining. There is plenty of room to relax and enjoy the view in the common areas including a charming dining room, back porch and backyard fire pit. Visit Lareau Farm Inn Web Site for more images and information.

About Leah and Lorraine

About Leah MacDonald
http://www.leah-macdonald.com
My work is a dialogue between my imagination, my curiosity, my imperfections and my desires. I express the tales of womanhood, sharing stories through form, color and texture.
I am a portrait artist. I primarily photograph women and embellish the photographs with layers of beeswax, colored wax, painting and drawing. Adding wax for texture and color for mood changes the black and white photographs. Wax embellishes and veils my subjects and I draw to decorate and control the image. The ability to layer mediums and constantly change appearance and texture allows me to stray from reality and reach the playground of imagination. I am interested in images from nature and designs that have floral and intricate forms.
I have enjoyed a varied career path within the arts. I shoot digital commercial photography and I owned a small company that designed handmade art books and wedding albums. I taught photography for 7 years at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I am currently the Education Curriculum Director at the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center. In 2017 I was selected as the recipient of the NewCourtland Fellowship by The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Now, over twenty years into my career as an artist and art educator, I have taught and exhibited all over the world — from being invited to do a live encaustic painting demonstration on the Martha Stewart show to working in the theater as the scenic director of In My Body: The Musical.
My passion is sharing my art and creativity with others. I have taught workshops as large as thirty-five students and as small as one-on-one private sessions — from private workshop retreats in France to teaching groups of elementary students in my backyard studio. I have grown to appreciate teaching all age groups for their unique needs and perspectives.

About Lorraine Glessner

lorraineglessner.net
Lorraine Glessner’s love of surface, pattern, markmaking, image and landscape has led her to combine disparate materials and processes such as silk, wood, wax, pyrography, rust, paper and more in her work. Lorraine is a former Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a workshop instructor and an award-winning artist. She holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a BS from Philadelphia University, and an AAS in Computer Graphics from Moore College of Art & Design. She has a diverse art background with skills that include painting, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, textile design, photography, digital imaging and much more. Among her most recent professional achievements is a Second Place award in Sculpture from Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA, a recently completed artist residency at Jentel Foundation and an acquisition by Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Lorraine’s work is included in the recently released Encaustic Art in the 21st Century by Ashley Rooney and Nuance, a curated book by artist, Michelle Stuart. Lorraine frequently lectures and participates on academic panels at various Conferences including The International Encaustic Conference, SECAC and The College Art Association Annual Conference. Her work is exhibited locally and nationally in galleries, museums, craft centers, schools, libraries, universities, and more. Like her work, Lorraine brings to her teaching a strong interdisciplinary approach, mixed with a balance of concept, process, history, experimentation, problem solving and discovery.

Workshop Supplies & Materials

Materials Included: The following list of materials is provided for the student

  • All encaustic paints, encaustic medium, tools and equipment
  • a variety of pigment sticks
  • Sumi ink & other misc. drawing media
  • Misc. drawing papers
  • Paper towels/rags
  • Extra encaustic brushes
  • Stencils and other textures
  • Misc. collage materials
  • Hahnemuhle photo papers
  • Printer

What to bring: the following is a list of materials for the student to bring to the workshop

  • Sketchbook/notebook, pencil or pen for note taking
  • 1-2 drawing media of your choice (pencil, pastel, conte charcoal, oil pastel, Crayon, graphite, felt pen, etc.)
  • Closed toe shoes for safety in the studio
  • 6-8 wooden painting panels (your preference of 8×8 or 10×10, but no larger or smaller, please) Other suggested substrates are: masonite (coated with encaustic gesso), Ampersand Encausticbord, MultiMedia Art Board. If you decide to bring something other than what is suggested here, it must be rigid and not coated in acrylic or acrylic gesso!!
  • 2-4 actual OR images of your work, digital prints or phone/iPad sharing is fine
  • 5-7 hake or hog’s bristle natural hair brushes in 1-2 inch sizes for encaustic painting (1 brush will be designated your medium brush, so it must be free of color if you are bringing used brushes)
  • materials for collage (fabric, papers, magazine images, photos, etc.)
  • Digital Camera or smart phone or point and shoot camera or DSLR
  • Laptop with photoshop or another photo editing program (There will be a laptop in the studio if you don’t have your own laptop.)
  • Scissors
  • Pva glue
  • Optional Materials Smock, any encaustic paint color or pigment stick color you favor, Iwatani torch with extra butane, any tool or material for any technique that you normally employ while working with encaustic, textured objects and/or sharp ended tool for pressing into/incising/writing/drawing into wax, 1-2 inspiring books to share with the class.

Hiking Equipment Recommendations

  • Sturdy hiking shoes/boots
  • Butt pack or small backpack
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Light rainwear
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Bag for collecting found materials
  • For art supply/portable art supply/hiking or travel ideas, visit Lorraine’s Amazon Store

Cancellation
In the event that you need to cancel your workshop, please notify Lorraine at least 30 days prior to the start of the workshop and your deposit will be refunded. No refunds will be available for cancellations occurring less than 30 days from the start of the workshop.

Food
Breakfast and lunch are included at the Inn Tuesday-Friday. There are many places to eat dinner in Waitsfield and in the surrounding towns. There is a restaurant on the Lareau Inn premises, American Flatbread, which is open Thursday-Sunday evenings and is absolutely delicious!

For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com

Workshop Image Gallery
Images of student work and fun scenes from artist workshop retreats hosted and taught by Lorraine and workshops taught by Leah. For more images of past Artist Retreats co-taught by Lorraine visit here, here and here and Lorraine’s Workshop Web Site. Additional blog posts related to artist retreats co-taught by Lorraine are here, here and here..

My Residency Work: Found Objects, Line Drawings & Process

As we ease into the long summer days, I thought I’d keep it light and share with you some of the work I made during my Self Made Artist Residency in January. This post focuses on a new drawings series, mark-making and the use of process in art.

As we ease into the long summer days, I thought I’d keep it light and share with you some of the work I made during my Self Made Artist Residency in January. (Visit this post if you’d like to read about where I went and how I organized the residency itself.) I anticipated writing this as one big article, but I realized as I was organizing my images that although its all related, there are three distinct bodies of work that I developed, each of which deserves its own explanation.

My work has gone through several transitions over the years and each time it transitioned, it was because I was going through a major transition/transformation as a human. During these transformative times, I felt I could no longer rely on former processes and found it best to derive my next steps by creating new processes. Relying on process prevents us from getting in our own way by overthinking and overworking the work. Whenever I have a question about where to go next, I just go back to the process and my question is blissfully and easily answered. As humans, we feel safer when there are certain boundaries constructed-this pertains to all parts of our lives and begins in the security of the womb. Think of an infant overwhelmed by sitting in the middle of an empty room vs an infant playing happily in a playpen surrounded by toys. As artists, we are often overwhelmed by choice and creating limits on those choices allows us to move freely within that framework. I have presented several lectures about process and you can view snippets of the lecture and links to the artists here.

When I arrive at a new place, both locationally and conceptually, I always turn to mark-making to figure out my next steps. For the first couple of weeks in Florida, I went on long hikes to explore the locale and collected botanicals that grew abundantly in each particular area, so that I could ‘describe’ the area through the marks. I started this hiking/collecting/mark-making process during my Jentel Residency in 2014 and later expanded on it in Utah in 2016. The process is simple: Using my collected botanicals as drawing tools, I dip them in ink and trace the contour of the landscape from left to right on paper. Then, utilizing these initial marks as a structure, I go back and ‘fill in’ using fine tipped pens. Magically, these drawings take on the overall rhythm and look of the terrain. This is the same process I used in Utah, the only difference between that series and this one is that I used a large, landscape oriented, Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook instead of a mini sketchbook. I wanted to see if this process retained its magic when translated on a larger scale and it did(!) as you can see in the finished images below. I also included images of some of the collecting hikes I did, so you can get an idea of the growth and terrain. For more, please visit my Instagram Stories Highlights labeled Florida.

Unfortunately, since I returned home in mid-February, my life has been a whirlwind of traveling and teaching and I have yet to work on these drawings again. As it often goes with us artists, I now find myself needing another residency to finish the work I started in my last residency!

Initial Markmaking Experiments

Tracing the Contour of the Landscape with Markmaking Tools

Finished, ‘Filled In’ Drawings

Various Image/Collecting Hikes Showing Terrain & Growth

5 More Essential Portable Art Materials

Because of my busy workshop schedule and love of hiking, I’m totally into the portability and versatility of my art materials. In this article, I share with you 5 of my favorites.

Summer is upon us, vacation plans have been laid and new memories to be journaled, drafted, sketched and painted are all in the near future. Because of my busy workshop schedule and love of hiking, I’m totally into the portability and versatility of my favorite art materials. I also like to keep things very simple while traveling so as to not add a lot of weight to my pack as well as limit myself to only a few art materials- I’m a firm believer that restrictions breed creativity.

Even if you aren’t a traveler, but perhaps an artist short on time, having portable, lightweight, inexpensive and versatile art materials on hand will offer you more opportunities to make art, even if it’s just while in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. Also, be sure to read 7 Essential Portable Art Materials, for additional add-ons to your travel bag.

To purchase these materials, click on the title link, which will take you directly to the product in my Portable Art Supplies Amazon shop. I have also included some pics of things I’ve made using each material. Most are sketches on the road or on the trail- they’re not masterpieces, but give you a good idea of what each product can do. Also, because of the portability and convenience factor, I focus on water media only in this article.

  • MISULOVE Watercolor Paint Set This folding, fairly lightweight paint set is made to be portable and does not disappoint. I have many portable watercolor sets that were expensive and run out of color too quickly. I’ve been using this one heavily for about 6 months and I’m nowhere near running out of color. With those expensive sets, I was limited on color and always seemed to be wanting a color not included in the set. As you can see, this set offers many colors to choose from and they paint very bright and very rich with an excellent range of translucency depending on how much water is used. The folding aspect of the set allows me to hold it in one hand while painting in the other for those times where there is just no room to spread out. Last, my water brush fits snugly in the slot so that I’m never scrambling to find it in the black hole of my back pack. I have the 42 set of colors, but it also comes in 18, 25 and 33 color sets, which are available through sellers other than Amazon. The mini paintings pictured below were all made en plein air with this set.
  • Meeden Watercolor Tin I love working with gouache-especially the white, which I add to everything. The tubes can be heavy to carry around, so I squirt a little color into the half pans in this tin and away I go. The paint does eventually dry, but gouache can be revived with a little water so it’s ok. These tin boxes are lightweight, include a mixing tray and the half pans are removable for easy cleaning. The paintings below were all made with dried gouache in my portable tin on watercolor block.

Hahnemühle Watercolor Book Anyone who has worked with Hahnemühle papers knows they are quality. I had always worked on a watercolor block, which I still do, but the A6 size of this book and the landscape orientation of it is just perfection for me. The paper is smooth and just lovingly accepts any water or drawing media I put in contact with it. While hiking, I often paint and then quickly run off to the next painting spot with damp pages. The band closure keeps the book closed and allows the pages to dry flat. This book also comes in an A5 landscape size, which is just slightly too large and heavy for me, but may be a more suitable size for others.

Tombow Dual Brush Pen in Black A recent workshop student of mine introduced me to these pens and I’m totally hooked! Its watercolor in a pen with a fine and broad sized brush and water-based ink that will dilute and blend with water. I love this pen for its versatility and if I’m really limited for space in my pack, it’s all I really need. These pens come in many colors and I’ve ordered a few and found that the blacks and darker colors tend to blend a bit better than the lighter ones. Also good to note is I’ve been told that the inks will eventually fade, which is just heartbreaking. Drawings made with these pens should be kept locked away in your sketchbook away from light.

  • Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion It’s not an art material, but it’s definitely an essential, especially for aging bodies. I’m still in ok shape, but I can no longer sit on a rock for an hour and paint without feeling a bit cramped. This cushion folds to a neat bundle and is so lightweight you barely feel it in your pack. It’s also thermal and will protect your bottom from cold and moisture. I love it so much, I also got one for my car!

Workshop Highlight: Encaustic Collagraph & Line

This is an experimental, fun, why-not-try-it workshop exploring printmaking, line and encaustic.

When

August 1-3, 2019, 10am-4pm each day

Where

Elise Wagner’s Studio in Portland, OR

WHERE CAN I SIGN UP!

Please visit this link to sign up for the workshop. I look forward to working with you!

Basic Description

This is an experimental, fun, why-not-try-it workshop exploring printmaking, line and encaustic. Utilizing the natural luminosity, textural and layering possibilities of encaustic in combination with creating collagraphs utilizing found linear materials on fabric, Encaustiflex and paper, participants will experiment with a wide variety of innovative materials and exercises to inspire expressive marks while also developing a personal artistic voice. The application of thin layers of encaustic for collage, covering a board with fabric, drawing with horse hair, branding (creating marks with heated metal and wood burning tools), the use of stitch as a mark as well as the conceptual use of transparency and layers is also discussed. A bonus in this workshop is the opportunity to create your own grids, laces and lace like forms using free motion sewing machine embroidery on water soluble stabilizer-these sewn grids may also be basis for creating a collagraph. Optional individual critiques with Lorraine will be offered to all participants.

Who should take this workshop?

  • You are a semi-beginner to advanced painter (encaustic or other) who loves experimenting with materials, mixed media, alternative processes and line.
  • You are interested in what the grid can do for your work, but don’t want to make gridded paintings. NOTE: You won’t make a gridded painting in this workshop unless you want to do so, but understanding the concept of the grid as a foundational structure will make your paintings stronger. Guaranteed.
  • You want to express yourself in a more meaningful way with your work.
  • You want to create consistency, a personal voice, your own mark, in your paintings and body of work as a whole.
  • Your creative process is stagnating and you need to learn a new process, idea or technique.
  • You love materials and innovative ways to use them.
  • You dislike drawing and/or you’re afraid of it.

What happens in this workshop? What will I learn?

  • Marking, drawing, making marks with fun exercises involving music, text, folding/cutting paper, collage, fire, found materials are sure to relax you so that you don’t even know you’re drawing and are designed for you to generate ideas, content and a personal mark.
  • Experimenting with the new, fun material, Encaustiflex.
  • Utilizing a printing press to experiment with the magic of the collagraph utilizing found and alternative materials, etc.
  • Experiment with line ideas using innovative techniques and materials such as horsehair, pyrography (making marks with heated metal and tools), stitching by hand or machine, Solvy (water soluble embroidery stabilizer) in combination with encaustic.
  • In depth discussion, brainstorming and slide talk about line and the grid-what it means in art, what it does, how to generate it, how to use it.
  • What the concepts of good design are and how to apply these ideas to fine art.
  • Effective and productive doodling.
  • Experiment with encaustic tools such as a tjanting, incising into the wax, creating grids and lines using masks, paintsticks and encaustic friendly drawing media.
  • How you can create your own process to make a cohesive body of work and how that process can relate to and enhance content in that work.
  • Learn what found drawings are and how you can use them as a tool for inspiration and content generation.

What kind of work will I make?

Please enjoy the work example pics below from participants who have previously taken this workshop as well as images from Elise’s fabulous studio. Please visit additional blog posts here and here and here and here for more information related to this workshop.

WHERE CAN I SIGN UP!

Please visit this link to sign up for the workshop. I look forward to working with you!

The Evolution Of A Mark, Part Two

Drawing is not what one sees but what one can make others see.
-Edgar Degas

Just about this time last year, I wrote The Evolution Of A Mark, in which I trace back to how and why I make the marks I make today…specifically speaking to the gouache paintings I’ve been developing on and off for many years and just recently got back into working again. Not just contemplating my navel, I’m hoping that by retracing how I got from there to here, I can help other artists look at their own work histories and trace back to what it is that sets their work apart. Once that thing is recognized, it can be developed.

My first post left off at gracefully closing the door on my textile design career and   blessedly opening a window into my fine art career at about my mid-20’s. I wanted a career in fine art, but I wasn’t a painter yet so I started by going back to my roots in textiles. I began by making art quilts that combined all of my loves at the time-photography, hand/machine sewing, found objects, beading, drawing, painting-pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. My modest success making and showing them got me into graduate school with a fellowship no less! I included some detail shots below…be kind, these quilts are OLD and so are the images.

Celebration detail, Portrait, Flower detail, Portrait detail, Flower detail, All: Hand and machine embroidered, quilted, beaded, fabric paints, found objects, photo transfers, fabric/paper collage, found fabrics

My work in grad school was (and still is) rooted in drawing connections between the earth and body. How I make these connections changed many times over the years with various explorations, but back then I was interested in making those connections through visual patterns. I started with art quilts but quickly dove into line work and using the sewing machine as a drawing tool. I was captivated by the sewn line as well as by the thread itself. There was something so simple and lovely in the pile of cut thread scraps on my sewing table that I started to use them in the quilts and as inspiration for drawings. So enthralled was I by the thread, I eventually abandoned the fabric base and just focused on making quilts out of the thread alone. My explorations led me to discover the magic of Solvy, a water-soluble embroidery stabilizer and I was hooked. My process was to cut threads from many spools and place them in a pile, then sew them together by following the flow of the clumps as I arranged them. I was so excited that this process developed from the basic process of sewing and this is where my interest in process as a form of art making was born. The sewn thread pieces resemble pelts, grass, hair, skin, which to me, spoke visually of both earth and body…another exciting thing that told me I was on the right track to combining process, materials and content.

Purity detail, Eleuthera, 12×12 inches, Purity, 6×4 feet each panel, Purity detail, White, 9×12 inches, Beginning, 2×3 feet, Rise, 4×5 feet, Beginning detail, Rise detail. All: Rust and Eco Stained fabrics, paint, machine quilted, embroidered, silk and cotton fabric, rayon thread.

From here, I made three 4×6 foot quilted ‘paintings’ for my thesis show that were comprised of the thread pieces, stained and painted fabrics, drawing and painting (pictured above). At the same time, I was also working on a series of drawings that started by manipulating and photocopying the threads, then using graphite paper to transcribe the photocopied images to another paper. The photocopy was placed on top, and the graphite paper underneath, I would then trace the photocopied image over and over without seeing the drawing I was creating underneath. The drawing created resembled a dense tangle of clumpy swirls, which referenced roots, veins, water systems and various other underlying channels integral to life.

Thread drawing photocopy detail, Clump 1, graphite on print paper, 22×30, Thread drawing photocopy, Thread drawing photocopy detail, Clump 2, graphite on print paper, 22×30

The repetitive act of tracing and sewing the threads embedded in my psyche and I found myself instinctively using it whenever I was drawing. I’ve created many series using this mark and it has varied over the years as you can see in the gallery below. Even with its variations, I’m pretty much stuck with it…or it’s stuck with me. See more of these paintings on my web site here and paintings on plexiglass here.

January in the Rockies 5, 9×12 inches, One Dark Cloud, 20×16 inches, January in the Rockies 3, 9×12 inches, Rain Over the Hill With Lake, 20×16 inches, Frost Fog, 16×20 inches

I hope you enjoyed this article and it’s helped you in some way. I always love hearing from you, so please feel free to comment (comment section is located in the upper left sidebar of this article). If you’re intrigued by line, want to find your personal mark or are just searching for some cool ways to add line to your encaustic paintings, my workshop at the encaustic conference is just for you! Read about it here and please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Stay tuned for my April blog posts-a two part series on the self-made residency I completed in January-February. I’ve gotten loads of questions about how to start one, where to stay, what to take, etc. and I’ll explain it all. I look forward to sharing this information with you and also sharing the work I produced during my residency. If you can’t wait, visit my Instagram for a sneak peak. See you in April, Happy Spring!

Workshop Highlight: Fiber and Structure

Since 2001 I have been combining encaustic and fiber or fiber related techniques in my work. In fact, I actually initiated the practice of combining these two highly compatible and versatile mediums. With an emphasis on mixed-media, this workshop is specially created to address the interests of artists working in fiber and fiber related techniques.

Where Do I Sign Up?

Jeff Hirst Studio
Chicago, IL
Workshop Web Site and Registration

Since 2001 I have been combining encaustic and fiber or fiber related techniques in my work. In fact, I actually initiated the practice of combining these two highly compatible and versatile mediums. The techniques I used in my work at that time and continue to use are all self taught and/or innovated by me. I continue to experiment, mix it all up and encourage exploration and a ‘just go for it’ attitude in all of my workshops. For more about my early work and other blog posts in which I reference my early explorations see (in order of relevance) this post, this post, this post and this post ..or just scroll down for more information and to see some of my paintings employing the techniques and material explorations covered in this workshop. See this post for student work from this and other encaustic and fiber related workshops.

Updated Workshop Description: With an emphasis on mixed-media, this workshop is specially created to address the interests of artists working in fiber and fiber related techniques such as quilting, weaving and surface design. This workshop will cover the basics of working in encaustic as well as encaustic application techniques to enhance or create structure and texture, color mixing, layers, surface manipulation, and the creation of pattern using stencils, candy molds and tjaps. Participants will also be introduced to alternative materials such as drawing with horse hair and water soluble embroidery film combined with machine and hand stitching. Innovative surface design techniques such as deconstructed screen printing (without harmful dyes), rust printing and indigo will also be introduced. Working two or three dimensionally, participants are encouraged to develop a personal vocabulary and explore current content interests by combining the infinite possibilities of encaustic in combination with fiber structures, surfaces and stitch.

What You Will Learn

See this post and read both workshop descriptions in the post as well as see lots of additional eye candy of the techniques covered in this workshop.

Additionally…

  • Because Jeff has generously offered the use of his printing tables, we will explore the innovative technique, Deconstructed Screenprinting..a very loose, super fun printing method that creates multi-layered, multi-colored textures on fabric. I have practiced this technique and have adapted a way to do it without using harsh textile dyes and chemicals. These fabrics are works of art in and of themselves, but can also be used as a wonderfully inspired basis for your encaustic paintings. Scroll down for images of my paintings utilizing these fabrics as a base.
  • Covering a board with fabric or paper..not just applying to the front of a board, but wrapping all the way around..activating the sides of a cradled board and utilizing book corners so that your painting becomes an all around beautiful object.
  • We will create 3 dimensional sewn drawings using the amazing water soluble embroidery stabilizer, Solvy. These sewn constructions can be used to collage into paintings, stiffened with wax for sculptural possibilities and much more.
  • The application of thin layers of encaustic for collage and a discussion of the conceptual use of layers, pattern and repetition.
  • Much more…if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to visit this blog post for more of what will be covered in this workshop. I look forward to working with you!

Where Do I Sign Up?

Jeff Hirst Studio
Chicago, IL
Workshop Web Site and Registration

Images of My Encaustic Work and Additional Student Work