Sharing Studio Space with Students

Perfect view from the studio doors this past week. Wonderful work being done just this side of the view.

I met two fellow students in a paper making class this summer and offered them an opportunity to come to the studio and work for a week on the things that mattered to them. They stayed in the apartment and arrived daily at 8:30 am, went back for an hour lunch break and then back to the work in the studio. All three of us learned so much about not only what matters to each of us but how can we express it through processes and materials.

One of them brought the most astoundingly beautifully marked papers. For me it was overwhelming on how it would be possible to know where to start with such a selection. She is recognized for teaching mark making which is not exactly calligraphy but shares a suredness in the way of handling a tool in such a way as to literally “flow” over a surface to make the most appealing marks.

Here are some of the materials and compositions in progress.

She ended up giving me the grey piece in the upper left of this image as I saw so much in it, so much of what seemed to matter to her in observations of Nature simply came alive in this bit of a sketch for her. I am pleased to have it hanging in the studio for inspiration. And here are more of her materials.

I taught her how to spin clothing patterns and thai kozo into threads to add to her work which is all about “excavation”  and seeing what is in front of her steps and what lies below the surface. Her sense of design and careful manipulation of pieces until it is “just right” has been a good influence on my hurried pace in the studio. I will look to her gift of the small piece hanging in the studio to keep me focused on slowing down a bit.

The other student came prepared to make a container to send our present and pathetic president a message, in fact several messages. We chose my pilates bowl to use as a container form after thinking her already blown up balloons were simply not adequate for the message she wanted to send to the white house.

She wrote her own messages on the papers used to make the form. And it was no easy task removing the bowl from the ball.

Lots of shellac on the inside helped keep the form sturdy. I added the first message to the bowl.

This student is looking to get the bowl filled with letters to the president and mailed by the end of the year or at the very latest January 21st marking his first year in office. If you would like to contribute simply contact me and I will send her name and address so you can send it on to her. For me personally, it felt plenty good to put my two cents in.

While waiting for layers of papers to dry on the bowl, she also learned how to do collographs that will go into long concertina books about her and two companions’ travels along the Camino Trail in Spain. I am quite sure she will be getting a small press and continue printing images. Here are the ones for the books she plans. I really liked her use of simple symbolic forms to represent the Camino.

I am so glad that I made the offer to these two. The five days were filled with passions about work, emotions that were hard to keep in check and a generosity that enhanced the week for all of us. Their enthusiasm for talking about art in general and theirs in particular was nothing short of enriching for myself and my husband as well when it came to wine time and trips out for pizza.

Tomorrow is the monthly Art Group meeting and I will talk about how good this week was and how they wanted my sheets on how to form an art group and questions to ask yourself about being an artist. And I do have to say that another good thing, very good thing, about the week is that a short stop by the grocery store on our way to the pizza brewery I found the latest 19 Crimes wine stopped up with my second 19th crime cork. I love that it was aged for just 30 days in rum barrels…no more, no less.

We served it to friends who know their reds and were leaving to return home to Canada. It passed inspection.  Just a small gathering of very good friends to say good bye to them over good food, wine and spirits.

I also wanted my Canadian friend to see the results of his lesson on using my earth pigments to make an oil paint to surface design papers. This would be a very early marbling technique and was quite addictive for me using up the last of his bath of a more traditional solution and solvent.

And then my adaptation here in my own studio using corn starch, mineral spirits and feathers to flip the colors around on the surface.

So now I have more materials, more inspiration, more new friends who hopefully will return to make us all think and laugh. I know where to keep the friends and the inspiration but stuffing more papers in drawers to use later is not such a good idea when I am looking to downsize here in the studio. But it is a technique I can teach in Collaboration with Nature classes.

It is down to just Lee and I now. One has returned to Asheville, two back to Charlotte and the friends from Canada will return tomorrow, right about the time I am showing the Art Group what good company I kept this week.

Til next week when hopefully I make something with all this inspiration.