Last week I taught my first-ever bookmaking class version of my processes at Valley Ridge Art Studio (VRAS) August 12 through 16, out in the country near Muscoda (Musk´-uh-day) Wisconsin, in the bottommost SW county of the state, over 1.5 hours west of Madison. Man, Wisconsin is a BIG state! The 120 acre homestead of Kathy and Bill Malkasian sits on the Bohemian Ridge, and there are hills, valleys, woodses, great vistas, and a river included in the delightful property! Students can rent rooms in the gorgeously remodeled farmhouse, which is just a tiny walk across the big lawn from the classroom building and the community building (where the Malkasians serve fabulous lunches to the students.)
Here's Blondie, the Valley Ridge sweetheart doggie, who is always gentle and quiet, happy to walk with you around the property, but not allowed into the studio. She sits outside and patiently waits to be loved up! Blondie is about the size of a border collie. I snuck her some food, whenever I got a chance. Shhhhh! She belongs to the Malkasians' daughter Megan and her son Elijah.
This is me and Kathy, our fearless leader at Valley Ridge. She's an artist who specializes in book arts, but is clearly interested in making all arts. All the buildings at VRAS are filled with very tasteful original artworks which she's collected or made herself. Kathy brings in many top-notch artists to teach at Valley Ridge throughout the year, and I was very impressed by her and Bill's self-made art school and its excellent facilities. If you haven't been there, check it out! Food, lodging, and classroom are all in superb condition and very user-friendly. The studio/classroom is 42 x 32' and only a few years old. I've never seen a place with this nice and new bathrooms, which are located all over the property and full of great art! For an artist who likes a good balance of being out in nature and living a comfy, even elegant lifestyle, this place is for you! And ME! You can follow adventures at VRAS on Facebook, where Kathy's posted MANY images from my class: Diary Paintings for Fabric Art Books.
Here are Sue Martin and Pat Niffenegger, starting to work on day one of our five day class. Pat and I brought in a good selection of music to listen to, during times when I wasn't talking to the group, and Kathy provided a great Bose Wave CD player. With the lovely and panoramic view of the valleys around us on three sides of the studio, we were in hog heaven, making art!!!
Jacquie Pilipuf-Stone and Chris Smith work at their own tables on the first day of class. Notice that each of us had three tables put together, for our own personal work spaces! We also had electrical cords coming down from the ceiling, for our sewing machines, which we didn't really use til the last days of class, but still! Usually you only see that kind of fancy wiring at the super craft schools like Arrowmont! Way to go, Valley Ridge! Oh, and we had a luxurious and huge laundry sink right in the studio, besides the great bathroom, and there was a gigantic coffee station, to boot!
Here are our group's very first drawings on cloth shown together, as first stages of pages for our books. Only Pat had the nerve to make her very first page attempt be her actual front cover for her book. The rest of us weren't ready to make a title and image commitment for our covers, even though we had all journaled about our themes for our individual books before we started these pages and did sketches.
As in all my classes, we started each class day with my Library Time (10 minutes of being quiet and drawing/writing in our sketchbooks) and then would draw ideas for each page, but not study those drawings while drawing on the cloth. That way, the drawing on the cloth is spontaneous and fresh, not stiffled like it would be, if we were copying from sketches.
Since this was my first-ever bookmaking class, I let each student decide how her book would be put together, pashing off from how I decided to demonstrate and make my own class book. I really liked the openness and fresh creativity flowing in a first time class! Yea!
In mid afternoon of the first class day, we took a field trip, first to visit the Country Sampler quilt shop in Spring Green, and then to explore the amazing wonders of Global View, a Buddhist center, which also had a BIG store in this five storey restored barn. Little did we know, when we supposedly went there just to shop, that we'd be getting a personal gallery talk about stunning cultural artifacts from India and Indonesia. And that our lecturers would be such fascinating women!
Kim Hammer and Marion Nelson welcomed us in and began immediately to tell us about the fine art pieces they've collected. Marion has been traveling to Southeast Asia for 40 years, and Kim began joining her on her trips and assisting her with Global View last year. Oh, and I just found out they lead tours to these countries, too! Check them out on Facebook!
After a couple of hours under the mystical spell of Marion teaching us about the many cultures she''s in intimate relation to, I got this picture of me, her, and Kim together. Kim had taken a clss from Jimmy and me in 1997, at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, when we had a solo show there, curated by Joyce Koskinmaki. Small world.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Global View is also the place where you can attend Buddhist Center programs and the Medicine Buddha Healing Center, which is the first place in the US to be a satellite of the Dalai Lama's healing center.
Here's Sue enjoying a cup of coffee while she works on her book pages' paintings.
Now she's back to making art ...
Here are Sue's book pages in progress.
This is the front cover page of Sue's book, with the subject being her mother's Alzheimer's Disease and how it's affected all her family.
This was what happened, once I discovered the Sock Monkey one afternoon in class: I brought Sweetie Pie (my new name for the Sock Monkey) over to Tweety Pie (my new name for Kathy), and started talking, for some reason, about Topo Gigio, the little Italian mouse on the Ed Sullivan Show. Since few of the students remembered Topo, I got Tweety to google him ...
Ah-ha! Here's Topo Gigio singing Strangers in the Night on the Ed Sullivan Show, with both Tweety and Sweety watching. Now THIS is how we get inspired in MY classes!
Yes, we remained fixated on Topo Gigio through his entire song! And then we could get back to work, all fired up and feeling creative as that sweet little mousey!
This happened the last night, but I thought I'd just stick it in here. Tweety and Bill took me down to see the river that runs through their property. I think they said it's the Castle Rock branch of the Blue River. But that may be very wrong, as it's my memory, rather than a written reference. Pretty, huh???!
We got down to the river, using this four wheeler, which is a thing I've never ridden in before. We went down long trails, dropping 200 feet in elevation to get to the river, from their house on the ridge. This is Bill and Tweety, ready to go, before the mosquitoes could eat us. :)
OK, now, after Topo Gigio and the river, you're ready to see more of the Diary Paintings for Quilted Art Books class. Above are Pat and Sue, working away with two of the three airpens I had going at once. After all the students had their one-on-one lessons with me about the airpen, then they could come back and work with them any time they wanted to.
Pat was making a book in which she explored her own personality and life, working with many aspects of her self now and in the future.
Here she is, painting away. Pat also sat in front of the Bose stereo, and kept our tunes flowing. Thank you, Pat!
Pat's three-headed Me, Myself, and I page, and her page about turning herself from being a noun into being a verb.
Pat's book is called The Star in My Brain.
Here are a bunch of Pat's pages, in various stages of being done, since we'd try to begin at least two new pages of our books each day.
Bill does a lot of cooking for the classes, mostly the lunches, tho this week, Tweety made lunches, while Bill was away on a business trip. But, ah, one night after Bill came back, he treated us all to a great supper: a chicken barbecue at their house, down the lane from the other buildings. Yummy!
OK, so now I'll go back to calling Tweety Kathy, in case I've confused you with the Tweety references. Above see her rocking out to the music, and she's all happy, because she's just worked this one painting to where she really loves it!
In one of our daily show and tells, Kathy talks about her book, that's about her self image, as seen through her body throughout her life.
This is Kathy's book's front cover.
And here are two of her really cool pages.
Jacquie works with a Rub-a-Dub marker on one of her pages. Students can choose to continue to use the markers or use the airpen, once they've had their airpen use lessons. Most of the students did a combination of marker and airpen, which I use with fabric paint, which is pigment rather than ink.
Jacquie works with her pages, and has her paints in this neat relish tray! Foxy!
Here you can see Jacquie's pages, while she works on her first quilted pages. It's all an experiment, even though I've demonstrated by now, how I quilt my paintings for art quilts, and how I'm doing MY book's pages in a sort of modified art quilt way. I told all the students to figure out how they want their book to be put together, bouncing off how I did mine.
Here you can see how Jacquie did my Crazy Grid quilting for her table of contents page nad her first painted page in her book.
Here's Jacquie's book's front cover: The Blessing and the Depressing.
Oh no! Enter Elijah, Kathy's four year old grandson, and the sock monkey, Sweetie Pie.
Here's Chris drawing on her pages. As you can see here, we always just draw on the fabric with permanent lines, so that we have to accept what comes out the first time. It's a skill called Becoming a Six Year Old again: going back to being innocent. :)
Chris is painting on her pages now. It got really interesting, when we had so many pages' worth of paintings out on our tables all at once. We could put a little paint on one here and add more of the same color to another page there, and just keep going!
Pat, Sue, and Kathy watch and listen as Chris does some show and tell of her book pages. I love the class show and tell sessions, which I do at least once a day. It's not heavy critique, but rather it's getting everyone else to listen, as an artist explains what they've done and what they plan to do next. We learn about each other's lives and stories in this process, as well as seeing how others solve the same problems we have going on in our own work at the time.
Chris' book is about a family vacation that happened just a week before this class, in which she and her daughter Emma were together on all kinds of adventures.
I just wanted to throw in this picture of Blondie and me, that I got Tweety to take for me.
So, this is the front cover of my book, about my daughter Gretchen. It was going to be her whole life, but after I did a layout for her life til NOW, it took up about 24 pages, and I knew I didn't have time in a five day class to do that. Then I got this big idea: to do the first part of her life. So I settled on 10 pages, plus covers, etc, and I got it pretty far along in class that way.
Here's my book with the cover painted and all the pages sandwiched and pinned together, ready to take home and finish soon, I hope!
Here's when I was pregnant in 1970 and when Gretchen was a baby girl, with her Kitty Owl.
Here's when we lived at the Needle's Eye tiny commune, and when she took ballet lessons.
This is her and her friend Heather doing a puppet show in Gretchen's closet, when she was around 8 years old.
This is when she broke her wrist, in April, 1981, and my College of Wooster graduation that June, the day before Gretchen and I moved to Kent, for me to go to graduate school.
Here's Gretchen skating in Kent with her girlfriends there, and sitting in her bedroom with her cat Vikki, after we moved back to Wooster.
Here's that page, being partly painted, and the page about our trip to Eugene, Oregon, in June, 1980.
This is the back cover, only I still have to write on it. It shows Gretchen at about seven years old, wearing the jeans jacket on which I embroidered her own drawings.
Here is a painting I made in 2005 and 2006, which I sold last week at VRAS to my student Chris Smith. It's called Octopus Equinox #6, and is 19.5"h x 17.5"w. It's got a lot to do with being my granddaughter Eva's nanny. This piece was my favorite of the series, which has all different compositions, but the same themes carried through.
I started this painting series on the autumnal equinox, 2005, and finished the paintings on the vernal equinox, 2006, so that's where part of the title came from.
The Octopus part of the title came from a little annimation Eva and I would watch once in a while on Sesame Street, back when I was her nanny. And the lyrics went: "Hop, hop, Shake your head, and wiggle like an octopus in the sea. Hop, hop, shake your head and wiggle like an octopus, and you'll be free." I can't find it on Google. Rats! It was a little girl dancing gracefully, a drawn piece. I taught Eva how to do it and sing it. And we loved it!
And now this painting has a loving new home, with a little seven year old girl in its new house! Thank you, Chris.
Here are TweetyKathy and Bill, at the studio door late on the last night of class. What a joyous and magical place you two have created there on Bohemian Ridge. I don't know what it was like, when you started your teaching program there ten years ago, but I know it's come a long way, and you should be really proud of it! I know you have a huge following of loyal, returning students. And I'm so glad you've asked me to come back and teach again next year!
If this blog wasn't enough for you, and you're still hungry to see more pix, Kathy has a ton of excellent images in her site's photo galleries. Thanks for everything, Kathy and Bill and all my students!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Class at Valley Ridge
Posted by Susan Shie at 7:10 AM
Labels: Valley Ridge Art Studio class
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Photos are wonderful and I like your post on drawing on FB. I think most anyone can draw but practice is key and where I fall down, never quite get to it.ReplyDelete
I'v been working on a blog, pictures mostly but Im started.
Hi Sukey! I like your blog and your Rabbit Bowls. Thanks for sharing! Love, LuckyReplyDelete
Thanks, I want to make a book!! Love them.ReplyDelete
Wow, makes me want to make one two!ReplyDelete
I love Valley Ridge and I sure wished I could have been there to take that class. I saw the exhibit of your quilts at the Muscatine Art Museum a few years ago but never thought there would be an opportunity to learn how to do it, let alone at a place I know.ReplyDelete
What kind of air pen do you use, if I may ask?
looks like a wonderful class. I'll have to check the schedule for next time ;)ReplyDelete
The airpen I use is the basic, simple model from Silkpaint.com, which is the tiny, mom and pop company that invented the airpen. If you buy one and don't take a class from me, let me know, and I can email you some info I've written. It took me a long time to work out the kinks for using it with fabric paint, cleaning it right, loading it right, etc.ReplyDelete
My next class with airpen is at Arrowmont School of Art, Oct 4-10. OR at my house, Turtle Art Camp Oct 14-20, and that's the only place I also teach airbrush at.