I had a very nice cultural exchange style of Turtle Art Camp
this month, from August 4 to 10, when Elke and Flox came from the Netherlands to study with me. We talked a lot about customs in our two countries and about art in the world in general. Here are some pix of our adventures together.
The big Rainbow Garden is full of flowers and tomatoes, with everything ripening and blooming about a month early this year, due to the super hot month of March, and again super heat in July. Libby has to stay out of the gardens, and if she could go in, she would eat the blossoms! Who needs groundhogs when you have a crazy doggy who chews up flowers?? She loves catnip, too!
Jimmy and Otis are ready for a good Turtle Art Camp!
After Jimmy brings the students in from the airport, and any other students who are driving here have arrived, we go out for our first supper together. This time we visited The Coccia House, Wooster's most loved and oldest pizza restaurant. Then we came back and did some intro stuff in the studio, and I did a little show and tell, like usual. It had been a very long travel day, so we just mainly relaxed the rest of the evening.
The first class day begins, like every class day will, with Library Time, in which we all work in our sketchbooks for 10 minutes, without talking. Then we do a show and tell of what we'd drawn and or written about. Then we make up a list of themes for the week and choose a theme for this day, and then we begin our first painting project.
The first theme we chose as a group was "hearts." In my sketchbook I drew a heart and then a woman above it, but she started to look like the scary Queen of Hearts to me, and I really wanted to do something meaningful, so I started over. I've been wanting to make some new Obama art and post it to Patty Mitchell's Facebook page called Artists Celebrate & Decorate for Obama
, so I drew the heart again, for the theme, and put President Obama above it.
So here is the start of my Obama Heart painting. We always begin the projects in camp with sketching and then making a painting on cloth, drawn first freehand with a Rub-a-Dub laundry marker and then colored with Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paint and hand brush. I do each step as a demo first, and then the students jump in. Any of our small paintings can end up being the piece we turn ino a quilt constructed and sewn in my Lucky School of Quilting 2 way, with the machine sewn Crazy Grids.
Flox had just been to New Mexico and designed a piece which had a real Southwest influence, a painting of herself and her husband together in a heart. She has been studying painting for years now, and you could see it in her work, as she's got a definite personal style, very loose and free, with very texture color surfaces.
Elke had done sketches of various ways hearts are symbols, and then she began this piece. Each of us is using a fat quarter of cotton, 18 x 22" for each piece we make this week.
Jimmy and Flox are having a good look at something, tho I don't know what it is now! :)
Flox had her birthday just before camp started, but she hadn't celebrated yet, so I baked a pan of brownies, and we sang to her, so she could make and get her birthday wish!
The second day of camp we do a new theme, chosen by the group, and then have airpen lessons, one on one, with me showing each student how to use this strange and wonderful tool, so you can put archival fabric paint on your work as sharp lines for drawing and writing. Here Elke makes her first airpen marks. Behind her you can see the little blockish compressor and the cup we stand the airpen in, when not in use.
After their airpen lessons, the students started to experiment with it on their works from before.
I worked some more on my Obama Heart piece, thickening the outlines with Painters paint markers, and also made my sketch for the new theme: Houses.
Elke began her second painting: a city of houses.
Flox has a very elaborate sketch of houses, including a magical bed that she remembers from childhood, that worked like a magic carpet.
On our third day, after the Library Time diary work, etc, I gave an airbrush lesson. Airbrush is very different from airpen, and is used to paint lines and also to color in areas. It has a much larger compressor than the airpen, and you don't touch it directly to the surface, as you do the airpen. Here Elke is starting to paint color on her first airbrush piece. I've put up a separate piece for each of us, so we can pass the airbrush to each other, to use the same paint, before we clean it out of the airbrush. This way, each of us gets a breather before we have to move on, as using an airbrush for the first time can be intimidating. Everyone got really creative, working on the houses theme.
Using the Aztek double action airbrush helps make this method more intuitive, and here Flox adds some color to her work.
Then on our fourth day of camp, we decided to jump in and do a collaborative piece in a larger format, 3 by 4 feet. We didn't know exactly what it would be, but finally got the idea to draw each other and have a theme from our supper at the Chinese buffet the other night, at which we enjoyed studying the part of each fortune paper that started with "Learn Chinese." ...
They made me do the first marks, so I drew Flox, on the right, and then it was Flox's turn to draw Elke, whom she's studying in this picture.
After we all drew someone else, we started filling in the spaces left blank.
I found a baggie of paper fortunes I've saved from fortune cookies for a while, and we used them as reference material for our writing, picking them out at random, like I used to do in college, when I would finish a painting, then select a fortune paper at random, and glue it onto the painting. I found that viewers always tried to make sense of the fortune with the painting, which made for some interesting symbol interpretation.
Here at camp, we realized that if you read one fortune paper's "Learn Chinese" vocabulary word each day, then in some months you could maybe speak a tad. Only then, there are those pesky five tones of each word meaning five different things, and then there's grammar! We might have to buy Rosetta Stone for Chinese, if this becomes our English / Dutch mission in life!
So here's what our airbrush collaboration looked like, with only the black lines drawn in. There was coloring with airbrush and writing with airpen and colored fabric markers yet to come, before quilting it.
Elke and Flox worked together to clean the airbrush, something that every student who really thinks they might take on airbrush in their own studios needs to learn. Airbrush and airpen both require diligent cleaning and proper filling, in order to use them without wanting to jump out a window!
I took a turn at coloring in the yellow paint, but we all did some work with each color on this collaboration. And the more we worked on it, the more we liked it! I don't expect collaborative work to be anything special, but I consider the experience of cooperating and responding to what others have done to be very valuable. I was really pleased that this piece also was coming out very nicely, as we shared and fed off of each other's ideas.
We have several colors on by now, and Flox was considering her next move. We added lavender and purple yet, before moving to airpen, after heat setting the piece. So hold this image in your head, as next time you see it, it'll be writing time.
That last morning of camp, the fifth full day, I demonstrated how to sandwich and quilt a whole cloth painting my way, and here Elke is starting to quilt her heart piece, having finished the airpen writing on it and heatsetting it.
Flox was using the last theme we picked together, beds, to make small pieces for each of her two grandsons. This one has an elephant in it, reflecting stories she knows of a baby elephant, that her family has always told to the children. Here's a link to a book called Plofje de Olifant
, a Dutch children's book Flox has referred me to. (Thank you, Flox!)
After heatsetting the paints, she starts to quilt the sandwiched piece.
Off and on, all through the last day, we worked to add airpen and colored fabric marker writing to our "Learn Chinese" piece. Here Flox and Elke are writing on it at the same time. We all just had to be careful that we didn't get into the wet paint, which stays wet for about 20 minutes, because the airpen lines are pretty dense.
Late on the last full day of camp, the students put all the artworks we'd worked on up on the big work wall to photo them together. Flox has put a lot of writing on her first day's Heart theme piece. It's ready to quilt, if she wants to do that at home later.
Here's Elke's marker drawn and brush painted houses piece, with its writing on it.
And here is her airbrushed houses piece with airpen writing.
Flox's first houses and bed piece, drawn with marker and then brush painted. This is the one she put the first, smaller elephant on, because her mother had painted elephants on the children's beds.
And here's her second elephant piece, all quilted. She can go back and write on this one and the other yet, if she likes, but if you write on a quilted piece, you have to heatset it by ironing on the front, using a press cloth. Normally the heat set is done with the painting face down on the ironing board, using the iron at its hottest temp and without steam.
OK, this is the 3'h x 4'w "Learn Chinese" collaboration we did, ready to quilt. In the end, the students took it home to the Netherlands, and they'll quilt it together and will enter it into a show latter for all three of us.
Here's Elke's heart piece, all quilted.
My Obama 2012 heart piece is ready to quilt, after getting all the writing onto it.
I used my Obama 2012 house piece to demo my quilting techniques. I need to write on the border yet, and then will send my images to the Artists Celebrate & Decorate for Obama
Flox's house piece that she did when we all worked on our own small pieces in a row with airbrush is one of my favorites. I think it reminds me of the Gaudi pieces I saw last month in Barcelona! I still can't believe I got to go to Spain!!!
Here are all the pieces we made in the August 4 - 10 Turtle Art Camp here at my house.
Libby loved having Elke and Flox here, as did Jimmy and I and the cats! I really love teaching at my house, with students living here, having their own bedrooms, and eating with us all week. It's great to have the studios right here in the house, so everyone has 24 hour access to the work rooms for the five full days of class, with travel days on each end filling up a full week.
See about coming soon, if Turtle Art Camp
sounds like something you'd feel good about doing!