art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts

Talk Story – Eat Cake Create – Art Is You Movement – Stamford, CT

There are so many different names for this collection of superb art retreats organized by Sallianne McClelland. I tend to still call all of them Art Is You because I’m a stubborn old gal, but this particular one was called Talk Story in Stamford, Connecticut. When I saw that Sharon Payne Bolton was teaching and her class was scheduled over our two day fall break at the university where I work, I busted out my tired old credit card and headed north. Here’s a link to the blog post about my previous class with Sharon.

I did not take many photos of the class or the event itself, and that for me is a good sign, because my brain is totally in the present moment and focused on what makes me happy. And God knows we women needed a lot of that last week. Another great feature of Sallianne’s retreats is that she feeds us well. The Sheraton hotel food was excellent. Most importantly, though, is that these retreats are welcoming communities. Many of the attendees have taken classes with the Art Is You family (and they do seem like a family) for years and have developed lasting friendships across the states. This was my first AIY retreat on the East Coast, and Sallianne had pronounced it the last one in this location. There was such sadness and outcry over this that she decided to schedule another one in Stamford in 2020. In the meantime, she has other West Coast and midwest locations in play, and I hear that she might do one in the south.

This art retreat addiction, especially for Art is You and Focus on Book Arts, is the only thing that makes me regret not being rich.

Anyway, the class that I took from Sharon Payne Bolton was called HERTEL, based on a box structure that she designed. One of the boxes had a piece of book cover with the word HERTEL on it and she has a story about someone buying it from her for a good friend of his with the last name Hertel. It was a two day class and she had not taught it before so she was nervous. She is SO dedicated to providing everything you needed, right down to tools and aprons, so that you can come to her class and not bring anything at all if you wish, which is super great when you are flying. I was able to fly with only carry-on luggage. Plus, instead of having us cut all those little pieces of bookboard and paper text blocks for little books, she did it.

I told her that if I could swing it financially, I would be her groupie and follow her around like a stray puppy.

We built the box on the first day, and spent the second day further embellishing it and building little books to go inside. She had Apoxie Sculpt (which I immediately ordered online after the class was over) and encaustic medium and moldmaking materials for us to use. There was a plethora of gorgeous papers, leather scraps, ephemera, and baubles to attach. She taught us coptic stitch for single sheets on the second day, which I have done before but I needed a refresher.

Work space:

In progress. The “Inspire” pin is a gift from Maria. It might go in another book.

My book, outside and inside:

Reva and Kathy’s books:

A better shot of Reva’s book:

David’s book:

Maria’s book:

I think that this is Eileen’s book:

Four people had to leave before we took photos. I wish I had taken photos of everybody’s books because they were all so different, especially some of the ones that left early.

I will add more photos later. My box is at my office this weekend, but I want to show you more of the little book with the key embedded in the cover.

Once again, I came away with not only tons of inspiration, but many new friends that I hope to keep up with at future art retreats and on social media. And five “new” cigar boxes for the studio!

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma, Days 4-5: Far East

As with the other class, I was so completely engrossed in Sharon Payne Bolton’s Far East class that I didn’t get many process photos. However, I took a lot of photos of her books and my classmates’ books for inspiration and they are on my Flickr page. The photo above is of the front cover of my book. Here are a couple of shots of the spreads in it:

I felt like I have so much more to learn from Sharon – she was an amazing teacher with boatloads of patience and imagination. I hope that I’ll be able to take another class from her. Art-is-You Petaluma is moving to the spring next year and spring retreats are nearly impossible for me to attend.

Collaging and binding frenzy!

Stencil area

This rainbow ended in this lovely lady’s tutu.

I said goodbye to Anne, my roommate who ran a terrific store at the event, boarded a bus for San Francisco, and took the red-eye back to Greensboro.

And as you can see from the dates of these posts, I’ve been too busy since to blog about it until now. I’m starting to feel a little less frenzied now and I’ve got more to write about. Later.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma: Day 3, Cornerstone Gardens

Roxanne took this photo of me on the second day of our class, when we went on a field trip to Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. The task before us was to sketch and take photos of the many unusual sculpture gardens on site, and I went a little crazy on the photos. In this photo, an olive fell out of the tree above me on my sketchbook so I decided that it was asking to be included. I used my watercolor pens and it came out pretty good in the end.

I saw a lot of tapestry designs in these photos. I was going to say that the eucalyptus garden was my favorite because of the smell and the concept (three walls formed from a fallen eucalyptus tree) but then I remembered the lines and shapes of the agaves but then I remembered the beautiful grassland paths but then I remembered the reflections in the pool with the lily podlike structure…oh well, you get the idea. More photos at my Flickr site.

In the eucalyptus garden

Took lots of reflection shots here

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma 2014: Days 1-2

Tuesday, September 23 was a traveling day for Sandy and me, but we took off in different directions. He went home to Greensboro, NC, while I headed further west to Art-is-You Petaluma, a retreat that I also attended in 2012 and enjoyed so very, very much. On the way there I flew over Utah, which was probably the weirdest landscape I’ve ever seen from the air. I couldn’t stop taking photos. I’ve already posted one but here’s another:

I ate fish tacos at the Sheraton bar and wiped out that night. Dramamine on the bus ride dropped me like a rock. It was Albie Smith’s last retreat for teaching and that made it very hard for me to choose my classes. In the end, I went with two other instructors whose classes I’ve been daydreaming about, because they would be new for me. Hopefully I will get back in contact with Albie when I move to Oregon. Another great reason to head to the PNW!

Mixed Media Natural Journaling with Roxanne Stout was my first 2-day class. I love her style. She is every bit as sweet and talented as I suspected that she would be. The first day we decorated small glitter jars and mostly prepared backgrounds in our watercolor field journals. She had lots of different paints and pastels and fun little add-ons like beads for us to use. We did a few drawing exercises during the class of grasses, twigs, and leaves. It was a lot to take in.

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

Honestly, I was so deeply involved in the making of my journal in the classroom that I didn’t take a lot of photos of my own work, but there are photos of my classmates’ work on my Flickr page. I did manage to pour a cup of white wine on my new friend Jodi’s expensive camera AND her journal at the end of the class while taking photos. I was absolutely mortified, but fortunately the camera survived and Jodi was very gracious about the whole thing.

art retreats, Art-is-You, California, Colorado

In the air again

I’m about to head out west again, this time with my husband to visit family in and near Denver. Sandy will fly back home on Tuesday while I hop another flight to California to attend Art is You Petaluma. I will be glad to see my family, but I just can’t get up much enthusiasm for the retreat afterwards. Usually I am pawing the gate. Now I would rather come home and paint the new bathroom, get the house put back in some kind of order, and weave. I’m feeling low about Mama and the big tasks on the other side of this trip, but I paid too much for this retreat to skip it due to moodiness.

Some good news: the bathroom should be finished by the time I get back, except for the painting and window treatments. I have a loving pet sitter so I won’t worry about my critters. I’m caught up enough at work so that I should not have a huge pile waiting for me.

I know that once I get there I will thoroughly enjoy myself. I went to this one a couple of years ago and it is really one of the best, in a beautiful Sheraton which is also a marina on the Petaluma River. I’m taking classes with three artists who I really like. I’m splitting a room with the retreat vendor and she lives in Petaluma so we will probably use the room at different times. The weather forecast is great for all of it. I will get a little alone time. I will even enjoy the bus ride from the San Francisco airport to Petaluma.

I’ll come home with a couple of fabulous journals, a little more knowledge about watercolor and mixed media, a few new friends to bombard with Facebook posts, and some grand memories. That’s the good life for me, and I’m grateful that I can do it. Of course, I’ll blog it here because that’s one of the best parts of traveling – reliving it.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You

Art-is-You Petaluma – Petaluma – Mary Beth Shaw’s class

On Saturday, Sept. 22, I signed up for something a little different for me. Mary Beth Shaw paints textured abstracts that just blow me away, so I decided that it was time for me to play with some acrylic paint again. The name of this class was “More is Less.” We began with a gessoed substrate (bookboard for me, wood and clayboard for most others) and applied different textures with glue and stencils and a product she sells called “wood icing.”.Then we kept layering on a natural palette and more texture and voila! Some really great work came out of her classes.

Ricë told me that I could expect Mary Beth to be entertaining and funny. Those expectations were met! I highly recommend her classes.

This time I took quite a few photos.

A photo of me (imagine that!) and the beginnings of the panels. I picked some wild fennel seeds and stems in Benicia which is what I used for the texture in the bottom on the bottom right panel.

^How mine came out at the end. I was very pleased and not a little surprised.

^Classmates’ work.

^Other students playing!

Midway through this class I was overwhelmed with the possibilities of this playful, easy technique. I get like that. After being “on” for two days, I suddenly had to retreat and process it all. Otherwise, I would have and could have kept doing this for the rest of the evening, a choice which Mary Beth graciously extended to us.

art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Petaluma – Albie’s class

The Sheraton Sonoma is also a marina on the Petaluma River. This was the view from my room on Friday morning, Sept. 21.

Albie Smith was really the teacher I came to see in Petaluma. It wasn’t that I felt that she had bookbinding techniques to teach me that I could only get from her. I took a book class with her at Art & Soul once and a three day class with her at An Artful Journey, where I focused on color and decorative papers. I came to Petaluma to be in the sphere of her energy because I love her personality, her style, and her beautiful, rich palette of colors. I just wanted a relaxing workshop where I could pick up a few basic tips (I always do, no matter what level I think that I’m at) and stitch books together with her luscious papers. And that’s what I did.

The best thing that came out of this class was that Albie connected with me and brought me into her circle. I wish that I lived in Oregon so that it wouldn’t be so expensive to study with her because I’d love to make paper with her. I don’t know why, but I feel a deep affinity with Albie.

The following photos are from the class. The papers were painted by Albie. None of these are my work, and I apologize that I did not get names. I didn’t take many photos because I was focused on what I was doing.

Albie’s samples and a classmate binds two signatures with a dash stitch.

Albie shows off a student’s chain binding. The covers of this book looked like an abstract beach or sunrise. The entire book was quite beautiful and I wish I had gotten a photo that showed them.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Benicia

September 19-20, 2012. My trip to San Francisco was nearly perfect. It was so easy to take the Airporter Express, a very nice bus with free wi-fi and a bathroom, to Petaluma. I finally got to travel across the Golden Gate bridge, and I had perfect views of the Marin and Sonoma County landscapes, which surprised me the whole trip. It was less mountainous, less tree-covered, and much, much less developed than I expected. There were marshlands and wide, hilly pastures. Not many people there for the Art-is-You retreat seemed to be around that night, so I ate a delicious kabocha squash ravioli and knocked back a couple of Red Tail Ales at the hotel bar. This area of the country is dedicated to local food and has some of the most active Slow Food convivia in the country. (I know that SFUSA calls them “chapters” now. But I love the word convivium and choose to use it.)

On Thursday, I went on a “Magic Carpet Ride” in Benicia, a nearby arty little town that was once a capital of California. Some of the retreat attendees took two-day workshops there in a former arsenal that has been repurposed for small studios and businesses. Our tour guide, Lorri-Marie Jenkins, was a resident artist and was the perfect hostess. Our small group walked the town to visit small shops and the library, stopped for scones and coffee at the Rellik Tavern, then joined the other students at the arsenal for lunch. We then toured the Arsenal, where we visited individual artist studios and a vintage wallpaper company that screenprinted its product by hand.

I came away from this day determined to take one of these pre-retreat workshops next time because of the amazing work the students brought back.

One nice plus of this day was that I was able to spend a little time talking to Ricë Freeman-Zachary and the Ever-Gorgeous Earl. They have somewhat of a rock-star status in the mixed media world, and the last time when I met Ricë face-to-face they were both covered in artists and students wanting their company. Ricë was especially sweet when I kept running into her for the remainder of the retreat. And it was nice to have another obsessive photographer in the group. The EGE and I would say at the same time, “Did you see this? Oh, look at that,” and go wandering off, camera always in hand, often taking the same shots. I felt like I already knew Ricë from reading her blog, even though I have hardly read any other blogs in the last couple of years.

That is a very weird feeling — meeting a stranger who “knows” you from reading your blog. I suppose she must be used to it but back when I had a lot of readers it always came as a shock to me when someone in the farmers’ market would say, “Oh, YOU’re THAT Laurie!” and proceed to ask me about whatever cat problem or gardening issue I had written about in the last month. Not that I didn’t get a kick out of it. But in a way, I’m sort of glad that I write for myself and don’t feel the obligations that a widely-read blogger begins to feel. My readers began to fall away when I stopped writing about gardening and food, and that’s okay. I had written enough on the subject and there were several local bloggers who came along and did it better around here.

But I digress. Here are some photos from Benicia. Picking the photos for this post is tough, so I’ll refer to you to the Flickr set for more if you’re interested.

Wonderful show at the local library and public art by Guillermo Wagner Granizo on the sidewalk of downtown Benicia

The waterfront and the fabulous styles of Lorri-Marie and Ricë.

Sharon Payne Bolton‘s studio and work from her book class

Hip Chick Designs

Screen printing wallpaper at Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers

The Ever-Gorgeous Earl admires the wallpaper samples in the office.

Joseph Mele’s studio and Mary Oros’ studio.

Outside view from a studio in the Arsenal.

“This is not a white sofa.” In Beatrice Guttman‘s studio. I didn’t get a clear photo of her work.

This is Slow Food country – Benicia Farmers’ Market in the late afternoon. I love being able to buy almonds directly from the farm!