Bjorklunden Chapel collaborative watercolor Summer 2011

I already miss my 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project with Nikki Kinne but I am looking forward to seeing her in person and painting and teaching together in Door County in September.  In the meantime I have been trying to continue my daily practice of painting.

In August and September this year I am doing a lot of face-to-face teaching of watercolor and creativity workshops which means I do lots of demonstrations.  Teaching others is a critical part of my creative process.  My workshops remind me of the expansive possibilities and promise of my favorite medium, watercolor, as well as of how mixed-media collage can make use of visual materials to aid creative thinking processes.   I am offering weekend watercolor and creativity workshops  the next two weekends at the Wyoming Valley School  near Spring Green, Wisconsin and I offer several on-line self-directed classes year-round  through the Art Outreach section of UW-Madison Continuing Education.

My daily practice was much aided by the week-long watercolor workshop I taught last week at the magical the Door County campus of Lawrence University, Bjorklunden.  I would like to use today’s post to share some of the wonderful works created by my workshop participants last week.  Unfortunately I do not have photos of everyone’s work but I can give you an overview of the many creative voices that emerged in the week of watercolor wonder.

Ann Baruth, Appleton Wisconsin

While there were a number of beginners in the workshop the majority of painters this year were repeat attendees, and a good number of them are VERY experienced artists in their own right, joining the workshop for the creative camaraderie and atmosphere of learning sharing that occurs on all levels at Bjorklunden every year.  Ann Baruth is one of the more experienced participants, she has a degree in art and is an art teacher and  a professional illustrator, but her love of learning brings her to the workshop.  What a good role model for her students.  (While this workshop was more Intermediate/Advanced due to the number of experienced participants  September 18-23rd  watercolor workshop  at Bjorklunden, Watercolor a Fresh Start, will have a majority of beginners, and will be geared for participants who have never touched a brush before).

Bianca Anderla, Appleton, WI

In this workshop I am not the only teacher.  I often call on the participants to share their techniques and strategies with each other and me.  Bianca shared her technique for treating the watercolor paper with acrylic gel medium before starting to paint, allowing her to do easy lift-out of color after her washes have dried.  She combined that process with the wet-into-wet approach I encourage in the workshop to create this luminous work.

Peg Ginsberg, Blue Mounds, WI

Another professional artist in the class is Peg Ginsberg.  She owns a studio-gallery where she sells her work and teaches watercolor classes in Mt. Horeb, WI.  This work, with its lovely droplets inspired the whole class, and I asked Peg to demo her process.  You will could see variations on the theme of droplets in other works created this week.  Its wonderful to be in a setting where people share their knowledge and skills so freely.

Judith Overcash, Safety Harbor, Florida

Another very experienced artist in the workshop who shares freely of her knowledge is Judith Overcash.  Judith has been in the class fourteen of the 15 years I have taught it (others have taken the workshop 3, 5, 8, and 10 times, creating a very special atmosphere and creative community).  Judith, a retired art teacher, oozes creativity and models life-long learning.  She freely shares her knowledge of book making, jewelry making, painting with acrylic watercolors, and, her knowledge of Salvador Dali, as a docent at the new Dali Museum in Safety Harbor Florida.  This year she combined one of her paintings with mixed media collage to create a Joseph Cornell style box.

Sally Noland, Moline IL

Not everyone in the class is a professional painter.  But many who participate are artists in other media too.  Sally Noland of Moline, IL has been in the class eight or more times doing lovely little watercolors that show her love of color and texture.  However Sally’s first love is quilting.  I hope to feature Sally’s work as a quilter in a future blog posting.  We are the proud owners of two of Sally’s Quilts.

Jim Hilger, Moline, IL

Sally’s husband Jim Hilger is a another workshop regular.  While he could be a professional illustrator and cartoonist if he wasn’t having so much fun being retired, he prefers to keep it a hobby and enjoys painting with Sally when they are not busy with their many other creative pursuits.   You can see in this piece how he played with Peg’s droplets exercise to reflect on reflection.  His first love is creating cross-word puzzles, however, and he has had his puzzles published in the New York Times several times.  Here is one special puzzle he made just for our class a few years ago.

Watercolor crossword puzzle by Jim Hilger

Phyllis Dintenfass, Appleton, WI

We did have a couple of true beginning watercolor students in the class. A wonderful professional bead artist Phyllis Dintenfass completed all the watercolor tech sheets AND created this first watercolor inspired the shadows of a flower bouquet.

Phyllis’ partner in taking the watercolor workshop  for the first time was Judy Gaines.  Judy too completed all the color wheels and technical sheets that I ask first and second time participants to do AND she jumped in with both feet to complete a lovely large expressive landscape in transparent watercolor.

Judy Gaines, Appleton, WI

Cathy Tronquet joined us all the way from Oregon for the first time thanks to an invitation from her long time friend and watercolor workshop veteran Judy Catlin.

Judy Catlin, Appleton, WI

Cathy, already an accomplished painter,  explored wet-into-wet techniques in combination with liquid mask resist to create this lovely work.  Cathy learned that you have to stick with it to get the results you want, and that sometimes the results along the way are unexpected.

Sitting near Cathy in the studio was her friend Judy Catlin who did a number of lovely nature studies and explored the relationship of her art process to her love of nature.

Another veteran and nature lover is Danielle Devereaux-Weber of Madison, WI.  She created a number of lovely nature-based based paintings of fungus and forests as well as the lovely simple landscape below.

Danielle Devereaux-Weber, Madison, WI

Liz Heuser, Minnetonka, MN

Second time participant Liz Hueser also did a number of lovely works including the watercolor here.

Despite being very productive and pushing through to learn new things in their painting I  was too late with my camera to capture some very exciting works by Grace Frudden of Madison (I’ll get your work in September Grace), and Nancy Homberg of Appleton, but I hope to have a chance to do so in the future.

We had a lovely time during the week celebrating the birthday of Mary Wall.   Mary has joined us in the workshop many times, taking what she learns home to  Iowa City to share in an open studio she runs.  Mary’s bold colors and whimsical creations of seas and nature are a highlight of the workshop when ever she joins us.  This year she did not disappoint as she worked magic with a fan brush to create this wonderful fishing bear.

Mary Wall, Iowa City

Poet Rusty McKenzie is also a long term watercolor workshop participant.  She has the title of ‘waxed paper guru’ for her wonderful textured abstracted creations that we all try to emulate.  Below is one of her creations from which she has pulled out the image of a golden fish.

Rusty McKensie, Menaha, WI


















The final image in this post is by  first time workshop participant  Susan Nitzke.  While it was her first workshop with me she brought considerable skill and experience with her.  Susan was lured to join us by Danielle, and we were glad, especially as we watched this lovely large watercolor emerge throughout the week,

Susan Nitzki, Madison, WI

I’d like to thank the Bjorklunden staff for supporting our efforts last week (Lawrence students and the Bjorklunden professional staff took VERY good care of us and fed us well.  I also want to thank the entire group of watercolor workshop participants for making this one of the most productive and fun summers for Watercolor The Expressive Medium.  Each person had a part in weaving the magic we experienced by letting go of fears, sharing skills and knowledge freely, and generally immersing themselves in the experimental  creative process.  Thank you!  I look forward to seeing you again in September!

Summer class of 2011 at Bjorklunden