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Saturday, April 14, 2012

North Country Studio Workshop in Review

From Marilyn Gillis: Guest Blog Author
Attending North Country Studio Workshops is a rewarding and fun experience. This past January my friend Chris Abrams and I took the encaustics workshop at NCSW. Familiar faces were on campus in other classes. SDA members Dianne Schullenberger took the bamboo workshop, Pam Druhen took the quilt class and Betsy Fram took the drawing class. I think each of us would encourage you to consider attending in 2014.

the Encaustics class with Daniella Woolfe.
(member Marilyn Gillis is second row, first person on left; friend Chris Abrams is first row, second person from left)

NCSW is held biannually on the beautiful campus of Bennington College, usually the last week in January. The classes are held in the Visual and Performing Arts building on campus so the workshop accommodations are excellent. Instructors at NCSW are nationally prominent artists and the workshop offerings range from ceramics, metal working, basketry, knitting, crochet, felting, quilting, book arts, and jewelry to drawing, printmaking, sculpture and other media. A wonderful gallery is hung featuring work from all the instructors. A fun and exciting aspect of the week is the Silent Auction. Participants and instructors donate pieces of their art which are on display all week for bidding. The auction ends on the final night amid much frantic last-minute maneuvering among bidders to secure coveted items. The food at NCWS is plentiful, healthy, and delicious – such a treat to have all your meals prepared for you so you can devote your time exclusively to making art. The dorms – well they are college dorms, enough said.

I am a fiber artist. So what lead me to take an encaustic workshop you might wonder? I have taken many wonderful fiber/surface design classes and workshops over many years. I had never gone to NCSW however until 2009 because in my other life I was a teacher, and due to the January timing of NCSW I was never free to attend. As soon as I retired from teaching, NCSW rose to the top of my list of art retreats to attend. In 2009 I took a class there with Ilze Aviks, a renowned artist who makes beautiful hand-stitched work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quickly however, I discovered the richness of attending an art retreat that offers classes in many different areas beyond fiber. Meeting artists working in many different media is inspiring and thought provoking. I decided that next time I would take a class outside the general area of fiber.
encaustic work done by Marilyn Gillis and Chris Abrams

So how did I end up in the encaustic workshop? Chris and I met Daniella Woolf when we were all students in a workshop with Dorothy Caldwell. Daniella gave a presentation of her art and we were very impressed with her creativity and unique approach combining encaustic and stitch. As soon as we saw her listed as an instructor at NCSW we knew we had to sign up immediately. In addition, Daniella has the most charming and fun personality so we knew we would learn and have great fun at the same time.

encaustic work done by class member Jane Davies.

class Instructor Daniella Woolfe

The encaustic workshop did not disappoint. I would put encaustic work along side marbling and gelatin printing - very seductive because of its immediacy and its tactile appeal – just all fun all the time with no drudge work at all. For those of you who are unfamiliar with encaustic art, it involves painting with highly pigmented waxes on a rigid support surface. Additionally images can be drawn, transferred, carved or printed on the wax surface. Paper, fiber, metal, and natural items can be embedded in the wax. The range and amount of work produced in our workshop was amazing due to the instructor’s skill, the student’s talent, and the medium’s versatility. I came home re-energized and planning to incorporate encaustic with my fiber work.

encaustic piece
encaustic piece
encaustic piece

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