This year continues to be a year of firsts for me – first art fair, first invitational solo exhibit…and now, my first-ever art retreat class at a remote location!
I applied for the ArtStart Rhinelander‘s School of the Arts retreat called Art in Nature back in May. I had heard about it through Arts Wisconsin – the School of the Arts has a rich, 60-year history and ArtStart is revitalizing it, which is wonderful news. So imagine my delight when I discovered that I would be teaching my proposed class, “Collagraphs from Nature” there!
The entire retreat was held on the Treehaven grounds. This place is AMAZING. Imagine a fully modern summer camp, and you get the gist of the place. It’s used year-round, mainly by UW-Stevens Point forestry students. It’s nestled in the middle of nowhere, in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. It’s truly remote – I felt so secure in its isolation. I love places like this. (MAJOR bonus – it was about 15 degrees cooler there than in Fond du Lac, where we’re having a bizarre heat wave of 90 degree weather this week!)
I arrived on Friday afternoon and immediately set up my room. I was so happy I could do this ahead of time, because then I could relax the rest of the evening. We all had dinner together and heard the keynote speaker, Kristin Thielking, who’s a professor of sculpture at UW-Stevens Point. She talked about the beautiful structures and installations she and her students create in natural settings. It was so inpsiring, as it was the first time I’d ever really been interested in large sculptures. I broadened my mind as to what a “sculpture” could truly be! And now I have some ideas for our own Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum!
My class was right away on Saturday morning, so I ate breakfast with the group and got back to my classroom to make sure everything was set up and ready to go. I had nine people in my class, which was a great size! I showed them how to make collagraphs the way that I make them, and we had a total blast. Here’s a slideshow of their beginning monoprints, their composing stages, and their final collagraphs, which were made from items found right on the Treehaven grounds or from some items I had gotten in our prairie. Each student’s finished pieces were unlike anyone else’s, and that made me so happy. I absolutely LOVE it when that happens – when the artist’s vision comes through in their work.
This teaching experience is another highlight in a year of highlights for me. I enjoyed myself immensely!! And to top it all off, I stayed for the afternoon and took Debra Jircik’s Harvest Papermaking class, which I’ve wanted to take for the past three years or so. Kismet! I loved it, as I knew I would.
It was one of those weekends I’ll always remember and cherish. I was yet again reminded how extremely fortunate I am to be able to teach and create art in this way. It doesn’t get much better than this! 🙂 Many, many thanks to Melinda Childs and Ashley McLaughlin for just a wonderful retreat!