Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts

JILL EHLERT - 12" X 12" - Mineral pigments, oyster shell white, oxidized Japanese silver leaf , pumice ground on cradle board.

JILL EHLERT - 12" X 12" - Mineral pigments, oyster shell white, oxidized Japanese silver leaf , pumice ground on cradle board.

I attended a 5-day workshop July 3-7, 2017 with instructor Judith Kruger at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA). I had a fabulous experience. The workshop was exciting, challenging, filled with new materials, tools and techniques. Judith has boundless energy, a knowledgeable teacher who is dedicated to Nihonga - "traditional Japanese mineral pigment painting".  Judith amalgamates this ancient form of painting with her contemporary art practice, "exploring the formal and conceptual junctures between historic process and modernity as an ongoing project".

Everything in this workshop was new to me. We made our own paint and ink from organic and inorganic matter like cured oyster shells, minerals, natural ores, pine soot, mica and silica. We made a natural glue from cow cartilage to act as the binder. The materials are ecological, non-toxic and water-based. We worked with Japanese silver leaf and learned methods to oxidize it.  Judith demonstrated how to  mount Washi and stretch watercolour paper onto a cradle board. It was an action-packed week.

THE LOCATION

The Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts has been providing high caliber specialized workshops for artists, teachers and serious adult students since 1984. MISSA has a reputation for hosting  local, national and international instructors who engage with students in an intense multidisciplinary environment. MISSA welcomes students from around the world to participate in an artistic emersion for two weeks every summer. 

Artists from near and far have come together each summer to the Pearson College campus to share in spirited creative exchange. The school is positioned on the sheltered shores of Pedder Bay and looks out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains beyond. The campus setting provides a stimulating natural environment for artistic development and exploration. It’s easy to understand why so many return year after year to be part of the ‘MISSA Magic’!

MISSA takes place every summer on the campus of Pearson College, while the students are away. Participants at MISSA can stay in college style dorms where internationals students have spent their school year. The college campus is designed in a West Coast Modern style and takes the from of a seaside village with buildings of native cedar clustered on 75 acres of old growth rainforest. The simple, low-slung structures are linked by footpaths and stand in harmony with the surrounding landscape.

THE WORKSHOP SPACE - THE FLOATING STUDIO

I was fortunate to attend a 5-day workshop July 3-7 which was held in the "Floating Studio", also known as the marine lab during the regular school year at Pearson College. The Pearson campus is in a fabulous location on Pedder Bay -  truly a magical place. I stayed in residence for the duration of the week. Resident students arrive the day before, on Sunday night and also stay the night of the final day of class, for a total of six nights and leaving on the seventh day. The food is fabulous and all one has to do is art all day with all meals and snacks provided. Students can go back to the studio in the evenings.

Photos by Jill Ehlert unless otherwise stated.

The Floating Studio - aka the Marine Lab.

The Floating Studio

The Floating Studio in the evening.

The Floating Studio in the evening.

REFLECTIONS AROUND THE FLOATING STUDIO 

THE FLOATING STUDIO/THE MARINE LAB - A view from our workshop space and one of the critters we shared the space with.

THE WORKSHOP -  "ABSTRACT ALCHEMY: BLACK, WHITE AND WARM METALLICS"

A Description of the workshop from the MISSA catalogue "In this course, students will reinterpret nature’s deep imagery and essence with a limited palette using matter from nature itself. Participants will make paint, ink and home-made gesso from inorganic and organic sources including pine soot, shells, and minerals. Natural metallics will be introduced for warmth. These arcane processes have been employed for thousands of years on ancient Asian screens and scrolls. Collage can be added and embedded for depth. A variety of drawing and painting techniques will be introduced to yield meaningful, process-driven, ecological work on varied supports, embedded with individualized expression, heart and spirit."

THE INSTRUCTOR - JUDITH KRUGER

Judith Kruger, is an American visual artist whose paintings, prints and mixed media works address Human-Environment connectivity and their shared vulnerabilities. She is recognized internationally for her advocacy of natural painting materials and historic, ecological processes.

Judith currently resides in Northwest, CT. Her studio is located in an old hosiery mill, 125 miles north of New York City, at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Click here to read Judith's artist statement.

SOME OF THE TOOLS AND MATERIALS IN THE WORKSHOP

DRAWING/PAINTING WITH SUMI-E INK

The Sumi-E ink drawings above were incorporated into the mineral pigment painting below.

Jill Ehlert  ©- 24" x 18" - Sumi-E Ink, Mineral pigments, Japanese silver leaf, antique Japanese pharmacy paper, punched holes on Washi paper mounted on cradle board.

Shadows as inspiration. Photos and work (12" x 12") by Jill Ehlert 

My WORK IN PROGRESS AT MISSA

Working on a Sumi-E mat - made of wool and polyester felt.

Working on a Sumi-E mat - made of wool and polyester felt.

Water reflections as inspiration. Experimentation with Sumi-E ink, wax relief, Japanese silver leaf and mineral pigments on illustration board - 12" x 9"

I learned so many new techniques and had a good introduction to mineral pigments. This was an excellent workshop that I would recommend. Click here to see Judith Kruger's workshop page for 2018.

Drawing inspiration from a June trip to Ucluelet and Tofino, BC

DRAWING DRIED SEAWEED ROOT BALLS

Holbein water brush and Van Gogh waterclours, Stillman and Birn Delta series sketchbook.

Holbein water brush and Van Gogh waterclours, Stillman and Birn Delta series sketchbook.

Collecting dried out seaweed root balls for drawing. They feel and look like wood and have a charred look as if they have been burnt, but they are not. These root balls have the most wonderful textures.  with lots of complex networking - a good challenge to draw. Compare the root balls in the top row to the bottom three images, which are seaweeds recently washed up on the beach. The photo's taken in  December 2016 and '15 show some of the many seaweed clusters containing a variety of seaweeds, which are decaying and deteriorating. Going back to that same exact spot is where I collected these dried root balls. The piles are still there but have really shrunk in size to the once huge mass and tangle. I had to really look hard to find my collection, part of which is in the last photo..

DRAWING (FEELING) WATER MOVEMENT

Overlooking Brown's Beach, Ucluelet, BC.

The quick blind contour drawings below were inspired by the water motion at Brown's Beach, Uculelet, BC as shown in the video above. Sitting up high on a rock totally mesmerized by the movement of the water below and drawing what I was feeling.

At Pettinger Point looking towards Frank Island and the tombolo at Chesterman's Beach - near Tofino, BC.

Whale Bones

I am sure these photos of whale bone will enter into my drawings. These were taken from a whale skeleton in one of the shops in Tofino.

Inspiration from the beach for further drawings and mark making

Jill Ehlert at Stairwell Gallery July/August

ART & NATURE

Jill Ehlert in the Stairwell Gallery

The Stairwell Gallery is a space devoted to the visual arts in St Philip Anglican Church. The gallery is open for viewing Monday to Friday 9am to noon and by appointment.  

 Click here to see map of location:   2928 Eastdowne Rd., Victoria, BC, V8R 5R8

Curator - Cornelia van Voorst

Jill Ehlert - Nature Studies

Jill Ehlert - Nature Studies

STATEMENT - JILL EHLERT

The body of work in the "Stairwell Gallery" and Chapel explore stages of the Life Cycle.  "Birth - Growth - Maturity - Decay - Death - Renewal"  - I am fascinated by the series of changes and transformations that an organism undergoes as it returns to the starting state.

The six drawings at the bottom of the stairwell are an exploration into the later stages of maturity and decay. Shrivelled forms of a day lily…the decaying structure of a Hosta leaf…the beautiful form of the poppy capsule -full of seeds ready for renewal. 

The two triptychs in the Chapel are part of a series titled "Transformations".  I combined dissimilar objects such as pomegranates, plankton, pears, decorative curtain tassels, the inner ear and the mechanical structure of a potato masher.  These forms were simplified into smaller components through a process of drawing, editing and refining. I intermixed these unlikely combinations, creating an invented language of organic shapes.

The work on the right hand side of the stairwell and the little painted pieces on the bulletin board are invented idiosyncratic shapes inspired from those found within my "Transformations" series - keeping in mind natural forms and stages of birth and growth.  

Studies on the bulletin board show my ongoing interest in the structure and stages of nature.

Jill Ehlert - "Bounty" 11" X 18"

Jill Ehlert - "Bounty" 11" X 18"

PLANT STUDIES

Jill Ehlert "Small Wonders 1" 6" x 9"

Jill Ehlert "Small Wonders 1" 6" x 9"

Ucluelet, BC Christmas vacation 2016

We had a wonderful 12 days on the west coast staying at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet, BC. We ate a few meals at Howler's Family Restaurant and Amusements where I photographed the sign "Life is Short - Break the Rules". The next two images with trees are view from our balcony, a sunset image and rainy day image, which has flames from our fire place reflected in the window. Interesting seaweed clusters on the beach again this year like last year. Collected some interesting seaweeds and debris. The ocean-worn beverage can echoes the look of the mussel shell. I got a nice little collection of shells and was lucky to find half of an abalone shell - fully intact.  The last picture shows the snow at the top of Sutton Pass on our drive home, this pass is half way between Ucluelet and Port Alberni. It was a great holiday, laid back - I miss it already. I always feel so connected and immersed in Nature when I am at Long Beach.

Natural History Illustration

From October to Decemebr 2016 - I participated in this six-week online course through edX and the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Here is a video describing the course.

The course covered: 
- Core scientific observational skills
- Field drawing and sketching techniques
- Concept sketch development
- Composition for natural history illustration
- Form, proportion and structure essentials
- Drawing and rendering techniques

This was an excellent course, I really learned a lot. I would recommend this course to anyone. I am not sure when they will run it again. The website was easy to navigate and to figure out. We learned about self-assessment and peer-assessment which was really valuable. We uploaded our homework for peer review from 5 other students. We could also upload our work to a general area for all to see and comment on. There was some fantastic work being done from students all over the world. There were many short videos to view, lots to read along with images and each module had a list of resources. I came away with new skills and an excitement to get out into field to collect specimens, so some field sketching and finished drawings back in the studio. The course was free - I am not sure why...the University of Newcastle is one of five universities to offer a Masters in Natural History Illustration - perhaps this is there way of gaining interest in the program. I decided to pay for a verifiable certificate that shows I completed and got a passing grade in a course of study offered by NewcastleX.

Below are images of the pencil work that I did for the course. The photographs are field studies showing location and the ecology of the area. The ruler gives scale to the seaweed and surrounding area. The field notes show detail, colour notation, form, structure and descriptive records. Click on an image to view larger images and a slide show.

September Holiday in Washington

This was our fourth trip to the "Palouse area" of South Eastern Washington. We always stay in the small farming community of of Colfax, Washington. The population in 2013 was 2,845.

Sitting in this wonderful wheat field just after harvest time. A wonderful feeling of being alone in nature, hearing just the breeze and no one around for miles.

This is a small selection of photos that I took on this holiday. To see some fantastic photos of this trip check out my husbands portfolio here: Paul Peters

COLFAX, WASHINGTON

VIDEO OF WIND TUBINE NEAR THORNTON, WASHINGTON

Wind Turbine near Thornton, Washington

WHEAT FIELDS NEAR COLFAX, WASHINGTON

PULLMAN, WASHINGTON

Sketchbook Development Workshop July 17, 2016

I will be teaching this popular one-day workshop at the Vancouver Island School of Art

This daylong workshop consists of a series of fast-paced exercises to get you comfortable with working in your sketchbook. A wide range of ideas, materials and techniques will be explored. Backgrounds, mark-making explorations, sketching, drawing and writing will also be covered. You will leave this workshop inspired to make your sketchbook a part of your daily practice. No experience necessary. All materials are provided, including a sketchbook and pens for you to take home with you. No experience necessary. 

Jul 17 Sunday, 10am - 5pm
Tuition: $150.00 (6 hrs) (materials included) 

Vancouver Island School of Art
2549 Quadra St, Victoria, BC
250-380-3500 or info@vancouverislandschoolart.com

Sources of Inspiration

UCLUELET, BC - BIG BEACH  

PHOTOS, VIDEO AND ARTWORK©  BY JILL EHLERT

VIDEO

Intertidal Zone and tidal pools. Ucluelet, BC Canada

Sketch Book work - click on a thumbnail to see a slideshow

The work in my sketch book was done in my room looking down onto the beach below. I was focusing on the black rocks. The last six, I was having fun with mark making -the last two were inspired from the amazing colours and magical world of all the species I saw at the Ucluelet Aquarium.

Great painting location

Using "Old Mans Beard" -a type of lichen that grows on trees had blown onto the beach. I used this to paint with for extra texture. I wet the watercolour paper with sea water and then dragged the paper over the rocks to create line work. A background for future work.

Burned beach log as a mark-making tool

This burnt log was on the beach, I used it to apply charcoal marks on my paper by dragging my paper across it. The green marks are from leaves I dragged the paper over and used a rock o pound some of the colour out.. These pieces will make a good backgrounds for future work.

FOUND MARK MAKING TOOLS 

These will make great mark making tools in my drawings. Dipping the tool into India ink, walnut ink, etc.

Upcoming show I am participating in: April 25 to May 31, 2016

Update: The show has been extended to May 31, 2016

The Robert Bateman Centre

470 Belleville Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1W9, Canada

Hours:  Daily: 10am - 5pm    Details: http://batemancentre.org/visit/

Website for this special exhibition:  http://endangeredartexhibits.weebly.com/

Participating Artists:

Diana Durrand -  www.dianadurrand.com/

Natasha van Netten  - www.natashavannetten.com/

Jill Ehlert  -  www.jillehlert.com/

Connie Michele Morey  -  www.conniemorey.com/

David Hunwick  -  www.thesculpturestudio.net

Luis-Mario Guerra   -    www.luismarioguerra.weebly.com/

Carol Thompson  -  www.carolethompson.ca/

Trish Shwart  -   www.trishshwart.com/

Caren Willms  -  www.carenwillms.weebly.com/


 "Devils Hole pupfish" (Cyprinodon diabolis) © 2016 Jill Ehlert  13" X 19"

Watercolour, pencil crayon, walnut and acrylic inks on Arches Watercolour paper.

Large signature is only a watermark for internet and does not appear on original artwork.

Artist statement - Jill Ehlert

The endangered Devils Hole pupfish is significant to me given my interest in aquatic environments and water related species. There were only 131 Cyprinodon diabolis recorded in the biannual count conducted in September 2015. My watercolour painting focuses on a limestone shelf that measures 3.0 X 6.3 metres, which the pupfish depend on for spawning and for much of their diet. The pupfish eat primarily microscopic diatoms, a type of algae that clings to large bright green filamentous algae. Other species found on this shelf are tiny invertebrates: amphipods, spring snails, two types of beetles, and flatworms. The Devils Hole pupfish are considered the rarest fish in the world; they measure one-inch long and are so named, as they seem as playful as puppies. In this artwork, I enlarged the pupfish and took artistic license varying the scale of the microscopic world that surrounds them.