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 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.


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.


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


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."


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.



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 


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.

Ambiguous Abstraction

The following images are by Mark Bradford

Recently I received an email from  VISA (Vancouver Island School of Art) advertising a series of workshops titled "Painting Today". There were a couple of workshops that really caught my attention. One was a workshop called  "Ambiguous Abstraction" which they describe like this: 

"Ambiguous Abstraction refers to a kind of abstract imagery that opens up the question of the painting's content to a range of (often provocative) meaning and associations. 

In opposition to ‘pure abstraction’ where the subject of the painting is its own form, Ambiguous Abstraction flirts with personal and political content, and “can also embrace broad topics such as memory and presence, materiality and transcendence, and the flattening of high and low culture. Following are a few of the artists that paint in this style" Mark Bradford, Fabian Maracaccio, Terry Winters, Ingrid Calame, Ian McKeever, Beatriz Milhazes, Arturo Herrera 

In furthering my search on "Ambiguous Abstraction" 

I came across "Painting Today" by Tony Godfrey 

Painting Today by Tony Godfrey: Book Cover

"Painting Today"  presents an international roundup of the best painters of the past 40 years. 

Written by Tony Godfrey a 20-year veteran at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the volume begins with a look at the Global Scene. Further chapters explore the neo-expressionist movement of the ‘80s, photorealism and the use of photography as a point of departure for painting, pure and ambiguous abstraction, history painting, painting space, and installation painting, as well as the requisite review of the figure, landscape, and still life. Chapters on Death and Life, the Leipzig School, Post-feminism, and Painting Tomorrow round out the beautifully designed, dynamic 448-page book, which includes 550 illustrations, artist biographies, and a chronology of painting since 1968." 

For a more in depth look at this book with links to many of the artists in this book check out the blog: Flavorwire.com

"Painters Eleven" Canadian Abstract Painters

Canadian Art Groupon their website says that: 

"Painters Elevenwas officially formed in 1953 in Oshawa at the home of Alexandra Luke; this formation was the result of a successful show, Abstracts at Home, held at the Simpson's department store in Toronto a few months before. 

The famous photograph by Peter Croyden taken for a show in 1957 at the Park Gallery in Toronto, shown here:

left to right: Tom Hodgson, Alexandra Luke, Harold Town, Kazuo Nakamura, Jock Macdonald, Walter Yarwood, Hortense Gordon, Jack Bush, and Ray Mead. 

The two canvases facing forward represent Oscar Cahen who tragically died in a car crash in 1956 and the canvases facing the wall are for William Ronald who had resigned from the group in 1957 and was now working in New York. 

Disbanded in 1960 all the surviving members went on to continue their careers and remaining true to abstraction."

Oscar Cahen (Canadian, 1916 - 1956)

Austin Healey 100 Engine
oil on board, 36" x 48", signed
Courtesy of the Cahen Archives
Thielsen Gallery Logo

Jack Bush

Bush changed his style of painting from abstract expressionism to colour field abstraction as a result of two major influences on his career - the French artist Henri Matisse and American critic Clement Greenberg. Bush's paintings are characterized by their muted, glowing colours that appear to be absorbed by the canvas. 

Oscar Cahén

Cahén achieved distinction as one of Canada's leading illustrators before becoming an abstract expressionist painter. His European training and maturity influenced many of his Painters Eleven colleagues, and were it not for his untimely death in 1956 certain critics believe Cahén would have become the major artist of Painters Eleven. 

Hortense Gordon

The senior member of Painters Eleven, Gordon taught art for most of her life, travelled in summer months to France where she studied and painted. A painting of hers was exhibited in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1909, before most Painters Eleven were born. 

Tom Hodgson

Both Hodgson's large abstractions and his watercolours are noted for their rich, beguiling colours and juxtapositions, as are his beautiful paintings of beautiful women - wives, lovers, children. A champion canoeist, Hodgson competed in the Olympic games of 1952 and 1956 as a member of Canada's Olympic Canoe Team. 

Alexandra Luke

Luke refined her elegant abstractions through studies with famous American artist/teacher Hans Hofmann. She was instrumental in the founding of Painters Eleven - its inaugural meeting was held in her studio in Oshawa, Ontario. Married into the McLaughlin Carriage Company family, which later became General Motors, she bequeathed her enormous art collection to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, founded by her husband in the name of his grandfather. It remains the largest repository of Painters Eleven work in the country. 

Kazuo Nakamura

Nakamura stands rather apart from the majority of Painters Eleven with his quiet, sonorous paintings. His twenty-five year study of the interconnectedness between art and mathematics, and on another level, music, produced a defining body of work, his Number Structures. Nakamura was greatly influenced by - not painters or art movements - the magazine Scientific American. 

Jock Macdonald

A distinguished art teacher, Macdonald was an inspiration to his students in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. He began working in abstraction as early as 1934, and his work evolved into several forms of abstraction and "semi abstract" styles, including his famous Modalities. He met Jean Dubuffet in France and counted him as one of his greatest influences. 

Ray Mead

Mead's work was first exhibited at the Hamilton Art Gallery in 1946. He stopped painting for a period of about 10 years in the 1970s, but after having a dream of Hans Hofmann giving him a painting lesson Mead picked up his brushes again. He achieved a level of sophistication in his paintings and watercolours through excellent composition and his use of black and white with colour. 

William Ronald

In 1955, Ronald left Toronto for New York and the following year was taken on by the famous Kootz Gallery, which represented top rank abstract expressionists in New York. Ronald produced a body of work that truly epitomizes his reputation as an outstanding colourist and larger-than-life persona. 

Harold Town

Along with his flamboyant personality, Town is celebrated for his work in many mediums: painting, collage, assemblage, sculpture and works on paper -drawings, monoprints, etchings, linocuts, lithographs and serigraphs. A master draftsman, his drawings have been compared with Picasso's. He gained his first international recognition in 1952. 

Walter Yarwood

A painter of deep, richly dense colours and broad brush strokes, Yarwood gave up painting in 1960 for sculpture. He received numerous commissions to create major sculptures for Canadian government buildings, universities and airports. In the last ten years of his life he returned to painting, during which he painted vivid, plein air landscapes.

Click here: thielsen gallery and scroll down page to see an online exhibit of the members work.

The brief bios above were written by Thielson Gallery

Abstract Expressionism - American Painters

Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis and Robert Motherwell

Abstract Expressionism

Check out this link at Wikipedia which has a great article on Abstract Expressionism. 

Scroll down the page to "Major Artists" are those significant artists whose mature work defined Abstract Expressionism. 

The second list "Other Artists" are those significant artists whose work relates to American Abstract Expressionism.

The third list is related styles, trend, schools or movements.

Steven Aimone - "The Spiritual Language of Art

I took two drawing classes with Steven Aimone, called "The Spiritual language of Art". Mary Stewart of Vancouver Island Workshops organized these workshops. One was held in Nanaimo, BC and the other in Cedar a few miles south of Nanaimo. Steven is an excellent teacher and had us all working hard. 

Steven Aimone (M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing, Brooklyn College) is an artist, fine arts instructor, and independent curator who has taught numerous design workshops and courses to a wide variety of audiences: professional artists and craftspeople, college students, museum patrons, and school teachers.

Steven is the author of two books:

"DESIGN! A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists & Craftspeople"


"Expressive Drawing"

Aimone was a resident of Manhattan for most of his adult life where he earned an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Brooklyn College. His paintings and collage compositions have been the subject of four solo exhibitions in New York City, where he was also represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, and are included in corporate and private collections nationally. 

Aimone has taught painting, drawing, and design at both Western Carolina University in North Carolina and Stetson University in Florida. Aimone now teaches "The Spiritual Language of Art" workshops--and offers related fine arts lectures--through Aimone Art Services.