A fabulous time in Ucluelet developing and working on a new body of work to to with the intertidal zone. Mixed-media collage.
Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts
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.
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.
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.
Shadows as inspiration. Photos and work (12" x 12") by Jill Ehlert
My WORK IN PROGRESS AT MISSA
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.
June trip to Ucluelet and Tofino, BC
Drawing inspiration from dried seaweed root balls
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
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.
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 - solo show at the Stairwell Gallery - Victoria, BC - July/August
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.
STATEMENT - JILL EHLERT
The body of work in the "Stairwell Gallery" and Sanctuary 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 Sanctuary 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.
Music by the Sea - Bamfield, BC, July 2017
Music by the Sea is Classical and contemporary solo and chamber music, sophisticated jazz and alternative music—each concert features an unique and diverse selection. Superb acoustics and the spectacular backdrop of Vancouver Island’s mystic, bold Pacific make this truly the most inspiring venue anywhere in the Pacific Northwest—an intimate musical experience in a breathtaking settings.
We travelled to Bamfield from Port Alberni on board the ferry "MV Francis Barkley" booked through the Lady Rose Marine Services. They provide ferry and freight service to Bamfield three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Additional sailings during the summer months on Sunday. Passenger service only.
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 workshop that I participated in.
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.