Monday, February 9, 2015

Workshop in Sweden

We are very excited to announce a unique workshop experience in Northern Sweden, which runs from May 12-18, 2015. In the stunningly beautiful and remote sub-Arctic environment of Lapland, we will be co-teaching a workshop on the use of cold wax medium and oils in abstract painting.(Click here for full details of the workshop--including accommodations, pricing, and travel tips, and how to register.) 

A little over a year ago, Swedish artist and writer Asa Bostrom approached us with the idea of teaching together in Sweden. Following our enthusiastic "yes!" she was able to find us a perfect location--Ricklundgarden--an artist's residency in a rugged mountainous region one hour south of the Arctic Circle.

How exciting it has been to see this idea come to reality! We've had many email and phone discussions about the details and logistics, as well as discussions for how best the two of us can provide participants with a rich and meaningful experience. We decided early on to divide the week in half, with each of us taking a turn as primary instructor. Janice will begin with a focus on spontaneous and intuitive exploration of shape, composition, texture, and value, along with an introduction to the basics of the medium. Rebecca will finish the week with a wide range of the techniques and approaches she has developed. Throughout the week there will be an emphasis on interaction with the environment, keeping a visual journal, and sharing of insights and thoughts. 

Photo courtesy of Åsa Boström

REBECCA: One thing we both feel strongly about is that everyone has plenty of time to be outside to experience the surroundings at Ricklundgarden. With nearly 18 hours of daylight in May there should be some lovely opportunities for walking and photographing after class hours.  

JANICE  We've also decided that it would make a more leisurely day if we have a 2 hour break at lunchtime. Participants can hike or sketch or even have time for a nap. Spending time outdoors is important to get a sense of place and to let it inspire your work. 

Photo courtesy of Åsa Boström

REBECCA: What are some things you've done on your artist residencies and other travels to connect with particular places? 

JANICE: I always do a lot of photography, and as well as collect stones as a tangible memory of the place. Most often I keep a journal or diary for making small drawings or word sketches or for recording ideas that percolate when you visit a new place, away from everyday life. The British author, Robert Macfarlane, in his forward to the book, A Wilder Vein, suggests that "cognition is site-specific: that we think differently in different landscapes.  And therefore, more radically, that certain thought might only be possible in certain places."

Photo courtesy of Åsa Boström
 REBECCA: I love that quote. Interesting to think that the workshop at Ricklundgarden may open up ideas that would not be possible at home, or in an ordinary studio environment. Shall we talk about some of the other aspects of the week that will make it a unique experience? I'm excited about the international mix of participants--so far, there are people registered from Sweden, Germany, Finland, and Canada. When I'm with a group of artists from other countries, I'm always struck by the way our common interest transcends cultural and geographic differences. At the same time, those differences add so much to a rich mix of ideas and fun social interactions.

JANICE:  Yes, that's been true in my experience as well. Our workshop is limited to 9 participants so there will be a good opportunity for artists to get to know each other and share their stories inside and outside of the workshop. The workshop is only a short walk from the accommodation so enthusiastic participants can work on into the long evening light. 
photo courtesy of Åsa Boström

REBECCA: I'm also looking forward to the shared aspect of our teaching. While we have taught concurrent sessions before, in North Carolina, this is the first time we have truly collaborated on a teaching project. We have divided the week with each of taking the lead for three days, but we'll both be present off and on, and interacting with the group as a whole. We anticipate a certain synergy to result from our combined experience and knowledge of the medium. We're longtime friends--and close friends--but we don't always see things the same way of course! Which I hope results in a broader perspective in our instruction and comments. 

JANICE: We have planned several evening sessions lasting an hour or so. In addition to a welcoming gathering on the first night, there will be one in which the participants introduce their work to each other, two others for Rebecca and I to present slide shows of our own work, and one more for a Q&A activity. 

REBECCA: The day between our sessions is set aside for an optional field trip. We haven't worked out the details of that but I don't see how we can go wrong in this spectacular location. We hope that by the end of the week, everyone will feel they have truly appreciated and experienced the area. 

JANICE: Just one last comment about the idea of travel from a wonderful essay by the writer Pico Iyer. He says, "For me the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle." A good enough reason itself to travel to Lapland. 

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