Posts tagged ‘Penland School of Crafts’

September 7, 2011

At Work in the Studio With::Penland Artists

by heatherkp

For quite some time now I’ve been contemplating how to merge my love of art and design and my passion for organization.  While I was away at Penland I found a little seed that’s germinated and has been pushing it’s way slowly to the surface.  In that wonderful nurturing and creative environment I spent a lot of time walking around and observing other artists, their “studio” (albeit temporary for most) spaces and the work being created.  One particular evening we were visiting the Resident artists studio’s and the idea really struck me to start a blog interview series with artists about their sense of or lack of organizational skills and how that affects their work.

Above and Below::Studio space of Jewelry Artist Jeong Ju Lee

Above and Below::Studio space of Daniel Marinelli

Below::Studio space of Textile Artist and Weaver Robin Johnston

Today I’m bringing you the introduction to this new series.  I can’t promise how frequently I will be doing interviews, much of that depends upon who I’ve come across and their willingness to share their organization or lack of.  For many artists and creative types being organized is just not a big priority and often staying organized is a struggle.  Revealing this to the world may not be something many artists are willing to share.   So many people continue to feel embarassed or asshamed about being disorganized but I am here to say that EVERYONE struggles with organization in some area of their life (or has in the past).

Above and Below::Studio space and workshop of Woodworker Tom Shields

Upon speaking with many artists though I’ve come to realize that for all of us there is a cycle to the way we work.  We carve out a space, gather the materials we think we might need to begin and we dig in.  For some creators they need to end each work day (or session) with a bit of re-organizing and tidying up.  Others will continue to work right along side the ever growing piles of detritus, materials, abandoned projects, dishes, tools and whatever else accumulates.   Some artists can go days, weeks or months before they feel the need to stop and tidy up again.  What prompts this action?  Is it the completion of a big project or a feeling of distraction or getting stuck?

Above and Below:: Iron Forging workshop

Above and Below:: Woodworking workshop and workbenches of student artists

I wonder for each of us, how does the order or chaos of our working environment impact the artwork we create?  When you look at someone’s artwork is there any clue as to their working methods?  Could you venture to guess if they are organized or dis-organized?  How does our environment help or hinder our creations as artists?  These are all questions I am interested in exploring further as we meet other artists and discuss their working methods, see behind the scenes into their working spaces and perhaps learn some organizing tips from some of them.

Above and Below:: Metal Casting studio workbenches of student artists and the instructor

Above and Below::Studio workspace of Bookmaking student artists

Above and Below::Studio work spaces of Letterpress student artists

Above and Below:: Studio work spaces of Encaustic student artists and instructor

As I wandered from studio to studio observing and speaking with artists about how they work and taking photographs I found that most of the time people tried to tidy up when I asked if I could photograph them and or their spaces.  “No” I said, I want to capture you the way you really work.  I really appreciate the willingness of all these artist to allow me to share their working spaces with you here.

Above:: studio workspace of fellow surface design artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis

Call to action::If you are an artist and feel you are particularly organized or dis-organized and want to share your working practices and space I’d love you to comment here or email me.

Above:: studio work space of my instructor Jason Pollen;>)

August 30, 2011

Textile Tuesday::What I made at Summer Camp

by heatherkp

Now that summer is almost over and school’s back in session I need to wrap up my experience at Penland.  I’ve been writing for the last few weeks about my whole experience  but haven’t really posted much about what I made personally.  There was more experimentation than finished product but I’ll be sharing some of my creations.  I took with me my sewing machine and, several bins of materials (paper, fabric, threads, inks, brushes and more) even though I knew I wouldn’t use it all.  I wanted to have enough variety for whatever we ended up doing since I wasn’t quite sure other than “mixed media” surface design.

Lets begin with some of the more informal exercises.  As I mentioned in my previous post here, we began working on black museum board in an 8″ x 8″ format.  We started with limited supplies, gesso, inks and colored pencils.  Here are a few of them in progress on my large almost 10′ x 3′ (fabulous!) work space.  Man I loved having all that room to spread out!  I was able to get messy and still have room to work!  I’m going to start talking more about this subject here on my blog because I became a little obsessed with observing how other artists work, are they neat and orderly or totally messy?  At what point do you stop and clean up your space because it’s too messy?  These are some of the questions I started asking fellow artists…but getting back to the class:)

Some of the pieces above came home with me unfinished and I’m continuing to work on them a little at a time but below are some details of completed pieces.

I loved how expressive, spontaneous and painterly these exercises were.  I found working on the black background both challenging (seeing colors in a new way) and liberating (leaving my “typical” color combinations behind).  I thought that the square format would be good for me (i.e. challenge me even more) because one of the things I really wanted to explore at Penland was my understanding of composition.  Sure, I’ve got degree’s in art but my past 12 years as a designer of repeat patterns has stunted my ability to create artwork with “proper” composition.  I found this out as I began to explore photography.  As a designer I tend to center or repeat things out in a certain manner so I wanted to throw that aside while there and focus on understanding composition better. 

Another very fun and liberating part of the class were the quick 15-30 min exercises we spent each morning exploring a certain mood, idea or expressing a feeling (these were centered around the discussions of various Astrological signs).  I had gone with certain expectations of this class (I tried not to but inevitably there were some) and I didn’t realize how much expressive drawing and painting we would be doing.  Some of these exercises were quite large in scale (compared to 8″ squares) and I enjoyed the movement involved in creating these!   Sometimes you’ve got to get your body MOVING to make ART!

We continued to work on these quick exercises at the beginning of each class almost to the end.  Sometime after the first few days we began to explore other ideas and expand beyond the small format and black background.  That’s when we started (not the whole class but some of us) experimenting with rust dying on fabrics.

We did a whole batch of scraps to see what kind of results we liked and from there I decided to create a silk scarf using the rust dying technique and some shibori pleating.  I had particularly liked the results of a couple of pieces of metal from our experiments so I used them to wrap my pleated scarf around.

Since this was quite a large scarf I used 2 pieces of metal and pleated and rolled from both ends to create different effects on both sides.  Then I used a wire that would rust to secure the whole bundle.  

This is what the bundle looked like after 24 hours and before I unwrapped it.  Promising but a little un-nerving.  There’s something exciting about the juxtaposition of using these industrial rusty, dirty metal pieces to “Dye” this beautiful delicate, “precious”, pure white organza silk!

I’m so glad I photo documented this unwrapping process!  I love the swirly shapes created by one particular piece of metal and once this was un-pleated and unrolled completely it would never look exactly like this again.

This is how it looked completely unfolded.  I love the results and it’s got me hooked on rust dyeing.  But wait, I wasn’t finished yet!  I decided to take this another step and I over dyed part of this with a coffee/tea stain using a bound shibori process to resist a large portion of the scarf from being dyed.

I let it dry and in the meantime spent some time trying to learn how to create a rolled hem with the appropriate presser foot.  I wasn’t pleased with the results so I decided to bring it home with me and create a hand rolled hem to finish it.  When I got home though, I decided to do a little more experimenting with the machine rolled hem and to my surprise I was able to find a great tutorial and with a little experimentation I was confident it would turn out successful so I bravely finished the two ends (the sides are selvedge edges).

I am totally happy with the results of the finished scarf and I have plans to create more, similar pieces in the future!  I’ve always loved shibori and dying but have been hesitant to continue to use chemical dyes as I get older.  I’ve experimented enough with them over the years but I don’t want to prolong my exposure to them.  The process of rust dying opened my eyes to a whole new medium to explore, along with other natural dying processes.

The finished piece has been over dyed with the coffee/tea stain on one side which created a beautiful grey which occurs naturally as the tannins in the tea react to the rust.  The neutral colors of this scarf are so versatile and sophisticated!

I may finish this piece off with a few beads at the ends to give it a little extra pizzaz but nothing flashy.  I love the simple beauty of it.  As you can see there was a lot of exploration and self expression that came out of this class for me.  I’ve got some other bits I worked on as well that I’ll probably share down the road but this give you a good idea of the amount and kind of work we did within the two week class.  It was fabulous!

 

August 19, 2011

Friday’s Field Trip::Penland Surface Design Class

by heatherkp

I’m finally getting around to sharing the ART part of my experience at Penland.  It was such an inspiring time.  I loved the energy of working in the studio every day with a variety of other artists.  I don’t really have a studio space at home so I often feel guilty if I leave my art supplies out for a long period of time but for me I need to be able to walk away and come back to my work.  I learned a lot about how I like to work while I was there.

Knowing yourself as an artist means knowing how you like to work, for what period of time, when to step away from something and knowing when to push through and let the inspired moment sweep you away.  Being in a class for the first time since some graduate classes I took back in 2004 offered the balance of exploration and structure which also helped me grow as an artist tremendously.  The irony of this is that as a designer I was trying to loosen up and allow myself to be more free and expressive (and abstract).  Each day our instructor began the class with short exercises that allowed us to be gestural, free, expressive and not to over think what we were doing.  These were fantastic and fun.  I didn’t always like the outcome of what I created but that wasn’t the point.  It was about just getting out of my own way and letting whatever creative expression inside the chance to escape.  Some of the works created by the class in these short exercises are below.

Another fun aspect of the class was that our instructor, Jason Pollen (check out his amazing work if you don’t know him!) used Astrology as an inspiration for us to focus our creative energy on.  Each day we discussed a different planet, the corresponding sign and the energy surrounding it.  In this way we were encouraged to channel certain emotions or energy to put into our work.  This class was primarily a surface design class and we began with limited materials and an 8″ x 8″ format using black backgrounds.  The way we see color on black is different and this encouraged each of us to shake free of the “normal” color combinations we might use.  We started with only gesso and color and eventually were encouraged to add stitching, collage or whatever else we wanted to.  I find it tremendously helpful when I’m creatively stuck to really limit my options, within more restricted boundaries I find my self stretching to explore those limitations.  After a few days experimenting and playing in this smaller format most of us began to explore other mediums and formats for our work.  A group of us in the class began raiding the iron departments scrap pile and we began experimenting with rust dying.  There is a good description of this process over here if you want to learn more about the technical aspects.  I loved how as a group we got swept up into this creative process together.

Rusty metal pieces laid out with fabric for rust dying.

Completed pieces of rust dye fabrics.

Another process we began to experiment with was Encaustic painting.  Although this was not a class in Encaustic one of our classmates was using encaustic and there was also a class being taught so those of us interested in experimenting with this process got the chance to give it a try.  As you can tell we covered a lot of ground in this class.  It was so freeing and inspiring, I came home with several new materials, techniques and ideas to work through more thoroughly.  Both Jason and our studio assistant Debra Smith were fantastic about assisting and encouraging each of us in our own directions.

Jason working on one of his stitched pieces for the auction.

Debra’s scarf and a collaborative piece by Jason and Debra, donations for the Penland fundraiser auction.

Debra modeling a purse made by one of the students for the fundraiser auction.

Below are a variety of samples of fellow classmates work and working shots.  My class mates ranged in age from 18 to over 75 and came from both the east and west coasts with all different backgrounds.  Each one of them was an inspiration to me.  I am so glad we all got to meet and work together:)  Thanks to each of you!!One of the final projects I worked on was a collaboration with 3 other students which we donated to the Penland Session 4 fundraiser auction.  I love to collaborate and this piece turned out well.  I wish I knew who bought it…

Next week I will be back to share some of the work I began personally in class.  Some of what I started is still incomplete but hopefully won’t be by the time I post again.

August 5, 2011

Friday Fieldtrip::Penland the Full tour

by heatherkp

It’s Friday and I’m away again on another Field trip, this time up to PA with a couple college girlfriends for a wedding.  While I’m out scratching up more field trip fun I’m going to share with you the first of a few posts over the next couple weeks about Penland School of Crafts.  To start with I’ll show you around the campus so you get an idea of the setting, the views, the buildings, accommodations (for some) etc…I’ll get more into the creative specifics of the class I took with Jason Pollen next week but for now I hope you enjoy the scenery:)

Welcome to Craft House.  This is the first building I was greeted by when I drove up and I quickly found out it would be my home for my 2 weeks at Penland.  I stayed in the 3rd floor dorm, where there were many other work study and “over 30-under 40” students.  They seem to do some divisions by age, probably not a bad idea.

Inside the 3rd floor dorm rooms (above) and a “typical” individual non-private accommodation (below).  Not bad especially with the windows and fans (they provided us with). Below are some of the typical views looking out across Penland road and along the walkways that run across the campus.  Craft House has a fantastic big porch with swings perfect for enjoying sunsets, reading, having a glass of wine and relaxing (although I felt short on relaxation time with all that was crammed into the schedule!).

My next stop upon arrival at Penland was over to the Pines dining hall.  I spent many hours in this building both eating and fulfilling my work study hours.  I worked about 3-4 hours a day in addition to classes from 9:30-4:30.  It was a lot of work but it was fun. Apparently almost 45% of the students attending Penland do so on some sort of Scholarship!  If it wasn’t for these scholarships so many people wouldn’t be able to go, me included!  I definitely plan to go back, if they’ll have me.

Above is an installation sculpture on the porch in front of the coffee house by one of my favorite artists Patrick Dougherty.

The meals were really diverse and always included a vegetarian option and a great salad bar.  They make a fantastic Wasabi salad dressing, man do I miss it and miss not having to cook (but really I love to cook).  Each day the big chalk board in the dining hall told the daily events.

Some of the veggies and herbs are grown at Penland but they feed on average 250 people at lunch and dinner during their 5 summer sessions (each 2 weeks long).

Some of the buildings at Penland are on the National Historic Register (such as the Dye house below) and others are fairly new.  They are also in the process of building a brand new dorm building. 

Print Studio

Clay Studio (outside kilns)

Metals Shop

Glass Studio

Northlight, houses Photography, Book making and a large hall for social gatherings and Yoga:)

Lily Loom, houses textiles-weaving and surface design as well as the Main administrative offices.  Below are a few of my other favorite spots and views I found upon wandering the grounds. 

Porch at the old Dye House

Hydrangeas in bloom by the entrance to the Supply store (back of Craft House)

“Cheryl’s Gate”, named so after a class mate who helped me appreciate the intricate beauty of this old gate (not that it needed much help!)

Old stairs (not in use) covered in Moss on the side of Craft House and the supply store

View at dusk looking out the front door of Lily Loom

Walled garden leading behind metals and clay to Lily Loom, it’s covered in clay tiles and found objects and I could always find something new as I walked past it.

The Red neon box up between the Print studio and Northlight.

View out the side of the Pines on our last morning.

That concludes the walking tour of Penland!  I hope you got a feel for what the campus, grounds and facilities are like.  It’s quite a wonderful experience and I even heard rumors of them installing some Air conditioning sometime in the near future (in the spots that really need it).  Have you visited Penland or another similar school?  What was your experience like?