Today I took a class at the Sitka Center of Art and Ecology located at Cascade Head Beach, in Otis, Oregon. It is a beautiful setting in the hills over the beach, heavily forested, with trails down to the beach and tidepools. The classrooms are small and cozy and the classes are lead by quality instructors.
The class I took was called Celebration of Color taught by Sarah Rabkin, a writer-in-residence at Sitka who recently retired as a professor of writing at University of California at Santa Cruz. She does wonderful nature journals using colored pencils as her medium. There were six students in the class. We worked in a studio with windows overlooking the forest to the sound of rain falling softly on the skylights.
The first third of the class was learning to use colored pencils and completing a 12 spot color wheel by blending the primary colors of cyan, magenta and yellow. We then tried using the pencils to exactly match the colors of an object - I tried a pine cone, fern leave and my hand and it's harder than you would think to match a color precisely. If you want to give it a try online go to http://www.exploratorium.edu/exhibits/mix_n_match/ .
The second third of the class we pulled paint chips without looking from a bag and used the paint chips to inspire creative writing, letting the color influence our thoughts and emotions to create words on paper. The results were amazing with students using both prose and poetry to reflect the color they chose. There was a wonderful German woman in the class whose color reminded her of the chocolate given to her as a child by the U.S. soldiers posted in her home in Germany after WW II and she wrote of experiencing the war from her perspective of occupation, giving us new insight on the aftermath of war.
The last third of the class, we tore/cut pieces of photographs from magazines to make a collage that showed the movement of color on a page - while most of us did include specific items, we did not cut figures or objects to form the collage - only enhance the movement of color. This turned out to be a challenging exercise - and I was pleased with what I accomplished in only and hour and a half. And I liked the end result better than a collage that featured cutouts and purposefully following a "theme".
I will definitely use what I learned in the class and look forward to taking a class from this instructor again, as well as returning to Sitka Center when I can enjoy the trails and the beach.