Sunday, April 25, 2010

Carved in Stone

Can't say how many times I've made that comment to emphasize certainty and commitment, but this weekend, I thought I would take a stab at actually doing sculpting a rock. I was offered an opportunity to take a class from noted sculptor, DJ Garrity, three time sculptor-in-residence at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.

DJ introduced himself to me and spoke for awhile about the quality of stone and the tools necessary to take an ordinary piece of basalt and carve a human face into the rock. He offered me my pick of the rocks and I found a piece about 15" in height that had a bare hint of a face on one edge. Hammer in one hand and chisel in the other, I set about following his directions. DJ is an excellent instructor and alternates between telling you about the craft of carving stone and telling stories about his travels throughout the United States and Ireland where he plies his craft. The first night flew by and I was excited by what I had accomplished, even if it was just shaping a nose.
On Saturday, I couldn't wait to get started again. Today, I was joined by Kay, who owns the Pickled Heron Gallery in Ridgefield, WA, who sponsored the class. We all worked side by side on our pieces and I am amazed at how the face comes out of the rock.
Once you get going, the face guides you as if it had been waiting inside the stone all along and was eager to see the light of day. By that afternoon, I had found all but the eyes and forehead.
Class ended at three and with plenty of daylight left, I decided to take my camera out to Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the best times of the year to see the waterfowl as they are breeding and I was not disappointed. Blue Herons, waterfowl of several varieties, Red-Winged Blackbirds and more were everywhere, easily seen from the car, where you have to remain this time of year to avoid disturbing the birds raising their young.
This heron caught his dinner while I was taking his photo.
On Sunday, I carved my chin, eyes and forehead and have only to sand my piece to finish it. I will return for another day of class in May, but I can see, this could truly become addictive.
I've already started my second piece.....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Australia! Part Seven: Students, Art and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Each day, I traipsed down this set of stairs with my class supplies and materials. At night, I sat at the end of the stairs - the best place I found for WiFi reception. No matter where you were in the building, there was a killer view of the surrounding forest and birdwatching was at a premium, with cockatoos, ducks, crimson rosellas and kookaburras commonly flying by.

My next class was Mixed Media Portraits. The class was filled with students bent on having fun and we laughed, joked and told stories as we worked through the class. The object of the class was not to turn out a face using a formula, but to create a one -of-a-kind face filled with character and emotion. We did warm up contour drawings and then moved ahead to draw a face upside down on printed paper to "fool" the brain into having no preconceived ideas of how a face was to look. After learning the basics of drawing a face, we moved on to create a face using the six colors of the rainbow rather than flesh - cool colors for shadows and warm for highlights. This was when the faces became truly interesting. A last portrait was created using all that had been learned in the class. Everyone created the most brilliant art, don't you think?

After an evening of show and tell, another scrumptious meal and a good night's sleep, I headed for my third class, Secret Garden Journaling. What a great group of ladies I had in this class!! I felt so blessed for the students I had throughout the retreat. All there to have a good time and all willing not only to learn but to share their own knowledge with others during the class.

After a day of journaling techniques, shared stories and an Australian geography and history class for me, here is some of the great work produced in class. I am amazed, but not surprised, by the incredible talent these students had. Many of them teachers or working artists in their own right, the art they produced was impressive.

This was an amazing class and I learned as much from the students as I taught to the class and you could not ask for better company than the ladies in this class. But now it was time for another great dinner and a bit of Trivia. I was a bit nervous in this competition. I knew very little about Australian trivia. But the questions were from general knowledge and our team of four started out well...two Americans (Leslie and me) and two Australians (Sonja and Fiona), but we were always just short one question it seemed and we missed out on the great prizes divvied up to the winners. And Lucy, I will forevermore remember that ebony is not just wood, but a dense, dark wood....Thanks so much for being in the tough spot of scorer.

Laurie Mika and sister, Leslie

Laurie and I

Bevlea, Laurie, Eva and ?

Seet Lucy scoring the trivia answers.

Bevlea asking the hard questions.

Eva, me and Jen Crossley
All too soon it was time to go back to our rooms and pack. Tomorrow is our last day of class and we needed to be checked out of our room by 9 AM.

Karin and Dawn
Eliza and Robyn
It was hard to believe it was time for my last class, Dolls for Big Girls. I could not believe it was time for the retreat to be over, when it seemed it had just started. And what a great class it turned out to be with much laughter as we created and put together our dolls. Unfortunately, before we could properly paint and cloth our creations, it was already time to be out of our classroom and no photos were taken of our creations. It was incredibly sad to be saying goodbye to everyone, but I know we have the best intentions of staying in touch, because the one thing I know, is that I am coming back to this country again one day and have a longer look. Though I have only been here a short time, I have felt at home here from the moment I stepped off the plane.



Kelsey and Maryse

Nick, Dawn and Kelsey
Thank you, Bevlea, for having me over to teach and taking a chance on someone you did not know. Thank you, Eva, for housing me, feeding me and dragging me around the country side (especially the opportunity shops and bird haunts) and for being as wonderful and down to earth as you are. Thank you everyone for your warm welcome, shared laughter, good humor and warmth. Thank you for the presents and most of all, for the friendship you offered a complete stranger, making me feel welcome in a strange land. You are all amazing and I had the experience of a lifetime. See you all again one of these days. XOXO Jan