Monday, March 31, 2014

Big Fat Art with Jane Davies

WARNING! Long post with lots of eye candy!

But first, let's pause for a brief infomercial to remind you,that I am teaching at THE INK PAD in NYC on Saturday, April 5, and there are just a few spots left!   Here's the video teaser, and you can also watch Stencils & Silhouettes on YouTube:

OK - back to the regular post: On Thursday, I set out from my little town in Glen Ridge, NJ on my Road Trip to Big Fat Art with Jane Davies.  

Months ago, friend Judy Shea and I decided to do this workshop together.  We had each taken classes with Jane before and wanted to study with her again, and how better than to take a class together.

Since, in my challenged knowledge of US geography, Vermont sits on top of Massachusetts (NOT), I planned to stop at Judy's overnight "on the way."  I figured that driving 4 1/2 hours to Newburyport and stopping there overnight would break up the drive.  Plus, I'd get to hang out with my good friend.

As it turns out, it is actually farther from my house to Judy's, than it is from my house to Jane's!  Rupert, Vermont, is north of Albany, NY, which is north of where I live.  But no matter, I was thrilled to see Judy's new home in Newburyport, and also have dinner with friends Corrine Gilman and Kay Wallace.

 The port of Newbury port
 The town square at night
I loved this tribute to war victims in Iraq

Judy, me, Corrine Gilman and Kay Wallace after a great meal!

Judy's home is beautiful.  Her studio is gorgeous and filled with Judy-goodness.  And when she writes on facebook or on her blog that she lights candles for people, she really does! Here is her beautiful candle holder where she lights her candles.  Seeing this really touched my heart.

On Friday morning, we were off by 8:30 for the four hour drive to Rupert, VT.  

We were lucky enough to have fantastic housemates:  Adele and Linda - both wonderful artists and smart, observant women! 
Adele makes beautiful mixed media work combining her love of calligraphy and mixed media materials.  

She has a fabulous series where she actually dries slices of fruit and uses them as substrates.  Check out her website!

Jane is a very generous teacher; I highly recommend taking a class with her.  She was funny, kind, and very quick to call me on my anxiety about abstract work (remember this recent collage challenge with Julie Balzer?) and my desire to create symmetry and recognizable forms.  

 For example, at the end of Friday, I couldn't resist coaxing an owl out of one of my "starts."

But Jane challenged me to push out of that comfort zone and take my "starts" (first layers) into an ugly, awkward second, third and fourth layers, before beginning to calm them down into work that approaches a finishing stage. 

Here are some of those starts and awkward layers...

Can you spot Stencil Club stencils in this piece?

 I used Dots and Dashes, and Circles and Squares stencils as I worked on this piece.

Through the workshop, Judy and I sat across the table from each other and agonized together.  We also took pictures of each other taking pictures!

All of the women in the workshop were incredibly talented and fun.  Here are pics of some of them and their work:

Marilyn and Wendy going over Marilyn's technique of rubbing off layers with alcohol wipes.  She achieves amazing depth and texture this way.  I don't have pictures of Wendy's work, but it had such a light, playful feel to it, and I loved her color sense.

These beauties were made by housemate Linda, who had the neatest workspace I have ever seen.  Her talent for making order out of chaos definitely translated to her work, which had beautiful balance and line.
I don't have a picture of Sharon but happily I have this picture of some of her artwork.  She definitely has an urban feel to these pieces, and I love the angularity and her varied use of strong and delicate marks.
Lou is a therapist and journalist who uses her art in her practice.  She loves bright colors, so no wonder I was attracted to her work!
Loved working in a firehouse!  These are Kathy's pieces.  Sadly, Kathy had to leave us early because of a scratch on her eye.  Hope you're doing better Kathy!

Unfortunately, I wasn't diligent about taking pictures of everyone and their beautiful pieces.  But trust me, they (the women and their work) were amazing!  And Jane has a great video up on her blog with some of the beautiful hands at work. 

And on Sunday, I began to feel like I was "getting it..." a little!  I worked hard on one of my pieces, and felt like it came to a conclusion.  Using my Medallions stencil really helped pull it together.

Before leaving, I had to paint a picture for Jane - and as she LOVES her chickens, that's what I turned one of my big fat art pieces into.  Here's the before and after!

And although I'd painted something figurative on a piece of big fat art, Jane was pleased!

So do you gravitate towards figurative work, or do you lean towards abstraction?  And what happens to you when you are forced out of your comfort zone?  I want to know!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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  1. Hey, Jessica, what a GREAT POST!!! Thank you thank you. I so SO love the chicken painting, and the girls do too. Glad you got more pictures of your "starts" than I did. They look fabulous. What a great memory you have preserved here. GREAT photos! THANKS! And thanks again for participating in the workshop.

  2. What a fun post, Jessica! I knew you were nervous about having to create "abstract" work, but, in the end, you seem quite the natural! Glad you had such a wonderful time with Jane, Judy and "the girls"! I have to admit that I, too, am somewhat geographically challenged, but am so glad that you decided to go with Judy and that we were able to enjoy talking over a wonderful dinner! See you in October, "teach," if not before!! Mwah! Kay

  3. I enjoyed seeing your photos Jessica. It looks like a memorable class.Thanks.

  4. GREAT post, girlfriend. You captured it beautifully. I had such a great time with you and the rest of the art spirits in the room. I can't believe you got Adele's pictures. Great idea!!!! I have to say, I was exhausted last night and this morning. Crash.

  5. Thanks for the warning about the eye candy photos! I love how large everybody is working. That's my favorite way to work! Big and bold. You guys look like you are having a great time!

  6. Wow great post looks like a lot of fun
    Thank you for joining my DL.ART Thankful Thursday Anything Goes March Linky Party. Have a blessed day
    DIANA L.

  7. What a wonderful weekend sharing time with you and all the inspiring, encouraging women at BFA. I love your final piece Jessica. For me it has such a calming, meditative quality and reminds me of why I Iove abstract art so much. I hope you do more like it and post it. I'll be following your blog now!

  8. Omg, how envious I am. Looks like so much fun. And I just love Kay Wallace. Your final project came out great. Wonderful post.

  9. Nice job sharing the great weekend art getaway . Jane is the best.

  10. Artistic fun was had by all and many wonderful pieces of work were produced. I just know Jane had to love your piece of art with the chickens. What a thoughtful gift. It's nice to get away and just enjoy a few days with other artists.

  11. Jessica, fabulous post, and what a visual feast. Loved all the great eye candy and so glad I came to visit.
    :) Chris / CS Designs

  12. So glad you and Jidy got some sister time and played together. I love your starts and your fits about making something's all in therocess that is so valuable....great pics of the wrk. xox

  13. Jessica! I love that chicken piece you painted for Jane! Such a wonderful post about your gals weekend! I told Judy on her blog, how envious I am and someday hope to be able to get to an Art retreat with my girl friend! You gals looked like you had a wonderful time and see, you are still in one piece after coming out of that comfort zone! Yay! hugs ")
    ps...I lean toward abstract

  14. Oh, looks like great girl fun and colorful projects!

  15. Figurative? Not so much. Abstract, text, patterns, colour - they have me by the throat!

  16. Looks like a super weekend... some creative pushing, lots of creative play, and time with old and new friends. LOL on the geography issues... I'm like that too, so let's never plan a trip w/o looking at the map first!

  17. Sounds like you had an intense time during that workshop. Loved all the ladies' work too.
    I often find that I need to let go of a lot of pressure (I mainly put on me myself) first, when finding myself out of my comfort zone. I am more towards abstraction, but with being out of comfort zones this makes no difference at all. I have learned (and it took me quite some time) that it helps me to follow a model first to "feel" what there is to a special technique or style before I can adapt it and integrate it with my own world of shapes, textures and colours. I always fail when I try to skip this step.

    Loved this post and I am so happy that I have found your blog. Learning about you and your artistic journey that is so closely connected to your life in general (as is mine) is always a great pleasure. Will try to visit your blog more often in the future!

    Greetings from Vienna,
    Claudia x


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