Costa Rica Workshop with Katie Kendrick!

by Cat B on September 20, 2014

DRAWThis coming winter, February 5th to 13th, I’ll be heading to Costa Rica to teach with painter Katie Kendrick! This is an art vacation open to all and organized by art vacation wizard and artist Kathie Vezzani! Katie is a wonderful teacher and artist and I am honored to have been invited to teach alongside her. We’ll each do a session each day. Katie will concentrate on intuitive, layered painting and share her process. I will focus on drawing, how to leap forward with our observational and imaginative drawing and ways we can work with our minds to clarify our ideas. Katie and I will be organizing all the materials; participants only need to bring their willingness to explore both art and place! And it’s in the dead of winter in Costa Rica! Now’s the time to plan the wind, chill and snow escape!

And I should note that as well as being an art holiday, it will be an amazing travel adventure in an amazing nature preserve! Here’s what Kathie says on her site about the place we’ll be staying:

The Jungle Lodge at Costa Rica Yoga Spa is set on the mountain of a private ranch in Nosara, Guanacaste on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica.  It is set on a  finca (farm), where the organic produce for our vegetarian meals are grown using sustainable practices, and where the chefs choose daily from its bounty.

www.kathievezzani.comThere is stunning landscaping, gardens, walking trails, waterfalls and wildlife galore! Overlooking the Biological Reserve, Ostional National Wildlife Park and river basin of the Rio Montaña, we will enjoy our meals in a panoramic outdoor dining area while families of howler and white-faced monkeys are eating in the nearby trees. Amid a myriad of flora and fauna, we also will see a wide variety of birds and butterflies on a daily basis.”

Travel really sharpens our focus, opens our minds and frees us from our usual concerns so it will be a great space for us to make art explorations and experiments. In my experience, so much happens when we work in new ways, new places and alongside fellow artists. I’m particularly keen to work with Katie for the first time and we’ll participate in each other’s sessions. I know from chatting with Katie that we each teach from a place where we look for each artist’s unique strengths so these might be fully encouraged and grow. It’s not necessary to have a lot of previous experience and it’s also fine if you do. All are welcome. We’ll explore together.

If you’re interested in an art vacation in an amazing place with lots of workshop time and planned travel explorations too, please join us! There are a few spaces still open and you can sign up via Kathie Vezzani.

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Sun Records / 33 rpm Long Playing

by Cat B on September 18, 2014

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In the spring, I started work on  Sun Records, a “record company” that plays only visual music. It’s my homage to music, especially the blues, which has been such a transformative part of my life and of the planet’s too, I think. I spend a lot of time wondering about how we can get to that place of transformation and how to make art that might inspire happiness and peace, if possible. This is a very humble effort, of course, and one triggered by memory. No one listens to vinyl records any more but I love the idea that they were called “long playing” and that great music, or good messages, can just keep spinning around endlessly! There are 12 “albums” in the project.

Back in the seventies, when I was in my very early twenties, I was living in Montreal, an art and music imbued city. I loved rock music already but had only a vague notion of the blues. One day a love affair went awry and I was feeling like shit, just heartbroken and way down in the dumps. A friend of mine, in an act of great kindness, convinced me to go out that night and hear some blues. Howlin’ Wolf was in town and she said I’d be feeling better after hearing Wolf. I didn’t really believe her but went along anyway.

Howlin’ Wolf was one of the fiercest and most moving of blues singers; he howled and he raged. He did what a polite Canadian white girl couldn’t—he poured out his feelings with every fiber of his body. He raised his voice. He shouted and howled. He was already in his sixties the night I saw him and ill with kidney problems. That day, he and his band had driven all the way from Chicago in a couple of beat-up station wagons with all the instruments and amps squeezed in. The show started a bit late that night. When the band was warming up, Hubert Sumlin, Wolf’s great guitar player, stepped up to the mike to apologize for the tardy start. He smiled and said that they’d been driving all day and when they’d arrived they’d had to take Wolf to the Royal Victoria Hospital for a session of dialysis. He said the nurses were so kind to Wolf and the band was so grateful they’d taken such good care of him. He said that Wolf was a great man, still willing to give it his all even though he was ill and we should all give him a warm welcome, which we did. Shouts and howls went up with the applause.

Hearing this, seeing these people, feeling their good humor and grace in the face of such travails and hard travel, I felt my own sense of spirit open and my sadness loosen. Wolf then lumbered onto the stage, sat himself down on a stool and without a word began to play his guitar with an urgency that made your hair stand up. Twaaaaaaang. Over and over, so loud you couldn’t think. Then he started singing. Whatever blues I had that night, or had ever had, were cleansed by his singing. He carried our suffering away with his voice. You could almost see people lighten up as the night went on. We knew Wolf had suffered loss too, had failed at love, been cheated on, lost out. We knew he had money problems and broken health. That he was tired. We knew in a way that set us free that  whatever we faced we are not alone, ever. And whatever sorrows we faced would pass as mine mostly passed that night absorbed by the sound of one man’s heart and history, and a whole race’s history. It gave me perspective, a chance to stand outside of myself and see a bigger picture.

Now this spring, lots of years later, I got the idea to do Sun Records. How or why ideas come, I can’t really explain, but as I get older I see that ideas that come to me encompass many aspects and learnings from the whole of my life. Nice to get older! When ideas for art or writing come to me, I try to do them straight away as I feel quite honored to receive them really. So, I began. But then all sorts of things happened in our lives here and in June, when I went away on a teaching gig, I had to leave the project half finished, alas.

This week I finally got to pick up where I left off. Of course, I am not quite the same person I was in June. Everything changes, us too, and I find I see things a little differently, draw a little differently and mostly, today, I’d lost my technical mojo in laying the type down. The technique I had going for me in June seems not to work as well in September. But tomorrow I go back to the studio keeping the faith that things will move along as they are meant to. So, almost there with Sun Records and a new idea has already arrived. Feeling very blessed.

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Back to the Studio

by Cat B on September 11, 2014

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It’s been a super busy year here both personally and work wise. All this busy-ness—writing, design work, family travel—has kept me out of the studio all summer. When I’m away from the studio for a long time, I almost forget what it is I’m doing as an artist. I indulge in looking at other art, get into a kind of free-floating space and wonder what is possible. This can be good. New ideas sometimes come this way but it can also feel unanchored and uncomfortable. It’s only in the doing that things gel, for me anyway. When I went in today, I started working on my record project which I started in the spring. I cut the records out of wood, painted them, created a singer for each then penned the words. I love the idea of songs playing endlessly, especially songs that say something. I’ll post the series once the last touches are in place. Good to be back.

 

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Drawing Workshop in Greece

by Cat B on August 10, 2014

Just back from our amazing workshop on the Greek island of Skyros as part of Skyros Holidays which creates holistic holidays around the world with art, writing, yoga and meditation. It was  great to do this workshop and visit this sparsely populated island, see its varied landscape, and visit the ancient village of Skyros, home once to Achilles! And to meet the wonderful participants and the warm and welcoming Greek people.

I did two one-week sessions and a few half day sessions of art-making. We worked outdoors on the same tables we ate on mostly drawing with paint. We began by doing huge communal drawings which gave us the chance to see that drawing is simply making marks, that we each have our own way of doing so and that there are infinite possibilities. And also that we can let go of attachment to the things we do and explore together. It also helped us see that art is always unfolding in new ways and that we are part of that unfolding.

Most of the students were from England, Ireland, Scandinavia and Italy. I was impressed how quickly everyone allowed themselves to abandon traditional ideas about drawing with accuracy and getting things “right”. We drew in abstract ways, with our eyes only on what we were drawing and we drew even with our eyes closed. We drew from memory too. We got interested in what we were seeing and discovering, and the ways we could go into uncharted territory to create new experiences and invent. We looked at the things we were telling ourselves as so many of those things can hold us back. Part of our work became watching the mind and changing any negatives to positives. This really opened us up to boldness. And we learned to ask good questions. Why? Why not? What do we see, what can we do with it, what can we offer of ourselves? And what do we see of ourselves in the work too? We each have a unique perspective, our own story and sensibility, so working together is a great way to see our perspective as well as appreciate that of others. Working in a situation like this brought people from different parts of the world together and our assumptions became more evident. It was great. Art is so wonderfully immediate as a way of sharing insight and spirit.

It was hot, very hot, and the heat had an interesting effect, I think. It made us forget everything—all the concerns of our regular lives, even our ideas about art, a real holiday. It really brought us fully into the present moment and helped us to relax and work slowly. Everyone made great leaps forward as we looked for what was unique and interesting in each other’s work rather than the school focus on what is “wrong”.  Our goal was not finished work but seeing possibilities and finding ideas with which to work as we go forward.

Here are a few shots of the place. Notice that we were sleeping in small bamboo huts and eating outside. Just behind the compound was a farm with a young mule and out front was the beautiful Aegean where we all swam. We did yoga too with the inspirational Swiss yogi, Andreas Vetsch, who led a kirtan one night. It was amazing to chant with 40 other people and see the moon rising over the Aegean. Magic.
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Next traveling workshop is in Costa Rica February 5th-13th. Teaching with the wonderful expressionistic painter Katie Kendrick. I’ll be focusing on experimental drawing and finding ideas for our art practice. This one is produced by Kathie Vezzani and you can learn more here and sign up here.

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The Drawing Club Summer Hiatus Begins

by Cat B on June 7, 2014

This morning was the last meeting for The Saturday Morning Drawing Club until September. When we make art together we share so much. The summer farewell is always tinged with a little sadness as farewells are. We’ll all do our own thing over the next few months and when we get together again in September, it’ll be great to see both the art and each other.

This session we’ve focused mostly on drawing people. We’re always trying to get out of our habitual patterns to encounter something new and wake up a bit, in one way or another. Usually I set things up so we have a couple of rules to follow. One might be that we make a portrait using a funky thick brush and almost dry paint. Something we might think we can’t do. Or we might use charcoal and draw with our fingers. Or paint on plexiglass then press our paper on it to make a mottled impression. The rules usually make it impossible to fuss and get into that rut where all that comes through is our uptight desire to get things right. The rules tend to lead to drawings where we’re simply ourselves.

Here’s a beautiful charcoal drawing by Deb Kaup—

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And a few brush drawings of mine—

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This has been an unexpectedly busy winter/spring for me so my posts here have been a bit sporadic. I’ll be in England soon and exploring art with my friend Stoney Parsons, a painter and stained glass artist. Then off to Skyros, a tiny island off the coast of Greece where I’ll be teaching drawing. I’ll share some of the adventure here. Thanks for visiting!

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Workshops

by Cat B on May 6, 2014

Hello! New workshops are now up on on my new CLASSES page!  And next fall I’ll also be doing an online class exploring creative process for anyone interested.

But, first, I’ll be traveling to Skyros, a small Greek island a short boat ride from Athens! We’ll be exploring drawing and mixed media as a way to grow our visual thinking. This is a totally supportive, enriching study, one that supports all artists at any stage of their journeys. We’ll be in Asitsa Bay, right by the water so it will be a totally relaxing time. It’s hosted by Skyros Holistic Holidays and there are still a couple of spaces open. A bit of a hike from here in the US but you can also stop in Athens to see the Acropolis and take in some great Greek culture!  You can sign up here: www.skyros.com 

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And in February 2015 I’ll be teaching with Katie Kendricks in Costa Rica for ten days! Katie is a wonderful expressionistic painter and teacher. I’ll be focusing on drawing and mixed media art-making as a way of growing our visual thinking. Plus we’ll be exploring the countryside of Costa Rica and swimming in the ocean. And in February! I’ve been told by very reliable sources that there is NO snow in Costa Rica! The extraordinary Kathie Vezzani, artist and trip wizard, is organizing this workshop in one piece of paradise! You can sign up and learn more here: www.kathievezzani.com

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Check on the CLASSES page for upcoming events and workshops. Thanks!

 

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Drawing Class

by Cat B on May 5, 2014

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Every Saturday, the drawing class meets to explore drawing and art making.  We’re exploring modernism, defined by Webster’s as “a style of art, architecture, literature, etc., that uses ideas and methods which are very different from those used in the past.” We don’t often break with ideas and methods used by other artists but rather with our own preconceptions and ways of working and thinking. We’re applying the concept to ourselves and getting out of our comfort zones as best we can. 

This time: drawing with scissors using papers we painted ourselves a la Matisse but in a more literal and intimate way than he did. We were thinking of Mrs. Delaney too and her beautifully intricate as well as accurate botanical collages. And we were thinking of spring.

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April 17th at room83spring!

by Cat B on April 4, 2014

Very happy to be showing my sculpted heads at room83spring in Watertown, MA, just a short paddle across the Charles River from Boston and an even shorter bicycle ride up Mt Auburn Street to Harvard Square!  I started sculpting these heads last year when I first made some with my Saturday art class. Then I became engrossed at how each one has its own character. I started to move them around, make odd couples and arrangements. I saw that they, like we, are better together than sitting singly on their own. Opening day preview is Thursday, April 17th from 6-8 pm. Reception is Sunday May 11th 3-5 pm. I’ll be showing with 4 wonderful artists—Maggie Stern, Frances Hamilton, Phyllis Poor, and Paul Angiolillo. Hope to see you and thanks to artists Ellen Wineburg and Cathleen Daley, owners 0f room83spring  for inviting me to show this piece— “Hanging Together / So Much Better Than Falling Apart.

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William Kentridge at ICA/Boston

by Cat B on February 23, 2014

It’s the first warm Sunday in ages and we took a day out to see the William Kentridge show at the ICA/Boston. An absolutely amazing show that included powerful drawings as well as his film, The Refusal of Time. The film is projected on six screens in a black box room with wooden bellows in the center and a few chairs scattered around. It’s impossible to see every bit of it at once. It was a totally enveloping experience—meditative, provocative, visually stunning, moving. The subject is time, the attempts to control it and impose order in an imperialistic way; also the march of history, its echoes into the now; the insurgency of spirit; how everything is floating in the universe of light. Challenging, thought provoking, life altering art. Do see it if you can. There’s also a book but this is an experience. You can see a small clip at the ICA site. Some stills from the film…

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Skyros

by Cat B on February 13, 2014

From June 28th until July 18th, 2014, I’ll be teaching on the tiny Greek island of Skyros as part of the Skyros holistic holiday program. For the first week, I’ll be teaching Drawing Out of the Box in which we’ll explore drawing using many different materials and approaches as a way to connect with the creative self. In the second and third week, I’ll be teaching The Illustrated Word in which we make handmade artists’ books with our words and images. In both workshops, we’ll explore creative thinking and the many ways we can make art. We’ll be looking to build on our own particular gifts and strengths as artists and to get many ideas to take home for further development. The course is designed for artists of any level, beginners too. We’ll all have a chance to explore and experiment with making art in an open-minded, collaborative and supportive way.

Each day begins with yoga and breakfast then three hours of art making. I’ve been a student of yoga for over 15 years and find it to be one of the most salutary practices for both the body and mind. I use many of yoga’s ideas about the mind in my teaching, particularly getting centered, focused and aware of thoughts. Looks like there will be lots of opportunities for hiking and swimming too!

Working with fellow artists is always a wonderful adventure as we discover so much in making art together. Working with fellow artists on Skyros is bound to be a grand adventure! It will be amazing to be in such a beautiful, restful place with so much sunshine and water! I can’t think of a finer holiday—beautiful place, wonderful community of people, yoga, fresh food, fresh air, gorgeous water and making art in the company of others.

If you’re wanting an enriching art holiday, please consider joining us. First we fly from London to Athens where we hop on a boat (or perhaps a small plane) to the island of Skyros.

Check out the website for all the details about Skyros holidays and to sign up!  Please pass on to anyone you know who might be interested.

http://www.skyros.com

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