Whidbey Artists Keep Taking Classes, Live and Online by Diane Reardon

1 10 2014

Humpbacks Count (detail) by Diane Reardon

Many artists in our local Surface Design group refresh their creativity by taking a class. It can provide the jolt of learning a new technique, a review of design basics, or a chance to hone one’s personal vision. It’s also just fun to hang out with those who are just as bonkers as we are about making great stuff.

Live Classes

We’re very lucky to have three great ‘schools’ handy. Coupeville’s Pacific Northwest Art School brings international artists in photography, fiber, painting, and mixed media. Gail Harker continues to bring the quality of London’s City & Guilds series to LaConner, and Maiwa in Vancouver offers especially tempting textile skills.  Nothing like taking 4 or 5 days to immerse yourself in hand-dyeing fabric, learning to use oil sticks, or making your own paper.

Online Classes

Lately we also have the option of online courses. Gail Harker and Jane Dunnewold have begun offering sessions this way.

I’m currently in a 10-week online art class with Lisa Call that uses the tools of the internet so students can upload their weekly artwork, join in on live meetings with images, and connect with each other through a WordPress comment section. I’m working hard and learning a bunch. The benefits are that I’m working in my own studio and have choices about when to access the audio and email material.

Although this particular class focuses on the creative process of working in a series, there are many shorter technique courses. For example, I learned how to create the crackly seaweed in the image above from Linda Robertson’s encaustic demonstration class.  (See www.dianereardon.com for my whale art and www.dianereardonblog.com for info on whales.)

Choosing an Online Class

Courses vary in

  • How much audio, video, and written information is provided
  • How it’s delivered and how long it’s available
  • How much feedback teachers offer
  • How students are able to interact

And, of course, cost.

If you’re not an artist, other online courses are sprouting up all over the wild west of the internet. Google your favorite passion or check out www.coursera.com for a set of free university level courses to spice up your winter.

Textiles in India by Mary Burks

6 08 2014

This winter on a tour with Mawai to India I had the opportunity to experience textiles that were remarkable.


It was amazing to see whole communities involved in some aspect of a particular process. We visited villages where weaving was king, where wood blocks were produced…


Where fabric was dyed and laid out in the sun to dry…


I saw embroidery work that was unimaginable in its detail…


It was an overwhelming trip, rich in inspiration and content. It has left me so bewildered about where I go next with my own journey with textiles that I have had to step away from the studio for awhile and think. Looking at the magnificent work being done for generations makes me aware that I will never be able to do production work again and that the only way to honor what I have experienced is to truly do one of a kind pieces that reflect who I am and what matters to me, that I really have to listen to my own voice and project that voice through the textiles. Finally I have been able to go back to the studio and to begin to create. I was struck by the doors and windows and courtyards that I saw in India and I am looking at the concept of doors and windows as means to create boundaries, and as a means of traveling back and forth through them to other worlds. At least seven new pieces are awaiting stitching. I am excited…

– Mary Burks

Members’ Gallery

30 06 2014


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.