Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back from Heartwood Residency: Fired up and ready to roll!

Upcoming ART Workshops
with Shanna Wheelock in her Lubec studio
The Clay Goddess Workshop for Women
Images of females, animals, and nature that date back thousands of years empower today’s women along their own journey. Learn about ancient art, mythology, and feminine symbology while hand-sculpting with clay in a relaxing and inspirational studio environment. Participants will be guided to discover with which deities and symbols they most connect. Make figurines, wall plaques, pottery, and amulets, whatever your soul desires!
Wednesday April 17, 2013
5:30-8:30 p.m.
Tuition: $65 (includes materials and firing fee)
Pre-registration is required. Limited space available. To register or for more info, email me at:
 Introduction to Encaustic Painting
Encaustic, meaning "to burn in" is a method of painting with a mixture of beeswax, tree resin, and pigment that dates back thousands of years. Medium is applied in a molten liquid state to prepared substrate, painted in layers and heat-fused. This one day introductory workshop is perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics. We’ll cover history, safety, materials, tools, equipment, substrate preparation, color application, layering, fusing, scraping and buffing, mark-making, etching, transfers, and pigment sticks. No previous art experience necessary. Materials are provided. All you need to bring is lunch/snacks/drink and an apron or paint shirt.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Tuition: $185 (includes materials)
Pre-registration is required. Limited space available. To register or for more info, email me at:
WATER, WIND, and TIME: Factory C Drawing series
Shanna Wheelock, 2013
12" x 15"
This is the beginning stage for the drawing seen above....I am feeling kind of drawn to it's simplicity.
One of a series in study of Factory C.
Greenware (in progress)
Shanna Wheelock, 2013
Our MFA pod during residency weekend at Heartwood College of Art.
 Sherry Ashby Cunningham explains symbolism in her painting during our "Spirituality in Women's Art" presentation at the Machias Women's Forum.
 Elizabeth Ostrander discusses her sculpture during our "Spirituality in Women's Art" presentation at the Machias Women's Forum.
 Bouli preens before the Machias presentation. She must have thought that she would be joining us at the talk. Maybe next time, Bouli.

I'm recently returned from MFA residency weekend in Kennebunk. Twice a semester I am on campus at Heartwood College of Art and ALWAYS it is an amazing event. Fourteen women artists gathered for camaraderie and creation during the intensive weekend. We began on Friday with potluck and critique. As usual, the food was fabulous and eclectic and the artwork was diverse and inspirational: nudes on fabric, stuffed pantyhose, seven-foot felted pillars, dogwood and feather arrows....drawing, printing, painting, and sculpture galore! The weekend was packed with an all-day Saturday hands-on workshop followed by a delicious evening out at Academe. It was a good thing that we filled our bellies (and minds!) with fuel because Sunday found us at the round table for a lively discussion of William James' writing. Let's just say that the book talks can get a wee bit fiery. (Or maybe that's just me?!) I didn't realize this at the time of our discussion, but James was a Swedenborgian theologian. One of my favorite Portland church-hopping memories in the early 90's was the Swedenborg church. Just an interesting connection.
I returned from residency weekend fired-up and ready to roll in the studio. That's the thing about being an artist. When the inspiration strikes one MUST act upon it lest one be quite miserable. (This I learned long ago). I am blessed to have the flexibility and time to act upon my creative impulses but have been through many years in the past where that was not always possible. I am truly grateful for this gift of time and freedom. Lately my urges have moved mostly toward drawing. I have always loved to draw but the pottery, weaving, and sculpture has consumed me. This current study of Factory C offered up so many seductive images that screamed for illustration. The drawing is grounding me and allowing meditative reflection and an in-depth look at the finer construction details in this massive dilapidated structure. I could seriously spend years studying this one ruin.
My typical day of late consists of nine to eleven hours of intense, obsessive studio time, hopping between the cave, the nook, and the drawing table. When not in the studio, I can be found at a community arts meeting or walking. March was particularly busy with appointments as well. The detailed drawings prompted me to finally get glasses! There is definitely an adjustment period, but so far, I am finding them helpful while drawing thousands of tiny lines.
In March I presented art talks at two venues. This past week I joined artists Sherry Ashby Cunningham and Elizabeth Ostrander to speak at the Machias Women's Forum on the topic of spirituality in women's art. The venue was quickly outgrown by the attendees but somehow we all squeezed-in. There were even a few men in the audience which I have a feeling might be a bit unusual for this forum. Nice to see!  I loved listening to both Sherry and Elizabeth realizing how much we have in common in our spiritual paths and creative inspirations. Estrogen and "girl-power" was flowing full force this evening and I found it to be truly empowering!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Creating Modern Day Artifacts

Machias Women's Forum presents
Spirituality in Women's Art
Presenters: Sherry Ashby Cunningham, Elizabeth Ostrander, and Shanna Wheelock
Thursday, March 21, 2013
in the meeting room at Helen's Restaurant, Machias
Dinner from the menu at 5:30 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Although this is the Women's Forum, men are encouraged to attend this special event!
Art Workshops
With Instructor Shanna Wheelock
Lubec, Maine
Clay Goddess: April 17
Introduction to Encaustic Painting: July 10
For more info, send an inquiry here.
 The corner of my drawing table.
Note the old Grumbacher box.
This is the same box that years ago held my mom's drawing charcoal.
"The Nook"
 I have been spending most of my time here lately
 working out ideas, sketching, reading, researching, and designing workshop fliers.
I completed nine ink drawings in the "Factory C"series and have now begun to transcribe them onto clay. 
Some things to keep in mind....
So many things happen in a week that it is hard to keep track of it all. I am in a mad flurry of art activity as the obsession with Factory C grows. I have felt an urgency to get the ideas down and this week that all began to make sense. I heard a tidbit of news that the dilapidated remains may, in part, be removed. Though I understand the safety issues with a building in such a state, I am saddened at the thought of anything changing by the hands of humans. Until now, the building's condition has been at the whim of the natural elements and the result has been one that exudes a silent and powerful sense of reverence. As my work unfolds over the next few months, I hope to capture some of that feeling in ink, clay, and wax, not only for my own creative self-indulgence, but also to serve as some sort of historical modern-day artifact.
This past week's agenda contained a sprinkling of business, health, spiritual, and art meetings along with a talk that Elizabeth Ostrander and I presented at The Eastport Arts Center.  I am always a bit  nervous before speaking in public. Even with more than thirteen years teaching under my belt this feeling has never gone away. I was comforted by the peaceful ambiance of the center and the presence of a few familiar and friendly faces in the crowd. For my portion of the presentation I had created a slide show of some of the key women in my life who have somehow contributed to my development as an artist. Though I focused on only a handful of women, there are in fact so many more who deserve mention. Listening to Elizabeth's account of her art experiences and journey that has sustained her through seventy years of art-making, I realized that my forty-three years on this planet has been eased and benefited by all the women who came before me, who fought for their place in what has traditionally been a "man's world." I am fortunate to have men in my life, as well, who have supported my journey, men who have broken through the traditional roles and stereotypes to value women's contributions to the art world and life in general.
The next few days I will prepare for my MFA seventh semester's residency, spend time with creative friends, and work on another "talk". Along with two other artists, Sherry Ashby Cunningham and Elizabeth Ostrander, I will present at the Machias Women's Forum on March 21. The topic is spirituality in women's art. I am still gathering my thoughts for this presentation as it will differ from last week's talk in Eastport. Right now the thought is that I will focus primarily on my fiber works. But we'll see. A lot can change in my mind over the course of four days.
No doubt some are singing Irish folk songs, eating boiled cabbage, and drinking green beer by the time they read this blog entry, being St. Patty's Day and all. My Celtic roots are strong but I will most likely be found in the studio with hands steeped in gritty mud. My internal clock, still adjusting to the time change, finds me in bed an hour longer than usual most days but burning the midnight oil to get the work done. Though the temps dipped again this week, there is a feeling of spring in the air. Foolish to think such thoughts perhaps. The calendar suggests that Spring Equinox arrives soon, but local meteorology threatens snow. Several inches. Plowable.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Back to the Drawing Table

 Sunday, March 10, 2013
Women's Art: A Conversation with Elizabeth Ostrander and Shanna Wheelock
3:00 the Eastport Arts Center
36 Washington Street, Eastport, Maine
Click here for Shanna Wheelock's website.
Click here Elizabeth Ostrander's website
Click here for the Eastport Art Center website.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Machias Women's Forum
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Helen's Restaurant, Machias, ME
Presenters: Shanna Wheelock, Elizabeth Ostrander, and Sherry Ashby Cunningham
Topic: How Spirituality informs and inspires our artwork
Save the date and check back for more info.
Been drawing images of "Factory C" 
(Shanna Wheelock, Lubec, Maine)
Factory C
(Lubec, Maine)
Interior View of "Factory C"
(Shanna Wheelock, Lubec, Maine)

Photo of "Factory C"
(Lubec, Maine)

Back in early college years my ceramics professor told me that being able to draw is a critical skill, even for a potter. Though I enjoyed drawing I fumbled around quite a bit. The fine arts program leaned on the heavy side of drawing credits and for that I am thankful. From those years I developed a love of figure drawing and conte. Drawing for me, though, is one of those things that gets put to the side when there are dozens of mugs or a sculpture needing to be done. I do genuinely love to draw, and just as with weaving or clay work, I can get lost for hours in shading and line.
Soon after I visited the ruins at Factory C, I knew that I wanted to draw the images that were burned so deeply in my mind. What I didn't account for was that it had been at least three years since I had picked up a drawing tool to do a serious drawing.
I was a bit apprehensive as my logical self laid out ideas for matching paper sizes and a grouping of drawings all executed in one material. I soon realized that I was far more rusty with my drawing skills than previously thought. A few rough starts in pencil then grumblings with shading and tendencies toward detail even thought the material was not well suited for that, I forged onward. A mix of pleasure and pain, if you will. I eventually got into my groove and reminded myself that I don't need to have it all figured out before the first line is even drawn.
Four drawings later, I am starting to find my zone and zero in on what I'd like to do. The first few drawings are like getting back to the wheel after a few months away. At first it feels awkward but eventually the hands remember the right pressure and speed. Drawing is meditative in the same was as clay or fiber, and messy in its own right.
I plan to use the drawings as a means to an end. They will be studied, dissected, enlarged, then transferred in some fashion. Right now I just catch glimpses of a plan in mind's eye. As with most of my projects, I don't know the end result until I know the end.
Drawing can be addictive but right now I have quite a few things to juggle so that obsession will have to be squeezed into allotted blocks of time over the next few weeks. I just spent the past two weeks fully immersed in the factory study from clay work to drawing, ruin site visits, time at the library, and online research. I took a small hiatus from the bulk of meetings that I normally attend and other semi-social functions for that focus, but the roster is once again full and I am at that moment in the calendar year where I take a deep breath, hold up my feet, and move full steam ahead. The next few months until January 2014 are blocked with commissions, vending, stocking shops, speaking engagements, workshops, MFA classes, farmer's market, and community work with Lubec Arts Alive and (newly added) committee work for the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium project.  (YES! It looks like Lubec, in most high probability, will be one of the 2014 sites! I'll post updates as I know them.)
Happy Birthday Mom!
We just returned from the Samoset where we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday with a lovely evening out on the town. The visit was too short but ended on a fun note with mom and Chris singing all kinds of songs from the 50's. Let's just say that Elvis was one of the faves and when the first line of Hound Dog began the two of them were twisting across the room while belting out the lyrics. It sure was a sight! I hope that I am this energetic and free-spirited at seventy. Crossing my fingers those genes are well ingrained. Thanks, Mom, for forty three years of unconditional love and nurturing, and thank you for being such a wonderful guide and supporter of my artist self.
In the downeast area this coming weekend?
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Women's Art: A Conversation with Elizabeth Ostrander and Shanna Wheelock
3:00 the Eastport Arts Center

While I was in Rockland and tooling around the streets, I came upon this lovely mermaid resting contently in a window box along Main Street. This is the work of Elizabeth Ostrander, an Eastport artist with whom I will share the stage this coming Sunday as we present a talk at the Eastport Arts Center.