Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicago Art Immersion

The workshop experience was a little different this time around.  Instead of strangers in a random congregation at a commercial studio or school, this was a trio of girlfriends getting together for a mini-vacation and an intimate workshop in Chicago.

I met Suzanne Clements years ago, while living in FL and she became a wonderful buddy and art friend.  While in FL, I also met the fabulous painter, Renee Decator, through Suzanne.  What you need to know about Suzanne is that she is a force of nature that creates connections and just seems to effortlessly make things happen.  One day a few months ago, I happened to mention to Suzanne that I would love to take a workshop with artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills.  Voila, baddabing, and abracadabra!  I'm meeting Suzanne and Renee at the airport in Chicago for 2 days of sightseeing and two days of waxy goodness.  You can read more about how Bridgette and Suzanne met on Bridgette's blog.

We crammed a lot of living into 4 days.  Renee did a ton of research on Chicago restaurant hot spots.  I wondered several times if it was even possible to get a bad plate of food in this town...  Needless to say we ate very well - perhaps too well!  If any of you gentle readers is planning on visiting the windy city anytime soon I can whole-heartedly recommend the Purple Pig and Roy's.  Had I not been in public, these were places where I wanted to lick the plates.  Suzanne arrange for a downtown photo walk with Google+ aquaintances and a trip to the Art Institure of Chicago.  Wow!  The photo walk was a great way to see the city and the museum just blew my already fragile mind.  It was a humbling experience to see paintings that I only knew from tiny pictures in books.  I owe the abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko, a big apology.  His works were on the list of famous paintings that I never "got".  In person, his gigantic paintings definitely elicit a response! 

OK back to the reason for the journey - Bridgette's workshop!  Oh my gosh this was fun.  Bridgette had transformed her basement into a minature classroom and we each had a lovely workstation with the cutest tin can O'tools.  I was immediately engrossed with this wicked looking little metal bristle tool.  What lovely marks it makes!

Bridgette went over the normal safety and basics information and then she hit the ground running.  The first day she went over mark making, oil glazing, transferring, texture, inscribing, scraping, and intarsia.

Suzanne watching Bridgette demonstrate and Renee getting to work.

The next 3 shots are a progression of Bridgette's demonstration of the loveliness that is oil glazing.

One of my pieces with dots of oil paint
waiting to be glazed.

Suzanne's practice piece with exciting
marks and scraping work.

 Bridgette demonstrating wet copier transfers...

Bridgette had some excellent paper she had tea stained and like most mixed media artists, she also had a hoard of beautiful, random paper bits collected over the years.

Suzanne brought some dried butterflies and shared them with all of us.  I have marveled at her collection before and had a great time photographing it on my last trip to Florida.

Renee working

On the second day, Bridgette discussed printing from the palette, use of plaster guaze, and one method of bookmaking.  I couldn't have asked for more information! Bookmaking hasn't been something that I have gotten into yet during my art studies.  Darnit!  This was too much fun and now I have all kinds of new ideas for my to do list back home.

Bridgette adding paint to her palette.

A print pulled from the mess that is left on the palette after painting - ingenious!

  Renee laying out cut pieces of plaster and an
example of one way Bridgette uses plaster guaze

My before and after workshop impression of Bridgette remained the same.  She has a lovely way of integrating her painting with images seamlessly.  Watching her bring disparate sections of composition together is like magic - you saw it all in plain daylight but you still don't understand how it was done.  I don't mean to imply at all that this is through any deficit of teaching skill - this is one of her unique gifts and was a wonder to behold!
Thanks for the workshop Bridgette!  You are a delight.  I'm happy to say I came home with ideas flowing out of my ears.  I also have to thank Suzanne and Renee for making my first trip to Chicago such a wonder.


  1. Best workshop ever. :) Thanks Melissa for triggering it in the first place! :D

    1. It's a artist love-fest all the way around!

  2. aww, thanks so much Melissa! I loved reading about your Chicago trip through your eyes. Hope to see you again in the Windy City!

    1. Bridgette - I can't begin to tell you how much fun I had. It meant so much that you could fit us crazy ladies into your schedule. You are quite inspiring!

  3. ooooh... such a great time in Chicago with you ladies! Thank you for including me :)

    1. Thanks for doing all that research on restaurants Renee! We should do another trip next year. It was truly a wonderful time.