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learning

Southampton Art School

by lulujane on December 19, 2008

As a single person planning my summer vacation in 1999 I was conscious of wanting my first solo travel experience to be a good one. It was important to find a place where I could occupy part of my time in a place where I would be able to meet people. When I decided on Southampton I called their tourist bureau to see if they had a community centre where I might sign up for a craft class. Lucky for me they recommended the Southampton Art School.

For nine years now I have honored a part of me that wants to learn something new, to create, to meet new friends and to celebrate my joy. Following a personal discovery of the Southampton Art School in the lakeside town of Southampton, Ontario in the region of Grey-Bruce, just north of Port Elgin, along the shore of Lake Huron, I registered for “Learn to Play”. I found the course title to be inviting as opposed to intimidating at a time in my life when I needed to learn to play again. Learn to Play was the perfect invitation for me to register for my first art class.

This was a learner’s program familiarizing me with some basic concepts and techniques. Even though I initially planned to travel alone, I ended up inviting my friend Bonnie to join me in this art adventure. As she so often does when we strike out on an adventure she started to giggle the moment she climbed into my car. Feeling like a fourteen year old I joined her in this. Something inside told me that we were embarking on something special. We had no idea that nine years later we would still be making an annual trek to our summer playground to take art classes and visit with friends.

I certainly did not consider myself an artist and was open to learn… whatever. Me, the beginner, loved the course, and was gently encouraged and delighted in the gift of a generous teacher, Al Downs. Al’s influence is proudly reflected in a framed colorful fish print hanging in my home. Just looking at this image brings back the memory of his resonant throaty laughter. I can picture him with his hands on his hips, leaning over a student’s work to pass on some positive encouragement.

In year two Bonnie and I selected a Watercolour Monoprinting course with internationally known gifted artist, Stephanie Rayner. Stephanie teaches from a kind, gentle, spirit filled place. Previous students were oldsters” and new ones were called “newlets”. We were often asked to bring our stools up to huddle around her little table for a talk. These talks touched my heart and often evoked emotion at the beauty and message in her words.

In year three Bonnie had other obligations during my scheduled Art School week and my daughter-on-law, Martha, came along. In the nurturing womb of the historical Art School building, with positive energy surrounding us, both Martha and I created some pieces of work that we were excited about. As a reflection of the great teacher she is, Peri Jolley wisely and gently pushed me beyond my comfort zone, sometimes into a bit of anxiety, to help me make new discoveries in her Collograph and Mixed Media Monoprinting course.

I have participated in Solar printmaking – mixed media monoprinting and collograph – calligraphy – designing greeting cards – painted floor cloths. Courses vary in length. We have taken weekend, half day, 3-day and 5-day courses. The menu is inviting, versatile, accommodating, and so very delicious.

I have learned so much more at art school than the creative aspect of “art”. Through observation I have learned about approaching my work and others from a place of gentleness, love, caring and generosity. In order for my creative energy to flourish I know that I have to be gentle with myself and tune out my inner critic. I also realized that I am happiest and more in the flow when able to let go of attachment to outcome.

I love this town, the Art School and the people of the Southampton area. Martha commented to me about what a wonderful situation I manifested for myself in Southampton. Each year when I go back to “school” I renew old friendships and make new ones as we are welcomed into the community and the hearts of these nurturing connections.

Art School is not an escape for me. Each time I go to Southampton I am moving toward a new exciting adventure, open to the possibilities. This has been an opportunity for me to experience freedom in a new way, spread my wings and discover more about who I am.

In our second year we enjoyed a sailboat ride with barber shopper Tom Marcotte who took us around Chantry Island. We appreciated his jokes and information about things of historical significance. Each year we participate in familiar little rituals that make us feel at home – extensive clean and sandy beaches, casual ice cream-in-hand strolls toward incredible sunsets at the foot of High Street, musical concerts at Fairy Lake; Thursday classic car cruise nights complete with 60’s music and fund raising raffles at the base of the lakeside 35 ft. Canadian flag. Surrounding small towns and villages invite us to explore and experience their unique personalities. All this, combined with the kindness and generosity of this community, combine to make my heart sing. It is important that I use the word “fun” in describing my experiences – a perfect blend of work and play.

The Southampton Art School catalogue is rich with possibilities. If anyone is interested in a personal adventure, and if this sounds like a place where you might find it, I invite you to call 1-800- 806-8838 to ask for information. You can email them at artschool@bmts.com or check out their website presence at http://www.theartschool.org where you can peruse a long list of exciting program offerings.

With the philosophy that sometimes the anticipation can be even greater than the event “Wow”. I know that our next program choice will be another great one, filled with laughter, peace, friendship, celebration, wonder and accomplishment. And as we drive into town toward a friend’s house, usually Pat and Tom, they can expect that the first words out of our mouth will be “Hi hons’ – we’re home”.

More:

An online Saugeen Shores Tourism bulletin reports that: The Southampton Art School is where it’s ART. For over 50 years, the School has been – and still is –dedicated to celebrating the joy of creativity, and developing artistic talent, no matter what the age or experience. It’s a non-profit registered charitable organization charging affordable fees. Our instructors are accomplished artists who have proven their worth as creators and teachers with a gift for passing on their knowledge, expertise and joy in their art to beginners, professionals and every stage in between. Adults and children are encouraged to recover or rejuvenate their creativity – and a surprising number of accomplished painters have re-dedicated their lives to art after attending the School.

Some of the high calibre teachers I have had the privilege of learning from are listed below, with biographies excerpted from previous years Art School class catalogues.

Wesley Bates was born in Yukon, educated at Mount Alison University, N.B., and pursued a career as a painter and printmaker in Hamilton, where he also established West Meadow Press. Primarily known as a wood engraver, Wesley has illustrated books for prestigious publishing houses and for well-known writers such as Timothy Findley, W.O. Mitchell, and Stuart McLean. His work is represented in numerous public collections and is in private collections worldwide. He received the Hamilton Arts Award in 2000, and now lives in Clifford, where he works at wood engraving, painting and fine press printing.

Al Downs is an original in his approach to art, and variety is his middle name. He’s a former consultant in Visual Arts for the North York Board of Education, an instructor in the Ministry of Education’s Visual Arts course, and, before taking early retirement, a Visual Arts instructor at the Faculty of Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Since moving to Southampton, he has been an active teacher and volunteer at the Art School and Gallery Shop, as well as an accomplished painter and printmaker.

Peri Jolley is a painter and printmaker who works in watercolour, inks, oils, acrylics, and mixed media, as well as in hand-dyed silks, in a range of styles from realism to abstraction. Peri was elected to the Society of Canadian Artists in 1987 and is an active member of a number of arts organizations. She has exhibited in many locations, including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of Peel-Brampton, Thames Gallery-Chatham Cultural Centre and the John Black Aird Gallery-Toronto. Peri’s work is included in many private and corporate collections. A graduate of the Sheridan College Creative and Visual Arts programme, she also has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Windsor. A longtime Southampton summer resident, Peri teaches workshops in Oakville, Mississauga, Dundas, Hamilton and Southampton.

Margot Miller has taught at Sheridan College, St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and Sir Sandford dscn1645xFleming College. She is an Honour Graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and the Ecotourism Management Programme, Fleming College. She worked in the textile design industry in India and has traveled extensively in India and Asia, documenting traditional textile techniques. Currently she teaches and operates her own textile studio and shop in the village of Rockport. She is a recipient of a Design Canada Award and has exhibited at numerous galleries including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Film Board of Canada and the Ontario Craft Council. Her passion is a dedication to preserving our natural and cultural resources. Margot is a board member of the Leeds Stewardship Council and the Algonquin to Adirondack Conservation Association.

Stephanie Rayner is one of Canada’s best-known printmakers and conceptual artists. She believes that art and the human spirit are indivisible. A graduate of Ryerson, past vice-president of Open Studio in Toronto, she has exhibited and taught extensively. For the past several years she has been lecturing with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Spirituality in the U.S. and Africa on the importance of nourishing the spirit. With often-unexpected results in her students’ work her workshops are noted for changing more than one artist’s direction and style.

Lois Sander is a waterloo based multi-media artist whose passion first and foremost is calligraphy. She has been on a journey of learning and adventure with the alphabet ever since her employer paid for her first calligraphy lessons in 1985. From those humble beginnings she has constantly pursued her love of letters and to date has studied at two international calligraphy conferences, belongs to three calligraphy guilds. Her interests have taken her to South Carolina where she studied “Contemporary Decorated Letters” . Whet it be one of her handmade boxes, books, collages, painted floor cloths or unique art cards, you are likely to discover at least one of the 26 letter forms expressed in her work.

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I learned two new things today

by lulujane on August 1, 2008


A beautiful day for a bike ride, leaving early before the heat of the day makes me doubt if this is a wise thing to do. I tucked some cash into my back pack just in case I might hit a good yard sale or need to make a phone call.

Four or five miles into my ride as I approached an area near the Windsor Yacht Club I was surprised when the chain fell off my relatively new bike. My first thought was a lazy one – to give up and call Joyce & Len (sister and brother-in-law) to come and get me. Second thought was to walk the bike back to Lauzon Road, a distance of about a mile, where there is a bicycle shop.

Nice summer day. Warm. Who wants to wear socks and running shoes? Not me. Flip flop sandals are much more easy breezy, cool. Unless you have to walk a good distance in them. Notice I said “have to”as opposed to “want to”. On this lovely first day of August day, I had no choice.

I observed as the bike man quickly put the chain back on track. Your fee? “Nothing”. He accepted my $5.00 handoff and gratitude. I had a fleeting thought that I should drive straight home and quickly rebounded to my original plan of taking a fairly good distance ride to visit my friend Gail in Tecumseh. Never give up.

As I recounted my tale to Gail she offered a pair of latex gloves to protect my hands from grease, just in case it happened again. And almost like the glove theory was being tested, on my way home I lost it again – the grip of the chain on the sprocket that is. I propped up the bike stand and went to work. I was tentative, not confident that I could pull this off, but gratefully it went on with relative ease. As I knelt at the bike under a shady tree along busy Lauzon Parkway I noticed a vehicle pass me, pull over to the curb lane and pause. As the repair had been completed, I slowly approached the vehicle to give my thanks and received some advice. Next time use a stick to put the chain back on so I don’t get my hands dirty – and have someone adjust the wheel to a more efficient position.

My adventure today taught me two things – how to fix a slipped chain on a bike, and when cycling always wear sensible shoes… just in case.

Some of the blessings of my day were the almost free bike repair guy, a considerate driver who stopped to help me, the gift of some latex gloves from a friend, and a Granny Smith apple in the middle of the road around the corner from Gail’s house, just when I needed a bit of shoring up. All it needed was a bit of shining up on the pantleg of my new Bermuda shorts.

I am posting a photo with this post – no comments please about headgear and bare feet. This was taken 5 minutes after I received the bike as a gift, touring around my driveway/parking lot.

Linda Iler

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