Art Is You – Australian Mixed Media Roadshow 2016Wow!! Just Wow…. sit back, grab a coffee and read on – This is going to take a while 🙂
When I first was approached by Sallianne McClelland about Art Is You, (#TEAMSAL) I couldn’t believe that my love of teaching art and mixed media would take me to places I had only dreamed of. I had admired and almost idolized the ‘International faculty’ Michael DeMeng, Andrea DeMeng, Seth Apter, John Creighton Petersen & Kecia Deveney for many years. So to be teaching alongside these amazing artists of such high calibre quite frankly, scared the crap out of me! I’m going to attempt to share with you my account of how it all happened, how it was from my perspective as both a teacher and student, and share how Amazing it all was!
I mean, hello… we had these amazing artists who had blessed us with their presence, from across the other side of the world. They came to Perth on the first leg of the Roadshow. Perth, sleepy little Perth – I don’t think our community realised the enormity of the talent we were being exposed to. I have to admit I was a bit terrified of ‘not being good enough’ to be teaching alongside these amazing artists. Even though I’ve taught heaps of workshops both at my own studio, across Australia and on several cruises, this was HUGE…. and nerve-wrackingly different, THIS was scary BIG! for little old me.
As I had created my first stencil, I knew that I wanted to use ‘her’ in my class and I knew for my class I wanted to re-create my artwork entitled “Poppy”. So I set to getting more stencils made so I could offer them as part of the class kits. I always do kits for my students and include all sorts of bits and pieces that they can either use in their project or at home later. This class received one of my stencils as part of their kit.
Once the class kits were completed, I just had to do the actual ‘hand-outs’ that I usually give to students – I do this because I find often during class we get so engrossed in our work, and often travel to different destinations within our art, that the hand-outs give students a run-down of the class techniques so they can refresh their memory and continue to produce other pieces of art at home later. It wasn’t until the night before we were meeting the Crew at the airport, that I found the time to sit up until 3.30am revisiting my ‘poppy artwork’ and typing out the steps of her creation for my class hand-outs. Prior to this I was crazily sorting, packing and double-checking I had everything I needed to take. It wasn’t until the class hand-outs were done, that I actually felt myself breathe! Thankfully I had created my charm swaps in plenty of time!
My first ‘fear’ was that I wouldn’t have many students do my class – as I knew we had been blessed with incredible talent by the roadshow crew. I knew Shirley was travelling from Sydney to do my class, and I told her my fears. Shirley encouraged me, and assured me that I was going to be fine. I told her the worst case would be that the two of us would have some good one-on-one time and it would be like a whole day of private lessons ROFLMAO – which wouldn’t have been a bad thing anyway! However, my class numbers started to come in, and before you know it I had 8 amazing ladies joining me for a full day of Art… how wonderful is that.
The day to meet the Crew at the airport came, and Shirley and I were SO excited… we were like little kids waiting to see Santa! We met everyone at the airport, saw them off at the van that Sallianne had hired and headed off to visit Chittering Acres where Gina & Andrew had organised a luncheon & a show-n-tell of their property for the International Faculty – this included a special treat where Andrews Mum, Ann, allowed everyone to feed the joeys. I got some beautiful videos & photos of everyone feeding the joeys. We were all delighted by our visit and the international crew were especially excited by this special treat of seeing and feeding the joeys, and wanted to take the babies home with them! It was indeed a great day for everyone. We all then headed straight down to Fairbridge Village where we would be staying for the next week.
My car was unpacked thanks to the help of Craig – a mammoth task, as I had a huge trolley so I could wheel it around and it was packed to the hilt! We then settled ourselves upstairs with our cases, organised our beds and got ourselves settled in the room. I unpacked my techno gadgets and set up my table downstairs with a charging station and my laptop. My art supplies and other bits and pieces, including my precious crystal singing bowls were carefully placed downstairs.
Meanwhile the indefatigueable Linda Lucas and Sallianne were busy organising the spaces downstairs for everyone, I couldn’t believe how hard this ‘duo’ worked and how well they had everything organised. They were like clockwork, perfectly sync’d – and although I wanted to help, I soon realised that they didn’t need help unless it was asked for! They had their routine after doing retreats like these so many times before. They were certainly working tirelessly to ensure that everything was perfect for the faculty members and the students. The international faculty were by this time, pretty exhausted from a full day of travel and adventure – so after enjoying Chicken Treat and sorting some ‘electrical faults’ in the cottage, it was time for them to retire.
In the mornings we woke to Lovely Linda Lucas preparing delicious warm oats and having everything ready for everyone’s breakfast, we soon discovered that not only does Linda make beautiful cards but she also is great in the kitchen, and a perfect companion to Sal. Most of the faculty were up and out and about before Shirley and I surfaced! We went shopping for groceries and personal items, and Sallianne bought some heaters to warm up the ‘freezing cold cottage’… ahh. We had to ask for extra blankets, but received paper thin quilts which were more like quilt covers haha… go Fairbridge! NOT!. Thankfully having the heaters made all our rooms nice and warm.
We went for a trip to the beach, where everyone went for a walk on the beach and collected bits and pieces, I stayed on the flat grass as I knew walking on the sand would have played havoc on my hips! There was a DOME cafe, so I grabbed myself a take-away coffee and I really enjoyed watching everyone absorbing the sea and the sand. I took a video of everyone and Shirley, who ‘played up to the camera’ by walking slowly towards me, as she was only 6 feet away LOL. We all went over to the DOME and ordered coffees etc to have while waiting for the sunset. The sunset was beautiful on the beach. However, I can’t forget to tell you that John Creighton Petersen collected something that was so awful, it stunk out the van – so it got moved to the trailer! HAHA I don’t know what happened to it, but glad I didn’t get to smell it again!
So, after a couple of days mingling with the Crew, it was time to start preparing for our classes… so we all headed down to the classrooms and prepared our ‘spaces’. I was lucky to have a fireplace to display my bits and pieces, and set up my class tables for the students.
The students arrived for the meet and greet, they were SO excited to be meeting everyone – Sallianne gave an introduction and handed out everyones ‘hand-towels’ that I had organised my Aunt Merrill to embroider. Everyone loved them. Michael De Meng told us a story – Trust me, he really is an amazing story-teller! His sound effects were brilliant too 🙂 Everyone got chatting to each other, excitement about upcoming classes was bubbling over and it was a fantastic start to the retreat!
Thursday night my friend Louise came down to Fairbridge to run the ‘crystal singing bowl session’ with me. It was a beautiful session, so calming and so peaceful. After the session, everyone got invited to try to play the bowls and John Creighton Petersen was a natural! It was calming and relaxing – we even put Sallianne to sleep, until John nudged her awake HAHA
Friday came, and I was excited about teaching my class – before class we swapped charms with other students/teachers and then we spent a whole day together learning the basics of drawing a whimsical face, and making amazing art using stencils, paint & ink. I was so proud of everyone, as their work was beautiful. (see the pics) The ‘before’ and ‘after’ faces were quite entertaining too, I didn’t get photos of them, but some of the girls had a good giggle when they looked back at them after the drawing session. During our lunch break we chatted with everyone else doing other classes and had delicious sandwiches/rolls/wraps.
Saturday I spent with the incredible arty Kecia, creating my ‘chimerical’ (see pics) this was something I had never done before – We used aves expoxy clay and made a cute character out of random scraps of wire, wood, fabric, ribbons etc., Kecia’s class was so much fun! Kecia demonstrated and then guided us through the day, as we worked alone on our pieces using the techniques we were shown. Thank you to Kecia for all her careful guidance, after 2 hours my ‘chimerical’ finally stood up! LOL My arms and hands got a workout kneading the clay and working with it. It wasn’t easy for me as I was working with a very sore shoulder (as my supraspinatus tendon is torn!) So I worked slowly and steadily and was very happy with my quirky result (see pics) It was great to spend a day just focusing on creating something for myself, and enjoying like-minded company. It was fantastic to meet Kecia, to have our little ‘chats’ and to learn about her truly amazing arty soul. I am proud to be the new owner of one of her little dolls, I named her “Whispers” (see pics)
Each morning we were blessed to have a morning motivator – Vivian Paan, who also gently guided us to create and to share, we made ‘talking sticks’ and people got other people to add to their sticks. I didn’t join in the first couple of days (too busy sleeping in!) but when I did, I wished I hadn’t missed any sessions – Vivian’s soft and gentle energy was a pleasure to be a part of. I also had the enjoyment of sharing the day in Kecia’s class with Vivian and Debbie. There were only 3 of us in the class, so it was a peaceful, creative and altogether a beautiful day!
I think it was the Saturday night I was also the ‘taste tester’ for Salliannes Mulled wine…… OMG it was delicious, so delicious I had to test it twice!! LOL Thanks Sallianne, I’m still dreaming about that warm, delicious infusion… so may I please get that recipe??
During the retreat I was also blessed to chat to the beautiful Andrea Matus DeMeng and her 3 gorgeous daughters. Daughters that were so very helpful, with dishes and whatever needed to be done being done without question. Michael and Andrea have raised 3 beautiful daughters and It was a pleasure to meet the entire DeMeng family – to share stories with you, and to have you attend my singing bowl session, to share bits and pieces in the cottage and everything in between!. Michael was brilliant, his mind intrigues me and Craig said he hopes he enjoyed the beer 🙂 Thank you for helping cart and carry the heavy stuff to the classroom and back – I Would have been lost without you and the guys! Thank you for the stories, the laughter and thank you both for your beautiful book and kind words.
I spent a few ‘sneaky moments’ with John Creighton Petersen as we stood outside freezing to have an occasional ciggie.. and we spent time together while preparing our class rooms and late at night chatting while others had gone to bed. John is an amazing guy, so full of love for everyone and such a happy chappy! John I loved seeing your ‘shift’ with the singing bowls and truly hope you get yourself a bowl once you are home! It was fun being with you, and I will treasure your beautiful necklaces & my time with you forever. I wish I had time to do John’s classes, they were amazing! I hope we meet up again soon.
Setho.. well everyone that meets Seth Apter, instantly knows he is an amazing bloke! He is so generous, so kind and so very talented too. With a quiet energy that still exudes passion and excitement for art, and his gentle guidance, and kindness was felt by everyone. It was an honour to spend time with Seth and to have shared this special time during Art Is You. I am thankful for his beautiful book and his kind words written to me, upon it.
Sunday was time for Seth Apter’s class 52 card pick up… Wow, what a fun day that was! We had a big class of 14 ladies, all very excited and raring to go. Seth was an amazing teacher, who showed us all how he uses mixed media and creates these amazing backgrounds with layer upon layer of paint, & stencils used in different ways. It reminded me of the good old ATC Artist Trading Card days – and it was great to feel the ‘freedom of expression’ and non thinking approach Seth shared with us. Everyone made amazing cards, they were truly scrumptious – we got to do a little collage, but my cards are still unfinished. During the day we were treated to some very yummy scones that Linda kindly made for everyone – that was a nice surpise, and appreciated by everyone – thanks Linda, you’re a star 🙂
Students, if it wasn’t for students, none of this would have happened! It’s because of you all that events such as AIY manifest… so thank you all for not only giving yourself a gift of attending, but for allowing everyone this opportunity too. I was thrilled to have 8 beautiful ladies in my class, and every single one of you all made me feel very proud. I watched you all work carefully, meticulously creating MAGIC! I hope to be able to share again with you in the future. Thank you all xo
Sunday night everyone started packing up their supplies, and we headed back to the cottage with a car full of stuff from the workshop venue… we also had a pile of stuff placed downstairs near my computer and techo table, (that had kindly been given to me to bring home – as it couldn’t travel on a plane to Sydney with the Crew!) So I figured we would just continue packing the car ready for the trip home. The crew were already beginning to pack and get their cases ready for the big move-out the next morning, so we thought it best to leave the Sunday night, leaving the crew and Linda and Sallianne, to pack the trailer etc on Monday morning without us being in the way. So we packed the car – until I couldn’t even see out the windows! We then headed to the local pub and met a group of the ladies that had attended the retreat – it was a great night. We ate a delicious ‘Xmas in July’ dinner, followed with plum pudding and custard. We chatted about everything the retreat meant to us all, Christina created a new group for us to all join and keep in touch. We discussed the upcoming workshops that we might want to attend and had a lovely night. We bid our farewells, with lots of hugs and smiles. Then I drove – very slowly and carefully home.
I felt sad it was all over. I felt gratitude for meeting such amazing people. I felt blessed to have beautiful ladies in my workshop who all enjoyed themselves and learned new things. I also was very thankful & thrilled that Shirley travelled from Sydney to Perth to do my class! – and I loved her artwork that was created in all the classes she attended. (see pics)
I feel enormous gratitude for being included in Art Is You – A special thank you to Sallianne for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I hope I didn’t disappoint you & I look forward to the next AIY – whether it be as a teacher, student or both!
I started unpacking everything that night and it took me a while to sort it all out the next morning too. (I still have stuff sitting on my table waiting to be put away at this moment)
I wanted to share with you as a teacher, that Classes and events, don’t just ‘happen’, they take lots of preparation, planning, packing, sorting, organising, it fills your mind with what is to be done, how things will work, what is the best way to do this or that, you go through the thought processes constantly, going over the “what ifs”, running all possible scenarios through your mind, planning for everything to work out perfectly – it’s because, as organisers or teachers, we have a desire to create the BEST POSSIBLE EXPERIENCE for everyone involved. I felt the same about my one little class, so I totally appreciate the enormous effort Sallianne and Linda put into making such a fabulous event, one that travelled around, with international guest artists manifest! #TeamSal #TeamLinda. Sallianne and Linda, I saw all of this and appreciated every effort you gals made – you were both truly dedicated and so hard working.
Monday morning it was all over – the sadness had kicked in. The excitement had gone, I watched on facebook as the Crew continued their journey to the next destination, wishing I was there too! But SO happy to see them experiencing Australia and enjoying themselves.
So, in summary… from a personal perspective *some* of the beforehand was a bit stressful for me, as I realise now, my own pressure came from my physical limitations and my limited belief in my own self…. which I didn’t actually realise I had put upon myself! So valueable lessons have been learned! We are all capable of amazing things, we just need to believe we are… and if someone else believes in you, TRUST them 🙂
I am OK, I am Capable, I did it!
It was a totally fantastic experience! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. It doesn’t get any better than time spent with like-minded friends, & creative geniuses… I’m so thankful that I was a part of the Roadshow – Bring on the next one. 🙂