The first week of April I spent two days at Art Is You in Santa Rosa, California. This was my first experience at an art retreat but it was similar to basketry and weaving conferences I’ve attended in the past.
I had seen a notice last fall on Seth Apter’s Blog, The Altered Page, saying he would be teaching there, so I looked over the list of classes and saw that Finnabair was also teaching at the retreat.
Santa Rosa is about 115 miles from my home–I can drive that in a few hours. I have been looking at Finnabair’s work online for several years. I had tried doing something similar in 2016, but wasn’t satisfied with the final result.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn her techniques and familiarize myself with her products, so I eagerly signed on for two days with her.
Opening night featured a chocolate buffet and a challenge to decorate a plastic eye protector while meeting the instructors and other attendees.
The first day we did a 12-inch square panel with layers and layers of papers, paint, gels, lace, mechanicals, and embellishments, including a photo of a face, then more paint and waxes. Finnabair demonstrated each step explaining why she uses each product. At the end of the afternoon we had a finished piece.
The second day project was an altered book. We gelled and painted the cover, building up layers of fabric, then wood shapes, a pocket watch piece, and mechanicals all painted with ‘Rust’ paint, gritty to the touch. A personal photo of my dad went inside the watch. We had to hurry to finish the outside of the book so it could dry during lunch. It was raining and the air even in the building was humid so the gels didn’t dry as quickly as they usually do.
After lunch, we were shown how to cut out a section of the inside. This cutting of a few pages at a time took a great deal of time and most of the participants, including me, were having trouble keeping up with the next steps. I think the cutting took too long and made the project more than a one day project.
I learned the process but I was somewhat unhappy with the finished product because I was not able to be as careful in my work as I like to be. So, I have a sample. While it doesn’t look terrible, it would look a lot better if the work hadn’t been done in a rush.
The venue did not provide an easy way to see what other workshops were doing, nor was there time to visit vendors. Still, I’m glad to have been taught by a good teacher. It was also a wonderful opportunity to sample her products before I invest in them.