Art Floozies (or How to Host an Art Reteat)

Peggy and Jessica Eating a Hearty Breakfast

Some people will do just about anything to pursue their art. As an artist, you know you’re running with the right crowd when they support you in your choice of buying art supplies over mundane items such as say, food. They utter comments like “you really need those paints,” or “you’ve worked hard all your life, I really think you should buy that batik fabric.” or, “your husband will get over it, what’s he gonna do, divorce you because you bought some gesso? What about that new motorcycle he just got?”

Jessica with her Favorite Piece – She prefers working with stencils and her designs are usually intricate

My friend Peggy has been known to remark on various occasions, “I could be sitting in a bar right now, instead, I spend my money on some art supplies. So sue me!” That’s why I belong to Southern Ohio Women Art Group. We support each other when it counts. Our group has been together somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 0r 6 years. Being artists, and over fifty, we tend to forget some of the details, but we all agree that it has been a wonderful arrangement.


Peggy Holding her Favorite Piece – She favors the slop and drip method

We meet once a month and learn a new technique, show and critique our work and report on the latest and greatest in the art world. We also visit galleries and openings, attend workshops together and hold an annual Christmas party in November (all right, so we’re a little eccentric.) For the last several years (two? three?) we have held semi-annual art retreats. Sometimes we invite guests, but last weekend it was just the three of us at my house. On previous occasions we have learned how to do cyanotype and heliographic printing and encaustics. This year it was artist’s choice surface design. Each person brought several yards of white muslim to use in anyway they wished.

Jessica Helping Me with My First Thermofax Screen Print

Because it is so difficult to work around every one’s schedule, we decide on a date for the retreats at least 6 months in advance. Death or catastrophic illness are the only acceptable excuses for cancellation ( really, we even did sun printing on a rainy day). Besides making art, we all love to eat, so each person is assigned a meal or part of the meal well in advance. I’m not exaggerating when I say we eat like queens for the weekend. Our retreats always start on Saturday morning with a hearty breakfast and gourmet coffee. We discuss art and life and then get around to setting up the supplies that fill every one’s car to the gills.

Jessica’s Thermofax Screen Print – Jessica is a whiz at cutting linoleum prints, right now she is into chairs and she selected a series of ink prints to be made into a thermofax screen.

We work all day and laugh, perhaps guffaw is a better term, for much of the day. This time Jessica fell over backwards and went head over tail in the grass, causing much hilarity to all involved, at least the two of us left standing. We worked hard until lunch, which did not take place until 2:00 because we were so enthralled with the silk screening that we forgot to eat. Then back to work until dinner time. After dinner we imbibed in a decadent dessert and a glass of wine. Peggy and I went for a walk and returned to find Jessica attired in her night gown and sprawled on the couch reading art magazines. For a guilty pleasure, we watched the first series of Project Runway, pompously commenting about the questionable taste and rude behavior of the contestants.

Peggy working on a Heart Design – One of my tree silk screen prints drying on the fence.

Sunday morning we indulged in gourmet french toast prepared by Jessica and perused our work. Each person was in the possession of some pretty nifty surface design for use in upcoming projects. Peggy creates fabric books, Jessica fabric collage and me, more art quilts in the line up. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend with each person doing just exactly what they pleased. How we sacrifice for art!

The Artist’s Way

The author of The Artist’s Way recommends two techniques to aid artists in their creative process: writing three longhand journal pages first thing every morning and going on “artist’s dates.” Well, I’ll admit right now, I am not a morning person and never have been. As a therapist, I can attest to the power of journaling, but let’s get real. First thing in the morning? I believe poking my eye with a sharpened stick might be less painful! I have my routine, which includes turning on the snooze alarm every ten minutes for exactly one half hour, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news before I can even contemplate getting a shower and dressing for work. I used to watch Alex Anderson on Simply Quilts, but since HGTV, in their wisdom, took it off the air, I settle for the latest violence and sex scandals, anything, as long as I don’t have to function until my coffee kicks in. But artist’s dates? Now there is a concept I can go for.

SAQA Artist – Terry Ann Hartzell

This past Saturday I had the great pleasure to have an artist date with talented textile artist and SAQA member, Terry Ann Hartzell and her charming husband Brian, who serves up the world’s best quiche. Terry Ann and Brian are native Ohians who recently returned to the state, building their dream home in the woods near canoer’s paradise, Loudenville, Ohio. Terry Ann is a very talented artist. She shared a tour of her new studio, currently under construction, as well as giving this writer a peek at her many quilts, including her latest work pictured above. I think you will agree it is stunning! Terry uses acrylic paint mixed with textile medium, as well as fabric dyes to paint her subject matter on fabric. She is also passionate about rusting fabric. She has a piece traveling with the Rust-Tex Show and two works featured in the SAQA, A Sense of Humor show. In addition to her many artistic endeavors, Terry Ann is landscaping her yard, planting a garden and going to school full time to get a degree in graphic design!

Mohican State Park – Loudenville, Ohio

After lunch Terry Ann lead me on a hike along the river in beautiful Mohican State Park. With a dusting of snow on the ground, it was a very peaceful. We took a few photos and hiked back to Lyon Falls. After our hike, Terry Ann gave me some pointers on how to make better hanging sleeves, demonstrated her textile dye technique and shared a tip: only use Viva paper towells. She says they are the best and perform just like fabric. So, I encourage every artist to get out of the studio once in a while. Visit another artist, a gallery or a museum and your creativity is certain to flow like a river. Or you could just get up really early… and just write…three pages…longhand.