Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Top 10 in Kennett Square, PA

It's fun to be a tourist whether you are venturing to a new destination or revisiting your home town. The upcoming exhibition of my Koi Pond Series at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, PA, from May 1- June 3, 2014 is a great opportunity to share with you new work, as well as my adopted home town. 

Top 10 Things to Do in Kennett Square, PA

1. Come to my Artist Reception on May 2, 2014, 6 -9 pm at Mala Galleria.  Owner Zvezdana "Stella" Stojanovic Scott has a great "eye" and exhibits local based as well as international artists.

2. Check out the studio and gallery of artist and friend Carol Lesher just around the corner. We met through our sons when I walked into her house to pick up Nate. I saw a yoga mat on the floor and a beautiful painting over her mantel (her work) and knew I had met a new friend.

Carol Lesher in front of her paintings at a recent evening of Art & Culture
at the Genesis Healthcare Building
3. Dinner at Lily Asian Cuisine- especially on Tuesday for their all you can eat sushi.

BONUS OFFER: Bring my exhibition card to Lily's, May 2nd, the night of my reception
and receive 10% off your dinner bill. 
Card front for exhibition at Mala Galleria, May 1-June 3, 2014

4. Wine tasting and live music on First and Third Fridays at Flickerwood Wine Tasting Room AND while you're there...
Owner and Chef Brett Hulbert of Portobellos with his partner Sandy visit Cathy of
The Mushroom Cap to order some mushrooms for their restaurant. 
5. Order dinner from Portabellos (did I mention that Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capital of The World?) The restaurant is across the street from Flickerwood and a server will deliver your food along with a linen table cloth, ceramic plates china and silver utensils.

6. Shop at Eco Boutique- the shop with a conscience, and often, an art show. I have shown my Walks thru Life: Shoe Portraits there.

7. Coffee at Talula's Table, a Kennett Square staple- or the newer and very hip Philter. Each with it's cool decor- and more art to see.

8. Nourish Juice Bar and Cafe at the Liberty Market. You will be able to sample a personal juice favorite at Mala Galleria for my Opening on May 2, thanks to owner/ entrepreneur Francine Covelli. (Thanksgiving, the best pumpkin pie I have ever tasted- the chocolate pie crust may have had something to do with that)
Juice guy Brendan Foster at Nourish at the Liberty Market. Love love love
his kale, carrot, apple, ginger juice!
9. George & Son's Seafood Market, also at Liberty Market. Always fresh- and friendly. 

10. La Michoacana Ice Cream- family owned and home made ice cream with intriguing as well as traditional flavors served with chocolate toppings, chili powder- or not.
Cool or hot, La Michoacana's got it... so yummy!
If you need to walk all this off, Longwood Gardens just up Route 1 never disappoints, and Anson B. Nixon Park is right down the street with their walking trails, disc golf, courts and fields and a stage for summer performances.
Spring at Longwood Gardens

Kennett Square is 1.1 square miles of history, culture, scenic beauty, hip downtown and wonderful people. To stay in the loop check out Historic Kennett Square for up to date happenings year round for cool things to see and do.

Looking forward to seeing you on May 2, from 6-9 p.m. at Mala Galleria
206 East State St., Kennett Square, PA. 202.591.6548

For more information or any questions please contact me at
732.241.0359 or

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sounds of Spring with an Invitation

April. Doesn't that have a lovely sound to it?  Conjures up images of daffodils and other signs of new life.
Signs of Life II
encaustic on birch
14" x 14"
Speaking of sounds and new life one sure sign of spring here is the high pitched other wordly mating sounds of the frogs in our pond. The first couple of years here I had no idea what that non stop whirring was, but then again it took me two years to figure out that the street in our neighborhood called Delpa is because half the street is in Delaware, the other in PA. duh. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get up close and personal for one of the apparently very hormonal residents of our pond. 

So the guy with the bulge under his mouth is the one making the noise and yet
check out the couple near by... is he the look out?

After listening to this for countless hours of intimate experiences all times of day and night we realized, that we need to move. just kidding- I have an exhibition coming up, these guys INSPIRE me!

Koi Pond Series at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, PA. May 1- June 3, 2014
Artist Reception: First Friday, May 2, 2014 from 6-9 pm.

Please join us!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Makes a Great Workshop?

The opportunity to teach or to take a workshop can be an integral part of your practice as an artist.
Each role is a way to strengthen, develop or gain new skills, network, and meet interesting people.

So what makes a great workshop? 
Participants at my Encaustic Workshop at DCAD
It comes down to the experience and, the take away.

The experience:  Is it a safe and positive experience for both the teacher and the students? 
Is everyone engaged, supported, as well as, challenged? 

Here are 3 steps to ensuring a great workshop- on both ends.

1. Be prepared.  
Teacher: Clear realistic goals and intentions for the time and space allotted. 
If this is a new venue for you have you checked out the space or asked about a sink,               work tables, ventilation, etc?  Do you need a smart board or any other media available? Have you sent a list of materials to your students so they know what they need to bring?
Students: Have you received/reviewed the materials you need to bring?  Are you wearing the right clothing? Do you need gloves, steel tipped shoes, whatever???? Lunch, snacks? (that's always high on my list)
More shots from Encaustic Workshop at DCAD
2. Be Organized.
Teacher: I keep (at least) two Materials/Supply Lists on my computer:
1. What I need to bring for the various workshops I teach- Monotype, Altered Books, Encaustic, Image Transfer, these can be edited or adapted for any upcoming opportunity that may present itself and 
2. What I'd like my students to bring. 
If the workshop has a materials fee, have you clarified and confirmed with the hosting organization who is responsible for picking these materials up? If it is you, save your receipts so you can get reimbursed!

Do you have your handouts prepared? Students love handouts (me included) to review what was covered, refresh and have a handy list of resources. 

Students: Do you have a way to transport your supplies? Even if it's not on the list, it's always a good idea to have on hand pencil, permanent marker, note paper, scissors or utility knife and an apron. 

Linda Merry adding encaustic to her water based oil painting

3. Expectations
This speaks to both the experience and the take away.

Teacher: What are your expectations for the workshop? your students'? This is where having a syllabus to handout is helpful.  You are clear on what you need to cover... history, safety, logistics, and skills. Any or all of the above.

Usually you would not know your students' expectations ahead of time so that's why during my introduction I give an overview of what the workshop will cover. Then when I have them introduce themselves I ask them what their experience is with the medium or topic, and what they would like to get out of the class. This is important. If their expectations are unrealistic best to address that in the beginning.   (Many years ago I taught a series of Monotype and Collograph Workshops and halfway through a participant was not happy with what she created. She left the workshop, her work behind, never to be seen again. Turns out that she wanted to create something to match her sofa- and her collograph was a bit too abstract and uncontrollable for her abilities) 

Student: What is it you hope to learn from this class?  Are you willing to experiment and be engaged in the process or are you looking for something to hang over your sofa or put on your coffee table?  If so, please let your instructor know! 
Encaustic, graphite powder, image transfer on birch panel
©Laurel Redefer

The take away: What have you learned and how can you integrate new systems or techniques into your studio or teaching practice? And... something to show that demonstrates the new skill you have learned! 
Colleen McCarthy and her piece
Encaustic, oil pastel, image transfer on cradled board

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Passion for Wax

There is something so yummy - so luminous, so... seductive about encaustic, the medium of pigmented wax. And relatively simple, as Joanne Mattera writes in her comprehensive guide The Art of Encaustic Painting- "The basic formula for encaustic can be summed up in six words: melt wax, add pigment, paint, fuse." 
encaustic, oil, collage on panel
12" x 24"
And that my friends will be what I am teaching tomorrow, Saturday, March 29 from 10 - 4 at my Encaustic Workshop at DCAD.
More, 2001
encaustic, copper leaf, collage on panel
12"x 9"
And as Joanne Mattera adds in the section about Encaustic in the Twenty-First Century, "it is not paint that makes the painting, but the artist." And there are lots of us...

Catherine Nash's computer interactive book on DVD, Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper & Encaustic offers a compelling opportunity to see the work of 28 artists who work with paper and encaustic through interviews that Catherine completed over a 2 and a half year road trip. These recorded studio visits are followed by images by more than 100 international artists (including me!)

I was introduced to the medium at a workshop taught by Francesca Azzara many years ago at the Arts Guild of NJ in Rahway and have been hooked every since.

See one, do one, teach one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Roots & Wings

This past Saturday, March 22, 2014 my elementary school suffered a 4 alarm fire in the central Jersey community I grew up in.
The day after the fire, James Monroe Elementary School
photo by Caryl Felicetta
I haven't been back to the old neighborhood in years, but the news of this blaze set social media on fire and the pictures posted, links to news reports and comments from many of my childhood friends offered real time reporting and brought back a flood of shared memories.

What strikes me about the tragedy of this fire and the response of those of us who grew up walking to and from school- and often home for lunch as well, is how fortunate we are to have had this sense of community. 

By the time I got to high school I was restless for life beyond suburbia and wanted adventures in new and varied places.  And "my story" seemed to be I grew up in Edison, NJ and couldn't wait to get out of there.  That may be true as from NJ I went to New York, California, Hawaii and then as life would have it- came full circle back to Edison in the mid 90's- only to want to get out of there again.

But as I think about the fire and read the responses by my fellow classmates and neighbors I am reminded that we were given strong roots so that we could fly. 
Roots & Wings
embossed collograph with graphite, acrylic, collage
44" x 30"
Some of us returned, some of us did not, but I believe that we each have a strong sense of who we are because of our time together at James Monroe. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grace Slips In

Several years ago when I was writing the application for my first Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant I took advantage of one of the information sessions that they offer for each cycle.
This gives you an opportunity to have your proposal reviewed before you send it out. If available, this is highly recommended for any grant you may be applying for. I thought working with this underserved group of new mothers was aligned Leeway's mission to "promote artistic expression that amplifies the voices of those on the margins, promotes sustainable and healthy communities, and works in the service of movements for economic and social justice."  

Turns out it was, but I had to rethink, and repurpose how I approached my proposal. A shift to truly seeing the power of Art for Social Change. 
When I wrote my first draft in 2010 for the printmaking workshops with YoungMoms, I initially set out to teach these young mom new skills and offer a place for community and self expression.
Sounds good, right? Not quite. What Makes a Leeway ArtistThe difference I learned is that it is not so much about teaching with its implications of status and power, but more about sharing and building community. And once that shift happens, that is where grace slips in and the real social change occurs.
Justine and Bridge with their sculpture- The Power of Love
We see each other as equals, empowered and uplifted by each other's stories, insights and experiences.
Putting on the finishing touches
And that is exactly what happened with our YoungMoms Women of Courage and Influence project that wrapped up this week. To read more about the project in Chester County Press click here.
Volunteer Barb Proto packing it up and heading out...
The projects completed during these workshops will be on exhibit at the YoungMoms 3rd Annual Community Brunch Hope Blooms on Saturday, April 26. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prima Donna on My Wall- Artist as Collector Series

Alyson B. Stanfield of ArtBizCoach is this week's guest blogger for the Artist as Collector Series.
Prima Donna on a Bad Hair Day
by J.Don Cook
wood, steel, brass, copper, wire, bone,
paint, animal hair
53" x 12" x 3"
When I was a young curator, there was a coffee shop in Oklahoma City called Medina’s. It was owned by artists Paul and Grace Medina and was a bona fide artist hangout. 

It was a coffee shop before its time – before anyone in Oklahoma had even heard of Starbucks. 

J. Don Cook had a show there at one point. He made his name as a photojournalist, but expanded into sculpture by the time I was introduced to him. I didn’t know much more about him. All I knew was that I loved Prima Donna on a Bad Hair Day and had to have it. 

As I recall, it was about $175 or $200 and I didn’t have that kind of money. J. Don let me pay it off, which probably took me months. And he didn’t charge interest. (As an artist business coach now, I’d advise him differently.)

This piece hangs above our kitchen table – between two large windows that look out to the Rocky Mountain Foothills. 

It makes me smile! Not just because it’s delightful, but because it was one of the first pieces of art I acquired.

Alyson B. Stanfield  is the author of the book I'd Rather Be in the Studio, the Artist's No Excuse Guide to Self Promotion, my personal go-to book from everything to writing an artist statement, getting organized or getting a gallery. Alyson also teaches workshops in person and online and has a plethora of material available to help you take control of your art career and share it with the world.