From: Jenny Taliadoros
Four days of intense learning and creating in the Jonathan Talbot workshop in Montreal... Gosh, where to begin. The whole experience was exciting and overwhelming for me. In fact, during the first day of class I experienced over-stimulation-paralyzation. There was just so much to take in I didn't know what to do with myself! Jonathan took great interest in anyone's question or problem. So in my case he suggested going for a walk to release some of the anxiety, then getting right to work on collage. Rather than try to think through a "real" collage, he said to do ten small collages on one board; this would get me moving and get the creative process flowing. He also suggested moving around a lot. Rather than sitting tight and moving my arms and hands around to lay out a collage, he suggested standing, walking around the table, taking several steps with a collage element in my hand and putting energy into the movement of placing the piece on the collage.
In addition to the vast amount of information we were provided by Jonathan, it was fabulous to be exposed to 13 other artists in the room. Each person brought talents and skills to the class and it was great to be a part of their creative process. It was a learning experience to simply see the work done by others, and in some cases a class member would take time out to teach someone a particular technique. There were two giant tables in the room with six people at each table -- three people on one side facing three on the other side. I feel privileged to have had such a wonderful group at my table. Next to me was Sylvia Kleindinst, whom I have known for 12+ years. She had such a calming presence, and because of her decades of teaching and creating art, the art flowed from her so effortlessly. It was good to have this calm, creative energy right next to me. Across from me was a very sweet woman, Ellie, from Montreal. She is a quiet, lovely person who created the most beautiful collages. She's a wonderful artist and used many of her painted pieces of paper in her collage work. Also at our table was Brenda from Montreal, Karen Lehrer who flew in from California, and Sylvia's daughter, Valerie.
I stayed in the most fabulous bed and breakfast with Sylvia and Valerie. The delightful surroundings of our place added to the creative stimulation of the trip. I felt like I was in a magazine in this place with its brightly colored walls, fabulous art, and beautiful architecture. We stayed in an apartment that was connected with the bed & breakfast. The people who run the B&B have a main building with the living room, and dining room on the main floor and traditional B&B rooms upstairs. In addition they own several small apartments on the same block. So we stayed in one of the apartments. This didn't keep us away from their dining room for breakfast each morning though! What a culinary feast we enjoyed! The pastries, fresh fruit, fresh jam, fresh squeezed orange juice, eggs benedict, cafe au lait, etc. was unbelievably delicious! I highly recommend visiting their website at www.bonsmatins.com -- it's the best website I've ever seen. The layout and use of special effects is exceptional.
Sylvia, Valerie and I had such a good time together. I had never met Valerie before, but we got along very well. We'd all get so silly about the dumbest things it was like "Mom and her girls." We laughed quite a lot every day, and sometimes too much. Like during dinner with Jonathan and his wife (who attended class with us) and other class participants. Valerie and I got the idea that it was hilarious to say "Bourguignonne" back and forth to each other using a variety of silly voices and accents. Because we were laughing it made Sylvia laugh, and then none of us could stop laughing. What a bunch of dorks. I drove up to Montreal from Maine, and Sylvia and Valerie flew in from Buffalo, so I used my car to cart us to and from the workshop and out to dinner in the evenings. Because Karen Lehrer's hotel was near ours, she became a part of our group. It was wonderful to have her with us and she was so pleased to get connected with some other e-group people (Karen's on the ArtErratica list and one of the collage lists). One night the four of us happened to find a totally cool restaurant for dinner. The presentation of the food was so beautiful that I just had to take pictures of all our meals. There were three sophisticated woman sitting next to us and they were kind of laughing at me taking pictures like an ultra-tourist. One woman offered to take a picture of the four of us sitting around our fancy food. A while later, when their food arrived, one woman pointed to her plate, and with eyebrow raised looked over to me and asked in her French accent, "Would you like to take a picture?" Well, I guess I deserved that. (I declined, by the way).
OK... back to the workshop...
We started our class by gathering together in a circle and had a get-to-know you exercise and also discussed our intentions for the class. Jonathan talked a lot about the creative process and how to connect with our own creative energy and direct it into our work. Throughout the workshop he talked about how to get ideas and inspiration. Jonathan demonstrated his unique collage technique which involves pre-coating elements with gloss acrylic medium before completing the collage. The medium is applied to one side at a time, letting each side dry completely. That way, when you go to assemble the collage, the elements are not sticky and can be moved around freely. When satisfied with the layout, a piece of release paper is placed over the collage, and then you iron over the top with a special iron. The iron warms the acrylic medium, adhering the elements together. The iron, release paper, and instruction book are all available from Jonathan's website at www.talbot1.com/collage_supplies It was a struggle for many of us to get used to this new method. Because we were used to the place-and-stick method, we had to learn patience while waiting for things to dry. But in the end, we had much more control over the piece. And we could avoid those awful bubbles and wrinkles that occur when using some traditional gluing methods.
Before we got to work Jonathan took three boxes of papers and dramatically dumped them on the floor, creating a large pile of STUFF. We were welcome to take whatever we liked and add things to it if we had things to share. Some of the items were quite old including a pre-Civil War newspaper and books that were even older. Jonathan stressed the importance of USING things in our collages rather than holding on to things because we think they're too precious.
Although I didn't have expectations of the class, I was surprised that I didn't create very many pieces during the four days. I came home with only four finished pieces. This is highly unusual for me because I tend to whip things together pretty quickly. We did, of course, spend a lot of time learning and observing which took away from our work time. Although it distracted us from our work, we were there to learn, and the information we learned was a lot! With everything I took in during the four days, I feel as though the groundwork has been laid for my future in art.
Perhaps because of my love of altered book art, I was drawn to incorporate words and text into my collages. One piece was a real stretch for me -- a dimensional collage. I enjoyed the process and am very pleased with the results. It's called "Illumine" and I am both humbled and honored to say that Jonathan asked to display it on his website along with some examples of works created in his workshops. It is already on line at www.talbot1.com/gallery. I have also added it to my own website, www.jennysartspace.com/collage, along with my other new pieces done in class (Flow and Wings of Light). I have one more collage that was started in class (Chicken on Wheels), but is still waiting to be adhered together. I just can't believe how much time and effort I put into each collage element... so much different from the way I normally work.
Some of the other topics covered in class were adhesives, transferring images, materials to use in collage art, preservation, "finishing" a piece, presentation and packaging, and even marketing. As Sylvia said, it was like getting a whole semester of information in four days. Jonathan is a highly accomplished artist and was extremely generous in sharing his knowledge, techniques, materials, sources, etc. His thirty years of experience in doing art and marketing his work has taught him many lessons, both through good and bad experiences. And he was very willing to share what he learned with us.
It was a delight to work in Carole's studio. There was plenty of room and it was great to see her beautiful art hanging around the room. She is a wonderful person and has a way of bringing talented and accomplished artists to teach workshops in her studio. I hope to return next spring or summer for another workshop. Ideally I'd like to take a 4-5 day workshop on bookbinding. Carole loved the idea and will do her best to make it happen. Her workshop schedule is posted on her website: www.artworkshops.ca/
The things I learned and my experiences in Montreal are still percolating, and I now sleep at night with collage elements dancing in my head. I feel like a new person with a new future in art.
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