Summer arts workshops: Paint, shoot, create

Summer arts workshops: Paint, shoot, create

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Going to various Island locations gives those taking Alison Shaw's photography workshop the chance to discover their creative expression. — File photo by Courtesy of Alison Shaw

Photographers Louisa Gould, Peter Simon, and Alison Shaw, along with a host of other well-known artists and writers, are sharing their expertise this summer and fall in a series of creative arts workshops on the Island. These half-day to week-long experiences offer students of all levels the opportunity to learn a craft from experts with strong teaching credentials in hands-on, informal settings.

Photographer Louisa Gould, owner of Louisa Gould Gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, has photographed three America’s Cup races and has seen 100 countries and territories through the lens of her camera. She is launching Martha’s Vineyard Workshops (marthasvineyardworkshops.com), a new series of arts workshops designed to give Island residents and visitors a brief immersion into the creative medium of their choice. Ms. Gould has lined up some of the Vineyard’s most respected professionals to teach photography, painting, and children’s book writing.

“People who visited the gallery and saw my work, as well as that of my artists, would often ask if we taught courses,” she says. “I think there’s a need for shorter, more intensive, and more convenient opportunities to learn about the arts without having to leave the Island.”

Beginning June 22, Martha’s Vineyard Workshops will offer at least a dozen courses, including Ms. Gould’s basic digital and on-the-water photography classes, as well as workshops on writing children’s books, and painting classes in plein air, expressive realism, pastels, abstract mixed media, and Vineyard landscapes.

Along with Ms. Gould, artists John Holladay, Gray Park, Christopher Pendergast, Leslie Smith, Anne Grandin, Roberta Gross, and children’s book author Kate Feiffer will teach intimate workshops in a variety of settings around the Island from late June through October. Ms. Gould is actively recruiting additional artists, writers, and filmmakers to join her faculty in order to add even more courses.

Landscape painter John Holladay, a professional artist for 40 years, has taught at Featherstone Center for the Arts, in high schools and in colleges. “Anybody can paint or draw,” Mr. Holladay says with conviction. “Not many people have been taught. I try to help students enjoy the journey.”

Abstract mixed-media artist Roberta Gross, artist-in-residence at Featherstone for the past two years, plans to share what she laughingly calls her “aerobic style” of teaching. A master of unconventional materials, she’ll teach Martha’s Vineyard Workshop students how to use unconventional materials to create “accidents” and unusual textures. “I enjoy helping people find new tools to jump-start their work or to change their approach,” she says.

Christopher Pendergast, an expressive realist painter, plans to share his love of the Vineyard coastline along with his highly refined sense of “painterly realism” in his Martha’s Vineyard Workshops course. Blending expressionism and traditional painting with contemporary themes, Mr. Pendergast views teaching as a collaboration between student and teacher. “I try to learn what end result the student wants and help them find the fastest way to get there.”

Painter Anne Grandin, will teach “Painting Vineyard Landscapes,” a Martha’s Vineyard Workshop course with a special focus on, “seeing and feeling the landscape.” She says: “I’m a real believer in capturing the spirit or emotion of that which exists in nature.”

Peter Simon, a nationally known photojournalist whose iconic images of various entertainers have been featured in national publications including Time, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone magazine, is offering a series of four-day workshops this summer and fall.

An easily recognized Vineyard personality, Mr. Simon, who co-owns Simon Gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven (petersimon.com), with his jeweler wife, Ronni, will ease students into a comfortable relationship with their cameras in his workshops. Combining lectures, informal conversations, demonstrations, field trips, and evening critiques, his photography workshops offer beginners a non-technical, user-friendly opportunity to bond with the digital camera. “I try to get students revved up and involved,” he explains.

The award-winning Alison Shaw, known for her intense, vivid, and striking photographs of the Vineyard and beyond, continues her 15-year tradition of teaching week-long workshops on the Island. (She also offers photography workshops in Maine, Italy, Santa Fe and Nova Scotia.) Students divide their time between classroom and field, learning about color and light, as well as how to see the landscape through an artist’s eyes.

She says, “I think teaching is a two-way street. I find something creative — either something a student did on purpose or it might have been an accident — and it often jump-starts my own work.”

Owner of the Alison Shaw Gallery at 88 Dukes County Avenue in Oak Bluffs (alisonshaw.com), she is a fine art and editorial photographer, and a sought-after contributor to books on a broad range of subjects, from cooking and children’s poetry to Vineyard landscapes. Her latest book, published by Vineyard Stories, is “Schooner, Building a Wooden Boat on Martha’s Vineyard,” by Tom Dunlop.