This summer I attended a two week linocut reduction workshop at the beautiful Penland School of Craft in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The experience was an opportunity to immerse myself in art, nature, and a warm social atmosphere alongside nearly 200 other amazing artists.
I first began looking into art workshops and retreats after researching MFA programs and coming to the conclusion that I had no compelling need or desire to pursue art academically. What I really wanted was the opportunity to work alongside other great artists in my preferred medium of linocut printmaking, as well as have access to the space, tools, and support that would enable me to take my creative practice to the next level.
My time at Penland helped me to achieve exactly that, and more.
One of the most valuable takeaways from my experience was validation. Validation that art is a noble and worthy pursuit. Affirmation that art is a valid career path. Recognizing that I can no longer afford to deny that art. is. my. thing. And realizing that, when given the opportunity, I will happily spend 12 hours of my day in the studio, sketching, planning, carving, printing, and more or less transcending time and space in a blissful state of flow.
Meeting other female working artists who devote themselves entirely to their craft was equally inspiring. My studio instructor, Laura Baisden, owns and operates her letterpress shop Camp Nevernice in Nashville, Tennessee. Her style, technique, and work ethic are all worthy of the highest praise, and her sense of humor is not to be matched. I feel very thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from her creative vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and general air of fearlessness.
I'm now back home in sunny California, and excited to integrate all that I have learned into my everyday creative routine.
For a little mini tour of Penland and a peek into the letterpress studio, scroll down to view my photos, or check out my Instagram feed @smallfoxpress.
Rocking out on the porch of the Craft House
Craft House back and Supply Store Entrance
Double rainbow welcome following orientation
Warming up on a small 4x6" block (battleship grey linoleum mounted on 3/4" MDF)
Planning a 9x12" dual reduction
Carving the key block
Printing color #2 on a Vandercook Letterpress Machine
Feeling quite satisfied with myself
Finished 9x12" dual reduction linocut print