| Jul 16, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - July 16, 2009 Making eco-art at an eco-lodgeBy Julie Druker

Mixed media artist Holly Dean (4th from the right) teaches recycled book making at Wintergreen Studios. The painting behind is one of her originals.

Wintergreen Studios, the not quite one-year-old eco-lodge located on Canoe Lake Road near Fermoy, recently launched its first summer season of workshops in the fine and domestic arts.

The off the grid, straw-built, eco-friendly lodge designed and owned by Rena Upitus is run as a not-for-profit educational facility and retreat. It offers ample space in a natural, rural setting for artists to explore what Rena describes as the "lost arts".

Holly Dean, a mixed media artist from Merrickville held a workshop in recycled book making at the lodge this past Thursday. A self taught, full time artist with a background in calligraphy, Holly is perhaps best known for the paintings and objects she is presently making in association with the well-known Cirque du Soleil.

She described her art as “consisting of layers of painting, images and words. It’s very abstract, often medieval in mood. I’m very interested in ruins, myths and legends like King Arthur.”

For this workshop participants incorporated recycled materials from Holly’s own personal creations which she has been “stashing away for years” in her studio.

Gathered around work tables in the lodge’s “great room”, participants had just completed the construction of their books. Using recycled sheets of paper with existing patterns, motifs, and calligraphy created by Holly, participants gathered together four separate sections, which they then folded, marked, and hole punched.

Next, with a needle and waxed linen thread the sections were sewn together. A separate patterned piece was used for the cover and each participant designed a decorative cover band made from silver duct tape that they embossed and later painted with alcohol-based inks.

Once their books were constructed, participants set to work filling them with various designs, images and ideas, incorporating various decorating techniques and tools that Holly brought with her and demonstrated.

Using foil candy wrappers, acrylic paints, inks, decorative papers, gesso, markers, pencils and water soluble crayons, participants let their creative juices flow.

Rena Upitus prepared the food for this workshop from fresh produce from the studio's gardens.

Rena met Holly at Queens University in Kingston when Holly was an artist educator there and fell in love with her work. A large painting by Holly hangs in the great room at the lodge. According to Rena, “Wintergreen is about seeing in new ways and about putting thoughts and ideas and objects together that you might not have thought about before and Holly’s workshops are all about this.”

Holly is planning a second workshop in mixed media miniatures and decorative boxes on August 18 & 19.

Other future workshops include cordwood building, watercolour painting, fused glass, digital sounds capes, African drumming and many more. Visit wintergreenstudios.com or call 613-273-8745.

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