By Estella R. Fullmer Brown
For Hometown News
Already known for being a focal point among artists around the country, New Smyrna Beach will be no different this year if you consider all the activities offered by The Artist's Workshop Inc., the city and other local galleries, such as The Hub.
The Artist's Workshop, at its Jan. 8 members meeting, launched its new art classes and workshops for the first part of 2014 with a slide show of works from California artist Catherine Merrill. Ms. Merrill will be conducting an intense workshop in February titled "Celebrating the Figure: Drawing and Clay and Paper." Students will explore techniques for drawing the figure on clay and paper and learn some basics about Raku fired clay.
Ms. Merrill's workshop is just one of many scheduled between now and April, such as Scott Hiestand's Acrylic Landscape Painting, Janet Roger's Expressive Watercolors with Faces and Figures and Lyn Asselta's Expressive Landscapes in Pastel.
In addition to the workshops, there are many ongoing classes offered daily at The Artist's Workshop at 540 Barracuda Blvd., next to the Marine Discovery Center on the grounds that did house New Smyrna Beach High School on North Causeway.
Each day of the week art students will be able to find some class to interest them. Classes are scheduled in three-hour blocks beginning at 9:30 a.m. and running all day Monday through Saturday. The classes generally are four to six weeks and meet once a week at the same time. Fees range from $15 for a one-day, two-hour class or $50, $75 up to $100 for special Guest Artists Sessions. Fees are higher for non-members, but are open to the public and some classes are for children also, as young as five years old.
Topics of scheduled classes include Advanced Drawing, Art is ... Creation, Dive Into Watercolors, Soft Pastel, Clay Sculpture, Ceramics and Capturing the Light with Oil Paint to name just a few.
The Artist's Workshop has deep roots in New Smyrna Beach, having been formed in 1957 as a non-profit organization of a group of artists that wanted to promote a learning atmosphere for area artists.
The original charter adopted in March 1958 stated "the purpose of this organization shall be to foster and encourage art and its appreciation, to create friendly and sympathetic relations in club and community, promoting and exchanging ideas among members, and to further opportunities for participation in classes and show," according to Artist's Workshop documents.
There also is an art gallery on Canal Street that opened in 1980 where members can display their artwork to the public. Exhibits in the gallery are rotated regularly and members are encouraged to put their work on display.
AWI members also can participate in Art in Public Places, which are juried art shows and special exhibits on display in other venues around the area, such as the lobby at Bert Fish Medical Center, New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater city halls and libraries and the UCC building. Awards are given to individual artists at many of the venues and some winners earn "wall space" to display their artwork at that location for a specified time such as 30 days or 3 months.
For those local artists that are looking for a low-stress venue to hone their artistic skills, AWI offers En Plein Air Artists, which is a social painting session that meets every Tuesday morning from 9-12. For the location go to pleinairflorida.com and check under "Calendar." or email Rick Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every artist is invited to join the group, just show up at the location with paints supplies, water, lunch and bug spray.
AWI also assists other local non-profit organizations in fundraising activities, such as the Marine Discovery Center's upcoming Laguna-Sea festival. The activity will contain an art sale to raise money for the MDC's marine life conservation programs. AWI members will be helping to organize this art sale and encourage local artists and members to donate some of their work for the fundraiser.
Annual membership fees are low, only $35 for individuals or $45 for two family members and includes a monthly newsletter packed with information and featuring artists, classes and upcoming exhibits, access to the open studio space and matt cutting equipment, discounts on workshops, access to lectures and demonstrations, eligibility to enter juried exhibitions with awards and invitations to special social events several times a year as well as a Youth Art Camp and other benefits.