Learning : Watercolor

Rocks. Experimenting with salt and alcohol in watercolor

I have always been intrigued by watercolor. Its fluidity, its transparency, the organic ways the watercolor interacts with the paper… but the same things that intrigued me so, also seemed the most daunting. A little over two years ago, I finally decided to learn more about the medium that had intimidated me so much over the years.

Through a fortunate stroke of serendipity, the person I would look to, to help me embark on my journey in watercolor is someone I met about 30 years ago. Kate lived next door to the basement apartment, my two roommates and I shared in North Berkeley. I had the privilege of getting to know Kate and her family… even babysitting her two boys. I admired (and I continue to be inspired by) Kate’s aesthetic and graphic designs. Now, Kate makes art and teaches watercolor classes & workshops from her studio in Kensington, CA.

In February 2018, I signed up for Kate’s Intro to Watercolor workshop. Through Kate’s thoughtful lessons of the basic materials and techniques, and encouragement to experiment without fear, I quickly fell in love with painting in watercolors. After the class, I began my own explorations in watercolor which marked the beginning of my Down to Earth collection of illustrations.

Rock with Lichen.
Rock with Lichen.
Starfish. watercolor illustration
Twig with Lichen. Experimenting with salt on watercolor
Twig with Lichen. Experimenting with salt on watercolor

Sketches from my first (ever) watercolor class. Feb 2018

Then in May 2019, I attended Kate’s Exploring Watercolor with Beginner’s Mind retreat at the Tassajara Zen Center with a group of wonderfully creative friends. Through Kate’s mindful lessons and demonstrations, I learned even more about watercolor – techniques, tools, color mixing. Tassajara is tucked away in a remote area of the Ventana Wilderness. Off the grid, there are no distractions other than the inspiring views of the surrounding mountains, the sound of the creek, and the warmth of the hot springs. This six day retreat dedicated to mindfulness, watercolor and creativity finally clarified the innate connection between my art practice and my informal approach to meditation.

Leaf. Tassajara
Leaf. Tassajara
Rocks. Experimenting with salt and alcohol in watercolor
Rocks. Experimenting with salt and alcohol.

Sketches from the watercolor retreat at Tassajara. May 2019

I am continuing my journey and diving deeper into watercolor – savoring every moment and always learning.

Thank you Kate for demystifying watercolor and inspiring me with your graceful creative spirit. Thank you for opening my eyes to a medium that speaks to me, and speaks for me. I am so grateful our paths crossed all those years ago.

If you are interested in Kate’s art, classes and workshops, I encourage you to visit her website: https://www.katebweese.com/.

Learning : Ceramics

Ellie. ceramic sculpture

During my days at Cal, my art practice was focused primarily on two-dimensional art: drawing, painting and printmaking. For some reason, that extra third dimension seemed intimidating to me. In an attempt to push myself beyond my comfort zone, I took a Ceramic Sculpture class taught by Professor Richard Shaw. Although I had the skills to translate three-dimensional spaces and objects on to two-dimensional surfaces (paper/canvas), I still found sculpting three-dimensional works challenging, and I ended the class feeling a bit deflated – not understanding the disconnect between my head, my hands, and the clay.

Fast forward to 2013… through a mutual friend, I was introduced to Jenni Ward. Jenni was looking for someone to help her with her website. Serendipitously, Jenni is an amazing ceramic artist who also taught ceramic classes from her home studio. In September 2013, I slipped my toe into the clay (sorry, pun intended) – attending my first ceramic class since the one I took at UC Berkeley. This time around, as my hands began to work the clay – everything felt different – there was no hesitation or intimidation. Over the course of the next 4.5 years, I would learn so much from Jenni – hand-building techniques, how to make teapots that don’t dribble, why ceramics aren’t glazed on the bottom, how to throw on the wheel, to name a few – but most of all a deep appreciation for the workmanship and art of ceramics.

Thank you Jenni for inspiring me with your patience, your guidance, your beautiful nature-inspired ceramics, and your wanderlust. Most of all thank you for reigniting my passion for making art, and showing me that it doesn’t have to be just a “hobby”.

I will be updating the website with a collection of some of my favorite pieces from my time at Jenni’s studio. As an introduction, Ellie – the first ceramic sculpture in the collection – is now on the website: https://www.priscillashihcinque.com/ceramics/in-the-room.

If you would like to learn more about Jenni and her amazing sculptures and installations, please visit her website: https://www.jenniward.com/.