A little bit of magicPosted: August 23, 2021
The Urban Sketching Summer Retreat at Madeline Island School of the Arts has just ended. At times during the past year, it seemed doubtful that this event — postponed from last year due to the pandemic — would ever happen, but the stars aligned and four instructors and fifty students convened in a spectacular location for a week that I can only describe as magical. I think you can see from the photo of me with Paul Heaston, Jim Richards, his wonderful wife Patti and Uma Kelkar that we were pretty happy to be reunited for the week.
I don’t think I’ve fully processed the week in my head yet, but I can probably say that the joy we felt in teaching in person again started from the moment we arrived on the island ferry until the time we said goodbye to the last students at the airport.
Most of the group stayed in cabins right on the campus, so it felt a bit like summer camp for sketchers. We ate meals together in the big red barn and after days spent sketching out at different locations, each instructor gave an evening talk. This was my first time teaching at MISA, but I can see why the school has a great reputation. They do such a fantastic job of making sure that everyone is well taken care of so that instructors can devote all their energy to teaching. If you combine an idyllic location (and five sunny days) with comfortable accommodations and great food, the result can only be wonderful.
Before students arrived we spent a bit of time filling goodie bags with products from our generous sponsors Stillman & Birn, Winsor Newton, Hahnemuehle, Daniel Smith, Caran D’Ache and Legion Paper.
Each group of students spent a day with each instructor. My group spent the morning sketching the iconic Tom’s Burned Down Café. It’s a Madeline Island landmark that needs to be in every sketcher’s journal.
And in the afternoon, we sketched the log cabins of the Madeline Island Museum…
And in the evening, after dinner, each of us gave a talk…
On the last day we sketched all together on the campus and then had a final gathering to look at all of the work.
I think you can probably see that it was a pretty great week for all of us. It still seems like a bit of a dream that we were able to make it happen.
And of course, since we had to get in one last sketch before going our separate ways, Uma, Paul and I drew together in Duluth, Minnesota on our way to the airport.
I think I must have been pretty tired from all that smiling because the only tool I had the energy to use on my iPad was my trusty 6B pencil.