Autumn Colors - Artist, Retreat!

• Tuesday, October 03, 2017 •

I have seen it happen over and over again – the deep connections made when artists “retreat” from the demands of daily existence to a place of natural beauty and serenity. From the first gathering – the opening reception - artists find commonalities and meaningful exchange. A thread begins to weave through what is forming as a “community” of artists. We all come with different expectations, that soon to melt away, and pure joy instead takes root. How does this transformation begin to take place so quickly, I ask? Through the years of organizing and facilitating artist retreats with workshops or open studio, I believe I have some idea.

Today’s culture is a steady diet of stress; our demanding jobs, our over connectedness to technology, the sheer weight of keeping up with emails alone, add to this short list the constant borage of negative news assaulting us wherever we go - even when we simply want to read a book while waiting for some appointment. We starve for solace, peace and a measure of playfulness.


During the Retreats, I offer morning mindfulness sessions, that begin and end with a poem selected for that day. On the first morning, after everyone has had a night to sleep in a cabin without internet or cell service and has awakened to the sound of the breeze rustling though the leaves, or the sound of Canadian Geese calling in their flight over the lake, I always read the following poem by Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”


When despair for the world grows in me

 and I wake in the night at the least sound

 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

 I go and lie down where the wood drake

 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

 I come into the peace of wild things

 who do not tax their lives with forethought

 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

 And I feel above me the day-blind stars

 waiting with their light. For a time

 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

We all get it and it helps us to sink into the blessing of time set apart to be creative, to reflect, to smile and laugh, to be at peace.

 If you would like to share in this experience, there is an upcoming Retreat at Beautiful Lake Logan Conference Center, Canton, North Carolina, October 25 - 30 - workshop with Alice Ballard and Open Studio  - spaces are still open, (click here for all the detais)


First 2 Weeks of the CMA Summer Series - Let the Pictures tell the Story

• Monday, July 01, 2013 •

CMA 2013 Summer Series - Week 1 & 2
The first and second week of June brought 5 stellar artists to the Western Carolina Universities School of Art and Design, for the Cullowhee Mountain ARTS 2013 Summer ARTS Series. How does that work? CMA is a non-profit organization that partners with Western Carolina University. We bring the artists and programs, and in turn we use their studios, housing and food service.

The first event of the Workshop week is the Sunday night wine reception, followed by a group, catered meal. This is a great time to get to know the other students and the instructors.

Week 1 was a synergetic week of workshops run by Rebecca Crowell of Wisconsin, Jeff Oestreich of Minnesota, and Lisa Pressman from New Jersey. Students came from all points of the US and experienced collaborative classes, artist presentations and group meals added to top-notch workshop experiences. Take a look below.

Lisa Pressman demonstrates encaustic with embellishments

Collaborative class - Rebecca Crowell and Lisa Pressmans groups work together. 
Pressman gives students quick drawing exercises that help unlock images and creative responses.

Pots drying for a bisque firing in Jeff Oestreich's ceramics workshop

Rebecca's Abstract Painting with Cold Wax Medium - advanced level class|

During Week 1 Participants were able to partake in the reception of the FAM-CMA Invitational Exhibit Reception.The exhibiti is a group show with works from all artists invited to teach during the Cullowhee Mountain ARTS 2013 Summmer Series. It was a special night with artists Rebecca Crowell, Kenn Kotara, Jeff Oestreich and Lisa Pressman each being able to offer remarks about their art. Seen with them is Interim Museum Director of the WCU Fine Art Museum, Denise Drury. Norma Hendrix is to her left side, as co-curator of this exhibit.

Week Two was all about painting – Rebecca Crowell teaching in the studio an introduction to her Oil and Cold Wax medium techniques and abstract painting concepts, while Stuart Shils had his students drawing or painting in interesting spots in the Cullowhee and Sylva landscape including abandoned gas stations, the paper mill, and other places of architectural and visual interest. The same great group meals, gatherings, after hour café meetings and presentations were all part of the week.

Stuart Shils workshop - students painting at the paper mill in Sylva - 4 miles from the WCU campus

Highlights from Crowell's week 2 class

Don't miss other opportunities this summer - workshops run through the end of July more...

1 of 4 interviews with 4 New Mexico Artists - Ceramic Sculptor, Debra Fritts

• Saturday, February 09, 2013 •

On April 19, 2013, artists from around the country will be meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico for an Art Immersion Trip with workshops – 4 options with 4 different artists. These 4 artists are opening their studios to participants. The numbers are small and the experience will be intimate and inspiring. More...

This week I am going to be blogging with interviews with each extraordinary artist. 

Debra Fritts is a studio artist working in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and continued graduate studies in ceramic sculpture, painting and printmaking. Debra conducts master classes and workshops nationally. Fritts has achieved national recognition for her work in ceramic sculpture. Her career has included invitational exhibitions, awards, museum exhibitions, gallery representation, private collections and publications. Her sculptures were exhibited in “Form and Imagination,” honoring women ceramic sculptors at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California and are in the permanent collection at the Fuller Museum in Massachusetts. More…
My interview with Debra:

Norma – When I met you several years back, you lived and maintained a studio in Atlanta, Georgia. What made you decide to move to Abiquiu, New Mexico, now making it your residence and place of your creative work?

Debra - The open space - the light, the clean air and the beauty of the landscape. Frank and I would visit NM yearly because we loved the area and felt relaxed.  We would spend a few days in Santa Fe, a few days in Taos but would always stay longer in Abiquiu - a quiet retreat where we felt so connected to the land. Finally we realized it was time to live the life we wanted - so we found a very special place in Abiquiu.  We really wanted the isolation - the quiet.

Norma Your work has always conveyed strong narrative in a single form. Though your figures are mostly women, I know both men and women have collect your work. Can you talk a little bit about why it is that your message speaks to such a broad audience?

Debra - The best response I can get from a collector is "I feel something - I feel there is something more than the figure"  I think people connect with the spiritual content of my work and the mystery of the piece.  Aren't we all searching for honesty?  I feel my audience reaches out the rawness and the honesty.

Norma You live close to Gerogia O’Keeffe’s home and studio and very near the “WhitePlace” where she often painted. What impact has this location had on your creative musings and what affect has this new sense of “place” had on your personal work?

DebraOf course - this new location is speaking to my work - it is my life now.  The white formations are extremely sculptural and are screaming "figures"  - I feel small walking among these beautiful white rocks.  My thoughts are now "how can I connect the figure andthe rock in my sculptures?"  Also the raven and the coyote are appearing.  The Hispanic faith and the admiration of the Santos has influenced my work - now I have a series that is titled "Lady of Shining Light" - which is based on females connecting to the earth.  O'Keeffe’s love of the land, her strength and her need for simplicity has encouraged many woman to grow and discover in this magical area.

Norma What has been the response from students who have taken workshops in your Abiquiu studio? What is it like for them to experience the intimacy of your studio space and the beauty of this amazing region?

Debra - Students are amazed - all have enjoyed our walks in Plaza Blanca, Ghost Ranch and Carson National Forest.  They have responded to the rich history in the area - the power of the morning and night sky - and they are inspired to work in the studio.  Many now have returned for three years.  It is easy to fall in love with the "land of enchantment"

For more information about Debra Fritts visit her website. To enroll in her workshop and participate in the Art Immersion Trip to Santa Fe and Abiquiu click here.