Our 2012 Artist-in-Residence, Sharon Pitts has been busy all week doing “a lot of painting and a lot of looking.” While she admits she was never a morning person, Sharon confided in me that she finds herself up early each day to see the morning sun through the windows of the North Cottage. “I see something different every morning,” she told me. This is the second year we’ve invited an artist, whose work is inspired by Stickley’s Arts and Crafts tradition, to create new work during a week-long stay on site, and Sharon’s stay so far has been wonderfully positive and fruitful.
To kick-off her residency, Sharon hosted a watercolor workshop titled “Art of Nature: Inspiration from Craftsman Farms.” This workshop encouraged participants to find inspiration in the Craftsman Farms’ buildings, furnishings, décor and the natural surroundings. The morning began with a tour of the grounds of Craftsman Farms and the Log House, during which Sharon encouraged participants to look for interesting images and themes to inspire their work. Everyone enjoyed a light lunch outside under the trees and had some time to sketch on the grounds or in the Log House to better connect with the environment and find a creative frame of mind. Most of the workshop was spent in the diligent creation of paintings – impressions – of the ideas and images harvested from Craftsman Farms and the Arts and Crafts ideas used by Stickley in developing his home. Sharon, an experienced watercolor artist and instructor, demonstrated a variety of techniques and worked individually with each student toward expressing his or her own vision. Stickley Museum volunteer and workshop participant, Marti Weinstein, while admiring the work of others, said she was surprised by the many different and interesting directions each student went in and said of her own work, that the end result wasn’t necessarily what she had in mind at the start, that the “images took their own journey.”
I then caught up with Sharon mid-week while she was sketching on the porch of the Log House. In talking about her week so far – the life and vitality she feels from working on site and the good fortune of having a week uninterrupted in such a charming and stimulating setting – Sharon paused to notice the amazing reflections you see throughout the house, particularly in the windows between the living room and front porch. “The inside and outside are mingled by way of reflections… it’s another way the house is integrated with nature, these reflections, the windows, the light,” Sharon said. “I can’t think of where else you can go to be so enveloped by a house like that… Really all I have to do is look.”
Sharon’s residency will culminate this Saturday with a program unveiling work produced during her time at Craftsman Farms. This program, titled “An Evening with Sharon Pitts,” is part of the Celebration of Artisans, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. The evening will feature a watercolor demonstration by Sharon and a discussion of the work produced during her stay, with a light reception to follow. You can pre-register for this event online.
Sharon Pitts is the Director of Watercolor for Allied Artists of America. She resides in Montclair, NJ in an Arts and Crafts-style house and is a founding member of Studio Montclair. An experienced instructor, Pitts has taught workshops all over the country, hosted several painting trips to the south of France and will be hosting a trip to Tuscany in 2012.