Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Summer in Winter: A Day at Wavehill with Linda Stillman

Cup of the Day #117 by Gwyneth Leech, 2013
Upcycled paper coffee cup stained with rose, hydrangea, 
daffodil and fire vine flowers + colored pencil

It was harder than it looked. Twelve of us sat around tables in Wavehill's elegant Glyndor House where the galleries are turned into art studios during the winter. It was a chill, weekday morning and a mix of plant-lovers, gardeners, artists, retired seniors and one home-schooled child were taking Linda Stillman's workshop, "Preserving Flowers through Art". We struggled with blue plastic tweezers, toothpicks dipped in glue, and the frailest of dried flower petals. Linda, artist in residence, had described the process in detail and we had studied her flower collages just moments before. Now, trying it for ourselves, we discovered that we were all thumbs.
  Snow dusted Beech Tree, Wavehill Garden, Febuary 5th, 2013

  Pressed and dried flowers and leaves ready for collage.

 Trying out new techniques

Hillsdale Landscape, 2009, by Linda Stillman
dried leaves on Arches paper
11 x 14 inches
Outside the windows of the warm studio, the lawns, trees and Adirondack chairs of Wavehill, a public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, were stark grey and white after a light snow. The Hudson river was a strip of steel in the distance, with the snow-sieved Palisade cliffs rising beyond. Once we had completed our own rough attempts at collage with pressed and dried plant material, we bundled into coats and Linda walked us across the dormant garden to visit the glasshouses. 
  Linda sharing her source material, conservatory garden, Wavehill

We were delighted by the brilliantly chromatic and steamy greenhouses. Here were the blooming plants whose fallen petals we would use in the second part of the workshop - stain painting with flowers. Having picked up the pot of windfall blossoms gathered for her each day by the gardeners, Linda took us back to her studio to learn how to cut stencils. Then we began applying the rich pigments of hydrangea, fire vine blossom, rose and daffodil by rubbing and crushing the fresh petals directly onto watercolor paper.

Flower stain study by Linda Stillman, February 2013
Fresh flower pigment on watercolor paper

A February morning at Wavehill garden

After several hours, surrounded by the detritus of ruined flowers, we had some brand new experience with pressing flowers (save those old Yellow Pages books. They are just the thing!) making collages with dried plant materials and painting with the delightfully vibrant colors of fresh flower pigments. Above all, we were filled with admiration for the virtuoso precision of Linda's own collages and the wide color range of her flower stain artworks.

 Ruined flowers from my experiment with flower stain painting 
on used paper coffee cup (carried in from Amy's Bread
 on 9th Avenue in the Manhattan) 

 A Workshop participant using a stencil to make a flower stain painting

Linda's workshop was one of a dozen offered during each session of the Wavehill Winter Workspace residencies. Advance registration is highly recommended. For more information, click here.

To see Linda Stillman's botanical artworks and daily sky paintings, visit Wavehill's Glyndor House this Sunday February 10th. Her studio, along with five others will be open to the public from 1:30 - 3:00 PM. 
Wavehill, a public garden and cultural center, is located West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. View directions.  

For more information about the Winter Workspace program click here.

Visit Linda Stillman's website at  

The mantelpiece in Linda Stillman's Winter Workspace studio, Glyndor House, Wavehill
Flower stain studies by Linda Stillman, 2013

Have Gwyneth's Full Brew cups and stories delivered directly to your inbox!
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Gwyneth - the photos, your cups, Linda's work, your descriptions ... the next best thing to being there!