Barbara Meyers, a veteran docent and study tour attendee, has noticed some trends over the years. When Mazza brings docents, teachers, and picture book enthusiasts to visit, the artists seem to have a few characteristics in common. They have beautiful yards and flowers; they have a pet of some kind; they have eclectic home décor, and they’re thrilled to have them.
Mazza Study Tour Class of 2017
“The trouble they went to impressed me. They really put themselves out for us,” Meyers said. Nearly 40 people took part in the Mazza Study Tour this month traveling to the Portland and Seattle areas to visit the studios of artists who went out of their way to open their homes to them. From goodie bags filled with homemade treats, recipes and tattoos, to take-home prints and calling cards, every artist gave participants something to remember and carry with them. In addition to putting together a presentation that gave insights into their creative process, the artists shared their personality in creative ways. Nicole Rubel, illustrator of the Rotten Ralph series created snacks that were a work of art, including turtles made of kiwis and grapes and cookies with whiskers. She also strung artwork for sale across the house on clotheslines, Meyers explained.
While there were many that stood out to her, one of Meyers’ favorite stops along the way was a visit to the Lummi Island where Paul Owen Lewis lives. Seeing his home and his yard made one of his books really come to life. He shared a collection of rocks with stripes that helped inspire The Jupiter Stone. “His presentation came from the heart,” said Meyers, “and I could really tell what motivates him.” Lewis also talked about his latest book Moto Mice to be released this summer.
Nikki McClure in her studio
Stepping into the studios gave Meyers and the others the opportunity to learn about the media artists are using now. Gouache, for example, adds white pigments to water color to make it opaque. Many artists also said they’re returning to more traditional media like painting and only using digital tools to correct mistakes or supplement a piece. Study Tour participants also saw Nikki McClure’s lace-thin printmaking process up close and met Maggie Rudy, who builds villages for her characters and then captures images to be used in the books. They saw scenes she’d constructed with little mice that reminded Meyers of dollhouses that told stories.
Through this behind the scenes experience, Meyers saw many preliminaries, heard about changes suggested by an art director and why those changes were made, which reaffirmed one of her favorite things to tell children about as a docent in the Museum. “I love conveying to kids that they don’t have to get things right the first time,” she said. “I tell them it’s like working with your teacher to fix a spelling mistake or error in an assignment. Artists don’t get things right the first time either, and that’s why we have preliminary art.”
Top feature photo is from the studio of Maggie Rudy.