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Inside the artist’s studio

Take a peek behind the scenes during Art Studio Trek
By: Margaret Snider Granite Bay View Correspondent
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Art Studio Trek: Art & Chocolate 

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28

Where: Roseville, Rocklin, Granite Bay. Map of studio locations at www.artstudiotrek.com or email

Cost: Free

 

As every artist’s path, style and passion are unique, so is the studio in which she works.

Now, art lovers have a chance to peek inside the studios of local artists during the seventh annual Art Studio Trek. This year’s theme: art and chocolate. The artists will provide some chocolate goodies for visitors. The tour offers the opportunity to spend time talking to the artists and observing how they actually do their work.

“Pat Abraham and Chris Foster are the ones who started it,” said artist Darlene Engellenner of Roseville, whose studio is on the tour. “They decided they would ask a few artists to join them to see what would happen, and it just sort of blossomed from there.”

With 15 studios and 21 artists, visitors can make it around to most studios during the weekend. Some of the artists have donated artwork for a special “Passport” program. Visitors can earn a chance to win the art by getting a paper stamped at a minimum of 10 locations.

Foster, a resident of Granite Bay, entered the art world through calligraphy.

“I had my first calligraphy class in 1978 with Jenny Groat, who just passed away this month,” Foster said. “I studied with her for a long, long time, probably 20 years before I moved here.” Groat taught calligraphy and mentored students for many years; she was also well-known in later years for her painting.

Foster took the calligraphy class when she was an international flight attendant because she wanted something to do while she was waiting in airports and sitting in hotel rooms in Europe.

“Calligraphy was some thing that was easy to take with me without carrying a lot of paints,” she said.

Now Foster incorporates calligraphy into her painting, or maybe painting into her calligraphy.

“Sometimes I start with the words, sometimes I start with the idea of a color, image or an abstraction,” Foster said. “I work back and forth both ways.”

Engellenner said she creates her art objects spontaneously with energy and movement, using found materials.

“Someone gave me some pond scum once and I also have torn up paper for bills and made a handmade paper that I incorporated with the pond scum,” Engellenner said. “It had little bitty bugs.”

Currently, among other materials, she is working with copper sheeting. She acquired a big roll of copper from a metal artist when she went to a studio trek in Santa Rosa.

“Artists are so generous, it’s just amazing,” Engellenner said. “He said, ‘Here, I have this big roll of crumpled up copper. I have had this around for about 10 years. I don’t know what to do with it.’”

Engellenner produces a copper patina with vinegar, salt and ammonia and makes collages with squares of copper. But really, she said, she likes to explore what materials can do and try new things.

Like Foster, Engellenner has been with this art studio trek from the be-ginning, unlike Connie McLennan, who’s participating for the first time this year.

McLennan has been a working artist for 30 years. Following a brief stint in the art department at KCRA, she did freelance illustration for a variety of local and national clients. Additionally, she illustrated 13 children’s books.

While the commercial work was balanced mostly between watercolor and acrylics, she has been exclusively doing oil for more than two years, moving into more artistic and freestyle work, painting what she wants to paint.

“I’m working mostly on still life type material . . . I’ve developed a fondness for antiques,” McLennan said. “I was never a collector of antiques, but I find little interesting pieces that are fun to paint, and then I also like floral and trees.”

McLennan asked the studio trek organizers what they wanted to emphasize with the event.

“They very much want to encourage students to come and see the work and the importance of keeping art in the schools,” McLennan said. “It’s a big chunk of culture that’s getting left out.”

Especially interesting for attendees may not only be viewing the art, but also speaking with the artists, finding out why they do what they do and how their artistic spirit awoke. It just might lead to the awakening of another unique spirit in the student.