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Free Art Workshops for Seniors (Montreal)

Talk about a great retirement benefit! Not only are the art workshops FREE – but they are good for your creative soul. If you are over 65, you can attend art workshops in Montreal at the Musee des Beaux-Arts at no charge and no registration is required.

On a first come basis, you can just show up at the gallery at 2 pm on Thursdays. A new technique (or project) is introduced every month. The two-hour bilingual workshops are repeated for four consecutive weeks, before a new topic or technique is introduced.

I first learned about them in November and have attended three times now, with the anticipation of attending at least once or twice a month for as long as they continue to offer them. I have already learned three new art techniques – all that I can see myself repeating at home.

Suminagashi – The Ancient Art of Japanese Marbling

Suminagashi (墨 流 し) or “floating ink” is the process of marbling plain paper with water and ink to transform it into something vibrant and colorful. It originated in Japan as early as the 12th century. This Suminagashi website has lots of information, advice and videos about the technique.

What I loved about it: It was unpredictable and organic. I had a certain amount of control but had to accept what nature gave me as an ultimate outcome. The results are art that is unstructured but elegant.

Image Transfer

Exactly what it says, it allows you to transfer a laser-printed copy of an image to some other media such as paper, canvas, Plexiglas, or wood. You can transfer a single image or pieces of a number of images to create a collage effect. Once the image is transferred and the paper washed off, the result can be painted or colored using any media suitable to the surface. When I took the workshop, I transferred several images and then colored the drawings after they dried. I used watercolors to paint a background for my image transfer of sailboats and I used Sharpie permanent markers to add color highlights to the oriental-looking image of flowers. In both, the black-and-white original stands out. This technique is clearly demonstrated in this Melanie Mathews video.

What I loved about it: It can be used to create images that I don’t have the talent to draw myself. It still allows me to add some originality and creativity through the coloring process. It can also be used to create multiples of an image for either experimentation (e.g. trying different colors on the same image) or creation of a series (e.g. a triptik of the same image with same or different effects – perhaps depth of colors).

Collograph Printing

Collography refers to a collage of materials glued on to a “printing plate,” which can be simply a piece of cardboard. When the glue is dry, it can be painted with acrylics. The paper is then pressed on to the recipient surface to produce a print. The “plate” can be used multiple times with the same or different color paints, even several colors at the same time. It is important to remember that like image transfer, the result is a mirror image of what you are looking at. The plate itself makes an interesting piece of art when you are finished.

What I loved about it: It has a multi-dimensional aspect created by the layers or textures that you build on your plate. It also has an unpredictability that is based on how much ink and/or pressure are exerted in the inking and pressing processes. It is another technique that can be used to experiment with the same image but different colors. The results can be used to create cards. It can also be used to create a series of art for display. There are many videos on the Internet under the topic of collography or printing. While some artists use many varied materials for their collage, we only used layers of paper during our workshop, and still got an interesting effect.

Looking forward to more

All three of these techniques have an organic and unpredictable nature to them, especially suminagashi and collography. They are also easy to do and require minimal equipment – so they can be replicated at home. All three can be adapted to do with children or grandchildren too.

It was my good Karma to discover these art workshops and I  am grateful to the Musee des Beaux Arts for making the staff and supplies available so that I could explore my kreative side and learn something new.

I hope the word spreads to more over-65ers in Montreal so they can discover their creative spirit too. Check out the MBAM website for more details on the workshops and on the free art tours on Thursday mornings.

UPDATE: I have been attending the free art workshops for seniors at the museum for more than a year now. I am extremely grateful to the Musee de Beaux Arts Montreal (#MBAM) for providing the opportunity for so many of us to express our creativity.
Every month I have had the opportunity to experiment with a new method of art. We have done work that I could never imagine doing on my own (sculpting, mosaics, ebru – Turkish marbling, and many multi-media methods). And some things that would be absolutely impossible at home – like sculpting a live nude model. For more on that unique experience see my blog on Getting Comfortable with Diversity at JustJudiB.
The classes have become so popular that the museum now holds two sessions simultaneously.

It’s great to see so many seniors enjoying their inner child on a Thursday afternoon.

TIP: Always heck the MBAM website for times of tours and workshops.

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