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Hemmingford Art Workshops’ Open House invites the public to ‘just jump in!’

On the blustery Saturday of March 9, Hemmingford’s Old Convent was cheerfully abuzz with art lovers and potential students who stopped in for the Open House hosted by the local artists’ group, Ateliers d’art Hemmingford. The event marked the launch of their series of short art courses or workshops. Attendees had the chance to meet the workshop instructors, view their works, watch live demonstrations, and learn about and enroll in the offered art workshops.

The driving force behind the artists’ group is Hemmingford resident and established professional artist, Helga Sermat. In 2023, Sermat resumed teaching, giving art classes focused on specific techniques to small groups in her home studio, when she realized that there were many other techniques that people might like to try but which were outside her areas of expertise. Around the same time, Sermat became acquainted with a diverse group of local artists with whom she really “clicked,” re-igniting her desire to work within an artists’ group or art collective as she had years earlier while living in Vancouver. Thus, the five-person collective Ateliers d’art Hemmingford was born.

Most of the upcoming spring workshops are single three-hour courses designed to introduce a specific art technique. Helga Sermat will teach watercolour basics on March 20, and a three-part introduction on the magic of colour beginning April 10. Collage artist Marie-Andrée Couture invites you to “let the scissors decide” in her workshop Exploration – Collage on March 27. You can get your hands dirty with ceramics artist Pauline DeJordy in her very tactile “pinch-pot” ceramics workshop on April 14. Or you can learn to create a printed picture from a block of artist’s linoleum with Evelyne Bouchard on May 5. Visual artist Lina Surprenant, the fifth member of the collective, will begin teaching in Fall 2024.

 

Potential students check out the different art workshop offerings at Hemmingfords Old Convent on March 9 PHOTO Alyson Champ

 

The artists are dedicated to cultivating learning environments of experimentation and curiosity, encouraging participants to make, in Sermat’s words, “some exciting and unexpected discoveries not just about art, but about themselves.” The workshops prioritize the acquisition of specific – yet transferable – skills, and the value of the creative process over the final product, though participants will certainly produce aesthetically pleasing work. The artist-teachers dispel the misconception that making art is about so-called talent – something you either have or you don’t, rather than something you practice. This misconception, says Sermat, “is a big reason for quitting artmaking.” She goes on to explain that people generally don’t get to see the pile of failed artworks that are part of an artist’s reality. Printmaker Evelyne Bouchard echoes this when discussing her method for teaching block printing: “What I hope is that people won’t get so hung up on whether they can draw or not, that they will just jump in.”

Open House attendee Danielle Daneau has had a lifelong interest in art but was discouraged from exploring it during childhood, which left her intimidated to try anything creative. However, she was intrigued by the workshop offerings and was reassured by the simplicity of the Ateliers d’art Hemmingford’s philosophy, saying, “Colour! Yes! That’s a good start,” and adding, “There is a start for everything.”

All the workshops will take place at The Old Convent in Hemmingford (549 Rue Frontière) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and no prior art experience is necessary. Although these are tailored for adult and teen learners, the group has plans for future children’s workshops and other free public events.

For more information or to register, please consult the Ateliers d’art Hemmingford Facebook page, or email ateliersdarthemmingford@gmail.com.

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