Photographer Eric Swanson enjoys shooting images of artists in their studio spaces as one of his “self assignments,” so coming to Penland this summer to teach a workshop on natural light portraiture was an easy fit. He and his students spent the two weeks of session 6 making portraits on the knoll, at the Arbuckle Rodeo, and by the river, but mostly they shot in the Penland studios. The collection of images they produced, including the one above of Eric by student Elizabeth Ortiz, captures both the intense work and the playful nature of summer at Penland. View their portraits here.
“Photographic prints and books are being replaced by intangible, transient digital files made of zeros and ones – no texture, no smell, no weight. ” So writes photographer Heather F. Wetzel in her artist statement. “I prefer a slower pace, where one takes time to notice and appreciate those little and often discarded things.”
Her photographs echo her assertion, examining forgotten everyday details like a safety pin or a jar of buttons with uncommon attention. Though lacking the saturated colors and extensive post-production possible with today’s digital photography, Heather’s images are warm and arresting. It’s their simplicity and directness that draw the viewer in and envelop them in a moment that can feel timeless.
This fall, Heather will be traveling to Penland to share her expertise in historic photographic processes. Her 1-week course, scheduled for November 1-7, will focus on printing with silver and iron using cyanotype-, salt-, and albumen-printing. Space is still available in the workshop.Register here.
Printing with Silver & Iron
Heather F. Wetzel – Beginning with an introduction to digital negatives and other means of photographic contact printmaking, we’ll explore the possibilities of the cyanotype process and two closely-related silver printing processes: salt and albumen. In addition to learning how to mix chemicals, make digital negatives for optimal image making, and the practicalities of printing and toning, we’ll consider further manipulation and mark making as well as final presentation of the prints produced in this workshop. All levels. Code F03P
Heather is a studio artist who works in traditional photographic processes as well as other media such as books and hand papermaking. She is a lecturer in the art department and a book arts specialist at Logan Elm Press at Ohio State University, where she was the 2011-2012 Fergus Family Fellow in Photography.
Fine art photographer Andrew Peter King joined us as a student for Jo Whaley’s session 1 class “The Theater of Photography.” In addition to learning some new approaches and techniques for lighting while at Penland, Andrew also took some captivating images of his fellow students and their work.
Head on over to Andrew’s blog post on Penland to read more and view the images he took for Jo’s class. And don’t miss his second blog post with dramatic photos of Penland’s hot glass studio!
Penland School is well-known for its intensive workshops in clay, glass, metals, and other materials traditionally associated with the word “craft.” Penland, however, defines that term quite broadly, and has long offered classes in so-called “fine art” media such as drawing, painting, and printmaking, along with everyone’s favorite unclassifiable medium: photography. The school is currently in the process of planning and raising funds for a new photography studio and, as part of that effort, is involved in an unusual partnership in North Carolina’s Triangle area: an exhibition/auction of work by Penland-affiliated photographers at Chapel Hill’s Cassilhaus, the home and gallery of architect and community activist Ellen Cassilly and AV systems designer, documentary film producer, and arts entrepreneur Frank Konhaus.
Titled An Expansive Vision: Photographers Working for Penland’s Future, the exhibition, which is on view at Cassilhaus until the auction on March 2 and is also available online, features work by 35 photographers who have donated photographs (framed and ready to hang) in support of Penland’s new studio. The photographs vary widely in style, from documentary to nonrepresentational with many stops in between. The methods used to produce the images could almost form a history of photographic technology: several nineteenth century processes are represented along with black-and-white darkroom prints, traditional color processes, and up-to-date archival inkjet prints.
Cassilhaus (seen above) is an unusual venue—a beautiful private home (located in a wooded area just north of Chapel Hill) that incorporates a gallery and a separate apartment that supports an artist residency. “Ellen and I have a long-time connection to Penland,” explains Frank Konhaus. “We have taken several fantastic workshops over the years and have volunteered for the benefit auction. Penland is a rare place the excels in teaching darkroom and alternative photo processes alongside current digital techniques. We are passionate photography collectors and have developed a vibrant artist residency and exhibition program at our home in Chapel Hill. It seemed like a natural fit for us to mount an exhibition and auction here of work by Penland-connected photographers to help support the future of Penland photography program.”
That future will be grounded in a beautiful new studio designed by Ratio Architects of Raleigh. The conceptual design was led by architect Louis Cherry working closely with Penland staff members and a design committee that included five photographers with close ties to Penland’s workshop program. The goal for the new studio is to allow Penland to teach any kind of photography that has ever existed. It will be a flexible space that will support nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century technologies: from daguerreotypes to digital. The design has now been completed by a team from Ratio led by Jesse Green. It will be part of a two-building complex that also includes a paper-making studio and a large social hall, and the project will include a landscape plan by Walt Havener of Surface 678 in Durham.
Fundraising for the project is ongoing, and all proceeds from the Cassilhaus auction will support the new photography studio. The photographs in the auction can be viewed on this page, which also has information about absentee bidding, viewing the exhibition by appointment, and making reservations for the auction on March 2. Seating for the event is quite limited and it is likely to fill, but there’s room for an unlimited number of absentee bidders. An absentee bid form allows bidders to name their highest bid for any photographs they are interested in. Bids will be placed for them (up to their stated maximum) by Penland staff members during the live auction.
This spring, Mark Tucker will teach a workshop exploring how to find and harness light outside of the studio in service of the great faces of the world.
Mark Tucker Environmental Portraiture In the photo studio
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best approach. In this workshop we’ll learn to make strong portraits using available light. We’ll find the best light, and if it’s not perfect, we’ll modify it with reflectors and fill cards. A field trip to a nearby town will help students learn to approach strangers and to quickly find the best angle and light for a portrait. We’ll learn the emotive difference between hard and soft light and how to use various light sources to achieve the mood you are after. This is a digital photography workshop, which will include enhancing your portraits with basic adjustments in Lightroom/Photoshop. All levels. Code S03P
Mark Tuckeris a portrait and advertising photographer. His clients have included Amtrak, Jack Daniels, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Harper Collins, Penguin Books, Alabama Tourism, Colonial Williamsburg, and many others. He is represented by MergeLeft Reps (NY). He documents his portrait-making adventures on Instagram and Tumblr.
Platinum/palladium printing is a nineteenth century photographic printing process based on iron, platinum, and palladium rather than silver. It is considered one of the most beautiful photographic processes because of its very subtle gradation of tones. Kerik Kouklis will be teaching this process at Penland this April.
Paltinum/palladium prints are made with paper that has been hand coated, and they are exposed in contact with a negative that’s the same size as the final print. The success of the print depends on using a negative that matches the characteristics of the platinum/palladium material.
Creating these negatives used to require a high level of darkroom skill, but today, carefully-tuned negatives can be made with an inkjet printer, making the whole process much more accessible. This is the method that will be used in this workshop.
Kerik Kouklis Platinum-Gum Printing with Digital Negatives
In the photography studio
We’ll start by making digital negatives with the QuadTone RIP program and Epson printers. Then we’ll use these negatives to make platinum/palladium prints, and we’ll cover the fundamentals of the gum bichromate process. Adding layers of gum bichromate to a platinum/palladium print can result in prints ranging from subtle to wildly colorful. Combining these processes allows you to use both the left and right sides of your brain to produce work that’s uniquely yours. Darkroom or alternative process experience helpful but not required. Students should have basic skills in Photoshop (adjustment tools, layers, etc.). Code S02P
In addition to covering the production of digital negatives, hand coating the paper, and making the platinum/palladium prints, this workshop will also include an introduction to another nineteenth century process called gum bichromate. This process involves pigment suspended in a medium that hardens in response to light, and a gum print can be made in almost any color. In this workshop, the gum process will be applied on top of the platinum/palladium prints as a way of adding new tonalities to the images.
Kerik Kouklis has taught photography at the Photographer’s Formulary (MT), Ansel Adams Gallery (CA), and Project Basho (Philadelphia), among others. His work has been shown in exhibitions at the Ansel Adams Gallery (CA), Taube Museum of Art (NC), and is housed in collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts (PA).