Thursday, January 27, 2011

Art travel to Andalusia and immerse yourself in sculpture, mosaic or Raku workshops

Moira Schepel, left, with one of her workshop wood carving students.
How do you get your head inside a stone?

Eventually, you will find yourself inside the stone, Moira Schepel, maestro sculptor and my sculpture  instructor told me with confidence when I first took a week-long workshop from her in 2006.

I looked at the hulking, heavy slab of Spanish alabaster, studied with fierce bewilderment the small clay model I made of my planned reposing cat and never imagined I could do it.

But with her as my coach, we did.

Moira kept telling me to stop and study the work in progress, look at it from every point of view, and pretty soon, I started thinking inside the stone.

And another thing happened: My concentration became so focused, I found myself inside a deep calm. All the other baggage from racing neurons of our world vanished into the stone.

As a novice painter, I sometimes work quickly, almost at times frenzied. And with painting, you can usually fix your mistakes.

With stone, it's another world.

It's what you leave behind that counts and each session (9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) brings you closer to a final shape and form. It's a slow and deliberative process and it's good for your head. And anyone can really do it. Moira's that good.

You start to think about the lines, the shadows, the total shape, and you look and look and look some more.

Moira for years has offered small group workshops (maximum of 8 participants each) first in sculpture and now also in mosaics. Her expansive studio is perched atop a hill backed up to the national park near Competa, Andalusia.

After a week's workshop, I began to see and feel the depths of the third dimension.

And I was well on the way to eventually (it's a long journey) creating "Reposing Cat," pictured below. I have only completed four alabaster sculptures but there's a world of learning that comes with each.

Moira Schepel's bronzes lurking in one of her many garden areas.
Moira also teaches sculpting in clay, marble, olive wood and bronze and other media for students at all levels of competence.

Her first workshop this year is 7 March with others slated for 11 April, 2 May, 6 June, 11 July, 12 September, 10 October and 7 November. To sign up, go to

Moira, who intensely studied mosaics in Italy, continues encouraging beginners to take up mosaics.

And more recently, she teaches an occasional Raku firing workshop.

Moira, born in Tanzania, East Africa, gained encouragement from her Kenya boarding school art teacher and by graduation, had contributed a work to the private collection of Kenya's first president after independence, Jomo Kenyatta.

She has studied in the UK and in Holland, attending many workshops and intense courses at the "Vrije Academie." in pottery and sculputure.

She also studied under well-known Dutch sculptor Karel Gomez and has exhibited in the Netherlands and Spain.

Moira putting the finishing touches on the mosaic part of the public work, "Transition," (pictured below.) She and Swiss artist Irene Bertoni created and gave the town of Competa the sculpture/mosaic in 2009.
Moira enjoys creating the whimsical but her primary love is the human figure.
"Reposing Cat", alabaster, by Stefan van Drake

Torso by Moira Schepel.

Clay figures abound in the grounds of the Schepel villa near Competa.

In this Moira Schepel ceramic piece, you can see her whimsical side.

One of Moira's students with an alabaster work in progress.
Moira Schepel's works often focus on the human form.

"Transition," installed along the exterior wall of Competa's cemetery, by Moira Schepel and Irene Bertoni.
Rock on and practice peace and love. (All images by Stefan van Drake.)

Also see ArtTraveler videos on YouTube and check in on the foto gallery that Dutch walkers Joost and Rob are creating on their pilgramage blog as they trek from Seville to Santiago de Compostela (Via de la Plata).

Stefan, the ArtTraveler (TM).

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