Returning to Summer Programs for Adult Learners in 2015, will be two of College of the Atlantic’s most popular summer course offerings — both focusing on the arts — appealing to both new and returning participants. Adult learners and educators looking for new opportunities to hone their artistic techniques, creative exploration, and professional growth, will study and learn in the unique outdoor laboratory of Mount Desert Island.  Each course will combine labs, discussions, lectures, and field trips, while exploring the waters and outer islands of Frenchman Bay, as well as the forests, flora, and fauna of Acadia National Park. Whichever program you choose, you will leave with an artistically strong and creative portfolio of your work.


Botanical Illustration: Explorations in Drawing and Painting from Historical Tradition to Contemporary Techniques

Week 1: Drawing

This class will begin by taking inspiration from the naturalist artists of the great “Age of Discovery” who boarded ships bound for faraway places to observe, collect and record the botanical life of distant countries and continents. In the spirit of exploration and discovery, we will begin with a foundation in basic observation and drawing skills, using techniques such as finding familiar shapes and forms, blocking - in and looking at negative space to draw simple botanical subjects.  With increased skill level and confidence, we will progress through a range of botanical subjects, from the lowly to the exalted, from ground-hugging native plants, weeds and wild flowers to complex multi-colored cultivated flowers, using live specimens as well as dried flowers grown in Jean’s garden. We will also explore fruits and vegetables as subjects, with all they have to offer in terms of color, texture, shape, surface and cross-section design.  

Beginning with black and white mediums, we will use graphite pencil and fine ink pens to make quick on-site sketches on the COA campus and during a field trip in Acadia National Park and/or a trip to a nearby island on the school’s research vessel, the Osprey, (weather permitting). More complex subjects will follow as we consider page composition, taking advantage of the studio atmosphere for longer, more detailed drawings.  We will end the week with projects that incorporate colored pencils and a variety of paper options.   

Week II: Painting with Watercolors

Watercolor paints allow the artist a wide range of application styles from light and delicate to bold and rich.  With a little understanding of its properties, watercolor can be a fun, rewarding medium.  Our first experience with watercolor will depart from the formal precision and accuracy normally associated with botanical illustration in order to learn some of the wonderful “accidents” that can happen with the medium that later may be reproduced intentionally in a more controlled way.   Using botanicals as inspiration, we will experiment with loose wet-in-wet techniques, wet-on-dry, brushstrokes and brush sizes, dry-brush, paint values and concentrations, hard edges and soft edges, to create “impressions” of flowers.   With some playful paintings under our belts, and having learned what the medium can do, we will apply those lessons to the process of creating detailed watercolor illustrations of our botanical subjects; from nature’s humble plants, seeds and seed pods, to her more glorious and attention-grabbing creations.  Jean’s samples, from rough sketch to refined sketch to finished painting will be presented along with demonstrations as a way to visualize the process in manageable steps. Visual samples and choices will serve as inspiration for students to incorporate their own creative sensibility into their projects.  

Instruction will include information on materials; paper types, paint properties, brush sizes and shapes as well as techniques for special effects.  The painting week will include outdoor work and at least one field trip to Acadia National Park.  Outdoor paintings will be done on small boards or watercolor pads without easels.  

Students need not have previous art experience, understanding that each person is on their own learning curve.  Instruction starts with beginners in mind and values each person’s unique level of mastery and growth.  Students will be provided with a list of materials to bring, supplemented by extras supplied by the instructor.  

Lab fee: $100

Jean Carlson Masseau received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration, with special interest in the areas of printmaking, photography and textiles. She is a freelance illustrator and photographer working for a variety of clients nationwide from her studio in Hinesburg, Vermont. She received her teaching certificate from the University of Vermont and began her career as a full time high school art teacher at South Burlington High School in Vermont. She has taught a wide variety of community art classes for students of all ages over the years and occasionally teaches a Botanical Illustration workshop for RISD’s C.E. Department. Some of her clients have included Vermont Life Magazine, Vermont Magazine, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Gardeners’ Supply Catalog, National Gardening Magazine, Delta Airline’s SKY Magazine, Lake’s End Cheeses, Garden Design Magazine, Gardening for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide), Chapters Publishing (Evening Gardens), and Women’s Day Gardening among others. Her recent work has focused on fine art painting in watercolor and gouache (opaque watercolor) and creating limited edition prints of her paintings. One of her favorite artistic activities is drawing from nature in a variety of mediums. Her work has received recognition from the NY Society of Illustrators, and Print Magazine in their Regional Design Annuals’ “Best of New England” category. She is a regular practitioner of figure drawing and portraiture from life.

Conservation Photography for Everyone: Focusing on a Fragile Planet

This class will focus on the fundamentals of digital photography. Participants will learn how to compose, capture, process and exhibit fine art photographs. This learning experience is suitable for everyone interested in photography, regardless of prior experience.  The goal of the course/workshop is to give participants the tools they need to create images suitable for any venue through an intensive field and laboratory experience. Field experiences will concentrate on capturing images in and around Acadia National Park. Laboratory experiences will immerse the participants in the basics of effective digital workflow using Adobe Photoshop. 

Since we will be concentrating on the natural landscapes of the park, an emphasis will be placed on the concept of conservation photography.  This area of imagery has grown out of the need to make a distinction between capturing images for the sake of photography, and the creation of images to serve the purpose of conserving nature. Conservation photography reveals both the beauty and fragility of our planet’s natural systems.  A subset of nature photography, the goal of conservation photography is to produce images that inspire and move people to change their behavior and take action to help conserve our planet’s natural resources. 

The course/workshop will cover camera operation, composition, lighting, subject matter, digital optimization, printing, matting and framing. Although this course is geared toward the novice and intermediate photographer, experienced photographers who want to enhance their workflow are welcome.  All participants will need (at a minimum) a digital SLR and a sturdy tripod. Participants must be open to learning some advanced Adobe PhotoShop techniques. Some light hiking will be required to reach areas where images will be captured. This course is appropriate for all adult learners including K-12 teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and others who want to take their photography to the next level.  Each participant will leave with a portfolio of prints suitable for framing.

Shooting Locations:
We will spend much of our time in Acadia National Park. The ‘loop road’ will give us access to Frenchman Bay, a variety of beaver ponds, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Schooner Head Overlook, Sand Beach and Grand Head, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond, Bubble Rock, Bubble Pond, Eagle Lake, and Cadillac Mountain.

Other shooting locations include Bass Harbor Light, Asticou Terraces, Thuya Garden, and Asticou Azalea Gardens. We will also photograph Somes Sound from different locations along Sargeant Drive and make an all-day journey to Schoodic Peninsula to photograph a working lobster operation, fishing villages, and lighthouses.

One afternoon we will take a nature cruise to photograph eagles, seals, an island lighthouse, and sailing and fishing vessels.

Whether you are a classroom teacher looking to incorporate your images into your curriculum, an experienced photographer looking to hone your skills, or a beginner looking to master the fundamentals of digital photography, this course has something for you.

Lab fee: $100

Dr. Randall Fitzgerald is a biologist, behavioral ecologist and environmental educator at Montclair State University’s School of Conservation. He has pursued the fine art of photography for over 40 years, using many different photographic techniques. His love of the natural environment has permeated both his academic and photographic life, and consequently most of his fine art images reflect the intimacy he enjoys with the natural world. Natural and rural landscapes comprise the bulk of his work, however he also enjoys creating still-life photography and capturing images of wildlife. Regardless of the subject matter, he strives to create images that stimulate our undeniable connection to the planet and the cultures that have populated it. His goal is to strike that universal cord of understanding, through imagery, that is innately present in each of us. Dr. FitzGerald currently exhibits and sells his images at several galleries in the northwestern region of New Jersey. A sampling of his images can be viewed on his website.

Dr. Nancy Harris has a BS in biology with a concentration in secondary education from Bloomsburg University, a MA in environmental studies with a concentration in environmental education from Montclair State University, and an EDD from Walden University in teacher leadership. She is currently a teacher of the gifted and talented in the Jefferson Township School District, Oak Ridge New Jersey. During her 23 years in public education Dr. Harris has conducted numerous teacher workshops in experiential education using the natural environment to enhance learning. Most recently, she has explored the relationship between art and science, by writing curriculum that uses art as a conduit for teaching science concepts. As the recipient of several grants, Dr. Harris has been afforded the opportunity to expand the art and science connection by producing educational materials for teachers to use in their classrooms.