By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – The Nov. 18 Neechee Studio Illustration workshop was a hit with a group of Fort William community members at Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay.
“I loved it,” says Fort William’s Cindy Bannon. “It was relaxing, it was a good learning experience. We used a couple of different techniques and I thought it was really great.”
Bannon used a pen and pencil to create her art piece during the workshop, which was presented by Mary McPherson and Shayne Ehman. It was the second Neechee Studio workshop held this winter.
“(McPherson and Ehman) showed us some of their techniques, which in turn we used as part of ours,” Bannon says, noting this was the first workshop she participated in at Neechee Studio. “My daughter has come out before, but for the rest of us this was our first time here. I just wanted to try it and see what it was like.”
Fort William’s Alison LeGarde says this was also the first time that she participated in a Neechee Studio workshop.
“I enjoyed it,” LeGarde says. “I didn’t care if I knew how to draw or not — I just liked coming here and trying to see if we could draw. I learned a few techniques. Everybody’s drawing was good here.”
LeGarde enjoyed learning about the graphite powder shading technique during the workshop.
“(You use) the paint brush and then the eraser,” LeGarde says.
Gabe LeGarde, a Fort William youth, enjoyed learning how to use an air brush to create his art piece.
“It was really fun, cool,” Gabe says. “You make stencils and all that. It was really fun here.”
Gabe also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere at Neechee Studio.
“There’s lots to learn about,” Gabe says. “You can make your imagination come out.”
Tywin Morriseau, another Fort William youth who attended Neechee Studio for the first time, wants to return again in the future.
“It was really fun,” Morriseau says. “I enjoyed it.”
McPherson, a Couchiching citizen, enjoyed sharing her art techniques with the workshop participants.
“I saw a lot of really excellent work,” McPherson says. “I was sharing some of the techniques I use in my work, like using graphite powder and drawing with an eraser and using cross-hatching and stippling.”
Blake Evans, a Neechee Studio youth committee member, says the workshop went “very well.”
“A lot of the youth were able to draw inspiration from nature and the land and incorporate those into their drawing techniques,” Evans says. “With Mary and Shayne’s help they were able to learn a few different structures and designs to be able to draw out their visions and to create works.”
Evans says the Neechee Studio workshops are more relaxing since they were switched from Friday to Saturday evenings.
“They can come in at their own pace,” Evans says about the participants. “And the drop-in studio time allows everybody to come and go as they please. It’s been a great turnout for the two workshops we’ve had so far.”
The first workshop — Mixed Media Painting on Canvas — featured Shaun Hedican and Shelby Gagnon on Nov. 11. Upcoming workshops include: ImagineNATIVE VR (Virtual Reality Film) on Nov. 28, Birch Bark Baskets with Helen Pelletier on Dec. 9, Leather Work on Jan. 13 and Neechee Art Exhibition on March 31. Two other workshops are also scheduled for Feb. 10 and March 10.