A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Art Workshop: Hybrid Succulents

Artist Wennie Huang frequently leads art workshops at Wave Hill.

March 18 was the third day of my six-session workshop Mixing Media. Participants experiment with methods for using mixed media. Today, using their choice of watercolor, colored pencil, pastel pencil, soft pastels, ink and charcoal pencil, they created their “hybrids” by combining sections of three out of a choice of 12 different succulents borrowed from Wave Hill’s greenhouse. I gave them 20 minutes to complete a portion of their plant, working from direct observation. They were to select either the top, middle or bottom of their plant, leaving room for parts of their second plant. When the 20 minutes were up, I gave them each another plant to integrate with the first, then a third. At the end, they combined the names of the plants to come up with a new name for their hybrid.

I noticed that because participants knew they only had 20 minutes with each plant, they painted or drew much faster. Of course, it helped that we had had two previous sessions, so that they were already somewhat familiar with the materials and the subject. I thoroughly enjoyed their choices: some turned their picture upside down to add the second plant, or reflected or repeated parts of the second or third plants. Or they filled in the blank areas left by the first plant with the second or third plant. This yielded a wide and intriguing variety of outcomes.

Wave Hill offers a landscape where the abundant variety of shapes, colors, textures and forms in the landscape, and collection of plants are curated by the gardeners and by nature, and the seasonal changes, all make for an amazing setting for art-making. The eye and the soul experience something new with each visit and each attempt to capture something from that experience of nature.

My thanks to the workshop participants for graciously allowing us to reproduce their “hybrids” here. In order of the appearance of their work in this post, the participants in the workshop series are John Stein, Naomi Gans (left) and Judy Duffy (right), Elaine Drootin (left) and Jeannie Mackler (right), Fran Stein (left) and Sandy Skea (right), Lena Blau (left) and Bernie Mackler (right), Dimitra Habib and Jean Michael.


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