Trust as artistic process 

Suzanne Northcott runs The Maker and the Muse at Art on the Lake

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Ocean to lake Suzanne Northcott will share her experience with workshop students at Art on the Lake on Aug. 12 and 13.
  • Photo submitted
  • Ocean to lake Suzanne Northcott will share her experience with workshop students at Art on the Lake on Aug. 12 and 13.

Suzanne Northcott cannot be pigeonholed, yet describing her art as "interdisciplinary" doesn't fully conjure up an image of what interests her.

Using nature and pure imagination as inspiration, she makes video, paints and draws using many materials and methods, and does installation work.

The Fort Langley-based artist is also a teacher at heart, which makes her a natural for Arts Whistler's Art on the Lake workshop program.

"My wish is to accommodate people in their own unfolding as artists, the idea being to be able to get people working and then show up for them to notice what they're doing and what they might need," she says over the phone.

She says being brave and having fun keeps people on the right track.

"Everything I teach is through my own experience, there is nothing I have learned other than through doing it. So when I am teaching I am trying to apply what I've come to understand about technical processes and creative process," she says.

Her approach to her two-day workshop, The Maker and the Muse, will be to allow the participants to find their own senses of expression and oversee it with a teacher's light touch. The theme came from combining practical and intuitive approaches to problem solving.

"I'm trying to teach people to pay attention to their energies and to pay attention to what they're doing when they make different decisions. What feels exciting, what even feels depressing. Get into the habit of knowing what you are doing with yourself," she says.

"It's endlessly lovely."

Northcott has taught workshops at Art on the Lake before, she's lost track how many times; all workshops take place at the Alta Lake Station House, and she is quick to note the inspiration of the location.

"One of the things I like best about it, is that you are all together in a spot that is away from everything else, and that's really big for me," she says.

"A lot of the activity of creative process and taking risk has to do with being in a place where you feel safe and cosy. It's a great atmosphere for taking risks.

"And it's a beautiful, beautiful place. I reference nature a lot, not just in my subject matter but in my way of understanding how things unfold and connect."

The Maker and the Muse takes place Aug. 12 and 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The class is $290 for Arts Whistler members and $340 for non-members (supplies not included).

After Northcott's weekend, there are four more Art on the Lake workshops this summer.

A Weekend of Zen: The Art of Henna and Incense Making takes place on Aug. 19 and 20; Great Canadian Landscapes takes place on Aug. 26 and 27, Bringing Beasts to Life takes place on Sept. 9 and 10, and Creative Explorations takes place on Sept. 16 and 17.

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