We decided it was time to check in with Denise Fleming and Ashley Wolff, co-faculty for our annual Color, Light, Line & Texture workshop. Even though we interrupted their birthday celebrations–both artists have birthdays at the end of January–they obliged us by answering a few questions. Thanks to you both!
Highlights: This will be the 5th year that you’ve led Color, Light, Line & Texture. How did the idea for this workshop come about? Have the two of you been friends for a long time?
Denise: Ashley and I were at a conference chatting about different types of workshops. We decided that we wanted to offer a workshop where people could experiment with different materials and techniques that would allow them to expand their creativity, to stretch. Also, it had to be fun, playful, a no-stress environment. Highlights fit the bill.
Ashley: Denise and I recognize each other as restless, seeking artists–unlike many other illustrators, we can’t stick with one technique or medium indefinitely. We both enjoy unusual approaches to image making and we adore the process of creating our unique illustrations. We thought others might enjoy this eclectic, seeking approach too, so we hatched the workshop and prayed Highlights would embrace the concept.
Denise: It seems like Ashley and I have been friends forever, but in reality we met at an ALA in CA maybe seven? years ago.
Ashley: I worshipped Denise from afar–total fangirl! I was so excited to meet her at the LA ALA a few–quite a few–years ago.
Highlights: It’s great to see the interaction between the two of you at the workshop, and to appreciate your different teaching styles. What do each of you most appreciate about the other as co-faculty?
Denise: Ash is flexible, she goes with the flow, which is a great plus. She gets excited about techniques and materials. Also, she has a great smile and takes joy in her work. And of course, she is very talented.
Ashley: I am Laurel to Denise’s Hardy–our chemistry as a comic duo owes its zest to Denise. Denise is my funny little sister, she is the brave one who speaks up, the truth teller and the wound healer.
Can you share something about the types of students who take the course? What types of students will benefit most from taking the workshop, and why?
Denise: Librarians, teachers, artists and art lovers take the course. We have no selection process. All we ask is that you are enthusiastic. For some people it renews their confidence in their work. Being with people who enjoy creating is life-affirming. We have had participants who were at a dark place in their life and found being at the workshop was helpful and allowed them to step back and find their center. People surprise themselves with their creations. And, I can’t overlook the fact that it is just plain fun.
Ashley: We want to appeal to that group of adults who still want to draw and paint and create important work, even when it is not their primary job. So many people go through life wishing they had time to create art. Our workshop at Highlights allows them the room, the permission, fantastic food and housing and some excellent instruction in a wide variety of media.
Highlights: Your special guest at this year’s workshop is Lauren Castillo. Why did you choose her?
Denise: Ash and I are old school traditional. Lauren works digital combined with traditional–new school. She is experimental in her work. Lauren was a participant in the workshop several years ago, she was very enthusiastic and had a lot to offer. We felt she would be a great guest leader. And as Ash says, she is hip. And has great funky hair.
Ashley: We love Lauren and her work. She has the same heart that Denise and I share. Having the heart is crucial to our process.
Highlights: Can you tell us more about what books and/or projects you’re working on right now?
Denise: I have several book ideas I am working on: rain concept book, a story about speaking up, and a chapter book.
Ashley: I am working on such a cool old/new project–imagine taking on your work from 34 years ago and reimagining it for the grandchildren of the original readers!
We can’t wait to see these projects come to life–and to watch you and your students to again cover the Barn floor with your beautiful art!
Posted on: February 7, 2019