WESTFIELD-Donna Carmel’s artistic endeavors have come full circle – with the recent opening of the Little River Studio at 399 Little River Road.
“I began drawing and painting at an early age during Westfield High School art classes,” notes Carmel, who then attended the University of Florida at Gainesville and majored in fine art. She also participated in post-baccalaureate classes in art education and printmaking.
Over the years she has taught art in after school programs in Boston, created prints in professional photo labs, attended classes and workshops at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in painting, and participated in group and solo presentations of paintings and scratchboard at the Cornwall Gallery in Jamaica Plain. Also, Carmel serves as a board member of Artworks of Westfield and is a member of the Monotype Guild of New England.
After attending advanced digital courses at Pratt Institute, as well as working as a freelance web designer and in a professional photo lab in Brooklyn, N.Y., she returned to Westfield and is currently working in dry point monoprints and monotypes and scratchboard.
“The studio is my workspace that contains a mini press and supplies to produce prints,” said Carmel. “I am also conducting workshops that foster the idea of recycling in printmaking methods.”
Carmel said she had received a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council to offer three free workshops this month to community members on nontoxic printmaking.
“These workshops are specifically to introduce recycle materials and printmaking to the community members to instill the reuse of plastic and other recycled items,” said Carmel. “Due to COVID-19, the number of people to attend had to be reduced to maintain safe distancing.”
Carmel is also hosting a group show at the studio this month titled “It’s real not digital” featuring local artists and printmaking workshop participants. Viewing is by appointment only due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need for safe social distancing among visitors.
Viewings are offered Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 12 – 5 p.m. If Carmel is available, she will also offer free feather print demonstrations.
“The local artist show was devised to give artists a place to show but also to offer an alternative to the digital art shows,” said Carmel. “The grant funded classes were to show their work at the Articulture event that had been canceled. This venue offers the workshop attendees a place to show their images and also to help educate those who come into the studio what can be done using recycled objects in a print.”
Featured artists in the group show include Shannon Chiba, acrylic painting; Susan Buffum, pen and ink drawings; Kelly Buffum, pen and ink drawings; Lisa Wirth, acrylic painting; Andrea Piatti-Bruno, acrylic painting; Denise Calvo-Berndt, watercolor; Lucille Nason, acrylic painting; Natalie Ward, acrylic pours and painting, and Carmel will display her monotypes and dry point monoprints.
“For a future show I would like to have these artists come back to the studio to paint their images onto a printing plate and produce monotypes of their styles,” said Carmel.
Carmel explained that she uses nontoxic methods to produce hand-pressed prints.
“Metal plates were once used with acid baths to create texture in prints, now plexiglass or plastic plates and nontoxic, soy-based inks are used,” said Carmel, adding, “Instead of acid baths we use recycled objects to produce textures in ink or watercolors.”
Carmel noted she also conducts experimental processes including making handmade paper and then printing with different mediums. She also prints on fabric and old wallpaper.
“I have a teaching background so educating others is something that I like to do,” she said.
Carmel said her plans for the Little River Studio include a mixed use for production, workshops and occasional shows. In July she will conduct workshops titled “Introduction to Monotype Printing” on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 – 8 p.m. or weekends by appointment.
“My interest in art education has yielded to a newly developed series of workshops as part of an offering to local artists of the Westfield area and members of Artworks of Westfield,” said Carmel.
For area residents who would like to view the group show, send a text to [email protected]. For more information on the Little River Studio, visit donnacarmel.com.