Saturday open studios feature local artists, printmakers

WESTFIELD — Donna Carmel, printmaker, artist and owner of the Little River Studio, is welcoming area residents to a month-long open studio celebration featuring local artists and free printmaking demonstrations.

The open studio events are planned on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the month of October at 399 Little River Road, Westfield. On the closing day, Oct. 30, free coffee and snacks will be provided.

As part of the festivities, Carmel is welcoming artists Susan Buffum, Lisa Wirth, Denise Calvo-Berndt and Kayla Reno to display some of their unique artwork.

“Susan is a real pen-and-ink genius, Lisa will be showing her prints she produced at the studio as well as beautiful paintings, Denise has some comical happy characters that she paints, and Kayla will show her previously printed images,” said Carmel.

Area residents stopping in during the open studio hours will also be able to purchase monotypes, monoprints, framed and unframed prints and cards.

Julie Jackson works on a monotype at the Little River Studio in Westfield. (DONNA CARMEL PHOTO)

“A monotype is putting only ink on a printing plate with no permanent markings or incisions,” said Carmel, adding, “each print is one of a kind.”

Carmel said a monoprint is a series of prints with an image that stays on the plate and is printed each time.

“I really enjoy letting people explore their own mark-making with recycled items. Their smiles are very rewarding,” said Carmel, who has also conducted grant-funded classes this year.

“The Westfield Cultural Council grants allow me as an artist to be in communication with members of the Westfield community,” said Carmel. “The supplies that are purchased give the members of the community a chance to use a small press and obtain knowledge of how to reuse [and] recycle materials, as well as botanical items.”

Carmel added that the grant funding is important “because without it there would be little public education on printmaking, specifically how experimental it can be.”

One of those community members who took part in a grant-funded workshop was Christine Osella with her granddaughter Cassidy Halla.

This work, “Waterman Barn, Southwick, MA,” by artist Susan Buffum, will be among the local artwork displayed during an open studio celebration in October at the Little River Studio in Westfield. (SUSAN BUFFUM PHOTO)

“Donna is a talented artist and she was a great teacher, explaining each step as we went along,” said Osella. “We took the workshop because we like art and I thought it would be fun to expose Cassidy to a different form of art, instead of just drawing or painting.”

Osella noted they both “learned you can create beautiful art from leaves, plastic or just about anything that has a pattern on it.”

Carmel said her teaching style allows people to use the creative process for cognitive skills such as focus on detail, texture and the way an image is printed in reverse.

“When I am not teaching the grant workshops, I am teaching gelli plate printing, which is a completely different process with a gelli plate and acrylic paint,” said Carmel, noting she also teaches painting, drawing, crafts and basic leaf printing.

Carmel said a gelli plate workshop will also be conducted in the studio on Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to noon.

The artists showcasing their work during October said they are grateful to Carmel for the invitation.

“I decided to take part in Donna’s show to help bring some printmaking love to Westfield, and to support a fellow woman-owned arts business,” said Reno, noting printmaking has been one of her favorite mediums since college.

“I was honored that she reached out to me to be part of this event,” said Reno, who will be displaying two pieces, an aquatint when she was in an undergraduate program, and a block print from 2020.

Buffum shared a similar sentiment.

“I’ve participated in one of Donna’s shows in the past, therefore, I was happy to be asked to show again,” said Buffum, who will have two original pen and ink and colored pencil drawings in the show. “I would encourage people to stop by Donna’s studio/gallery to see what she does there and to view art by talented local artists.”

Calvo-Berndt concurred.

“Donna is a gift to Westfield’s art community,” said Calvo-Berndt, whose signature paintings feature a heart nestled within the artwork. “I have taken one of her print workshops. She was patient and knowledgeable of a craft I’ve never even heard of, really. I would encourage everyone to stop by her open studio. She knows so many talented individuals and will be displaying many pieces. Now that we can venture out a bit why not enjoy creativity.”

For Wirth, who will be showing monotype prints and an acrylic painting, she too has taken a printmaking workshop with Carmel.

“I don’t know much about printing, and I’d seen her work and was interested in the process,” said Wirth. “I tried using a gelli plate process using some natural and recycled objects to create textures. I learned that it really doesn’t take much paint to create these prints, after I had a fairly heavy-handed start. Donna really encouraged us to try a few styles and I learned quite a bit experimenting with the material she had on hand.”

For more information on the open studio events, visit donnacarmel.com or send an email to [email protected] Carmel can also be followed with studio updates on Instagram at donnacarmel3245.

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