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Art BEAT Goes to Door County for Watercolor Class at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, WI

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Watercolor instructor, Jenni Bateman, demonstrates applying pigment onto clay board using a variety of tools from the edges of cardboard packaging to a kitchen rubber scraper! "Making art is problem-solving using the elements of design," Jenni reminded us frequently.

If you’re not yet familiar with the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wi (Door County), you’re in for a treat! Located conveniently close to the downtown, you can choose from a wealth of two- and four-day workshops during peak season leaving plenty of time for fun AND learning something new.

The welcoming front entrance of the school leads you directly into its multi-story gallery. Not seen in the foreground is a covered pavilion where students can take a break and enjoy a snack.

Last week, I enjoyed a two-day beginning watercolor workshop that offered demos, art book recommendations and other helpful resources, along with some one-on-one coaching.

About a dozen students attended the class weighing in at all experience levels, despite the word, beginner, in the title. Teacher Jenni Bateman, an award-winning artist from central Illinois, was the highly experienced instructor. I enjoyed her teaching style which I’d describe as engaging, encouraging, and interesting.

Despite the workshop running two days from 9 AM to 4 PM, time was tight and we didn’t have that much opportunity to work on our own projects despite the request to bring 10 reference photos! However, as our instructor, Jenni, wisely advised, "Taking drawing classes gives you confidence." She also shared a surprising idea for those of us who might be focus-challenged -- she uses an old-fashioned metronome to help her stay on task! Who knew?!

Our classroom was open, airy, comfortable & bright -- a tall ceiling with skylights helped shed even more light on projects.

Lunchtime was my only disappointment. At registration, students were offered the option of paying for a catered “lunch” which sounded great. However, upon delivery, it was nothing more than a dry sandwich with unpleasant tasting lunchmeat of which we had no choice. On our second day, we were two sandwiches short, and a school staff person had to make a sandwich run to town for us. Now that I know the drill, I will pack my own lunch next time bringing something of my own choosing at far less cost!

The school also offers a VIRTUAL CRITIQUE GROUP on the first Friday of the month during August, September and October – it’s free and via ZOOM. This opportunity is open to artists at all levels to share in-progress or finished works, ask questions of the group and discuss what your next steps might be. Feedback is transcribed by the school’s Artistic Director so you can focus on the interaction and revisit comments back in the studio. CAVEAT: I’m not certain if you need to be a member or not to participate. However, you can email to reserve your spot and learn more.

Inside the gallery rotunda during a formal welcome to students by school staff.

Looking upwards at the impressive gallery rotunda.

Overall, it was a gratifying experience and I’d gladly sign up again. I stayed at an amazing Bed & Breakfast that was close to the school and right by the Lake. It was an absolutely WONDERFUL get-away!

You might also want to check out class opportunities at The Clearing Folk School in nearby Ellison Bay, WI. They offer classes in the arts and fine crafts, humanities and natural sciences. The summer program season runs from late April through mid-November. The winter program season takes place during an eight-week period in January and February. With this school, students can stay in on-campus accommodations and eat there as well. Find out more at About | The Clearing Photo below....

The Clearing's Mission states that it is a place where adults who share an interest in nature, arts or humanities can learn, reflect and wonder -- in keeping with the goals of its founder Jens Jensen. When in Door County, be sure to swing by and check out the grounds and its gallery -- lovely!!


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