Palmetto artist encourages freedom for students to create

CARL MARIO NUDI PHOTOS
Wendy Marble, the head of education at the Palmetto Art Center, painted the murals on the side of the Palmetto United Methodist Church Thrift Store.

By CARL MARIO NUDI

Art instructor Wendy Marble wants her students to learn more than the process of creating something and to be able to express themselves in their artwork.

“I’m very mindful about looking for the art and not just the craft,” said Palmetto resident Marble. “Anyone can learn to draw a picture, but I’m looking for something that moves me when I see it.”

Those attending the Suminagashi or paper marbling workshop Marble will be teaching at the Palmetto Art Center, 907 Fifth St. W., in Palmetto, will get a chance to let their creative juices flow, she said.

The two-hour workshop will be held Saturday, Feb. 10, and starts at 6 p.m., but the doors to the Palmetto Art Center will open at 5:30 p.m. for a mix and mingle. Bring your own beverage and a snack to share.

Participants will learn the historical background of Suminagashi, an ancient Japanese art of floating paint pigments on the surface of water, creating a design and then transferring the design onto absorbent paper.

“It’s simple science,” Marble said. “Water repels oil.”

Marble will review traditional Suminagashi patterns, and the students will learn to make those and freestyle designs using brushes, sticks or combs and other materials.

Wendy Marble, the head of education at the Palmetto Art Center, painted the murals on the side of the Palmetto United Methodist Church Thrift Store.

No prior experience is required, and each participant will leave with 10 images they made themselves. All supplies will be provided.

The workshop costs $30.

“We wanted to offer a workshop that is more outside-the-box,” said Gretchen Leclezio, founder and director of the Palmetto Art Center.

“We wanted something that will pull people out of their comfort zone and give them the space to be creative,” Leclezio said.

Leclezio said when Marble and she decided to offer the Suminagashi workshop, she knew Marble was the person to run it.

“Wendy is perfect for teaching this workshop,” she said. “Her travels around the world and knowledge of art history and printmaking can only enhance the Suminagashi experience for everyone.”

Marble had lived in at last five cities as a child and young adult, and after getting married to Robert Marble in 1984, she moved overseas for about 14 years.

“I went overseas with my husband, who worked with the Department of Defense Dependent Schools as an administrator,” she said. “We lived in Spain, Crete, the Azores and Turkey.”

It was while they were living in the Azores in 1988 when her son, Christian, was born.

When they came back to the United States, they moved to Palmetto where Robert Marble had lived since he was in the sixth grade.

Wendy Marble decided to continue her college education and received an art degree specializing in fine arts printmaking at the University of South Florida in Tampa in 2008.

“It’s a very process-heavy art, requiring specialized equipment,” she said explaining why she would rather teach art.

Besides, she intended to get an art education degree, but USF had discontinued that program before she decided to return to college.

“But I was a docent at Ringling Museum working mostly with children and learned a lot about how to teach children,” Marble said. “I have a lot of credits in art history and living overseas, I also picked up a lot of art history.

“You’re steeped in art history over there,” she said. “All this is helpful for teaching.”

Marble also was able to learn different art techniques on her own.

“Another thing that served me well was the things I picked up as self-taught artists, such as calligraphy, painting murals and building stage sets,” she said. “I also did commercial art.”

Friends knew Marble was good at art and would ask her to design flyers, posters and other sales items for their businesses.

Even though not formally trained in these art media, she always had a can-do attitude.

“You just do it,” Marble said. “I love the problem-solving.

“I’m a servant to the concept,” she said. “So whatever the concept requires — painting, weaving, tapestry — I just taught myself that art.”

Marble has worked at the Palmetto Art Center for about 8 years.

“Having Wendy share her wealth of knowledge of art history and life, and her compassionate heart, with the art center community has been a blessing,” Leclezio said.

Marble is the head of art education at the art center and teaches the homeschool art classes they offer on Tuesdays.

Samples of Suminagashi or paper marbling that artist Wendy Marble will be teaching at a workshop at the Palmetto Art Center.

The art center also offers after-school art classes for youth and teens on Mondays, which Marble teaches.

Then on Monday evenings she runs the open studio for adults.

“Open studio is about a safe space for people who have told you they can’t make art,” Marble said. “This is for adults who say, ‘all my life I wanted to try, now I’m going to take the time for myself.’”

The Palmetto Art Center offers a variety of art classes, such as pottery, painting, and Zentangle.

It also is a community center for fitness and wellness classes.

Visitors can sign up for several kinds of yoga, Pilaties, Zumba, strength training and more.

Leclezio started the art center in 2008 and knew then that she was going to offer the community activities that go beyond the traditional art classes.

“Movement is art,” Leclezio had said in a previous interview in explaining why she decided to offer so many bodywork classes.

For more information about classes at the Palmetto Art Center, visit its website at www.palmettoartcenter.com.

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