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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Nantucket Light

UMass Boston conducted its second painting course on Nantucket Island this past summer, Nantucket Light: Watercolor and Casein Painting, through its Continuing Education Program.

This three-credit studio workshop focused on the impact of light on color as experienced on the island landscape. The nine students who attended enjoyed two uninterrupted weeks of studio time in which they familiarized themselves with watercolor and casein painting.

Watercolors require a delicate touch and close attention to subtle detail, as they are water-diluted and will therefore bleed quite easily. Casein paint acts more like acrylic paint in that it is thick and dries quickly. Casein, a lactose-based paint, must be applied on a hard surface, for it would flake off of paper or canvas.

Paintings created in the workshop sought to capture subtle as well as significant variations in visual atmosphere resulting from changes in weather and light at different times of day. Although encouraged to paint from life, students were allowed to paint abstractly. Whether abstract or representational, all work was highly influenced by the unique environment.

Students were housed at the UMass Field Station, situated near coastal dunes, two freshwater ponds, several freshwater swamps, one half-mile of private beach on Nantucket Harbor and a 44-acre salt marsh. The 115-acre property serves as a wildlife refuge supporting a diverse population of plants and animals, especially rabbits. The inspiring landscape is complimented by Nantucket’s 18th- and 19th-century architecture.

Some of the students frequented the downtown area to paint the quaint storefronts, and one student, Yukie Imai, even sold a piece to a shop owner. Several of Imai’s paintings of Nantucket are currently on exhibit with the “Walk on the Globe” show in The Harbor Gallery.

Professor Wifredo Chiesa was the program director for Nantucket Light. Chiesa is a painter himself and Professor of Art at UMass Boston with an extensive, international career. During the trip, his knowledge and experience of art were much appreciated, as was his great sense of humor and lust for life.

Overall, the course was a success. Each student greatly benefited from the experience, coming away with a more profound sense of art and improved portfolios. Let’s just hope that UMass offers this course again next year.