Fun Things to Do – Art Classes

In this series of “Fun Things to Do in Santa Fe,” art classes rank highly on the popularity scale – especially if you know a professional artist who will welcome you into their studio and show you the ropes…and paints. Accredited artist and teacher Lauren Mantecon does just that. Whether you’ve had any prior art experience, or none at all, Lauren invites you into her professional art studio to discover your own inner creative landscape.

Lauren Mantecon studio

Lauren Mantecon studio

Thanks to Lauren, a few friends and I got to unhook our brains from the daily grind and take a flight of fancy into uncharted territories of paint and mixed media. No rules, no inhibitions, and no insecurities. You can leave those at the door of her bright, spacious studio retreat in a quiet Santa Fe neighborhood.

Lauren provided a fun, relaxed atmosphere, all the materials, and her 20+ years of art expertise. With a few simple instructions, we were off on our individual creative journeys.  In two hours we each created finished pieces we could take home.

Dave(top left), Mason (top right) and me. Just getting started.

Dave(top left), Mason (top right) and me. Just getting started.

This particular class involved making two paintings. The first piece was on large weighty paper, and I let my mind and brush strokes go wherever they wanted. I didn’t care whether the colors or shapes made any sense or had any purpose. It was fun to see what we each created under such “free range” conditions.

Jennifer working on her wood panel.

Jennifer working on her wood panel.

While the large piece was underway, Lauren introduced smaller wood panels to our worktables. This helped me focus a little. While simultaneously playing at being totally random and crazy on one piece, the second piece felt as if it had a purpose and my mind naturally wanted to make something with intention behind it. I gave a little more thought to the colors, and I chose to use dictionary pages as part of the medium. What evolved was my Word Flower with bright red roots.

Me, lookin' all proud of my Word Flower.

Me, lookin’ all proud of my Word Flower.

Mason working and enjoying a glass of vino.

Mason working and enjoying a glass of vino.

We each played freely and at the end had lots of fun offering our interpretations of the different pieces.

Jennifer's work left, and Mason's right.

Jennifer’s work left, and Mason’s right.

Jennifer created a beautiful piece in tribute to Margarete Bagshaw, renowned artist and dear friend. Sadly, Margarete passed away recently.

She took it home and framed it. Beautiful!

She took it home and framed it. Beautiful!

This is definitely an easy and affordable way to get a true taste of working in an artist’s studio. You also get to relieve stress and possibly discover some latent talent, or hidden subconscious landscapes yearning for expression.

Because I’ve always been curious about encaustics, I returned to the studio at a later date, and Lauren showed me how to do the encaustic process. From the Greek word enkaustikos, meaning “to burn in,” encaustic is the melting of beeswax into the artwork. It’s a good way to create another layer of interest in mixed media work.

Word Flower encaustic.

Word Flower encaustic.

Lauren specializes in painting and mixed media. She earned her MFA from Portland State University.

Blue + Maze - Lauren Mantecon

Blue + Maze. Mixed Media – Lauren Mantecon

She was formerly an art professor at the University of Portland, and has exhibited her works in numerous top galleries, museums and shows across the United States and in Mexico.

Constellation - Mixed media. Lauren Mantecon

Constellation . Mixed media – Lauren Mantecon

In the late 1990s, she first came to New Mexico to visit an artist friend who lived in an Earthship in Taos. The people, scenery, unique lifestyle and art residencies enticed her back many times since.

Lauren Mantecon studio with hanging mixed media works.

Lauren Mantecon studio with hanging mixed media works.

Finally, she settled in Santa Fe in 2013, and the pieces fell nicely into place for her to have her own studio and work at what she loves – art and teaching.

Lauren taking a break between classes.

Lauren taking a break between classes.

Since the early 1900s, Santa Fe has been iconic for its art communities. Many famous artists found home and inspiration in this unique cradle of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Will Shuster, and Gustave Baumann, to name a few.

For anyone in search of fun creative art experiences, Lauren offers many classes to individuals and groups. Her rates are very reasonable, starting at only $175 for a private two-hour class, all materials included. Group rates are also available. She can customize to your needs and schedule with two-hour, half-day, or all-day workshops, and multi-day art retreats.

She recently added Art Play & Wine Day classes, which are proving very popular. (There is a four person minimum for that particular class.) You get to create art and taste delicious New Mexico wines, made locally in the oldest wine country in the United States. (Yes, older than California!)

For rates and complete information of Lauren’s classes, workshops and retreats go to: Art Alchemy Painting & Mixed Media Classes. It’s always helpful if you can give Lauren at least 24 hours’ notice for booking a class. Call (505) 428-9469. Or email: lauren.mantecon@gmail.com.

"-4." Mixed Media on panel. Lauren Mantecon.

“-4.” Mixed Media on panel. Lauren Mantecon.

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