Chef and watercolorist team up to teach
ELLSWORTH – Painting watercolors and making Chinese-style dumplings both require a skilled hand. Loading your brush with too much paint and overfilling delicate packaging leads to sealed results. Creating jar stickers and watercolors each has its own set of steps to follow and light and skillful handling of tools and materials is acquired over time.
Two pros in their fields, Ellsworth artist and educator Mary Laury and Bath chef and instructor Chris Toy team up to share their expertise and teach outdoor watercolor and international cuisine from 1 p.m. on Friday 29 October at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 31 at the Old River House in Kennebunkport. Former Schoodic Arts for All Executive Director Mary officially retired on August 15. A former principal of Freeport Middle School, Chris has had a parallel career teaching Asian and other international cuisines since his college days with cases of instant ramen and 25-pound bags. of rice for cooking at Bowdoin in the mid-1970s. For years, Toy taught ramen, stir-fries, spring rolls, egg soup, and other Asian dishes at Schoodic Arts for All.
By working together over the years, Chris and Mary have developed a certain chemistry. Both curious, the outgoing chef and artist revel in the different art forms and culinary traditions of the world. Watercolors and Chinese cuisine can also be intimidating, but the two teachers seek to instill confidence in their students and help them overcome doubts and enjoy the process of learning new activities.
“So many people who come to my classes are filled with trepidation and anxiety because they are told ‘I can’t do this, I’m not an artist,'” Mary reflected over coffee in outdoors at Flexit & Bakery in Ellsworth. “There is a logical sequence. This is the way to give them confidence. That’s really all they need and the rest will follow.
In the 1980s, Laury remembers being mentored by late Ellsworth artist Sarah Elizabeth Look. She credits Look for teaching her to capture the unique shapes and habitat of different watercolor flowers. She continues her visual arts odyssey, in search of artists she admires to share their know-how. Eventually, the roles turned and the active artist agreed to teach, paint, draw and dance at Schoodic Arts’ inaugural art festival in 1999. At that time, his work was featured in at least six galleries. She went on to put on the group’s first visual arts show and was subsequently hired as the first general manager of Schoodic Arts for All.
Chris, a “Wok Top Cooking” and “Ramen Made Simple” teacher, was among the many 2021 School Arts Festival instructors hired by Mary. In another role reversal, the prolific cookbook author (“Ramen Made Simple”, “Easy Chinese Cooking”) invited Mary to team up with him on the eve of his retirement. Thanks to Acadian Arts Retreats, the two creators have put together a fun weekend for home cooks and artists. Participants book rooms at Old River House in Kennebunkport, where Chris and Mary lead separate cooking and watercolor painting sessions, but the two groups converge for meals cooked by Chris and his cooking students.
Chris’s 12-hour international cooking class will include outings to local seafood and farmer’s markets, cooking four full meals, and instructions on how to care for the wok, knives, and pasta maker. Among the dishes and prepared meals there will be handmade noodles, stuffed pasta, sauces, maki rolls, Asian fondue and desserts.
Under Mary’s tutelage, her workshop will begin with a demonstration and lesson on Friday afternoon. She starts off beginners with just five colors – Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, New Gamboge Yellow, Olive Green, and Burnt Sienna – pressed from tubes onto a palette. A crucial skill, she says, is to leave enough paper blank “or it’s gone forever.” An outdoor demonstration and painting session will follow on Saturday. The sky, the water and the rocks will be at the center of the concerns. On Sunday morning, participants will have one or two finished seascapes.
Watercolor – the collision of water and paint – weaves its own magic. “It’s really an exercise in letting go. Let the medium do what he does best, ”she says. “By overworking it, it loses all the luminosity for which watercolors are famous. “
Putting people at ease, however, is the top priority in her mind.
“Helping people discover their creativity” is its goal. “If it brings happiness and joy to people, it’s a success.
To register for the Acadian Art Retreats workshop October 29-31, visit https://windham.maineadulted.org/course/acadian-arts-retreat/ or contact Chris Toy at (207) 653-3163.