Updated: Jul 3
Sunny Point is a gift.
Few places on Earth are as beautiful. The panoramic view of the east branch of Keuka Lake is mesmerizing; anyone with a soul could get lost in this setting.
This amazing place has been reserved for making art, as was the wish of the late Dr. Annie Smith, who bequeathed the property to the Arts Center. Sunny Point was her refuge, a place of peace and restoration.
Today, the big red barn studio with its huge screened porch is an outstanding facility for classes of all kinds, and the former boathouse has been converted into a well-equipped pottery studio. There’s a busy schedule of wide-ranging classes every summer.
I discovered Sunny Point in 2019, when a friend suggested we take a three-day workshop with watercolor painter Kathy Armstrong. I worked really hard, I learned, I was inspired by Kathy and the others in the class. I did not create a masterpiece. I did not even finish one painting! But I came away a better painter.
Later that same summer, I went back for a one-day “Abstracted Landscapes” workshop with Southern California artist Lisa Bebi. This was something completely different and a big stretch for me. No masterpiece came out of this class either; in fact, my feeble attempts were embarrassingly awful. But I came home with a list of insights that still ring in my head.
In the Summer of COVID (2020), two friends and I had the rare opportunity to spend a week at Sunny Point working on independent art projects. The charming cottage on the site was our home and we had use of the studio. This getaway was the highlight of a really tough year. I did not produce anything like a masterpiece, but my friend’s Keuka View from that week hangs on my bedroom wall, delighting me every day.
We were back again last year for a workshop with Indiana artist Steve Blackburn, who makes stunning paintings from a process that involves pouring little cups of very thin paint, squirting water on the paper surface and making color move around in fairly wild, random ways. It was so much fun, something so off-the-wall for me. Back home, I used his method to make a pretty good little painting that actually sold at a show!
In June this year, I introduced a new friend to Sunny Point. We took a one-day plein air water media class with Canandaigua artist Nancy Lane. I really don’t like to paint outdoors, but I admire Nancy’s work, she’s a terrific teacher and terrifically nice person. My friend and I had a wonderful day; my trees are looking better.
I’ve always loved art and crafts. I started getting serious when I signed up for a watercolor class at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, wow, 40 years ago. So why do I still feel compelled to take classes? No mystery: There’s always more to learn, more to discover. Art is a journey, not a destination.
But Sunny Point is a destination for art. The Arts Center provides such a wealth of programs, finding artists from around the region and from far away to teach and to exhibit.
Check out the list of classes; you’re sure to find something interesting. Kathy Armstrong will be back in August for a three-day workshop, “Glowing Floral Watercolors.” Sounds like another great art getaway . . .