When you attend a workshop by artist Judy Nemer Sklar, notice the three plastic glasses just above the blank canvas — tea, coffee, and wine. You're encouraged to paint with all three.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY JUDY NEMER SKLAR
When Judy Nemer Sklar starts her day with a cup of tea, it’s probably not for the type of consumption you might envision.
The Palm Desert artist brings an assortment of brewed teas, coffee, and wine to her workshops, which combine meditation, mindfulness, and art. The liquids become the paint that participants use to express themselves on canvas without the confines of an artistic endeavor. In fact, just the opposite.
“Various teas will stain the paper differently,” Nemer Sklar says. “Berries are different than a black or green tea. It is fun to explore this. I use this as part of my larger goal of reminding participants to begin their morning with a mindful intention, not only using tea as a medium but as a reminder of the benefits of the mindful practice of brewing tea, pouring tea in a way that starts your morning off on the right foot and with the suggestion to incorporate writing or drawing in a journal in the morning.”
Nemer Sklar has offered art workshops off and on throughout her career and helped people to relax and focus through meditation and art creation. After her husband passed away, Nemer Sklar went back to school to earn her master’s degree in Fine Arts in 2016 at the age of 59. The experience over the years of being an artist, a mother, wife, caregiver for her husband, and going back to school at a later age, inspired Nemer Sklar to create her workshops.
They are nonjudgmental, Nemer Sklar emphasizes. Participants don’t need to be an artist. She uses art as a tool for de-stressing. People have that sense of pass or fail, but she says her workshops are “a safe place to create. They realize that the painting they do might not necessarily hang on their wall, but it could. If they want to take it further then we can develop it into an art project,” Nemer Sklar says.
At The Galen Art Center, Nemer Sklar shows additional painting techniques and adds color theory to particpants who want to develop their art skills.
Palm Springs Life chats with Nemer Sklar about her interest in art, what she tries to accomplish with her workshops, and how living in the desert has influenced her
A workshop at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells brings participants outdoors (weather-permitting) to encourage creativity
When did you first become interested in art? Why did it capture your attention more than other pursuits?
I was first interested in art when I was a child. My parents sent me to a private art school before public school. They could see that it was easy for me to render things. They just knew I had a talent for it, and I enjoyed it. It became part of my life thereafter.
What did you hope to accomplish by offering the workshops?
I think what I tell the participants, and I teach creatives and non-creatives, that it's another tool. Like meditation, I incorporate it, another tool to feel better about where we're at. Particularly during the pandemic, it helped.
Do you plan to continue to offer workshops during the summer?
Yes. The Galen continues until the end of June.
At the Miramonte, I have another workshop in June, but they've talked to me about having it ongoing at the Miramonte. Right now, I am discussing various ideas for the 2022-23 season. They are working on interesting ideas, perhaps a weekly early morning journaling workshop, or more extended workshops including the one using coffee, tea and wine as painting mediums. Maybe we will have quick morning wellness check-ins that would almost go like a 45-minute feel good workshop. Using art, and mindfulness to get a good start into the day. They said they're open to whatever I choose, which has been lovely. I'm seeing it now more in retreats and hotels using it.
Your workshops have different topics, how do I find the right program for me?
They're all similar in the sense that they're going to touch base with a story of your life or something personal. If you start using art as a mindfulness tool, either workshop will suffice. I would say, I try to have a description, like one that might have more to do with nature. We might go outside. If that's something you're interested in, then that might be one you would do.
Where are you originally from? How long have you lived in the desert? What attracted you to the area?
I'm from Minnesota and maybe you can understand what attracted me to California. I have been an artist in Minnesota already. I had just started my first two years of education, but I wanted to expand my horizons. L. A. seemed like the place to go. I moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Los Angeles. I have been there for most of my youngish adult life, and then came back and forth to the desert, until I moved there full-time approximately 20 years ago.
How has living here impacted your art?
It's huge because of the light and being able to be out in nature all the time. I mean, I still love Minnesota and when I do classes on seasons and seasonality, certainly I have great affection for fall and winter. But here, you can be in nature all the time and it does affect your work because there's the light and the colors of summer.