Local artists group, the Visual Arts Society of Yass (VASY), is opening various workshops over the coming months, with three available workshops still available for booking during the August to October period, including acrylic painting, oil & wax painting, and an encaustic techniques workshop taught by professional and recognised local artists.


 A volunteer-run, membership-driven not-for-profit organisation, VASY is a member of the Southern Tablelands Arts, and consists of local artists and enthusiasts that focus on and develop networks, regular workshops and partnerships between artists and the broader community. 


To provide a more in-depth discussion surrounding the group and the workshops available, committee member Susan Bell spoke to the Yass Valley Times about what to expect from the classes, as well as providing information about the organisation, its teachers and what VASY can do for community members. 


 For all workshop bookings, each artist provides a list of required clothing and suggested materials to bring along.

Birds in the Bush Acrylic on Canvas Workshop

Of the three available workshops, the first available, and perhaps the most accessible for beginners and entry-level artists is the  Birds in the Bush Acrylic Painting workshop, coached by Tumut artist Jennifer Forster. The workshop, running from the 26th of August to the 27th of August from 9:30 to 5:30, is a workshop that prioritises the most common form of painting with acrylic paints, with focus and emphasis on colour and vibrancy with bold brush strokes in one’s own style. The workshop will draw inspiration from local wildlife and fauna. 


The teacher, Jennifer Forster, has been professionally painting for twenty years, with over 30 solo exhibitions and numerous awards to her name from collections across the country and internationally. 


“Jenny has come up to Yass quite a few times, she’s an experienced teacher and based in Tumut. It’s going to basically be a class for anyone from beginners level upwards. Acrylic is one of the easiest paint forms”, said VASY committee member Susan, 


“This is basically for people looking to extend their skills, so they might be able to do something with a basic level of brushwork but they’re going to be able to learn some techniques and be able to apply them to a larger canvas and get better results”.


Non-Members’ admission price is $240, with a $30 discount for members. The workshop will be held at the Yass Community Centre at 1428 Yass Valley Way, with morning tea provided. 

Oil & Cold Wax Workshop

The second of the workshops is an Oil & Cold Wax Medium painting workshop, coached by artist Diane McWhirter. The two-day workshop, running on the 2nd and 3rd of September from 10 am to 4 pm, introduces artists to working with oil and wax for abstract composition, which allows for more body to the painting and better texture. Attendees will work on linen paper, oil paper, and birch wood panels. Oil painting is one of the oldest forms of painting. 


“Because it’s a little bit new to some painters you can use existing material to practice and experiment”, said Susan,


“They’ll be coached into how to use that, how to get more expression in their work, and get more abstract with their work”.


Diane is a Canberra-based artist, who specialises in Oil and Cold Wax painting and abstract art. Her works are showcased at the Belconnen Arts Centre and the M16 ArtSpace Gallery for those curious.  


Materials will be provided, and as with the previous workshop, non-members’ admission price is $240, with a $30 discount for members, once again held at the Yass Community Centre at 1428 Yass Valley Way, with morning tea provided. 

VASY Committee with Councillor & local artist Cayla Pothan

Encaustic Techniques Workshop

The third and final workshop available is an Encaustic Techniques Workshop, also known as hot-wax painting, utilising mixing wax and resin with paint, allowing for the use of stencils, pressing, imprinting and greater texture application. The workshop is available from Saturday the 14th of October to Sunday the 15th of October, with both days running from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. 


The workshop is coached and taught by Sallie Saunders. 

In her encaustic works, Sallie uses wax, collage/mixed media and various forms of mark-making to layer her work, which is showcased throughout Canberra, the Taragla Art Show and M16 ArtSpace. 


The workshop will provide a history of the medium, as well provide inspiration and equipment so that attendees may experiment with scraping back texture, colour blending, collage, intarsia, stencilling and stamps and wax painting. 


Admission is $220 for members and $250 for non-members and is available at the Yass Community Centre.


Workshops and classes such as these do a great deal of good to the artistic community of Yass and surrounding areas, bringing in talent, providing networks, boosts to local economy due to travel, and providing much-needed exposure for the Yass Valley arts community. 

“During Covid we had a lot more local people, so we have people from Gunning, Murrumbateman and so forth but in these cases we also bring artists in from other areas, some of them are coming in from Canberra and Tumut. It brings in teachers and brings in students, which promotes across the region”, said Susan, 


“It’s good for the economy for people to be making things. It’s a service that creates an industry that creates income for the community, but it’s also definitely a cultural thing, showing people’s interests, giving people the chance to express themselves, helping people with their mental health and being a part of a community group so they don’t have to feel isolated”


For those interested, whether inexperienced, at a beginner’s level or experienced, Susan assures that the workshops are designed to help people make personal advancements, and provide a great opportunity for creative play and expression. 


“It’s really dedicated to helping develop artists in the Yass Valley. We’re trying to help get people to move from hobbyists to professional artists”, said Susan, 


“It’s a chance to play with things — If you’re creative and you want to work with patterns, colour, shapes, texture, all of those things,  we’re going to do that and you can be as creative as you want”


Other workshops later in the year, including outdoor painting, are expected, with updates to come throughout the latter part of the year. 

Griffin Palen