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L'Atelier Art Studio still helps Janesville artists blossom

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Shelly Birkelo
February 26, 2014

JANESVILLE—When L'Atelier Art Studio opened in 1987, its French name explained its mission: It was a hands-on workshop for artists.

 That tradition continues today, even though class attendance has shrunk due to the Internet and ownership has changed from three people to one.

“I have tried to maintain that (mission) coming forward and have done that through the years,” said Claudiadair Fitzgerald, now the sole operator of L'Atelier, 509 Laurel Ave.

Students can see evidence of that commitment in this spring's workshop schedule. 

Fitzgerald opened the studio with Marilyn Keating and Judy Lyons to give art students a place to learn and practice their craft with help from professional artists.

Fitzgerald sees that personalized attention as a plus, particularly in an age where people can learn to paint online or via a DVD.

“It's interactive and priceless,” she said.

L'Atelier's classes are smaller these days, but in some ways, the studio is more active than ever.

Fitzgerald continues to offer classes and workshops led by nationally known art instructors. Students keep producing quality artwork. Last year, 39 artists and 97 works of art were featured during the largest ever L'Atelier gallery show at the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator.

 L'Atelier also hangs artwork on a rotating schedule at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, Janesville Country Club and Raven's Wish, a downtown art gallery.

Artist Karolyn Alexander leads watercolor classes by appointment Tuesday afternoons at L'Atelier. The Whitewater woman has a home studio and has experimented with pastels, oils, acrylics, colored pencils, markers and ceramics.

Fitzgerald offers open painting sessions Thursday afternoons, and participants get to bring their own pieces. Halfway through the sessions, students critique one another's work.

“Then I'll have them go back and finish what they're doing,” Fitzgerald said.

“It's strictly open. A lot of people don't have a place in their home to paint or don't want to paint alone. It's something new I'm trying.”

Several workshops led by talented artists are scheduled each year. Barb Mathews of Janesville led a water media-painting workshop earlier this month. Other sessions are taught by nationally known professionals.

Fitzgerald said L'Atelier welcomes beginner, intermediate and advanced artists.

“There's room for everybody, with a maximum of 20 students, so people have room to spread out,” she said.

Studio-produced artwork will appear in at least two shows this year: the L'Atelier Ladies show during March and April at the Janesville Country Club and the Wisconsin Regional Art Program show in August at JPAC.



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