Grand Lake: Gallery to offer intensive art workshops through summer |

Grand Lake: Gallery to offer intensive art workshops through summer

Rather than host students for a couple hours, Jackstraw Mountain Gallery owner and resident artist Marjorie Cransto has created intensive art workshops for the summer that average about 30 hours of professional instruction. Students will study and work for long stretches of time and will be able to walk out with several pieces of art they’ve created. The group instruction ends up costing everyone less than private consultation, and students still get private care.

June’s classes focus on working with pastels. There’s Pastel for Every Level 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 10-12 and Pastel for the Beginner 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24-26. Class destination is up to the weather and where Cranston and her students feel like going that day. With a plethora of picturesque scenes to choose from in and around Grand Lake, she said the class might go to the inlet one day, and the park or beach another. There, students will be given a section or subject to capture for the day.

Cranston, who grew up in Michigan, was inspired by illustrations she saw in her storybooks at a young age and by age four she began to duplicate the images. On weekends, her passion for drawing was nurtured while visiting her Aunt Claire, an oil painter. Her father Frank was also a gifted painter.

Artistic skill has been passed on to Cranston’s two daughters ” Jamee Pierzchala is an incredible photographer (with work already on display at the gallery) and Nicole Testa creates fine pencil drawings (Cranston said she’s hoping to get some of her work in, too). Testa’s husband Anthony is an architect, and Cranston admits she’s just waiting to see what other creative talents Jamee’s lawyer husband Joe will surprise her with.

With the artistic genes in her favor, Cranston went on to study at Michigan State, majoring in fine art with an emphasis in life drawing and interior design. Later, she earned a bachelor of science degree in business, with an emphasis in art, from Colorado Christian College of Denver. She also took lessons from professional “really phenomenal” artists at the Student Art League and continues to expand her creative horizons each year.

“I’m humbled by other people sometimes,” she said. “Sometimes you all learn together. It’s really fun.”

She is currently working toward a master’s degree in fine art at the Academy of Art University in California.

She attributes her use of unique colors to 30 years’ experience in interior design.

“So, my colors are usually a little brighter to fit into any environment,” she said.

Her work spans several media, with vibrant soft pastel and oil landscapes as her specialty.

Cranston felt like she was called to Grand County when she came here about seven years ago.

“I just think, for someone in art, it’s a phenomenal place to be,” she said. “There’s a picture everywhere.”

Six years have gone by since she first opened her gallery, named after a resident who had passed away ” a good, longtime friend who inspired her and husband, Craig. This spring, she was able to add 850 square feet of space to the gallery space, for a total of 1,700 square feet.

She said now is the time to devote more time to offering classes to the public to share what she’s learned along the way.

“Grand Lake needs more activities like that,” she said, adding that in past classes she’s taken there was such a camaraderie. “People were happy and had a lot of fun. And I’m at the point in my life where I want to be happy and have a lot of fun. I want to give something back. It’s not what you can get, it’s what you can give.”

With this spring’s gallery expansion, Cranston also has room for students to set up their own easels inside her gallery if it’s bad weather. Each day’s class begins with an hour demonstration and lecture and ends with the class doing a critique of their work. Even if they don’t become a professional artist, Cranston hopes they develop an appreciation for art. A full schedule (through October) is available on the Web site. Supply lists are available now and Cranston will have some supplies onsite for purchase.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User