School of the Arts at Rhinelander provides a unique setting for photographers

Phil Ziesemer sees Wisconsin’s Northwoods as a gold mine for photographers. He’ll make use of the one-of-a-kind setting in his workshop “The Ins and Outs of Still Life Photography” at the School of the Arts at Rhinelander on July 17-19.

Ziesemer is entranced by the beauty of everyday objects.
Ziesemer is entranced by the beauty of everyday objects.
“The Northwoods is largely undeveloped, and it still holds on to the feeling of solitude,” says Ziesemer. “There is a tremendous amount of green space to visit and employ in our compositions. The quiet we enjoy encourages creativity.”
Now in its 52nd year, the School of the Arts at Rhinelander features nearly 40 three-day workshops in visual arts, culinary arts, mind/body/spirit, performing arts, and writing. It emphasizes a supportive environment in which both new and experienced artists feel welcome.
“The tone is one of happiness and camaraderie,” says Ziesemer, who has taught at School of the Arts since 2011. “The students are excited about learning new techniques, and the instructors are eager to share. Where else does a diverse group of people gather for an educational experience that is so much fun? I never walk away from the school as the same person who arrived a few days earlier.”

Objects vs. people

For Ziesemer, still lifes are a passion. When he began seriously studying photography in high school, he found he was more interested in objects than in people.
“I photographed interesting buildings, statues, fountains, flowers, weeds, and only photographed people when I had to,” he says. “My family laughed at the number of photos that I took of weeds, rather than humans!”
Ziesemer has since made his peace with photographing people: he and his wife operate a portrait studio in Merrill, Wis. But he’s still entranced by the beauty of everyday objects.

"String of Pearls" by Phil Ziesemer.
“String of Pearls” by Phil Ziesemer.
“Artists don’t see the way most people see, which makes us unique,” he says. “I’m convinced that most of us walk right by the most beautiful things around us. The dilemma we visual artists face daily is how to show what we see in the best possible way.”

Painting with light

Ziesemer’s workshop will help student learn how to “paint with light” to bring out an object’s texture, shape, and color.
“The beauty of still life projects is that they usually employ common subjects that become visually appealing by the artist’s interpretation,” he says. “The students will learn to employ the painting-with-light techniques that will make their images art pieces.”
For more information about the School of the Arts at Rhinelander, contact director Lynn Tarnoff at ltarnoff@dcs.wisc.edu or 608-890-1424.