Friday, December 30, 2011


We taught the Imagination block this year in two parts. Each group of students worked with Nathaniel and Laura in separate 3 week blocks. With Nathaniel the work was in black and white, starting by indiscriminately developing imaginative elements in drawing and then discriminating and creating specific imaginations and finally working with a text or story. With Laura we started with a poem and a story and gradually worked into a color mood and composition in relation to the 2 texts we were using.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

from the seminary

A Moment in a Week of Color

There is something exhilarating for me in meeting new people, especially people with whom I am going to share an experience. This excitement of being in a new place with a new group of people set the mood for our week in Hillsdale, New York, with the students in Free Columbia – a year-long painting training with Laura Summer and Nathaniel Williams. For this week we worked with the color wheel: painting colors, walking as colors, speaking as colors, and creating color sculptures. We also learned about the Threefold Social Organism with Seth Jordan.
One thing that stood out for me in all of this color work is how colors are affected and affect each other. Blue is Blue, and yet somehow Blue is different when painted on the page in a conversation with Green. Blue is again different when it meets Violet on the page. Blue is Blue, yet it is changed. How can this be? How can something be what it is, and also be completely different depending upon whom or what it is meeting? Just as I experienced the colors being changed by their environment, I also experienced myself changed. In the farmland and autumn foliage of upstate New York, the people there and the first snow of the year, everything felt fresh and new, and I was able to experience myself again with new eyes. We returned to Chestnut Ridge with arms full of paintings to decorate with, and I returned with a new experience of color, with new friends, changed, and still…Me.

—Kimber Martinson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Free Columbia and the Seminary of the Christian Community share a week of color.

Free Columbia Art Course opened with 6 weeks exploring color, we steeped in it for 15 hours each week. After such intense experience you can image the surprise to discover that the simple color explorations we engaged with the Christian Community Seminary students were so profoundly revealing. Imagine walking like RED, saying "Hello" like BLUE or filling yourself with YELLOW. Try creating a human sculptural representation of the color wheel or capturing the moods of traveling from one color to another as they circle the wheel. These simple but earnest explorations allowed each individual to develop a personal relationship with the colors, but, equally important was that our individual explorations, when shared, enriched and deepened into objective understandings about the character and qualities of each color and their relationships with each other.

Both groups met and worked harmoniously from the start and through the guidance of our instructors, wove an atmosphere of mutual trust, exploration, inquiry and playfulness. The work together served as both an out breathing of our intense work in respective areas of study and an in breathing of the deeper qualities of color in our outer and inner worlds.
Lisa Damian, full time Free Columbia student

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Free Columbia goes to the Met

On October 21st we all went to New York city to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to observe and draw art from the time of ancient Greece.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

first block - general color course

In the first block we studied color relationships. In the first week, working outside, we first listened to the world around us. Then we did gatherings of color. In the second week we explored color mixing and layering, seeing how the different colors arise through overlapping. We built a color wheel that progressed from the clear colors outside to the tertiary colors on the inside of the wheel. In the third week we worked with Goethe's color wheel, learning the lawfulness of color arising out of dark and light. In the fourth week each student chose a pair of colors to explore, and began to learn the technique of layered watercolor.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

3 weeks in

The studio is full with 12 full time and many part time students. We are renovating the barn at the Columbia House because we do not have enough space at Bright Wing. This is a great problem to have! and it inspires patience and camaraderie but we are glad the end is in sight. Here are some photos from the first days of the year.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Third year!

On the evening of September 26th we will welcome in the third year of the Free Columbia Art Course. Classes will start on Tuesday September 27th with 12 fulltime and approximately 10 part time students as well as many other people participating in evening study, and community lectures. We are very excited that this community supported art course is growing and that our 12 full time students have moved here from many places, (including Hawaii and Belgium), to begin to study with us. If you live locally please welcome them to our area and keep them in mind if you need someone to do part time work for you.

We know that we are surrounded by a very supportive community both near and far away, and this allows us to bring this course into being. If you live locally and are interested in part time study, evening lectures or summer courses, this year we will offer a year long study of the Philosophy of Aesthetics from Goethe’s time to the present on Tuesday evenings, and a study of “Theosophy” by Rudolf Steiner on Thursday evenings. If you are interested in joining either of these studies please contact us.

During the summer courses one of our participants suggested that we ask everyone to consider making a monthly pledge to support Free Columbia and then we could dispense with suggested donations for courses. So with this letter we are asking everyone, students, study group participants, library members and interested observers, to consider this. Monthly support allows us to plan our courses with a realistic relationship to finances but more importantly it makes obvious to us that we are surrounded and carried by a community. This experience makes all the difference in bringing this course into existence. It is possible to have your pledge automatically deducted from your bank account, (form attached) or paid automatically from your credit card or you can send it to us or bring it in if you see us regularly. Which ever option works for you, know that each month we know of your support and it makes the work possible.

Checks can be made out to Hawthorne Valley Association (memo: Free Columbia) and sent to Free Columbia, 651 Harlemville RD, Hillsdale NY 12529

If you prefer to pay via credit card over the internet you can do so by going to Follow the “Donate Now “ button, choose your payment method, provide the information required and last of all click the “Designation” button and scroll down to Free Columbia in order to be sure that your donation reaches us.

If you would like, we are willing to send out a monthly pledge reminder via email.

We are happy to report that we already have 9 people making monthly pledges.

We are trying to create a library for our students. If you have any of the following books that you would like to donate please let us know:
Schiller - Letters upon the Æsthetic Education of Man
On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry
Steiner - Theosophy
Color Lectures
Goethe as a Founder of a New Aesthetic Science
Art as Spiritual Activity
Art in the Light of Mystery Wisdom
The Mission of the Arts
The Renewal of the Social Organism
Volker Harlan & Joseph Beuys –
What is Art?
Gottfried Richter – Art and Human Consciousness

Also, if you have old art supplies that you do not want we would be happy to put them to use.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and support. If you would like to follow our blog you may do so here and yes we can also be seen on face book. But you can always feel free to call us on the telephone.
Laura Summer 518 672 7302, Nathaniel Williams 518 672 4090

Schedules are on our website:

Our gratitude and heart felt wishes to you, Laura and Nathaniel

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August Conference

here is a link to the web album from our August Conference, Image Arts from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

pictures from the summer courses

This year over 40 people participated in summer courses at Free Columbia.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

End of year exhibition and puppet show

Friday June 3    Free Columbia Celebration

End of Year Exhibit and Library Event


We  ended the year with an exhibition of student’s work and three performances  of our rod puppet and shadow puppet play,

 “The Booted Tom Cat” by Ludwig Tieck


Monday, June 6, 2011




As spring exploded around us we approached landscape drawing and painting from a perspective of observation and perception. We looked at a tree, drawing in detail what is actually there and then focusing our gaze on a portion of branches and space we worked with different painterly questions such as texture, dark and light, complementary color, line and surface. Then we explored drawing from observation using what color patches are actually seen. In the last 2 weeks of the block each full time student chose an aspect of nature to work with. They found a poem that related to this aspect and, working between word and image, tried to sense what is beyond  what I see with my eyes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

End of the Year Celebration

AppleMarkFree Columbia Celebration

End of Year Exhibit and Library event


Friday June 3, 5-7pm 

Basilica Industria, 110 Front Street, Hudson, NY

exhibit hours: Saturday and Sunday 11am-7pm


Performance by Free Columbia of

“The Booted Tom Cat” by Ludwig Tieck

A play using rod puppets,  puppets and shadow puppets at

Basilica Industria,     110 Front Street, Hudson NY       information:

                                                                                 Nathaniel Williams 518 672 4090

Saturday June 4, 2 pm and 7 pm                               Laura Summer 518 672 7302


Sunday June 5, 2 pm “The Booted Tom Cat”


Luster and Image colors

Luster and Image Colors


            Rudolf Steiner defined red, yellow and blue as “luster colors”, colors that shine. Yellow shines outward, blue shines inward and red shines toward you. In this block we first worked with the luster colors getting to know the character of each one. We then moved to image colors which Rudolf Steiner defined as black, white, green and peachblossom, colors that are more reserved in their expression. After living in a world of Luster it was clear that the image colors hold quite a different quality.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


 Over four weeks we worked with simple imaginative processes.  We worked primarily with wax crayons, pastels and drawing paper.  It was not a course in color imagination.  The central point was to enter into imaginative activity again and again while retaining a feeling of being rooted in the world.  We started by indiscriminately developing imaginative elements in drawing.  Then we discriminated and created specific imaginations, yet imaginations we had no inkling of when we started our pictures.  Then we worked with the old French story, the Master Cat, or Puss in Boots.  Now the inkling was given, here we had the new challenge of working freely out of our imaginations yet with a given content.  The goal was to experience developing compositions out of a process and exploration.