Monday, April 28, 2014

ART NEWS: Teaching Technique in Ridgecrest

Ridgecrest is surprisingly rich with Arts Action: potters, sculptors, painters, crafters. Members of local art groups support the Maturango Museum and its Flora Lamson Jewlett art gallery, where my paintings gilded the walls for two months January 17 - March 18 this year. The "Four-D" art group (Four-D as a riff on "3-D" or three-dimensional art, meant to open its membership up to a wide range of media and makers) invited me to present a workshop in my Pencil-and-Watercolor Technique by which all the paintings I showed had been created, and I accepted.

To illustrate what kind of color can be produced by my pencil-paint method, I made a rather free-form color chart by painting a grid of watercolor background swatches, dark-to-light, and then built up color pencil areas on its surface, so that the color of the background shows through the sketchy pencil, instead of white paper.

Usually, color pencil images show a lot of paper white, and consequently the media color looks "pastel", meaning that all the colors are mixed down with white. A (dried) watercolor underpainting essentially stains the paper, and that stain-color shows through the gaps left by "scumbled" wax pencil color. This technique is a way of mixing colors on the paper; mixing different transparent colors of stained paper with overlaid strokes of different wax color. Similar to painting with "broken" color in oils, where distinct colors in the brush do not mix on canvas but make a richer color when mixed in viewers' eyes, and the colors can be saturated.

Paula, a ceramicist and jeweler, generously hosted the workshop in her large studio, and 12 artists signed up for a day of flat art on paper using watercolor as underpainting, and Prismacolor wax pencil for building up the final image. Most participants worked from landscape photos, but also offered advice on a parrot, two cats, an angel, and a cupcake. There was a short potluck lunch break, but my students arrived early, worked earnestly, and all had produced an original piece by closing time. I floated around, encouraging increased contrast, more robust application, and a wider palette of color. My first-ever workshop was judged a success, and I hope this was at least generally true for all who attended -- I enjoyed the entire thing more than I'd imagined. Paula put me up for two nights and also invited me to a ham Easter Dinner on Sunday with some friends.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tuttle Creek and Trailer Trashed

Tuttle Creek Campground

Looking south: 
 Looking north:

 New Stone Foundation for Trailer! 

My wooden Santa Fe travel trailer, built in the late 1960s, is literally falling apart. While I was driving up the access road to Tuttle Creek Campground, I had to slag it over high, angled speed bumps that caused extreme side-to-side lurching of my rusted-springs-and-no-shocks trailer, which busted loose its last splintering fragments of stability, and the bottom fell out the backend and dragged its aluminum-alloy skirt in the dirt up a guttered fifty yards of dirt road to what will be its final campsite. 

Dry rot had splintered out the buttress-like armature that holds the side wall up over the wheel well, and so the wall was slowly sagging down outside the tire to the ground. My stove was attached to this wall, not resting on the floor as you would suppose, and is now bulging out the side as the wall slips down. The stove top tilts, so my pots and pans kinda roll off the burners a bit.

Ramshackled!  But it still keeps me dry and warm and out of the wind in the late storms of April this year, and it is home and comfy in a very beautiful area. The down-slope gusts from the Sierras shake it like a terrier shakes a rag doll, but so far it hasn't stumbled off its pins, its stabilizers.

I have shored its corners up with piles of stones, but when it leaves this site (and it has to leave Tuttle by the end of October) it will ride out on a flatbed. Where this flatbed is coming from I do not yet know, but rumor has it that a non-profit in Ridgecrest will haul away old trailers to fix up for low-income housing. One local said just leave it on a side street with a "FREE" sign, or call a rancher who will pick it up for bunk housing during roundup.

So I must be buying another trailer this year -- am looking for an up-to-date fiberglass model with a genuine 3-way refrigerator, indoor plumbing, and maybe even an awning. But this little beach shack on tires has been my home for four years and it will be hard to let it go.