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.

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