Monday, April 26, 2010

Workshop Two with Myna Wacknov

Coincidently the timing of the two workshops I attended this month was great in terms of visiting family and painting with terrific artists.  I was in Portland last week for the Oregon Society of Artists [OSA], who sponsored the three-day workshop with Myrna Wacknov [Myrna Wacknov's Blog], whose work has excited me for quite some time.  I have been following her blog, and have seen articles and images about her work in art magazines.  And, I met her at Kanuga where she was taking a workshop from another artist. Myrna is a fabulously creative artist and a lovely forthcoming person to boot.

She uses all sorts of methods, grounds, and styles to create mood, emotion and attraction to her uniqely painted images of people.  As she explained several of her design styles, she said that she "starts with the traditional, then 'plays around.'"  As I am, Myrna is a great believer in artists DRAWING, and not copying.  What's the point? 

The copying we did was a way in which she creates the image she might use, then draws it on tracing paper, and then transfers her DRAWING via a watercolor crayon, to "good" paper. The paper can be a good watercolor paper, or a piece of paper with either diluted matte medium, or gesso, or both, on it, which makes for a tricky start if one hasn't worked that way before!

Myrna also showed us several ways to interpret source material, including using pen, crayon and stamps, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but my favorite is the use of Tyvek "paper" for painting.  LOVE it!  The painting I did on Tyvek was of me, using a high contrast image [tweaked on Photoshop] with fluid acrylics!  Am not too sure of the outcome, but the process was fascinating!

Again, workshop paintings don't always work in terms of "frameable" paintings, but learning the processes are always worth the price of the ticket.    Can't wait to attend Myrna's five-day workshop at OSA in January!

The icing on the cake, literally and figuratively during my Portland visit was to spend the weekend with family to celebrate my granddaughter's sixth  birthday.  I am pretty confident she had a special full weekend with lots of loving and lots of gifts, and I know I had a great time watching her!

Am Back!

After two different workshops and two special visits with family [on both coasts], my batteries are recharged and I'm ready for lots of artmaking and sharing of wonderful lessons learned this past month. [Will post about Myrna Wacknov's workshop later today.]

The first workshop was for five days at the Kanuga Watercolors Workshops, in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where a dozen first class watermedia instructors hold classes in a "campus" setting. What a wealth of talent!

I chose to take Nicholas Simmon's workshop [Nicholas Simmons' Blog], which was watermedia and innovation on steroids. I have fallen in love with fluid acrylics, and learned several ways to work the medium.

I'll say right here, my caveat is that I don't believe any of my best work comes from workshops, but certainly the things I learn from them are life-altering, and truly add to my own art experience. So, I did two pieces in Nick's workshop that are not anything I might hang in a show, but I LOVED what I learned doing them.

For the first piece, we "threw" paint, then sketched a design, integrating some Asian characters loosely based on a few symbols Nicholas shared with us. We masked the characters and other bits of our designs, then poured some more paint. What a hoot! We finished those with a few details and then had the "Great Reveal," removing the masking from the characters to complete the pieces.

Nicholas was very generous in sharing his secrets and process. Lots of hair dryer use and lots of tipping and spraying. Lots of stories and kudos to other artists. I like that about Nicholas and most artists I have met or seen ... very generous with hints and tricks, and gracious about other artists' work.

One of the reasons I chose to take Nicholas' workshop is that he uses Photoshop as a tool in composing and manipulating his work. Although I have been using Photoshop Elements for years, I learned many other ways to use technology in my own art.

For the week at Kanuga, I was a "commuter," because I stayed with my sister, Jodie and her husband, Tom about five miles from the campus. It was the best of all worlds, as I was immersed in art each day, and had lovely visits with Jodie and Tom in the evenings at their lovely home. Jodie and I were able to catch up and paint together as well.

All in all, it was a terrific workshop, and I HOPE I can do it again next year! I have already chosen the instructor I would like to work with!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last Class of "Outside the Box" Series

For the last four weeks, I taught a class called "Outside the Box," an extension of an eight-week Figures and Faces series I taught at the local Senior Center.  During the first eight weeks, we learned a few fundamentals of drawing and painting figures in pretty traditional ways.  The students wanted more at the end of the series, so I said we could do another four week course that would have a "what the hell" quality to the lessons, so the students could feel looser and freer with their work. 

The first three weeks, we did some charcoal and wash characters that were free and loose, then some guoache theatrical ladies, then the fantasy, or the person they wished they were, and finally, the fourth week, clowns and circus characters.  As I had few clown references, I chose some from an old Walter Foster/Leon Franks how-to clown painting book from about 1970. I also showed the class a couple of circus people from Shirley Trevena's wonderful "Taking Risks With Watercolours" book.

I must say that I have never enjoyed teaching a class so much!  The students laughed and had the "what the hell" attitude, so they didn't fret and get wrapped around the axle about making a perfect painting.  For each of the pieces, there is a freshness and spontaneity that had been eluded when they were trying so hard to make their figures and faces just right. 

Enjoy the show!  We did!