Encaustic Workshop at Studio b. with Rae Broyles

November 27, 2010 in Figure Drawing, Other Art, Still Life by joanvienot

I ventured into new territory today, taking a workshop on encaustic painting at Studio b.  The closest I had come to encaustic painting was when I was a child, melting crayons and drizzling the molten wax onto paper.  I don’t remember very much about my childhood experience, but I’m sure that what I loved most about it was playing with the candle.  Today we traded the candle for a blowtorch, which was infinitely more exciting!

First we used a paintbrush to put hot bees’ wax  onto the board to make a background, applying multiple layers, scraping each layer smooth.  Then we added pigment to the wax and brushed  colors on, building up textures, carving into the wax, cutting and scratching into it, stenciling, stamping, embossing, adding collage, and even writing  into the wax to create powerful, colorful 12″ x 12″ encaustic paintings.

Instructor Rae Broyles demonstrated many different ways to work the wax, and then she worked alongside us on a painting of her own.  We were surrounded by some of Rae’s recent work on the walls at Studio b.

With every medium, there is a craftsmanship that must be mastered before one can be freely expressive, but we all had a lot of fun trying, and we were all pretty successful, I think.  Part of it of course was Rae’s excellent instruction, but part too was her relaxed, and even playful, attitude.  After all, creativity often is playfulness.

I pressed a plant into the soft wax and then filled the embossing with colors, layering additional cover layers, so that some parts are in sharp focus and others appear to be further away.  I tried to put a fish in it, and he disappeared, and I decided I didn’t have enough control to put a small scuba diver in the background, which was my other idea for an underwater scene.   So it ended up being a picture of some kind of flowering plant.

For my second piece I wanted to experiment with a figure, and I used the general pose that we had at figure drawing last week, dividing the background with simple geometric shapes.  I tried making lines with a hot drawing tool, but that didn’t work very well, so I carved lines using a clay sculpting tool, and then filled the lines in with black wax, scraping off the excess.

Will I do more encaustic work?  Maybe so.  It’s fun, it forces me to accept looser, less-controlled expression, and all I would need to buy, that I don’t already have,  is an electric flat grill-pan to heat the wax in aluminum bread-tins.  (Oh, and I would need that neat trigger starter for the blowtorch, that was pretty cool.)

Figure Drawing with Pencil Wash

November 19, 2010 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

Watercolor Pencil Wash, 5 x 7

I rarely use color to show “local color”, that is, the actual color of the model’s skin and hair.  I have more fun when I draw light and shadow.  But this week the model at Studio b. wore a red slip that caught the light in exquisite ways.  Red just demands to be noticed.

I warmed up with nupastel and conte, switching to watercolor pencils and washable graphite on hot press watercolor paper.  Hot press is very smooth paper.  Wet color pushes around on it very easily, since there is no texture to catch onto the pigment.

It was a fun night, with a new model.  She gave us many challenging poses, especially when we were warming up.  Usually our models are fully nude, because only by drawing the nude do you get practice in seeing how the whole figure is put together.  I think all my practice has made drawing a clothed model easier.  It was easier to “see” the form beneath the clothes.

Seeing in Black and White

November 11, 2010 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

This week in Figure Drawing at Studio b., Heather Clements instructed us to focus on light patterns and shadow patterns.  We worked with strong lighting, toning only the darks, all the same value, and leaving the paper untoned to show the lighted areas.  This high contrast lighting is very powerful, with much of the drawing reading as a silhouette.  Heather directed us to add intermediate values in our later drawings.  She kept a strong light on the model throughout the session.

Exhibition of Italian Baroque Paintings Coming to Tallahassee

November 5, 2010 in Other Art by joanvienot

The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, will be bringing 50 Italian Baroque paintings to Tallahassee, Florida, next spring.  Last night, Studio b. hosted the “b+b@b” event to celebrate the upcoming exhibition and to introduce the community to the Brogan Museum.  Several staff members were there from the Brogan Museum, including Chucha Barber, CEO of the Brogan.  Also attending, and sharing a film, was Paul Cohen, independent motion picture executive and Director of the Torchlight Program at Florida State University.  Prints of the Baroque masterpieces that are currently being restored were available for viewing, awaiting “adoption” by patrons.  Colleen Duffley presided over the event, offering delectable fare and cocktails to guests while they visited and perused installations by several new artists at Studio b.

It being some 30 years since my art history studies, I was unable to identify the Italian Baroque artists, but the lighting and drama of the Baroque period were unmistakable in the prints the Brogan Museum had on display.  It’s a thrill that our community is the beneficiary of this exposure to the masters, thanks to Studio b.  I’m looking forward to the February event and the exhibition.