Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sterling Edwards Watercolor Workshop

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a watercolor workshop, but when I saw that Sterling Edwards was teaching a couple in Colorado, I inquired as to any openings. “Only a waitlist,“ I was told.  But sometime later was surprised to get an email inquiring as to whether I was still interested — and yes I was!  Not knowing quite what to expect, I gathered the items on his supply list and some reference photos, and early Monday morning, battled rush hour traffic to arrive at the Arvada Center for the 9am start.

About 20 of us set up our supplies and gathered to watch Sterling’s first demo.  No wonder he fills his workshops so quickly — he entertained us with silly jokes, funny stories, his past history (as a policeman!) and of course his step by step painting techniques.  It’s obvious he enjoys what he does, is happy to share his secrets and see his students succeed. 

The first morning was spent watching a beautiful tree emerge from the snow-white paper, using his block-in and negative painting techniques.  After lunch, we all set to trying our hands at this methods, some with more success than others.  The last hour he demonstrated another small painting, giving us lots of options for future works.  He was available for help, and made the rounds checking on our progress.  This was the ideal workshop schedule, with an excellent and motivational instructor.

Workshops can be quite costly, but this one was well worth the money.  Sterling Edwards does produce his own line of art products too — brushes, DVD’s and books and such, and they were available for purchase, but not required.  I did end up spending an additional $30 for a set of 3 bristle brushes which seemed vital to achieve his effects.

The remaining 3 days covered an old mill, a floral and an abstract.  It’s amazing to see a painting being completed in 2-3 hours!  And what fun to try an abstract — not my usual subject!  It’s harder than you think.  Design elements such as shape, line, composition, movement, center of interest etc all still need to be considered for an abstract.

As an added bonus to my fun 4 days being ensconced in art at the Arvada Center, I was able to view both the Colorado Watercolor Society and Western Federation watercolor exhibits in the upstairs and downstairs galleries. So many beautiful and intriguing pieces.  The shows are up through the end of August, so if you get a chance to see them I would highly recommend it.  And if Sterling Edwards comes back to town, I would highly recommend jumping on the chance to take his workshop!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Synesthesia: a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated.

Imagine tasting wild strawberries upon meeting your future spouse, or knowing certain letters and numbers should be green, that applesauce tastes like sadness, and the word "mother" smells like citrus.  James, the main character of this unusual novel, puts his condition to use in writing unique critiques of artists' work for the New York Times.  Synesthesia allows him to communicate with art in a new way, and to write about art in a way no one else can. 

The reader is immersed into the art world of New York in the 1980's, introduced to quirky characters and their expressions of art -- art as essence rather than object, art as action. "Artworks were meant to provide pleasure, not income, and art was not about fame but about feeling."

Relationships and human interactions pull us into this story and keep us interested in the lives of James, his wife and friends, and how they deal with disappointment, challenges and change.  And being artists ourselves, we enjoy being part of their world.  "That's what an artist is," says James.  "Someone whose way of looking at the world -- just their gaze--is already an idea in itself!"