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Showing posts from August, 2013

Brice Marden: cold wax medium and calligraphy

After teaching my workshop at MISSA on Vancouver Island in July, I visited my artist friend, Barbra Edwards on Pender Island.  She was reading a book about the American abstract artist, Brice Marden, written by Eileen Costello.  I picked up a copy of the book when I came home.

I love connections and interconnections between people and ideas and events. In my last post (click here),  I wrote about my brush explorations workshop, where I painted with red cedar brushes and ink, creating calligraphic forms.  In reading Eileen Costello's book on Brice Marden, I was excited to learn how Chinese calligraphy had such an enormous influence on his work.

Another connection I had to Marden's work was that he was a pioneer in the use of cold wax medium and oil paint.  He was working with it for years before Gamblin started manufacturing it.  From 1965-1981 he used cold wax medium in his minimalist paintings to give an impasto quality to the paint and to make a more matte surface.

 I did …

The Tao of Painting

Two days before I taught my Abstract Painting workshop at MISSA on Vancouver Island, I took a 2-day class called Brush Explorations.  The workshop was taught by Lorne Loomer, a long-time teacher of brush painting who was deeply influenced by the West Coast artist/mystic, Jack Wise.

It was so enjoyable being a student for a change and experimenting with painting/calligraphy.  Our first task was to make our own brush.  Lorne provided us with red cedar bark that had washed up on a Vancouver Island beach.  We were to take the bark outside with us as we searched for a stone that spoke to us.  With that stone, we were to beat the red cedar bark into a brush, loosening all the fibres until we had a very spindly, feathery-looking object that we were to use as a brush.  My bark split into several pieces so I ended up with four brushes of various sizes.

Back inside, we dipped our newly made brushes into Chinese ink and then practised making marks on paper. As I stood, bent over my worktable and…

Teaching Workshops: Simplifying, Focusing and Setting Limits

July was a busy month of teaching Abstract Painting with cold wax and oil workshops:  a 5-day workshop at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts on Vancouver Island, a 3-day workshop in Vancouver and then another 5-day workshop at the Haliburton School of the Arts in Ontario.

While I teach the technique of working with cold wax with oil,  my workshops are about painting.

I try to make the structure of my workshops very simple and clear.  It's a step-by-step process, each day building toward the next day.  Five-day workshops add a slowness to the pace that is difficult to create in a 3-day workshop.  It takes a couple of days for students to settle into the process-learning a new technique and then letting go of expectations that a painting should be produced in the first two days.  I think that one of the most important messages I was trying to get across was that of simplifying, focusing and setting limits.

Limit your choices, limit your colours, limit your shapes and…