Monday, October 26, 2009

From the Betsy Dillard Stroud Workshop.

"The Three Muses"
22 "x 30"

What a wild and exciting week I had. I got to know Betsy very well as her primary host and she is a generous and interesting woman and so creative and inspirational. I was busy day and night all last week, Saturday I did the 100K ride with our bicycling Academy students, and Sunday I attended the reception for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolors Society members show. Of course, Monday is dedicated to my drawing class.

I just grabbed a few minutes today to put the finishing touches on this first painting in the workshop where we drew Christina from three different poses. The emphasis was on watercolor and creating interesting surfaces using tape to mask off areas, divisions of space, and connections. We were to use a limited palette and the same set of colors for our light, medium, and dark, figures. I ended up with two fairly light and one dark, with the emphasis on the dark, colorful figure. My previous post showed the piece "in progress." Betsy was complementary of my surface treatment and division of space. The class was made up of 13 to 15 very accomplished artists, depending upon the day. Betsy said it was one of the most experienced groups she has taught. Check out Myrna Wacknov's posts to see what a very fine artist does with Betsy's challenges.

I especially enjoyed learning to make and use stamps to beautify the surface. Betsy told us there are 5 universal shapes: the circle, the cross (not religious), the triangle, the spiral, and the square. She asked us to number them in the order of our preference, stressing this is the way we order them today, and they could be different another time. She said our first choice is where we think we are, but we are not there yet. Our second choice is what we have mastered, our third choice is where we are now. Our fifth choice is been there, done that. I don't recall what the fourth choice is.

My choices were 1) the spiral, representing growth (not there yet); 2) the circle, integration of the masculine and feminine side, unity and wholeness (mastered, Betsy says probably on my cross-country bicycle ride); 3) the triangle, walking up the sacred mountain (where I am now); 4) the square, stability, earth, air, water, fire (?); and 5) the cross, relationships with a person, art, or some other part of our life (been there, done that). She showed us how to carve stamps out of soft linoleum, or rubber erasers using a linoleum cutter that looks like a curette to me. She told us to include symbols that we selected as 1, 3, and 5. What looks like squares on my stamp are repetitious crosses.

This exercise proved to be very tactile and rewarding. I'm hooked! Betsy has made stamps for a number of years, making use of symbology from ancient civilizations and modern times. I want to do some research. Before I left the workshop on day 2, I carved my stamp with repetitions of the three symbols. This is done simply, carefully, and free-hand. Because I was a coordinator at the workshop, I was unable to complete all exercises. So with Betsy's agreement, I focused on my Day 1 painting, above, and added stamping to the mix for beautifying the surface. You can see my three symbols. I want to find out more about symbols and make more stamps.

I love the way Betsy combines realism and abstraction. I have read Betsy's articles on creativity in popular artist magazines for years, and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn from her. I have been forever influenced by this week.




9 comments:

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, Interesting! I've been thinking of the spiral lately; I think it symbolizes growth very well. Sounds like a very fruitful week!

Mary Paquet said...

Hi, Peggy -- the discussion about symbols was very interesting. Good week!

Megha Chhatbar said...

Hi Mary! A really different work from you. I am happy to see that you are busy in exploring yourself. Love to see more of your work! :)

Marie Theron said...

Hi Mary, thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. Your work is very accomplished. My last touch with acedemic life was in the 80's and before that the 60's. After that I have lectured but never again enjoyed tuition from some-one else. I can see with this exercise of yours how enjoyable it can be.

Mary Paquet said...

Megha, always nice to hear from you and keep in touch. You are always so encouraging.

Marie, I am very happy I have found your blog and will be following your series on South Africa's West Cost.

Kathy said...

What an interesting exercise. I like your solution!

Mary Paquet said...

Kathy, thanks so much for commenting and helping me find your blog. Your discussions about art are fascinating. I've joined your blog and want to read more!

Barbara Sailor said...

Mary...this is such an interesting exercise and your painting is wonderful. You discussion about the stamps and the shapes and their meanings is very insightful. This certainly adds a more personal element to your paintings, doesn't it? I have used stamps but not in this personal way. What a good workshop you must have had. I have been using spirals a lot lately - wonder what that means for me?

Mary Paquet said...

Barbara, thanks for checking in and commenting. I have just ordered some materials for making more stamps. I loved the idea that you can add personal insights to your surface. I will be interested in knowing if your spirals take you to a new place in your growth.