Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brommer Workshop Recap

St. Michel, the Dordogne, France
Collage and watermedia

"Puente Nuevo"
Ronda, Spain
Collage and watercolor

"Two for the Road"
Beginning phase of a montage of my bicycle ride across the USA
Collage and watercolor

The week was so busy that I did not even have time to post the final three days of the workshop. We had a wonderful time. I felt like a kid again with my matte medium, gesso, pens, rice paper, and paints. I also was humbled by the beautiful work turned out by my colleagues in the workshop. Jerry said this one of the two most accomplished groups of artists that he had had in his workshops over the years. Privately he told me that several were way beyond needing a workshop, but of course creative people love to learn new ways of working and thinking. Take this link (Myrna's name) to see the work done by Myrna Wacknov during the workshop, so good that Jerry needed a piece for his collection. Myrna teaches many workshops nationwide, is an award-winning artist, and has been featured in popular art magazines.

Jerry at 82 is just as excited about art as he was as a child. He keeps learning new things (for example, that gesso can be applied successfully to a wet collage) and pushes his experimentation. He is humble and inspirational. He kept giving us pearls of wisdom, and I enjoyed his stories of many of the famous artists we admire who have been his friends. He also gave me his full-sheet demo painting that I will treasure, though Jerry did not have time to complete the detail and darks over his underpainting.

The pieces I show here were done on days 3, 4 and 5. To be successful, I would need to redo them. I've said before that my engineering mind is very literal and it takes me a while to apply what I learn in a creative way. I will explore this medium in the coming months as I really love the textured surfaces and the effects we achieved. Each piece was supposed to maintain separation between shape and line. The piece on Day 3 is from a snapshot I took in the Dordogne, while on a Mike Bailey art vacation in 2007. We built up the surface by applying rice papers with pieces of brown paper bag for the dark values. We drew into the wet collage and added paint. Applying white gouache does some really interesting things to the surface.

Day 4 I completed the bridge in Ronda, Spain, that I visited in 1989. Ronda is one of the "white towns" in Andalusia. This bridge is the newest of the three bridges that have spanned the gorge. The first was built by the Romans, the second by the Arabs, and third is the "new" bridge built by the occupants of the town in the 1700's. New is relative. As we stood on the bridge, we could see remnants of the two older bridges hundreds of feet below us. I struggled with this painting and in the final 15 minutes before critique, I got a suggestion from Jerry to apply gesso over parts I did not like and rework them. I worked furiously and Jerry was amazed that I pulled the iron out of the fire in those few minutes.

Day 5 is just the beginning stages of a complex exploration of a theme, in my case my bicycle ride across the USA in 2008. The top 1/3 of the page is picture that embodies the theme, and the bottom 2/3rds will be filled with small line drawings with color and images of items related to the theme. I selected an image from the middle of the country, where we were treated like royalty, tiny Woodbine, Iowa. The L stands for Lincoln Highway, the first highway to be completed across the USA. The old service station had been turned into an internet cafe by the junior high science teacher and his wife. They love to take pictures of people touring the country in front of the mileage to two major East and West Coast cities.

We were instructed to collage the entire surface, let it dry, add a thin layer of diluted gesso, let it dry, and then work on that surface. As we worked, we could add more collage, more gesso, paint, photographs, pieces of related paper, whatever. Eventually, I would add a border of darker color around the edge to organize the collection. At critique, I was especially fond of a piece done by Jean D. who collaged using various old documents (or copies of them) and then had a male figure walking into the documents. A serendipitous smearing of the ink on the figure created the most wonderful results. To me it certainly suggested the past.

Jerry's approach, with any piece, is to do some planning, but he never knows exactly how the piece will turn out, very reassuring to me. He lets what's happening on the surface inform subsequent steps in the process.

The workshop went well administratively, my first time to coordinate one for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Bob and I especially enjoyed getting to know Jerry and his wife, Georgia, first at home, then at two subsequent dinners, and a final drive to the airport. They are such wonderful people. Jerry says that we are changed with each experience we have in workshops. I can't wait to take that change to a new level.

I have a few more obligations and then in the next few days I will be checking out what I've missed from my fellow bloggers.


Barbara Sailor said...

How wonderful to be able to spend this time with accomplished artist and teacher - I am green with envy. Your work is very interesting - I love the effect of the collaged background and the contour line on top.

Mary Paquet said...

Barbara,I am so fortunate to be in an area where we get top notch artists to teach the workshops. I also am delighted that I can contribute on the committee. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

Megha Chhatbar said...

Woww That's so gud to learn that your are enjoying your art! I am so happy for you. Its a different style of yours...:)

Color Pencil Drawing: Warkaris/Varkaris of Pune

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, Exciting pieces and interesting narrative. His workshop does sound wonderful. I particularly liked the middle piece.

Mary Paquet said...

Megha, so nice to hear from you.

Peggy, thanks for the encouragement. The workshop was terrific and I so enjoyed getting to know the Brommers.