Monday, April 25, 2011

Artfest 2011 - Part 2

More on my adventures at Artfest ... this episode: too much fun with paint!

My first day's class was Roxanne Padgett's Lush Layered Canvas. I'd taken a class with Roxanne at Journalfest, so I had an inkling (paintling?) of what was coming, but I knew I had SO much more to learn from her. Like how not to be so timid with colours. Okay, I'm still timid, but it's not her fault ~ it's just going to take a few more whacks on the brain to make me more adventurous.

The first thing she had us do was paint a colour wheel, and you know in all the exposure I've had to art, art classes, art teachers and art supplies, I've never actually sat down and made a colour wheel before, and I gotta say - it was a treat. Yes, yes, of *course* I know the primaries, and the secondaries and even the tertiaries, and how it only takes a little bit of dark to significantly alter a whole bunch of light, but doing it was very instructive all the same. Roxanne's advice ("How *not* to make mud") was perhaps the most useful of all, since making mud is the thing that usually scares me away from playing with paint in the first place. We also learned about tints, shades and complements - the stuff that we all think we know about ~ and then you sit down and do it and you see it in a fresh way.

We worked on four pieces at once ... canvas, linen, bottom weight (no snickering out there!) and just your average pre-printed cotton. I eschewed the pre-printed cotton (which was too beautiful to paint on ~ sorry, Roxanne!), and opted to make my fourth piece on paper. Funnily enough, I think I like the paper one best of all. Probably because I chose colours near and dear to me (the colour coward wins again!). Anyway, that's the one I've shown you above. Our basic modus operandi was to start with broad strokes on the bottom layer, and work our way up to more and more detailed layers as we went. We moved from piece to piece, letting each successive layer dry as we did so ... by the time I finished layer one on the last piece, the paint on the first piece had dried enough to move on to layer two, etc etc.

I *did* try to coax the colour coward out of the box, but the results were (to my mind) so atrocious it's one of the few times I wished I could turn back time so I could *undo* my work and go back to the step before when I'd really, really, really liked the piece. Oddly enough, this is the piece (other) people seem to respond most positively to, so obviously I am *no* judge of anything. And no, I'm *not* going to show you that one. Well, not right now ... maybe after I stop sulking and trying to turn back time. This negative turn of events made me chicken out of finishing one of the other pieces, since I knew I was on the verge of Doing Something Undoable That I Might Regret to it and I wanted to think about it a bit before I did that. So that's why I'm not showing you that one either.

I blame *none* of this on Roxanne, who is an amazing and generous teacher. When I'd taken her class at Journalfest I spent most of my time muttering things like: brilliant!, why didn't I think of that? and OMG (in a good way). This time I resolved to a) take better notes, and b) take lots of photos, both of which I'm happy to say I did. I came home fired up to cut my own stencils! use paper plate palettes that become art in themselves! and never waste paint!

So far, I cut two stencils in class: an anatomical heart (loosely based on one of Roxanne's own stencils) and a rowboat, and since I got home I've been experimenting with a woodburning knife to *cut* my own stencils in acetate ~ hey, it works! Instead of paper plates, I've opted to use file folders for palettes (I have like 200 of them and they lay flat, and I can use their random painty goodness in future zines!). And I've been smudging, stenciling and stamping my about-to-be-leftover paint onto already-leftover bits of canvas lying about the studio. Cool ~ looks like I actually learned something.

The dress stencil I used on the piece above is one of Roxanne's own multi-step designs, and she has a *wealth* of ideas about stencils ~ commercially-available, cut-your-own, stuff that was never intended to be used as stencils, you name it ... she's made me aware that I should keep my eyes open at *all* times for hidden pattern and texture opportunities. I'd highly recommend anyone interested in this sort of stuff take a class with Roxanne - she's the bomb.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Artfest 2011 - Part 1

I must be getting old ... coming home from Artfest feels like jetlag {artlag? festlag? surely there's a German word to describe this, they have a word for everything}. It might be sleep deprivation ~ I stay awake far into the nights {did I mention the military beds?}, or I'm too wired to sleep ~ my head brimming with ideas, and then it's back up at 7:00 to get breakfast before class each day. Thank heavens all I had to do was wander sleepily across to the commons building and into the buffet line, where some very nice {morning} people put lovely edible things on my plate.

I kept bumping into people I knew ~ either from other retreats, or from classes at previous Artfests, or from swapping through other websites {hey, beenebag!}. And this year something odd seemed to be going on ... I'm not sure why, but I felt more "settled". I've yet put my finger on the why of it, but I just felt more present and confident and at peace. I didn't do my usual "sit-at-an-empty-table-and-see-who-will-sit-with-me" shy thing I used to do in the dining room. With 500 or so people milling about with food trays {okay, maybe not ALL 500 at once!} there was always someone to sit with ~ so I did. I traveled down this year with my friend Rose {hey, Rose!} and we always looked for each other at meals, and even had our first day's class together, but then it was off in different directions.

There was the usual trading frenzy at the first dinner, and as I'd posted a link to this blog on the Artfest yahoo group, it was heart-warming indeed to have people actually recognize what I'd made from seeing my blog post beforehand. Apparently I'm still getting used to be out there blogwise. I made 120 trades and only came home with about 20 {never fear ~ they will find a home!}, and I received very creative stuff in return. Lots of people handed out collage packs, which came in VERY handy in class on day three. The trading pretty much continues throughout Artfest, and Rose very kindly kept pointing me in the direction of people who had cool stuff I hadn't seen yet {Have you traded with the pea lady yet? She's sitting over there ...}.

And now a word to my gentlemen readers {if indeed there are any}, here's something you might want to remember when faced with an audience of 500 or so artists {primarily women} who've come to take three days worth of classes with roly carts bursting with art supplies ... after dinner on the first night, Teesha and Tracy, our most excellent hosts, had the teachers and the Artfest crew come to the mic and introduce themselves ... and one of the volunteers nearly got a standing ovation for this: "Hello, my name is Richard, and I also know Tracy from an unnamed online game, and my passion is ... lifting heavy objects for women." Of course, your circumstances may vary, but I'm just saying, you might want to have this line in your repertoire.

More on Artfest in the next few days ... after I've recovered a little more from Festlag!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Prepping for Artfest ...

It's that time of the year again, time to go off for a *massive* creative get together with 500+ like-minded folks ~ AKA: Artfest!

For those who've been to Artfest no explanation is necessary, for those who haven't been, it's hard to know where to start ... imagine summer camp for grown-ups, completely dedicated to the creative experience, hosted by people who are dedicated to creativity in their own lives.

The teachers are fabulous, the food is wonderful (I think *any * food I don't have to cook is wonderful, but seriously, it's a miracle we all don't gain 5 lbs in the 5 days we're there!), and the accommodation is ... um, barracks? Yep, that's right, the venue of this artful party was previously a military fort.

I'm scheduled to take three intriguing classes (more on this later), but there's so much beyond the classes at Artfest ... one of the traditions is that lots of people bring some small thing they've created. This year I've made three things to trade: a very traditional ATC (artist trading card), some artful little buttons and a rather clever (if I do say so myself) bobbin made by adding a whole whack of colour to a quite ordinary clothespin.

There's still a bunch of stuff I've got to do before I go, but I think I'm narrowing it down to the last few fragments and oddments ~ it's tempting to take a whole studio's worth of art supplies, but over the years I've learned to travel lighter each time. More about Artfest when I get back!