Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wabi-Sabi Wonder Workshop

Nicole's Work
4" square
Re-inkers ,alcohol, and acrylic glaze medium

Today was my pilot workshop for Wabi-Sabi Wonder. Connie and Nicole joined me as enthusiastic experimenters. The goal of the workshop was to enjoy the process of creating and to work with whatever happy accidents and "mistakes" came up. We talked a bit about the Japanese aesthetic and philosophy called wabi-sabi. We used muted colors, texture, random effects, weathering, and incising to create surfaces that were seasoned, subtle, and layered.

Nicole jumped in, working loosely and joyfully. Connie brought some larger 12" square boards she had gotten at Home Depot. She too, worked expansively and with pleasure. She tried something different, using black gesso over her panels, rather than the white of the prepared panels. This allowed her to use brighter colors and still get the muted, seasoned looking shades she wanted.

I demonstrated using Adirondack Ranger Reinkers, acrylic paint in warm gray, white, and Payne's Gray, alcohol ink, gel medium, glaze medium, self-leveling medium, and molding paste. The self-leveling medium is fairly new to me and I'm just discovering all its uses. For this workshop I showed how to drip this honey-like medium onto a surface to add texture. Molding paste also added texture, and sometimes I used the two together.

To work on the gessoed wood panels, I add glaze medium to the reinkers so that the color adheres better and doesn't get absorbed too far into the surface of the panel.

Nicole used the self-leveling medium to get the texture at the bottom and lower sides of this piece. She used alcohol with her ink to make the soft main image with feathered edges.

This piece by Nicole reminds me of the lights of a hilltop city with a deep textured sky above. Nicole used some lacy paper for the image in the upper left. I really like how she tore the paper so that it was ragged and not a complete circle. Note the very small patch of red in the upper right corner that sets off the whole piece and makes it sing.

I've heard this kind of small, unexpected accent called "The Eye of the Tiger." Or maybe it was "The Eye of the Dragon." Either way it can add so much to a work.

Connie wasn't sure she was finished with her last piece of the day, but it does glow beautufully.

This was Nicole's final piece. She again used bits of the textured lace paper with acrylic paint and reinkers to bring this piece together in an organic way.

Connie made a shimmering, almost breathing layered piece. The background is layered and scraped with bright golds and oranges combined with subtle grays.

In this detail of Connie's Spiral piece you can see where she scraped down to previous layers, much as she would have with an encaustic surface.

This is a detail from Connie's first piece of the day. She incised with a steel tip pen and a utility knife. She used alcohol ink to create the horizontal edge in the upper half of the painting. My mind wants to read these as mountains.

This is the whole piece from which the above detail was taken. I think this photo has more accurate colors. Connie deliberately chose a very muted palette for today's work. She used many layers of subtle gradations of color accented with a little white and off-white for punch.

After the workshop I played some more with some surfaces I'd used for demonstrations. This panel has a combination of self-leveling medium and molding paste under the paint and ink for 3-D texture. After taking this piece home, I decided to turn it upside down. liking the composition better that way.

4" square

This piece kind of made itself as I slapped on ink during the workshop to the cheers of Nicole and Connie. Later I incised it like mad and added a rich red line on the right side and the curved black line at the bottom.

Shooting Stars (also 4" square)

I have to admit I had a terrible time with the piece below. That's all part of the process. When Connie and Nicole arrived I had this great textured surface that I'd done yesterday. It looked cool and I added some rich sienna color to it. I don't know what happens sometimes, but this piece went through so many incarnations. Several times I really liked it but in then searching for the "Eye of the Whatever-Animal-It-Is, I'd "wreck" the whole thing. Nicole who in previous workshops has had me urge her to loosen up, today was loose and relaxed while I wrestled with this textured work. Fortunately, I retained some sense of humor about this reversal and the others didn't tease me too much! I didn't get this work where I wanted it until the others had left the studio. That's just how it goes sometimes. Doing this "wabi-sabi" work is just like living. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it doesn't, but if you keep at it, it eventually becomes what it is meant to be.

Conjunction ( 4" square)

As the Crow Flies (4 " square)

The above went fast also. The green in the center was Connie's inspiration.

I added some to this 5" square piece done earlier in the week. When I added the torn book text, Nicole said that was what it needed. This piece also had earlier incarnations. I was happy with how it looked after I first made it, but after a few days the ink background had sunk and faded. In subsequent revisions I used glaze medium with the inks and added some off white paint. Now I like it again!

A Huge "Thank You!" to Connie and Nicole for joining me for a fabulously fun day. We are looking forward to scheduling a Wabi-Sabi II sometime soon!

1 comment:

Dayna Collins said...

Lucious, beautiful pieces of art!