It's not always easy to do art. Sometimes in a class, I can hear that inner critic jump in. I watched last weekend as another woman lamented, her inner critic in high gear, "I've never done this before. I really don't like what I did. The colors are all wrong. The texture under the watercolors is too black.This looks like junk." All the other people in the class rushed to reassure her, but she didn't believe in herself and continued to let that inner critic win.
Last week I jumped at the chance to spend time with other creatives interested in learning new techniques. We all attended the Art and Soul Mixed Media Retreat in Portland, Oregon. I knew that working around others can be great fun, but can also be challenging. Looking over someone shoulder can interrupt your confidence and undermine your creativity. I know that, and I go to classes telling myself, "This is practice. This is just practice."
Art and Soul runs for a week and offers diverse classes from how to use encaustic wax to jewelry making, from quilting to watercolors, and lots more. I chose just three days of three different classes. Outside our hotel, the Spring storms raged, but we didn't notice as we delved into projects that captured our imaginations.
I spent my first day with Roxanne Evans Stout in her Nature's Gathering, Exploring Stenciling class, where we experimented with pan pastels, acrylics, stencils and ephemera to create an accordion book filled with layers, words, and textures.
|I started by covering the watercolor paper with pan pastel markings.|
|One side of my finished piece|
|A duplicate of an old photo|
|After scrapping with sandpaper and rubbing with pan pastels|
By the end of the day, we had pages filled with intriguing images. I used the poem, Advice from a Tree by Ilan Shamir, throughout my pages.
On Saturday Helen Shafer Garcia taught monoprinting using easy tools including a printing brayer, acrylic paint, aluminum foil, a sheet of hot press watercolor paper, and a pencil or ballpoint pen.
To start, Helen crumbled the foil and then spread it out on the inking surface. She applied a small amount of dark acrylic paint to the foil with the brayer. She placed the inked foil, ink side down, on top of the watercolor paper and drew freeform shapes on the foil with her pencil. She lifted the foil off to reveal a textured paper. The foil could be printed again to make a 'ghost print.'
|A ghost print just needing some shapes drawn with crayon|
I followed her instructions for making the monoprint. Once the paint was dry, I drew more freeform shapes directly on the watercolor paper with crayons. I painted around the crayon shapes with watercolor. I did the same thing with some of the dark printed shapes. I used white gouache to cover up parts that I didn't like or to bring out a design that I wanted to create on top of the first layers.
During those three days at Art and Soul, I worked side by side with other people who explored and pushed their own abilities. Sometimes with new techniques, the learning process can be discouraging; other times a sense of joy pervades the room as people make new discoveries about themselves and their own abilities.
Check out these websites for more information about retreats and instructors:
Art and Soul Mixed Media Retreats: https://www.artandsoulretreat.com/index.php
Roxanne Evans Stout: http://roxanneevansstout.com
Catherine Anderson: http://www.catherineandersonstudio.com
Helen Garcia: http://www.helenshafergarcia.com