Art­ful play­ing

The Glengarry News - - Classifieds - Jes­sica MacLeod is an artist, writer, ed­i­tor, in­dexer, and ed­u­ca­tor liv­ing near Alexan­dria.

Sub­mit­ted by Jes­sica MacLeod When you think of a nasty, windy, damp day in fall, you’re on the right track. It was the kind of grey Satur­day that made me wish for flan­nel py­ja­mas and the fire­place chan­nel, even if it was only Oc­to­ber.

It was the kind of day that made me won­der, upon push­ing open the door to leave the Green Val­ley Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, if the wind would gal­va­nize and thrust the door right out of my one free hand to slam into the wall, the build­ing shud­der­ing as we all do with the cold dis­com­fort of late au­tumn. I held onto it though. No slam­ming, just my own shiv­er­ing as I held an over­sized card­board box pre­car­i­ously on one arm, and my purse and lunch bag, bunched up un­der the other. As I made my way to the car, I tried to keep my eyes trained on my three lit­tle, poured cre­ations, colour­ful and still very fluid, ly­ing at the bot­tom of the big brown box. It would be two days of dry­ing be­fore I could judge their fi­nal ap­pear­ances.

In my mind, though, the day was al­ready a suc­cess. The Lu­mi­nous Colour Work­shop took place Oc­to­ber 27. Led by An­drea War­ren, Cer­ti­fied Work­ing Artist for Golden Artist Colours, it was six hours of hands-on learn­ing and play­ing with a plethora of Golden acrylic paints and medi­ums. The warm, friendly at­mos­phere and pos­i­tive feed­back after­ward con­firmed the day was a suc­cess for the 13 other artists who at­tended as well. We were a mixed group, as the Col­lec­tive and its events of­ten are. There were mem­bers, non-mem­bers, the pro­lific, and the cu­ri­ous.

Most of the day was a foun­da­tion of colour the­ory and prac­tice. As an artist and art teacher my­self, I’ve worked ex­ten­sively with colour the­ory, colour wheels, and value scales. How­ever, that cer­tainly doesn’t mean I’m above them. Many artists and stu­dents are tempted to skip the the­ory, the prac­tice ex­er­cises, and the ex­per­i­ments, be­liev­ing in­stead they can get right into mak­ing their own mas­ter­piece to put on a wall. But just like ath­letes, we need the learn­ing, the train­ing, the fail­ing, and just play­ing around, if we’re go­ing to de­liver for the big event.

In ad­di­tion to sup­ply­ing us each with a lit­tle goodie bag of paints, An­drea also walked us through an ex­ten­sive ar­ray of sturdy work­sheets and colour charts. Paint­ing knives in hand, we worked through colour wheels, dis­cov­ered mass tones and un­der­tones, and cre­ated tints and shades.

Have you ever won­dered why white isn’t sim­ply white? Why black isn’t just black? Try test­ing them. Try mix­ing them. You’ll quickly see the dif­fer­ences be­tween your Ti­ta­nium White and your Zinc White, and the dif­fer­ences be­tween your Car­bon, Mars, and Bone Blacks. We learned about value, cre­at­ing depth, kinds of pig­ments, tint­ing strengths, and chroma. We also learned about the dif­fer­ences be­tween heavy body, open, fluid, and high flow op­tions of Golden paints.

High­lights for me were the In­ter­fer­ence colours and Irides­cent paints, both new prod­ucts to me. While iri­des­cence is a fa­mil­iar con­cept for many, in­ter­fer­ence may not be. An area painted with In­ter­fer­ence colours looks dif­fer­ent from dif­fer­ent an­gles. Think of the chang­ing, colour­ful swirls of oil on the sur­face of a pud­dle. In work­ing with both types, we didn’t merely lay down a glob of each colour, but also mixed them with other colours to see the ef­fects. Some of my favourite com­bi­na­tions in­clude In­ter­fer­ence Blue on black and In­ter­fer­ence Gold mixed with Phthalo Blue. Irides­cent Pearl mixed with Diox­azine Pur­ple cre­ated the nicest pur­ple I have ex­pe­ri­enced. I can also see my­self us­ing the Irides­cent Cop­per to warm up colours such as Diox­azine Pur­ple, Quinacridone Ma­genta, Hansa Yel­low, and Phthalo Blue.

Any chance to put paint on a palette feels like play to me, and so the hours of mix­ing and ap­ply­ing patches of paint with a knife and brush to work­sheets were great. I wasn’t in a rush to switch over to the pour­ing seg­ment of the day. With the work­sheets, I was still in my com­fort zone. I was play­ing and learn­ing, but not yet stretch­ing.

I ad­mit, for paint­ing, I’m more of a brush per­son. How­ever, I signed up for the work­shop with a de­lib­er­ate goal of play­ing, of go­ing with the flow, if you will.

To an out­sider, that last hour in­side the com­mu­nity cen­tre might have looked like a good party was about to kick off. The ta­bles were scat­tered with dozens of lit­tle plas­tic shot glasses, bam­boo skew­ers, and big red Solo cups. A buf­fet ta­ble dis­played an as­ton­ish­ing ar­ray of tubes and bot­tles, and way too many colours to choose from. Af­ter learn­ing about the paints, medi­ums, mar­bling tech­niques, skins, and dirty pours, we were free to be­gin. For many, this was the mo­ment they waited for all day. It was time to get the party started. Im­me­di­ately I hes­i­tated. I looked at my three cra­dled wooden pan­els, white with gesso, and walled with mask­ing tape to hold the coloured flu­ids. They were ready for ac­tion. I looked at the cups. I looked at the peo­ple milling around the paint buf­fet ta­ble. I looked back at my pan­els. Then I picked up my brush and painted one of my pan­els black. That’s right. I started with a brush. And I wasn’t alone. It was a safe and com­fort­able first step, but it was how I worked my­self up to the pours to come. That black panel also be­came the base of my favourite pour of the day.

Around the room, artists poured from cups and del­i­cately drew bam­boo skew­ers through the paint pool­ing on their wooden bases. We stood, we sat, we tilted our pan­els this way and that, all of us mar­vel­ling at the colours rolling and trans­form­ing be­fore our eyes. Some­times we mixed on the pan­els, some­times we mixed in the cups. All of it was new to me.

The acrylic medi­ums we were work­ing with are white as a liq­uid; there­fore, the colours we mixed were very milky ver­sions of what the fi­nal prod­uct would look like when dry. We had a small sense of what our fi­nal pan­els could look like, but larger was the sense of uncer­tainty. Will they be too dark? Will they be too light? Where is that fine line be­tween suc­cess and a muddy, over­worked sur­face? I found the an­swer to that last ques­tion. Twice. Both times, that line was way be­hind me. Two days later, af­ter all of three had dried, the ver­dict re­mained the same: one work that I was happy with, and two that I over­worked.

But that’s how we learn, right? We play, we learn, and if we can do that with a group of other artists, even bet­ter. It’s also one of the best ways to warm up a cold, damp day in the fall.

The Glen­garry Artists’ Col­lec­tive has or­ga­nized pre­vi­ous work­shops and demon­stra­tions with Golden ma­te­ri­als, acrylics, and im­age trans­fers. Look for the next work­shop in Spring of 2019. You can fol­low the Glen­garry Artists’ Col­lec­tive at ca­gac.ca.

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON PHOTO

NEW AL­BUM Suzanne Bleile of Green Val­ley and Lise Robert­son of Mart­in­town brought copies of Jas­mine Bleile’s new CD, Love and Dis­as­ter, to the Glen­garry, Nor’Westers & Loy­al­ist Mu­seum’s an­nual Christ­mas Tea on Dec. 13. The 10-track al­bum which was launched last month marks a brand new sound for the Mon­treal-based Bleile, who grew up in the area. Ac­cord­ing to her web­site, she has “left her old coun­try-folk sound in the dust; it never quite fit. To­day’s sound is smoother and more com­fort­able. If you said stronger you’d be right; if you said sex­ier you wouldn’t be wrong. But nam­ing things is for other peo­ple. Call it blue-eyed soul. Call it rhythm and blues. Call it what­ever you think it should be called.” Ms. Bleile, who used to be a mem­ber of Ladies of the Canyon, has re­cently been work­ing with Ru­fus and Martha Wain­wright. Last year, she per­formed at a con­cert in Dun­ve­gan as part of the Fes­ti­val of Small Halls.

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON PHOTO

SWEET TREATS: That’s Leslie McLean over­see­ing one of the treat ta­bles at Salem United Church’s Christ­mas Tea ear­lier this month. Although she lives in Corn­wall, she is a mem­ber of the Sum­mer­stown church.

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