Today’s class consisted of two three-hour sessions, one morning and one afternoon. With the basics under their belts, it was time to add some nuances. I introduced the use of metallic pigments (both powder and paint) in the morning, which were greeted enthusiastically. In the afternoon, we raided the yard outside the studio for dirt that we sifted through cheesecloth (Sedona sits on iron-rich red sandstone), and leaves, juniper needles, and grasses. The dirt became pigment and the plant samples, stamps. The students were a little doubtful at first, but plunged in and experimented. Overall, it was a looser day, but it seemed appropriate, and some very creative work was accomplished.
One student, Keely, had applied plenty of paint, powdered pigment, and paint stick to her largest panel, and she set it outside to dry. It was a warm desert day, and the panel quickly absorbed a lot of heat, both from the sandstone patio on which it lay and from the direct sunlight. The wax melted. This created some interesting effects, as pigments merged and lines blurred. Then the student decided to brayer over it to create a new surface for working. Because the lowest layers were melted as well as the top (but not the middle), the brayer lifted off paint in some places and not others, and to varying depths depending on the consistency of the inner layers. The end result was a fascinating surface of texture and revealed color, some places melted and others not. The photo above shows the effect, as best a photo can. A couple of us replicated the effect on panels of our own, always to interesting results. It is not something that could happen without available hot surfaces and hot light, but it suggests some interesting possibilities.
I had brought with me from home a large unfinished piece that I have been stuck on for a while, as an example of an in-process painting as well as the use of analogous colors. This afternoon, with all my classroom panels wet, and inspired by the leaves and grasses we gathered, I applied more paint in several places and added some grass marks, and broke the logjam that has been keeping me from finishing the painting. I’ll do a little more at home, but it was very satisfying to move forward with it.