Daddy's Christmas Angel

Friday, September 28, 2018

There's Something About Cold Wax Painting

"On the Crowded Streets" - Oil, Cold Wax - ©Mary Montague Sikes
There's something about Cold Wax Painting that intrigues me. I started out long ago, first working in pastels and then oils. The buttery quality of the oil paints was nice. I liked that they didn't dry right away, so changes could be made later on with the paint still wet. That it didn't dry right away was also a quality that I disliked because the paints easily got muddy.

In those days, I was mostly doing portraits and figurative art. Because I used turpentine to thin the paint and to clean brushes, an annoying dullness became part of the images. I also disliked the odor of turpentine that permeated our house when I painted. It was with great excitement that I discovered acrylic paints. I eventually gave up oils completely and never looked back until recently.

After reading a lot about the cold wax medium, I decided to try it. When I took a workshop at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond with Lisa Boardwine, I was completely hooked. I loved building up layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax--Lisa calls it creating history, then using a variety of tools to remove portions of the surface. More layers of paint add to the history, and then begins the mystery of discovering the imagery that lies hidden beneath the colors.

Mixing cold wax and oil is really a fun way to paint. Best of all, cleanup is with odorless mineral spirits. I can incorporate my love of making a textured surface by using the cold wax over the heavy professional grade gesso I can still get from Utrecht. Experimenting with Cold Wax Painting is truly intriguing. I'm excited about my new work that includes "On the Crowded Streets" above.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Loving Artist Workshops - Taking and Teaching Them

"Gloucester Arts on Main 2018" ©Mary Montague Sikes
More than two decades ago, I took my first artist workshop. Mary Alice Braukmann was the instructor. Traveling from Florida to Williamsburg, Virginia, she brought with her a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime of enthusiasm. Besides the excitement of painting in a week-long workshop, she opened a new world for me for interacting with other artists.

After I earned my MFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University, I retreated to my home studio and painted alone. Developing my ideas on canvas was rewarding, but something was missing. I needed to be around other artists. At VCU, I had my own large studio room in a big, deserted school building near the campus. There were 11 other artists, all MFA candidates, painting inside that massive structure. During those two years of intensive learning, visiting artists from New York and California also used the studio space there. We spent time together. I missed that.

The artist workshops filled the interaction void. I found more and more of them. Some, such as a watercolor workshop with Patricia Tobacco Forrester in the Washington DC area. I loved her large expressive paintings and was sad to see that she died in 2011. Creatives are especially missed when they are gone.

I've taken many workshops at Cheap Joe's in Boone NC. That's where I found my hero artist, Mary Ann Beckwith who brought Robert Doak watercolors and Yupo into my life. Janet Rogers is another exceptional watercolor artist I found there. And I will never forget the Robert Burridge workshops where I fell in love with using orange under-paintings on my acrylic canvasses.

Sedona AZ is filled with seduction and energy. Each year, Jan Sitts teaches her workshops there that are filled with color and texture.

Besides taking workshops, I enjoy teaching them. I've had the opportunity to give classes in San Diego CA, Denver CO, Hilton Head SC, Richmond VA, Williamsburg VA, Gloucester VA and more.
For me, art teaching is as much a learning experience for the instructor as it is for the student.

As artists we must continue to grow and make our lives meaningful. The "messy" minds of creatives are filled with all sorts of ideas that cry to evolve.

I love artist workshops. Thanks to all my teachers and to my students.