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Live from the ASBA Conference: Techniques Showcase

by Beth Stone, posted by Deb Shaw

The Techniques Showcase featured three artists covering a very broad range of approaches: Hillary Parker, Ann Swan, Kelly Leahy Radding.

Hillary Parker shared her artistic problem-solving approach to very large format botanical watercolors which most of us would surely consider impossible! First was a driftwood commission on 40 x 60 inch, 300 lb cold press paper. The second was a 9 foot long (!) watercolor of a stone wall with a foreground of woodland plant silhouettes worked in masking fluid. Can you imagine fitting such a massive work in your studio? Then consider how you would maneuver yourself and your paints around to work on it!

Ann Swan completed a kiwi botanical in front of our eyes as just a portion of her wonderful segment of the Techniques Showcase. The seemingly magical techniques Ann demonstrated included: colored pencil layering strategies; exploiting colors that resist adhesion of subsequent layers (for example, creating veination); use of alcohol-based solvent or baby oil (actually not oil, but dilute paraffin) to blend and spread color; and embossing to create fine hairs for kiwi and pussy willows.

I’m told Ann’s blog is one to watch. She posted photos of the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit currently at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Finally Kelly Leahy Radding demonstrated the technique she used to paint the beautiful water lily she entered in the show’s Small Works exhibit. The water lily is painted with gouache on a dramatic black background. Kelley demonstrated her painting process with gourds. She shared a tip regarding both zinc white and the warmer titanium white. Both dry with a slight blue cast which can be counteracted by mixing in just a touch of yellow.

As a special additional treat to complete the Showcase, John Cogley, founder, President and CEO of Daniel Smith, spoke on the manufacture of pigment. The process involves fracturing/cleaving the crystalline materials rather than grinding them. It was great to see the actual mineral samples John brought including a beautiful, huge, piece of Lapis. John graciously answered audience questions: explaining that his company bought out all the Quinacridone close-out stock, so we will always be able to buy a consistent Quinacridone Gold; that we shouldn’t be concerned if Gum Arabic binder oozes from a newly opened tube, it’s just excess that rose to the top; and we should use distilled water in our painting work rather than introduce tap water impurities. Deb Shaw went to John’s lecture, and will include pictures in the next posting.

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