Spring 2012 Workshop with Barbara Close

Posted on: 15 Mar 2012

The Spring Workshop with Barb Close was held in Great Falls, April 21-22.

Two reviews of that workshop below.

Kathy Hewitt

Our main project on Sunday was to create a triptych utilizing some of the many
techniques Barbara had taught us on Saturday. We did a water color wash and added
whatever elements we were interested in using: salts, seeds, cheese cloth, saran wrap,
or mesh. This is a fairly long process because you need to wait for the paint to dry
between the various steps. During the “waiting periods” we completed greeting cards
that included embossing and pieces of watercolor washes we had made on Saturday. We
also made cards that had the look of stained glass, simply by creating shapes within a
rectangle, outlining them with black and then leaving a white space between the black
and whatever watercolors we used to create the “glass”. Next we used acrylic paints and
a credit card to make lovely designs that could be used to decorate a piece of calligraphy.
We used only about 1 inch of paint in two different colors, then used the credit card to
mix and scrape the paint. We tried to leave some ridges to add texture and finally once
this had dried, we applied a gold leaf product using an iron. Barbara had us work briefly
with alcohol inks and gave us a demonstration using chalks. The chalks can be done
before your lettering or after and they add a very soft and interesting element to your
work. Once our triptych papers were finished, we cut the sheet into thirds and mounted
them on black paper. Our final project was to fold a portfolio to contain all of our
creations from the workshop. It was great fun and a very busy and informative weekend,
full of new ideas, methods and explorations in art.

— Kathy Hewitt

Wendy Bistodeau

Justine Heisel

I was excited about taking Barb Close’s watercolor workshop. We had lots of opportunity to explore and learn under the eye of a real teacher. I liked her credo: “Mostly … Have Fun!” And it was fun.

We created a “Watercolor Techniques Chart” of 20 1” x 1” squares of different types of backgrounds, using a 1” x 1” “view finder” to find interesting areas in our background pieces. My sampler includes wet-on-wet, multi-colored sponge and screen prints, sponge borders, credit card swipes sprinkled with Schminke gold powder, stripes of Dr. Martin’s watercolor and kosher salt and mustard seeds laid on the paint.

Something I had not tried before was printing using rolled up and flat Starbucks cardboard coffee cup jackets. I am looking forward to trying printing with egg cartons, bubble wrap, styrofoam block, odd shaped pieces of plastic and wood and anything else that looks interesting. I also want to explore paint on more types of paper than I had with me.
I was confirmed in my belief that I am good at at least one thing—making backgrounds with crumpled plastic wrap.

What else? An ugly orange and green “frame” made from painting water in a rectangular band and dropping watercolor paint onto it. But the letter we made the same way is pretty nice—a green and yellow “d” for (the Oregon) Ducks using crumpled plastic wrap on the body of the “d”. Maybe I’ll make it into a Christmas card. We shaded the letter with pencil to make it 3-D. Jean to the rescue showed me how to use the blending tool to pull the shading out.

And scrunched up paper. We put watercolors on 5” x 7” pieces of paper and scrunched the paper into little balls, holding the crumpled balls in our hand for as long as we could maintain the suspense. My favorite is yellow, green and a bit of red. I added a little Schmienke gold powder to the blend. I just need to try out my new iron on the paper to smooth it out.
My attempt to blow paint with a straw looks like a dead blue tree growing out of a squashed blue bug. Barb made a realistic looking tree as did some of the other calligraphers. Kathy Hewitt’s grass looked really great. Probably little puffs would work better than a big blow.
I came away from the day with lots of new techniques and some things I have tried before to practice and explore.

— C. Prescott