Friday, November 4, 2016

Autumn Art Workshop with Vera Dickenson

Last month, I attended a 3 day workshop with Vera Dickenson, through the Autumn Art Workshops.  This was in a rustic setting at a 4H camp in Halsey, NE.  There was a bit of "roughing it" at the camp, it has dormitory style cabins with shared bathrooms. But there was electricity and indoor plumbing so it really was not too bad.

The camp only had Wifi in the main building, and it was spotty and slow. It was a great thing to "unplug", as it really made me concentrate on my art making. After dinner, without the internet or TV, there wasn't much to do other than work on art, read, or socialize.

My workshop was with Vera Dickenson, but there were two other workshops available as well. Vera's workshop was listed as mixed media, but it was mainly acrylic painting. We used Yupo paper for some of our projects, which I had never used before.

For one project, we used gel medium and stencils to create a textured surface.  I loved this, and loved how my project turned out.


On another project, we used black gesso, acrylic ink, and transparent glazes. I really struggled with this piece. I should not have used a person (actually a mannequin) as my photo reference as I haven't drawn people lately and it looks very stiff. Also, my glazes weren't transparent enough, so I lost some of the soft feeling that this technique can provide.
I actually liked my sketch better. It accidentally got wet, which actually made it more interesting.

Here is Vera's demo example she created (so you can what I was going for with this technique).

I started some other pieces, but nothing else is finished.

I did love the textured background technique and have come up with modifications to try. I am definitely very motivated to work on these.

I never have liked working on canvas much. I did bring some canvases and canvas board to work on. By the end of the workshop, I  decided not to use these ever again. I hate the texture, it really drives me nuts. I am either going to work on paper, MDF panels, or cradled boards from now on. It's nice to make a final decision on this, as I been trying to make friends with canvas for years and it just never works for me.  I will mount works that are on paper onto canvas (that is on stretchers), as I like the way it looks instead of framing them under glass.

The workshop was definitely a great experience. I focused on art making for three days in a row, with no outside distractions, and no other responsibilities (no meal cooking, no household chores getting in the way). The biggest negative is that I slept horribly most nights, as the beds were hard and had rubber sheets on them, the bathroom door squeaked loudly, and the bathroom light shone into my room (around the edges of the door).  I will definitely take some additional items next year to help sleep better (egg crate mattress topper, eye mask, and sleeping pills).

They already have next year's instructors posted and I'm looking forward to returning!