Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Day of Art: Always Learning

Yesterday, I began my day at the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society meeting. After the regular meeting, the guest speaker was Sandy Maudlin. Sandy is a local watermedia artist that teaches at her studio on the west side of Cincinnati. Sandy teaches watercolor and liquid acrylics; how to use watermedia on Yupo paper and other odd surfaces; and different techniques, such as, batik method using watermedia and a method where you pour colors onto your paper.

Today's lesson was on trees and greens.  Sandy began by showing us a tree with mistakes. She then pointed them out giving us a list of Dont's:
  •  Don't have the trunk be the same size as it goes up. They get smaller.
  • Don't have parallel lines.
  • Don't have 2 or 3 lines meet at an intersection.
  • Don't forget you light source.
  • Don't draw each leaf. Only close up.
  • Don't lack symetry.
  • Don't forget to add color to the bark and leaves.
  • Don't leave large shapes because it grabs the viewers attention and they do not see the subject.
Sandy took a clean palette and placed puddles of water around the corners. On one side she added cool colors to her puddles and on the other she added warm colors. Sandy then picked up the colors on her brush which mixes on paper. Sandy believes "color gives us emotional contact."

I then moved on to the Taft Museum to meet a friend who is a docent there. The present show is called In the Company of Angels: Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows June 10- September 11.

These seven windows were rescued from Church of the New Jerusalem that was being demolished in 1964 due to the construction of I-71. Parishioners saved the windows, storing them in basements and attics. The windows have recently been restored. They were shown along with some art carved furniture and artifacts from the church. The furniture was made by Henry Fry who was a renowned art carved furniture maker in Cincinnati at the turn of the century.

The Swedenborgian Church commissioned Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1900 to create these windows of angels. The eight foot tall angel windows ornamented the altar of the church.  Each angel represents one of the seven churches described in the Book of Revelation. Tiffany designed the windows with rich symbolism found in the bible and his trademark colors and pioneered techniques in glass making.

These windows were spectacular! I was fascinated with the color and texture of the glass. The painting of the faces and hands were so detailed. The faces were stylized to keep the angels non gendered. A former parishioner described the angels, " slender angels with Gibson Girl faces behind our altar; these were Tiffany stained glass, Art Nouveau windows from New York in mauve, lavender, and gold." 

The most masculine angel held a large white stone along with his shield. Tiffany mottled the glass of the shield to make it look like beaten metal. The white stone actually stuck out from the window giving it such presence. Another angel held a book that looked like it was covered in animal skin. Each angel had beautifully sculpted glass for their garments. Each angel was individually illuminated. It was fun for my friend and I to look at and figure out the symbolism of each angel. As always, the Taft puts on a fabulous exhibit.

As a side note...Tiffany was also commissioned at other churches in Cincinnati. Their stained glass windows are still intact. They are seen at the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, First Unitarian Church in Avondale, Church of the Advent in East Walnut Hills,Calvary Episcopal Church in Clifton, Christ Church in Glendale, and Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington. If you take a road trip to find and see these windows be sure to call ahead before visiting.

After seeing the exhibit we then moved onto the Taft collection throughout the cheerful museum. My friend wanted to learn more about the paintings in the collection. As a docent they are given information about the paintings and decorative arts, such as, the artist; dates painted or created; maybe who the sitter was; and symbolism. They are not told how an oil painting is painted, how watercolor is painted, paints, how an item is carved; how pottery is made; about elements or principals of design, different types of perspective, tidbits about the artist, etc.... Being a retired teacher, my friend would like to make her tours more interesting and educational by learning more about art beyond the facts they are given to learn. This was as beneficial for me as much as it was for her as we walked around and schooled each other discussing each painting.

It is always fun to walk through museums with friends of like mind. So get your friend(s) and head out to see these glorious angels and take in the collection at the Taft, the jewel of Cincinnati.

Happy discovering

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