February Lunch & Learn

The cover of Kaia’s handout

The cover of Kaia’s handout

Speaking to a full house, February’s Lunch and Learn presenter was member/artist Kaia Thomas of Bowie, AZ.   Kaia gave a very interesting and informative talk about the history and art of Miniature Painting—illustrated by slides and many examples of her own beautiful work.

Who knew that the first “true” miniatures were tiny portraits of wealthy patrons found in the space of illuminated letters in secular texts created in the 11th century?!

From the 16th century onward it became common for first royalty, and then the general aristocracy to have their portraits done in miniature.  Hans Holbein, the younger, was a famous miniaturist in the Court of Henry VIII!

One of her recent miniatures.

One of her recent miniatures.

The invention of the camera put an end to the necessity of having a portrait painted, but the art of painting miniatures never truly died out.  Several Societies were created in the 19th century to stimulate the art form.  Miniature painters are no longer restricted to portraits, and a modern show will feature tiny works in every genre!

 Another miniature—this one failed to meet the infamous “1/6th rule” which requires that all subject matter must be no more than 1/6 the size of the original item.  Sadly, the butterfly was “too big!”

Another miniature—this one failed to meet the infamous “1/6th rule” which requires that all subject matter must be no more than 1/6 the size of the original item. Sadly, the butterfly was “too big!”

Today there are many organizations devoted to the art of the miniature, and shows are held across the U.S. and around the world.

Kaia also presented everyone with a very useful handout listing miniature art suppliers, sources for further information, materials used for creating our own miniatures, miniature art societies, and shows and galleries where miniature art may be viewed.

Thank you, Kaia, for a wonderful program!!

Kaia works in all sizes—large and small; indoors and en plein air!

Kaia works in all sizes—large and small; indoors and en plein air!

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Fairbank Celebration

 A soldier and his lady rode by...

A soldier and his lady rode by…

     Stephani Stephenson flirts with “Sherrif Jeff Milton,” one of the re-enactors on the grounds

Stephani Stephenson flirts with “Sherrif Jeff Milton,” one of the re-enactors on the grounds

We had a fabulous display, a beautiful day, and a lot of fun.  The bad news is that there were very few sales—crowds not as big as we had hoped, and surprisingly, not a lot of actual “shoppers.”  The good news is that there was a lot going on—activity-wise, so that no-one got bored; and Shryl and I each sold a painting!

    Many thanks to all who participated–  Bob Heath, Jill Dredge, Shryl Miles, Susan Moran, Cheryl Rogos, Larraine Milne, Stephani Stephenson, Rosemary Tyrell, and Bill Smith, who were all there to meet the public; and also thanks to Darlene Rodriguez, who lent us her panels, to Brenda Peo and Jerry Conrad for giving us art to display, and to Harry Stacy, who had to make an extra trip to retrieve the canopy for our tent!  (And we were very glad he did, as the shade was welcome in the afternoon!!)

 Some of the “hanging” artwork on display

Some of the “hanging” artwork on display

Member’s of “B” Troop canon team were set up right next to our area!

Member’s of “B” Troop canon team were set up right next to our area!

Rosemary Tyrell’s table, featuring some of her new necklaces and God’s eye earrings

Rosemary Tyrell’s table, featuring some of her new necklaces and God’s eye earrings

 Bob Heath chats with a potential customer

Bob Heath chats with a potential customer

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October Lunch & Learn

Our October Lunch and Learn session was presented by accomplished artist and SPRAC member Sylvia Obert-Turner.  Sylvia works and has won awards in many media, but today she chose to talk about one of her more unusual art forms.

Sylvia shows off the finished products, and the tools she uses to create her earth pigments paintings

Sylvia shows off the finished products, and the tools she uses to create her earth pigments paintings

Sylvia calls these works her “dirt paintings,” but this is not your ordinary backyard dirt.  Sylvia’s earth pigment paintings are comprised completely of natural materials she has collected and ground herself from rocks and minerals picked up in her travels throughout the country as well as here in the SW.

Earth pigments are one of the oldest known painting mediums.  Think of the early cave paintings as an example of earth pigments.  Simply stated, these earth pigments are those which have been ground into a fine powder to be mixed with water as a medium.  Rocks and minerals are the primary source for these pigments.  Because all the materials are natural earth specimens, the palette and range of values are somewhat limited.  However, Sylvia has collected a surprising array of colors ranging from blues, greens, and even purple to yellows, red-browns, deep browns and almost black.

A crowd gathers round as Sylvia begins to break down a sample of raw material

A crowd gathers round as Sylvia begins to break down a sample of raw material

 

Her sample book of colors documents not only the color of each specimen, but the location where it was found.  Sylvia stated that southeastern Arizona is an area particularly rich in source materials because of all the mining which has taken place here.  She scours mine tailings, road sides, mountains, and streambeds looking for just the right rock or mineral sample to add to her collection of pigments.

The cast iron mortar and pestle are HEAVY DUTY and quickly reduce the material to a coarse powder

The cast iron mortar and pestle are HEAVY DUTY and quickly reduce the material to a coarse powder

 

The first step after actually collecting the material is to reduce these rocks and minerals into small segments using a heavy iron mortar and pestle. Once the pieces have been somewhat reduced, she is then able to use a marble mortar and pestle to grind and sift the segments into a powder.  This process may be repeated many times in order to reach the necessary degree of fineness.  Sylvia stores her finished pigments in powder form until she is ready to use them for a painting.

 

This is definitely not an easy or fast process, but Sylvia has a lot of patience!  She has mastered the art of making her own pigments and uses them to produce some amazing and beautiful paintings.

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Sept Lunch & Learn

Close up of some of Bob’s critters.

Close up of some of Bob’s critters.

In spite of the questionable weather situation, there was a very good turnout for our September Lunch and Learn program!  Arts Council member Bob Heath gave an informative presentation (using both power point slides and a hands-on display)  to demonstrate his techniques for carving small wooden animals.  Bob has been carving in both wood and stone for many years and currently has a number of pieces in both media for sale at the Gallery of Dreams in St. David.  Bob says that he is basically self taught, and that he most often works in wood that he picks up “here and there” such as the New Mexico Walnut that gives a two-tone effect– allowing him to carve his White-faced calves without having to resort to paints or stains.  He also recommends Basswood as a nice workable material that is readily obtained.

The nifty box that Bob built to hold some of his carving tools

The nifty box that Bob built to hold some of his carving tools

Bob Heath talks about the importance of drilling “stop” holes while Daniel Hill looks on

Bob Heath talks about the importance of drilling “stop” holes while Daniel Hill looks on

  Using a band saw to make the initial blanks and rough cuts, he does secondary and final shaping with knives, gouges, and various Dremel-type grinding tools.  If necessary, oil-based paints are used to bring the animals to life once the carving is complete.  Bob emphasized the importance of safety while carving, and says he always uses a heavy leather apron, a glove, and a “thumb protector” while doing the hand work.  He also has built a “grinding box” to contain the dust and saw-dust while working with the electric grinders, which makes his wife happy…
  Inspired by Bob’s presentation, 11-year old attendee Daniel Hill  asked Bob to be his “mentor” and help him learn to carve his own critters.  Bob has agreed, and we have added a new pairing to our youth mentor program.  What an exciting development!!
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Quarles’ new Gallery

Sign

Conveniently, Doug was able to paint his own signage!

Congratulations to Doug and Sharon Quarles on the opening of their new Gallery and Studio at 196 E. 4th Street in the heart of “down town” Benson.

The gallery is located in an older historic building with wonderful high ceilings, big front windows, and lots of ambiance.  Doug and Sharon are prolific painters, and the walls are already covered floor to ceiling with wonderful art.  Sharon has some great ideas for drawing in the crowds, and I’m sure their new venture will be a huge success.  Between Doug’s murals, and the new gallery, the Quarles are certainly doing their bit to spread “Art Around Town.”  Do stop by and check it out!!

gallery walls

Lots of room for hanging lots of paintings!

Doug working

Doug working in his new studio space in the back of the building

Sharon minding store

When she’s not painting, Sharon is minding the store

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