Friday, August 24, 2012

Revealing the Enchantment

Sunset at Forest Retreat
Recently, my friend Meg has been waxing enthusiastic about a substantial volume, A History of American Tonalism: 1880 - 1920 by David A Cleveland. So enlivened was she by the book that she brought it to the One Day Wonder Workshop where we turned page after page, each with wondrous images.  It made me think; what is it about tonalist paintings that grabs me so? The answer I always come back to is that the tonalist painters recognized the essential truth that our everyday world is enchanted.  You don't have to be in the middle of a magical forest to experience this. You can be drawing a curtain at dusk and notice the dogwood blazing bronzy-gold against cool evening shadows. Enchantment is there everyday for all of us. Perhaps the tonalists focus on the most fleeting times of day, especially dusk and the most fleeting season, Autumn, but these charmed sights exist for all but the most imprisoned to enjoy.

       Lately, I have also been musing over why I am so taken with teaching. My classes and workshops are organized around using watercolor and pastel to make paintings.  It is rewarding to witness people, who are often dismissive of their abilities, create something which expresses their own keen sense of beauty.  Their own particular gifts shine: deft drafting, dynamic design, luminous color or rich texture. Much of the time, it is something indescribable. Without exception, there has been some aspect of each participant's work that touched me. Everyone's vision is different, and there it is on display in their paintings. I love helping people reveal their enchanting vision of our world!

A History of American Tonalism: 1880 - 1920, David A. Cleveland, Hudson Hills Press, 2010

I am teaching classes at the M S Rezny Studio/Gallery, 903 Manchester Street, Distillery District, Lexington, KY:

One Day Wonder Workshop, Saturday, September 15, 2012, 10:30 am - :300 pm. $75

Experimenting with Watercolor & Pastel, Thursdays, September 27 through October 18, 2012, 1:30 - 3:30 pm, $145 for 4 sessions.

All art materials are supplied and included in the class fee.  Just come with an open mind and some photos to work from. Limited to 10 people.  A check reserves your spot.  For more information and registration: or, or e-mail:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Come out to play!

Kentucky's True Colors
Want to play with watercolor and pastel? Or simply try your hand at making art?  Come join us for these classes:

One Day Wonder Workshop:  Saturday, September 15, 2012; 10:30 am - 3 pm, $75

Experimenting with Watercolor & Pastel:
Thursdays, September 27 through October 18, 2012; 1:30 - 3:30 pm; $145 for 4 sessions

The workshop and classes will be held at the
M S Rezny Studio/Gallery, 903 Manchester Street, in Lexington's Distillery District.  All art materials are supplied and included in the class fee.  Students of all abilities are most welcome. Just come with an open mind and reference photos (images that you want to paint.)

For more information and registration: or

e-mail:         Hope to see you in class!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Taking on Goliath

Sheep and spring lambs
I am always a little puzzled when people qualify their desire to take an art class by saying: "I must warn you, I have no experience!" (Or they don't know how to draw, paint, use watercolors or pastels, etc. etc. etc...)  I thought that was the point of taking a class: to learn something or try something new! The other thing that I notice is that there is a notion that one may not express themselves artistically without a full arsenal of techniques, color theories and compositional strategies.

    So, I perked up earlier this summer when the story of David and Goliath was read at church (St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Paris, KY.)  The young shepherd, David, is reluctantly selected to take on the champion Philistine, Goliath.  The Israelites are dubious about David's abilities. Saul insists on cloaking David in heavy armor that is much to big for him. The armor is so heavy that David is not able to walk! David removes the bronze helmet, coat of mail and sword and instead places five smooth stones in his shepherd's bag and has his sling in hand. And there you have it, the recipe for success for David and, I believe, the way for success for would be artists.

      Often, folks who have finally gathered the nerve to try creating become paralyzed trying to remember all the rules and theories. They can't move, just like David in the armor.  Perhaps it is more important to go into battle with the tools you are already comfortable using. We all use our hands and our eyes and we can start there.  Even David makes a case for his abilities by talking about his experience as a shepherd, keeping lambs safe from lions and bears. I suspect that most people actually have fairly well developed color theories from their own experience of creating homes. They also know a great deal about composition and their own preferences.

    This is not to say that there is no place for the diligent study of the elements of fine art. There is; particularly for young people.  But for people who are coming to art a little later, why not use the tools you know; for which you have a second nature affinity. Simply think about training your eyes and your hands to create from your own perspective.