Are you interested in learning mixed media techniques? Would you rather learn them in person rather than online or through reading books? I have got the instructor for you!!! In March, I was fortunate enough to partake in a wonderful workshop with 10 other lovely ladies under the tutelage of the immensely creative and talented Christine Guillot Ryan at the McConnell Arts Center.
We started the two day workshop with an overview of what Christine wanted to teach us with lots of examples of how she incorporates these techniques into her own work. We were able to see some of her finished pieces on display at the arts center for the Brave exhibition and, wow, was I inspired! I couldn’t wait to get to work!
Christine first shared some books that she has found helpful to explore a variety of techniques. We introduced ourselves, shared our experience in creating mixed media and indicated what we hoped to learn during the workshop. Each of us were given 2 – 16 x 24 canvas boards and were provided with materials and equipment to experiment with…a very relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
From there, Christine set up a palette of acrylic paints that she typically uses in her pieces and then she discussed the benefits of using acrylics vs. oils. She explained the need for background, middle ground and foreground for our pieces to give them depth and texture before demonstrating painting the background. At that point we learned about using bubble wrap, plastic wrap and various other textiles with paint to give the illusion of texture.
While the paint on those canvases dried, she discussed manipulation of xeroxing and gave a demonstration of the methods she used for this, particularly when manipulating text. Everyone got into that! She had a ton of xeroxed images that we could use but we were encouraged to bring items like this to the class when given our materials list.
Time flew by that first day! Just when I was beginning to really get into it, it was time to pack up for the day but what we learned certainly was fodder for the evening. I gathered images from magazines, my stash of images, text and more for the next day’s adventures.
Sunday was spectacular particularly because the winter dreariness seemed to have broken; the day was warm and sunny…perfect for our foray into spray painting. Xeroxing was fun but it couldn’t compare to spray paint for me. Christine demonstrated the techniques and showed us the materials and paints (mostly, Montana Gold but also paints from Lowe’s and Home Depot) she uses in her work. Then she left us to play, play, play! We sprayed on our canvases as well as on tracing paper that could then be used to create layers and more texture on our work. Attaching these pieces and others using gel medium was also part of the instructions for both days. She had tons of materials she shared with us like stencils, lace, plastic flowers, 3-d glasses, so much stuff I can’t even begin to describe it all.
Image transfer was also taught that day and she showed us two different methods for accomplishing this. Fascinating and, although not extremely difficult, somewhat tricky. I attempted this but think that I will have to have lots of trials before I’m happy with my results! We also got to play with pan pastels, again to add depth and texture to our pieces. Oh, my bank account is gonna be hurting!!! I fell in love with these too!
During the last 90 minutes of class, Christine showed us how to finish our pieces to make them more permanent with a variety of gel mediums. Once this demonstration was completed, she asked each of us to share our work the class, explain what we liked best about the class, took pics of our work and gave us feedback on what we had created.
The majority of the ladies in the class stated that they loved the environment mainly because Christine was so supportive, non-judgmental and just plain fun! I think that everyone there felt that they had learned a lot about mixed media even if they expressed that the were not sure if the would use the techniques in the future.
For me, the instructor (yay, Christine!) made the workshop enjoyable and encouraged movement around the class to talk to other participants, supported and encouraged but didn’t tell us what to do. She was fun and funny as well as honest and forthright. I am so very glad that I took this because it was just what I needed to get myself out of a creative funk after recovering from surgery. I would highly recommend taking classes from her and hope to do so again some time in the near future.
Not only did Christine inspire me that weekend, the things I learned have carried over into the trio of pieces that I am creating for CAW’s upcoming show at Urban Arts Space in May entitled “Remnants”. As you can see, I incorporated many of the techniques I learned but if you want to see the finished pieces, you will have to make your way downtown in May!
If you are interested in taking a class from Christine, she is hoping to offer another one at McConnell in the fall. Check their upcoming schedules for dates and times.
Contact info for Christine: