Process Matters: Golden Artist Colors
I love to write about art.
As an art historian, however, I mostly focus on the artist’s intentions and outcome. This is what readers are interested in. However, I’m also a painter and photographer. So the process of art is not only necessary for me to know, but also fascinating to me.
While I did go to a school with a top-notch Visual Arts program, Purchase College, I only minored in the Visual Arts. I majored in Art History. So, I got some studio time, but not enough. The two worlds – VA and AH didn’t intermingle often, which was a shame, as I’ve always felt there should be more collaboration between them.
The process and the “technical” side of art is a very interesting subject. And the more one learns about it, the more that knowledge contributes to one’s overall appreciation of art. As I grow in my understanding of artistic process, I’m able to add an additional layer to both my writing and my art making. So, I was excited when I learned that my local Jerry’s Artarama was hosting a free, 2-hour workshop about paint. Frankly, I enjoyed it so much that I could hardly wait to get home, start blogging about what I learned, and find the Facebook page.
The workshop was sponsored by, and about, Golden Artists Colors, a company with a long history of working with top-notch artists to produce a superior product. The founders drew inspiration from friendships with Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jack Levine and Jackson Pollack, who gathered at their original, New York City shop.
Their workshop was conducted by working artist and teacher, Miles Laventhall, an ebullient, and extremely knowledgeable, facilitator who brought each product to life by illustrating its varying uses. He demonstrated paints, gels and varnishes. Each product was more exciting than the next. It was standing-room-only and I’m certain that the other artist’s, like me, left brimming with ideas and inspiration.
First. Did you know that there is now an acrylic paint with properties similar to oil paint? I didn’t and it was a thrill to learn about this new paint called “Open.” Laventhall explained that, unlike regular acrylic paint, it dries slowly, taking between 8-10 hours, depending on weather conditions, temperature, humidity, etc… To demonstrate, he spread regular acrylic paint and Open acrylic paint next to each other on matte board. Then, every 20 minutes or so, he returned to the board to show us that the paint was still completely wet and malleable, making this the perfect product for “plein air” painters.
Second. Did you know that you can extend the life of paint by mixing them with gel? This is a real gift for those of us on limited budgets (and who isn’t nowadays?). However, with Golden Acrylics, you can really stretch the paint. Laventhall mixed about 4-parts gel with 1-part paint and the color was absolutely the same as the unmixed paint. Absolutely the same. I’m talking no difference in the color whatsoever. Wow.
Third. I’ve often wondered how many painters incorporate texture into their work. I recently wrote about the Stanley Boxer retrospective at the Boca Raton Museum of Art . Boxer’s late works had intriguing texture. I wanted to know what he’d used. Now, I don’t know if he did use Golden’s products, but Laventhall demonstrated a variety of texturized gels that would accomplish similar effects. All can add a beautiful sculptural quality to the painted canvas.
Fourth. Golden’s Fluid Acrylics are the cat’s meow. Really. If you love the fluidity of Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, you’ll love the ease of using these paints because of their butter-like texture. As Laventhall aptly demonstrated, if you paint from emotion, then there’s no need to slow down. The process is uninterrupted. These paints allows you to achieve James Joyce-like stream-of-consciousness brushwork. Plus, the color retains its brilliance as you spread it over the canvas.
Fifth. Not all painters think about varnish, especially not novice painters. Laventhall noted, though, that we live in Florida where the hot sun and UV rays can easily destroy artwork. Nothing could be more embarrasing to a working artist than having a client call you to tell you that your painting has faded. Laventhall explained the importance of varnish, particularly pre-varnish. He demonstrated Golden’s Archival Spray Varnish, which he explained was developed in conjunction with the National Gallery of Art. The varnish adds to the intensity of color, while also preserving the work.
Throughout the workshop, in addition to demonstrating products, Laventhall provided useful tips. Important things that one might not think of, but which contribute to success. One was to be sure to hold the varnish aerosol can equidistant from the painting for the entire time of application, ensuring even distribution. Another was that Cadmium and Cobalt paints don’t mix well, particularly with metallics. Instead, they override the properties of the paint being mixed in. However, Pthalo and Quinacrodine paints are excellent for mixing. This type of advice made the workshop useful for the beginner, too.
Finally, the people at Golden Artist Colors are no cheapskates when it comes to providing tools for artists. Everyone who attended the workshop received a color chart. And this was no mass-printed color chart. Each stroke of paint was hand-painted and signed by the kid who did it. Oh yeah, they use local H.S. students,too. Now come on, isn’t that awesome? And, we all got a free gift – a very useful, fully-loaded free gift.
Want to know what I got?
Well, you’ll just have to attend a local Golden Artist Colors Workshop to find out.
*Please note that I have no professional affiliation with Golden Artist Color. I’m just a fan.