Written by Emi Frame, DOMA Education Intern
On February 11, 2018, an adult painting workshop was held at DOMA that related to the museum’s Spring 2018 special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955. The
workshop was led by Ball State painting professor Scott Anderson, and assisted by DOMA director of education Tania Said and education intern Emi Frame. The workshop’s objective was to guide participants in using watercolor to paint expressively. Participants were encouraged to let go and embrace the materiality of the paint in order to create abstract works of art.
“Teaching is also a learning process,” Anderson said. “To truly share what you feel or know, you must also maintain that same curiosity for learning. The knowledge [and] techniques that I was able to communicate were equal to what I learned during the workshop.”
Anderson articulated how the elements of abstraction in Diebenkorn’s work could inform the participants work, such as his iconic calligraphic line and color forms.
Workshop participants were provided with a set of watercolors that were made from dry paint pigments by Anderson. In addition to the paint, they were also given a palette, a set of brushes, black ink, two large pieces of paper for their paintings and a sketch pad for practice. Once everyone had their materials, Anderson spent time informing participants of the components and colors of their hand-mixed paints and introduced the basics of watercolor. The quality and thoughtfulness of the hand-mixed paint was well received by everyone and seemed to add a new element to their experiences with painting.
After the brief lesson, the group was given a tour of the Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955 galleries which focused on specific paintings for inspiration during the workshop. Participants felt that this allowed them to better understand Diebenkorn’s painting and how his abstract style could be applied to the workshop activities.
When the group returned from viewing the exhibition, they were ready to paint! Prof. Anderson began the painting activities by demonstrating how to use watercolor paint and ink to create a base composition for a painting. Participants practiced in their sketchpads while Anderson scanned participants work and helped as needed. Each participant seemed enthusiastic about painting and not at all afraid to try out the media. Once everyone seemed to have a level of control over their materials, the group began their final paintings on their larger pieces of paper. Anderson worked on a painting along with everyone that helped the participants understand how the natural properties of the paint allow for expressive results.
“It is always rewarding to collaborate with DOMA and the Muncie community,” Anderson said.
Each participant created unique, abstract paintings that successfully displayed their own
artistic voices. Jeffery Brackett is an associate professor of religious studies at Ball State who attended the workshop with his family.
“I have a strong interest in abstract painting, especially ones by artists who use a variety of media (e.g. watercolor, oil, acrylic, and ink),” Brackett said. “Hence, Diebenkorn’s work fascinates me. My wife, daughter and I all participated in the workshop so we could better appreciate Diebenkorn’s work. . .We left the workshop inspired, not only by Diebenkorn’s work, but also with a renewed interest in developing our own artistic interests. Connecting a workshop like this one to the current exhibit at DOMA was a great experience. The leadership team did a wonderful job.”
As emphasized by Brackett’s comment, the purpose of the workshop was not to directly mimic Diebenkorn’s works or to be guided in creating a specific image, but rather to learn how to create abstract art that is personal to each participant. The workshop ended positively as each person completed at least two paintings and were provided with a new understanding (and new paint!) that could be used for future paintings.
“It was exciting to offer painting workshops in conjunction with Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955,” said Tania Said, who organized the workshop. “Participants can appreciate the creative genius of the artists, understand abstract and non-objective art and just have a good time.”
Overall, the workshop was a lively experience for participants to learn more about working with abstraction while also appreciating the work of Richard Diebenkorn.
The next workshop to be offered in conjunction with the Richard Diebenkorn exhibition is a youth painting workshop (for children ages 10-15) on April 8, which will be led by Ball State art education professor, Dr. Mike Prater. Registration for this event is available online on the DOMA website.
DOMA’s special exhibition, Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955, will be on display until May 20, 2018. We hope to see you there!