Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Marveling at Marbling

In between preparations for our next upcoming watercolor show (opens this Saturday!), I went to a demo on Monday, at the other organization I belong to. Not the watercolor-only, but one that's open for all media (and whose shows have been quite good to me :-)

They hold a montlhy meeting with a demonstrator (usually) or a speaker (rarely, as the attention span of artists is a bit... um... hey, look! blue car!).

This month, it was a talented and truly sweet artist, named Yoju . She was showing us the art of Suminagashi, translates to 'Spilled Ink', and is a Japanese the Italian marbling technique. Her English wasn't the best - but it didn't matter. At all. She started creating some cool patterns by dripping ink into water mixed with a gelling agent, played the inks with brushes and tooth picks and then laid a sheet of rice paper on top of the water, cleaned around the edges, pulled it up - and we all WOWed appreciatively at the result. The outcome was incredibly beautiful: a flowing pattern of blacks and white, sensuous lines, curvaceous shapes - we all chanted harmoniously with the known "Ohh, if I could do that!".

And as we were standing around with sheer admiration, she took that stuning masterpiece, crumpled the paper and tossed it to the garbage can, as nonchalant as can be.

A gasp passed across the room.

"Ah, this? this no good enough. This just demo" she said joyously and proceeded to create another not-good-enough pattern. Only this time, well prepared protests from a couple of women have prevented her from destroying that second piece. She gave us a "whatever" look and agreed to put it on the table rather that get rid of it.

And then came the best part of the evening!

See, Yoju didn't just show us what she can do. She came bearing a lot materials for us to play with, set four little bathtubs filled with the magic solution, and motioned that it's time for us to have a go at it. Inks, brushes, rice paper - it was all ours to experiment with.

And experiment we did! Ever seen a bunch of kindergarten kids doing finger painting?

Well, that's not as half the fun that went on there...

I did one piece, then waited garciouly for the lines to dwindle and went for a second. VallieM just kept going - I think she stopped at three just because Yoju had to go home... "It's fun!" she announced to LimaB and me who were thoroughly enjoying watching her.

I returned home extatic, burst through the door and showed The JohnnyB my breathtakingly straight-to-The-New-York-MOMA pieces of art.

"Amazing, no?", I hinted the need for feedback.

"Nope", was the answer.

Did I mention the Minnesotan ultra-honest breed he's coming from?


Myrna said...

I think they look very cool! Would have loved the demo. Thanks for sharing. John should stick to selecting paintings for me.

RHCarpenter said...

Amazing, yes, and love the organic look of them - definitely something to work more on here. I would have loved trying this. I can see this being a painting in its own right or using pieces as collage bits.

Nava said...

Myrna, that was a real fun one. Nothing like letting artists play. And yes, I agree - John is better at selecting images and coming up with brilliant titles.

Rhonda, Great minds - I was also thinking collage the moment I saw it. Though Yoju actually develops those patterns into some incredible paintings.

michael-and-jello said...

The Minnesotan in me agrees with John. On its own - there is not enough going on. The philosopher believes that, yes, it is art.

I'm not sure what you can "say" with it (on it's own)- as art. As a part of a project there is potential. Collage is a good idea or paint over parts of it - using it as a background. said...

I like them.

Nava said...

Michael-and-Jello, nothing like multiple personalities to keep an artist going :-) It's definitely just a starting point - a door, a new idea or technique - but that evening, we were all so ecstatic, that for a second, it was art.

Bill, you are a man of many words. Are you a Minnesotan too?

David Lobenberg said...

Very nice. With all due respect, I disagree with the answer of "Nope" but admire his honesty. I have a very artistically talented friend who is so nice and encouraging to people that he cannot bring himself to say anything negative even in a "positive" way. This is not helpful. My wife Cheryl can say "Nope" and then with her very artistic sensibilities, give me advice. That's what we all need... not that we always agree with people's criticism and not that they are always right. Sometimes, as artists, we must go it alone!

Nava said...

David, with all due respect - thank you :-) And yes, I do appreciate this kind of honesty. I'd rather have cruel honesty over a false "oh how nice". But I don't let it dampen my spirit - everyone is entitled to their opinion, and yes, if we listen to each and every comment, we'll drive ourselves nuts. I have learned to listen to my gut feelings and intuition, even if it leads me to the edge of the abyss.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Iowa; we have dropped some of the words from our northern neighbors.

By the way, did you notice the date of this post? Lets go lets go lets really go.

A little cheer leading for you.

Picture me jumping up with a scissors kick.

Marian Fortunati said...

What a great idea for a demo... It looks like everyone was engaged and having a great time. It would be a great idea for our club... We sound just like yours...what blue car?..... Too bad you're in Northern CA.

Dar Presto said...

Hi Nava. What a fun class you took. Marbling is my first love. I do the Florentine style which is more controlled than Suminagashi. Both types are beautiful, and fun to get your hands into.
My hubby is an honest boy from MN. I never ask him if my butt looks big.