Friday, July 30, 2010

An Interview with BINDERS: Laura Brown

This blog post is the second in a series of interviews with BINDERS staff members and sales associates.

Laura Brown is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has a BFA from UNC-Greensboro with a concentration in design. Her interests are in applied and communication arts. She enjoys bookmaking and printmaking as well as film editing, photography, and various forms of design.

BINDERS: When did you decide you were interested in art? How long have you been an artist?

Laura: I never made a concise decision to be an artist. I always did art because it was always around. From an early age I was given crayons and papers and paint. This was always an aspect of my life. I guess I never developed a particular interest that took me away from art.

I became more and more immersed in art as the years went by. In high school, art was "my thing." It was what defined me and distinguished me from a lot of the other students. Growing up in a rural and poorer area of North Carolina there was not a lot of money to support the arts and, quite honestly, there was not a lot of interest in the arts by the people in the community. To be an artist was to be a renegade but I never questioned wanting to continue my studies in art. I was never pressured to be anything else and my parents didn’t question my interests.

I believe that is the key, that people are what they are allowed to be. People do what is nurtured in them to do, be that arts, sports, or science.

BINDERS: Would you say you had any early influences, any particular artists that were inspiring to you — anyone you really admired?

Laura: I wasn't necessarily influenced by any particular artist at a really early age, but I believe it was in middle school that I discovered The Impressionists; such as Monet, Renoir, Manet, and as well, Vincent Van Gogh. By high school I still liked The Impressionists but I also really liked Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha and secession artist Gustav Klimt.

My interests in Impressionism faded away but throughout college I was still inspired by Art Nouveau, Secession artists, and I also become really interested in Japanese art and architecture. I have often been inspired by architecture as well as fine arts. During high school I became familiar with Charles MackIntosh and in college I learned about Le Corbusier and various other influential architects.

Today, I am really becoming influenced by ancient Incan and Mayan art, and Southwest Native American art. Also, I have recently rediscovered Eva Hesse and I am becoming interested in fiber arts.

BINDERS: What types of things have you been doing more currently?

Laura: Lately I've been playing around with natural fibers. I've been mostly just using fibers in a collage type work, adhering different colors of fibers together and creating a pattern on paper. Eventually the work will become more 3-dimensional. Right now I'm just playing, experimenting. I would like to eventually incorporate this into printmaking, creating a textural work that represents the evolution of the relationship of materials and men.

Also, I'm starting to do watercolors again. I had painted with watercolors a lot in high school and was pretty good at it then. Right now I'm painting futuristic forms and natural landscapes.

BINDERS: You recently decided to go back to school. What subjects are you studying?

Laura: I've been in school for the past two year studying Internet technologies. I have also taken a few videography courses. I have also been interning in these fields.

I have a BFA in design from UNC-Greensboro and had worked as a graphic designer before I worked for BINDERS. As an undergraduate, I learned web design, photography and video editing. I have continued to have an interest in these mediums in addition to my fine art printing.

BINDERS: Are you finding ways to be creative as a web designer? Do you think there is potential in it as an artistic medium?

Laura: Web design allows me the ability to combine all of my mediums of interest; and, it provides a showcase for my printed work. There is definitely a niche for fine art websites.

BINDERS: Do you have any particular goals as an artist, or just in life in general, anything you especially want to do with your life in the next few years?

Laura: One of my goals as an artist is to create a consistent body of work and to start showing my work in galleries. As for life, my best answer is that I hope that I can reach a point of clarity and then I will be able to focus more on my creative endeavors.

Do you have any advice for Laura as she continues her artistic journey? Please share!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tips & Tricks #10: Rough vs. Smooth - Know Your Watercolor Papers!

For acrylic and oil painters, a canvas is basically a canvas. A high quality piece of canvas may be heavier and stiffer, or it may have a higher thread count that gives it a smoother surface, but the canvas itself doesn’t present wildly varying opportunities for different painting techniques. For watercolor painters however, the situation could not be more different! The surface texture and weight of a piece of watercolor paper will directly affect the outcome of the painting and each type of paper has it’s pros and cons for particular styles of art. Knowing the basics of paper selection can save you plenty of headaches down the road, so let’s dive right in!

Watercolor paper comes in three different surface textures: hot press, cold press and rough, which describe how smooth the surface of the paper will be.

Cold Press
About 90% of all watercolor papers will be cold press, which has a medium texture to it that is considered to be the standard for watercolor painting. Almost every pad of watercolor paper by companies such as Arches or Strathmore will have sheets of cold press paper in them, plus there is a wide variety of single sheets in 22x30 size or larger. Cold press paper is most suitable for all of the standard techniques in watercolor painting and it is the surface that you will want to use for any beginner workshops and introductory classes that you might be taking. The texture of cold press is a happy medium that allows for the random dry-brush marks that are so characteristic of landscape paintings, but the texture is still light enough to allow for precise lines and detailed brushwork. If you don’t know what kind of paper to get for your class, pick up some cold press!

Hot Press
Hot press watercolor paper has a smooth surface, similar to a heavy sheet of drawing paper. There is still some amount of texture, but not nearly as much as cold press. Dry brush techniques that use the surface texture to create random patterns will not work at all on hot press paper. On the other hand, the smooth surface is ideal for precise, detailed imagery which may be the choice for graphic design and/or illustration work. Just keep in mind that most of the basic watercolor techniques use the texture of the paper in some way, so if you are using hot press paper you will miss out on that.

Rough textured watercolor paper is exactly the opposite of hot press. The extra high texture of rough paper has even more of the random qualities that are so characteristic of the expressive, painterly styles of watercolor painting, so dry brushing on watercolor paper looks great! The texture also makes line and detail work extremely difficult, so it is only suitable for certain techniques and is not recommended for beginners.

Both hot press and rough papers are not so easy to find. Arches makes high quality lines of both surfaces in their watercolor blocks and there are also single sheets similar to the cold press types that are made by several different companies. Tape-bound and spiral-bound pads will not contain hot press or rough sheets.

Paper Weight
The other thing to consider when picking out your paper is the weight. Watercolor paper typically comes in three different weights: 90 pound, 140 pound and 300 pound. The type found in pads is almost always the lightest weight, but the Arches 140 pound paper is considered to be the standard for professional work. The heavier papers are available in 22x30 size or greater individual sheets or on Arches watercolor blocks.

Basically, the thicker the paper is, the more water it will absorb, so a lighter paper can only absorb so much at a time before it becomes saturated, while the heaviest can absorb three times as much. The difference that makes in terms of technique is that 90# paper requires less watercolor to create a solid, intense area of color, but because the paper becomes saturated so easily it makes it difficult to control the paint and continue re-working certain areas. 300# paper, on the other hand, soaks up a lot of water, but you get a lot more control over the paint and you can add more layers to a particular area while the paint is still wet. Since 300# paper is also stiffer, there will be less concern about the paper wrinkling too! If you’re not sure what to get, go for the lighter papers, because you’ll use up less paint while you experiment and they are easier to work with.

A final note about paper weight measurements: the pounds listed in the description of a piece of paper refers to the weight of one ream of that paper at 22x30 size, which is 500 sheets. So if 500 sheets of 22x30 paper weighs 90#, then we call that 90# paper. The sheets of paper may then be cut down into smaller sizes like 11x15, etc. This causes some confusion when larger sheets of paper are made, so if the factory produces paper that measures 40x60, and a ream of that paper weighs 1116 pounds, it will be listed as 1116# paper, but actually it is about the same thickness as 300# paper at 22x30 size. This antiquated measuring system is being phased out in Europe and replaced by the grams per square meter system, which says that one square meter of a particular type of paper will weigh a certain amount in grams. As with all metric systems, this will probably take some time to catch on in America, so until then we can all scratch our heads as we try to calculate the actual weight of a piece of paper in pounds!

Do you have any more tips, tricks or comments on watercolor paper? Please share!

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Week @ BINDERS - July 26-August 1


Our resident oil painting instructor, Charles Y. Walls, is facilitating the Essentials of Figure Painting Workshop for intermediate to advanced oil painters, beginning with a demonstration on Thursday night and continuing with great instruction through the weekend. Throughout this figure painting workshop, underlying structure will be addressed while emphasizing the importance of artistically bringing it to life on canvas. Students will enjoy one-on-one instruction in a focused group atmosphere during the three full days of painting the figure from life. You can also look out for our upcoming classes: Contemporary Gold Leaf 1 with Shannon Forester begins on August 2nd and Block Printing 1 with The Atlanta Printmaking Studio begins August 5th. Sign up online or stop by the store to reserve your space for these wonderful opportunities!


Monday, July 26:
Guided Open Studio with Kay Powell
10:30am-2pm, Every Monday | Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $17/per session. Please pay the instructor. No registration necessary

Tuesday, July 27:
Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
1-4pm, Tuesdays, 6 Sessions, July 27-Aug. 31, Open to all levels
Fee: $155 | Sign up now!

Calligraphy Two: Copperplate with Anne Elser
1:30-4pm, Tuesdays 6 sessions, July 20-August 24 | Beginner-Intermediate

Bookmaking 2: The Opened Book with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Tuesdays, 6 sessions, July 20-Aug. 24 | Intermediate - Advanced

Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
6-8:30pm, Tuesdays, 6 Sessions, July 27-Aug. 31, Open to all levels
Fee: $155 | Sign up now!

Wednesday, July 28:
Impressionist Paintings from Photos with J.Z.Torre
1-4pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, July 28-Sept. 1,
For Advanced Beginners (have an understanding the basics; color wheel, tonal values and simple perspective) to Intermediate. Fee: $160 | Sign up now!

Calligraphy Three: Advanced Calligraphy with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 sessions, July 21-Aug. 25 | Intermediate - Advanced

Impressionist Paintings from Photos with J.Z.Torre
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, July 28-Sept. 1,
For Advanced Beginners (have an understanding the basics; color wheel, tonal values and simple perspective) to Intermediate. Fee: $160 | Sign up now!

Thursday, July 29:
The Essentials of Figure Painting Workshop with Charles Young Walls
5-8pm, Thurs. July 29, Evening Painting Demonstration | Sign up now!

Friday, July 30:
The Essentials of Figure Painting Workshop with Charles Young Walls
9:30am-5:30pm, Fri.-Sun., July 30- Aug. 1, For intermediate and advanced painting students | Fee: $400 ($350 + $50 Model Fee) | Sign up now!

Saturday, July 31:
The Essentials of Figure Painting Workshop with Charles Young Walls
9:30am-5:30pm, Fri.-Sun., July 30- Aug. 1, For intermediate and advanced painting students | Fee: $400 ($350 + $50 Model Fee) | Sign up now!

Sunday, August 1:
The Essentials of Figure Painting Workshop with Charles Young Walls
9:30am-5:30pm, Fri.-Sun., July 30- Aug. 1, For intermediate and advanced painting students | Fee: $400 ($350 + $50 Model Fee) | Sign up now!

Please note: Classes on this schedule are in our Atlanta store unless otherwise indicated. For more information please email or call Eli Pelizza at 404.237.6331 ext. 203.

Check out the full list of our upcoming art classes and art workshops! Sign up for 5 classes, workshops or demos and receive 25% OFF THE SIXTH!


Summer Waterworks Two
an exhibit of paintings by eleven acclaimed local artists
July 6 - August 1

Artwork by: Kathy Butler, Marsha Chandler, Betty Derrick, Louise Faurot, Kathy Rennell Forbes, Pat Hahn, Deanna Jaugstetter, Linda LeTard, Marie Matthews, Mickey McConnell and Jane Springfield

Visit BINDERS website!