Watercolor Paint and Pixie Dust

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on July 23rd, 2012

There’s something mysteriously magical about the unfurling of a leaf.

Wendy starts the week with examples.

After seeing the progression of botanical paintings created by workshop participants throughout last week, their artwork seems infused with a bit of magic, too.

Botanical artist Wendy Brockman led workshops for teens and adults, gallery walks, and painting demonstrations during her six-day residency at the Woodson Art Museum, thanks to a Community Arts Grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.
Wendy leads morning sessions with teens.
One man drove from Madison to learn how to paint feathers during Saturday’s class.
Those who pulled up a chair during Wendy’s in-gallery demonstrations on Sunday saw her make precise additions to a painting of her grandmother’s elaborate feather hat.
Watercolor painting of feather hat
Others who joined her gallery walk, felt samples of vellum which is a form of leather made from calf, goat, or other animal skin. A shipment, she explained, arrives in the shape of a calf, but she assured visitors that vellum is made from the “leavings;” animals aren’t killed to harvest the skin. Artists praise vellum as “forgiving” because paint from an errant brushstroke doesn’t soak in the way it would on paper so can be scraped safely away.
Vellum samples are provided to touch.


One workshop participant said she was surprised and delighted to discover it possible to learn essential skills – rather than be born with the talent – to create botanical paintings.
It all begins with close observation.


Even while conveying practical advice (always test color by dabbing your brush on a scrap of paper to prevent a too-dark color from covering the lines of your drawing), Wendy alluded to the intrinsic magic of botanical painting. “Mixing color is the fun part,” she said. “It’s like mixing potions.”
Wendy works with Linda Haney.

Another adult, humbled and awed by Wendy’s skills, said she felt like a sous-chef, prepping the basics and leaving the artistry to the artist.

Even so, all participants produced lovely work, each reflecting aspects of their personalities, from delicacy to effervescence. That individuality – evident in each artwork and captured on paper – will endure even after the season’s flowers fade.
Therein, I think, lies the magic.
Hailey Muetzel adds color.


P.S. You can see artworks created by Wendy Brockman andworkshop participants on view at the Woodson Art Museum through August 26. Wendy’s work is installed in the gallery adjacent to the Museum’s main entrance; workshop participants’ work is installed in the gallery adjacent to Art Park in the lower level.
Mary O’Flyng’s sunflower


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