FAA hosts first online workshop

Page H. Gifford

The Fluvanna Art Association hosted its first online workshop on July 17  led by artist Amy Shawley Paquette.

The workshop titled “Amazing Acrylic Surfaces” explored the different mediums applied to substrates (canvas, paper, or board).

When it looked as if the coronavirus had wiped out the FAA’s schedule of events for 2020, a couple of members got creative and suggested trying an online workshop. It had been a few years since Paquette had done a workshop for the FAA and was the logical choice since she had already set-up online classes.

Some were leery, thinking about the technical complexities but Vice President Deborah Nixon worked with members in Zoom practice sessions. Everyone who had been technically nervous had no issues when finally attending the workshop.

Paquette, who is a mother of two young sons saw many advantages to online teaching. As an artist and a representative for Golden products, she is required to do demos and recalls the days when she would have to load up supplies and board planes to do demos and classes in person. When the coronavirus hit, Paquette needed another venue and online fit her needs perfectly by allowing her to spend time with her family. She also saw many other advantages of working at home.

“I was able to connect with an artist from the UK as well as others from around the world. Opting for Zoom reduced travel time and I could hold classes on the weekends as long as everyone had access to computers and the internet. It was a smooth transition to teaching online,” she said.

FAA members saw a lot of advantages on their end including seeing in more detail the artistic process whereas in person it was awkward to see with everyone crowding around a table. It was like having a personal lesson up close.

Paquette was also able to mute the group while she was speaking and teaching to eliminate the distracting background chatter. She also had a place for people to type in questions which she answered later.

“When deciding what to create, choose canvas, watercolor paper or board. The grounds are the foundation layer for the work. Without the ground, the substrate, will absorb all the paint, resulting in less vibrant color. It binds your work to the foundation (substrate).”

Gesso is the most common ground used for canvas or boards but with the mediums Paquette discussed, there was a variety that could be used even on watercolor paper to give it more tooth. They also could be used in layers and as a final sealer.

There was a wide range of mediums including those in the low-viscosity category (thinness or thickness) in thin medium or thick gel mediums. Pastel ground gives watercolor, acrylics, and pastels the grip it needs to hold color. It can also be used with gouache and oil. Watercolor pencils can be used as well as graphite. She mixed mat medium with water and used it with watercolor pencils for a different effect.

Paquette talked about micaceous iron oxide, which when applied with a palette knife gives an iridescent glimmer to the work. There were other specialty mediums like fiber pastes and a crackle paste which also give certain effects when added to the foundation. There are so many products. Paquette encouraged the members to experiment and discover what works for them.

Both the FAA and Paquette agreed the workshop went well and may do another one.

“We can connect with others and with art. Such a joy to engage with other artists,” said Paquette.

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