Stick Painting with Andie Thrams
There’s more to the Focus on Book Arts conference than the daily workshops – there’s an opening reception, a keynote speech, an artist marketplace, a vendor fair, a faculty-staff exhibit, and Hospitality Night – a time for conference attendees to share their work.
In addition to all of that goodness, at lunchtime there were informal demonstrations on three of the conference days. On Friday, I attended a stick painting demonstration with Andie Thrams.
No, we did not paint sticks. Instead of paintbrushes, we used sticks to apply paint. It sounds strange, but was actually quite an elegant process. Andie explained that the longer the stick, the “grander the gesture”.
Don’t use brittle sticks because they tend to crumble. When you paint, move from the shoulder – treat the stick like an extension of your arm. Sticks absorb ink the longer you work with them, which can help improve the flow.
When you use this technique, you are creating somewhat uncontrolled work that will be similar to the chaotic patterns in nature. You use this technique on watercolor paper. If you work dry on wet, you get more definition and precision. If you work wet on wet, you get freer and blurrier lines. You can either brush the water on your paper or use a spray bottle.
For variety, you can also apply layers of methyl cellulose paste mixed with dry pigment or acrylic paint to your paper.
You can use any type of ink for this process, just add ox gall to your ink to help it flow better. Always pour your ink into a separate container so that you don’t contaminate your main source.
You don’t want stick bits floating in your bottle, now do you?
As soon as Andie asked for volunteers, I jumped at the chance. Here’s my piece:
Oh yeah, I’m a beginner. Super-blobby-blurriness going on in the middle there. But I’m actually pretty psyched about some of the dry work. Painting with the stick was awkward at first, but then started to feel more natural. If I were to do this again, I would use a spray bottle instead of brushing water on.
I’ll leave you with this great comment from Andie:
If you think about a pencil or a brush – we’re all just working with sticks.