The Annapolis Arts Alliance is excited to feature Kathy Dennin-Meagher as this June’s Featured Artist of the Month!
Bio: I went to school and received my BFA, but it wasn’t until April of 2016 that I could go back to creating art. I too took a path that paid the bills, often in the art industry, but not necessarily creating what I knew I should and could be doing. Over my thirty years in the graphic art industry I have been a spy for product development at gift and stationery trade shows, created gift and stationery products, worked in the print industry, publishing, designed advertising, created and built up brand imagery for many companies. It was time to do it for myself.
Raye of Light Studio: Yes, my name is Kathy, not Raye, believe it or not people still ask! I live in Bowie, Maryland but originated from Cincinnati, Ohio. I have five grown children and not one in the arts, much to my disappointment. I am a chronic believer in summer. I think it should be warm and sunny year-round. I love the beaches…all of them! I love working with creative souls and helping them find their creative side. Many of these people are in technical and stressful jobs and find art therapeutic. I must confess: the kids are my favorite. They can rally with a little enthusiasm and try all art fearlessly. It makes me smile mentally when I think about how their “light” goes on when they finally get it!
Every year we celebrate our business anniversary with a Student Art Show. This year we had a range from 10 to 87 years old submit a piece of their work. The goal, rather than selling your art, was to give you the “artist experience”. Each person was toasted with a very important quote to ponder on.
I have said it many times: We pick up a crayon and start drawing on paper, furniture, etc. when we are little. Why does it stop? Where does it go? And what does it take to nurture it so that you can enjoy your creative soul! We like to think that a Raye of Light Studio art class might be life-changing (or at the very least fun!)
All the pieces in the Student Art Show were created by people who don’t consider themselves “artists”, but love to create. That is the goal; not to label, but to call upon the suppressed creativity inside of you. We love providing that challenge for you every month with new and different classes and workshops in which you might discover something that makes you tick.
We celebrate us by celebrating you in April every year. Because if you weren’t here, we wouldn’t be here! Thank you!
Why is it so hard to find a good watercolor brush?
It might be because every brush manufacture makes what they call a “watercolor” brush. In the madness to determine what really is a good tool, I have simplified what to look for when purchasing one.
BRISTLES: First, try if you can to sample (yes touch) a sable, camel, or squirrel hair brush, no matter what label they are under. Choosing a truly old-school watercolor brush should come down to what it’s made of. Sable has an auburn color, unless it’s marked “white sable”. Squirrel hair is black. These brushes are soft and pliable and do not spring back into shape when you run your finger over the top of their bristles. You want a soft brush for swooshing on washes that won’t fight stiffly to do so. You want a brush that you will waltz with as you paint with watercolor.
You will find that there are brushes that mimic the look of theses brushes, but are not made with natural fibers. They are the same shape and size, but made out of synthetic materials. It’s the rose by any other name scenario. Often they are not solely intended for watercolor painting. They list multi-media, including acrylic, watercolor, and even oils.
We like natural hair watercolor brushes because of the retention: how much water they can absorb. Synthetic brushes do not soak up the water and often the water rolls right off the brush.
The second thing to look for in selecting your brush is absorption. We like to suggest purchasing no smaller than a size 8 pointed brush. You want a brush that can hold a lot of water and release it only when you put it to paper. Our personal favorite brush is a pointed tip size 12. It can handle everything from applying a wash to handling fine details, as long as you take care of it.
There are many watercolor brush shapes to choose from that can also trip you up when making your brush selection. Like so many other occasions in art, when you are first starting out, the saying “less is more” really sums it up. We find that the extremes, like a size zero brush or a 10/12 , can get you from wet on wet washes to fine details and can even help with masking your paper.
After that, it basically comes down to practice and making that brush feel like part of your hand. It will be second nature and just like any other brushes you use often, (hair, tooth, blusher) you will come to rely on it and favorite it over all others.
People often back down quickly when asked to draw. This intimidation always surprises me, since the same is not true when asked to paint. Maybe it is because we have held a paint brush to paint some trim in our house or put varnish over a picnic table. Maybe it is the difference in large motor skills and small motor skills. But either way, drawing is not something we chase after. As soon as required art credit is acquired in school, we stop drawing. So it became obvious that we should offer a drawing class to middle-school girls. After all, this is the age of drawing doodles on everything and everywhere!
Girls with Graphite emerged this past fall as a drawing class that taught drawing and catered to the interests of the 11 to 14 year-old girls. We watched as these young ladies learned not only how to draw, but how to speak out. We taught critique skills and positive feedback, and the girls mirrored this behavior. The group grew in confidence, which was a delight to see. Now we are thinking that if it worked with these girls, it might also help install that confidence in adults! If we truly believe that it’s never too late to learn, then why not, right?
These are great skills at any age gained from the art process. Our Girls with Graphite 2 will start up again in March for those same young ladies who took in the fall. We plan on offering a mini-course in drawing in April. Make sure you follow us on social media so you don’t miss the opportunity to take a drawing class in the spring!
Are you looking for the perfect gift for the experience seeker? This past year we have had many people enjoying and purchasing gift cards for art classes and workshops. Many gift cards are given as retirement gifts, but just as many are given as birthday gifts. We all seek out new and unique experiences to give as a perfect gift. Men, women and kids enjoy Raye of Light gift certificates because of the opportunity to create. They can try any class, from painting, to drawing or even pop art!
However, we do get a lot of questions about the gift cards and thought with the holiday season quickly approaching, we would attempt to make things easier and answer a few.
Gift cards come in denominations as small as $25 and as large as $100.
Your gift is not a card, but rather a personal customized gift certificate in .pdf file format. The certificate is personalized with the name and occasion of the recipient. We’ll email the file to you and you can easily download and print the certificate in the comfort of your own home or office.
Gift cards expire at the end of every calendar year.
The recipient of the gift card must contact us to set up their date and time to visit the art studio.
Finally, you do not have to be an artist or creative person to enjoy the gift! Every person, no matter what their age or ability level, is taught how to create something special in the class of their choice.
We would love to once again help you give the perfect experience this Holiday season. Art classes in a small setting are comfortable, personable and enjoyable. You can even give a studio experience to your family or co-workers – up to 6 people. With a little imagination the possibilities are endless!
Drawing comes and goes, in stages, as our child develops. So, how do we know at what age our kid might have talent or a knack for drawing or painting?
Preschoolers start drawing with scribble lines that move into simple shapes that represent forms by the time they reach kindergarten. As they develop their thinking skills, they start critiquing their own ability to draw.
The Dawning Realism (7-9 years old)
At this stage in artistic development, children are beginning to become more critical of their own work. Drawing up to the age of ten is usually something enjoyed by school age boys and girls. It is at this stage of development that most kids decide whether to continue to draw for enjoyment. Many times, they stop themselves because of a comment or comparison that shuts down the joy in making art. This happens as their reasoning skill set and identity develops. If they are deemed talented, they might whether the storm, and they start drawing on a more sophisticated level seemingly overnight. This change is attributed to the next stage of development.
The Pseudo-Naturalistic Stage (10-13 years old)
According to Matt Fussell, from the Virtual Instructor.com, “The use of value and light is now apparent in drawings. Children at this stage of artistic development are very critical of their own success. Success is determined by the level of realism achieved in the drawing. Frustration is a common occurrence. It is exceptionally important to encourage students at this stage.”
This is a vulnerable time when many kids stop drawing. Timing is important so that the frustration level does not hinder their love for drawing which is just starting to mature. This is the age to invest in your child’s interest and talent. Most kids come with their sketch book filled with pencil simple line drawings. They might get recognized for their ability to draw form or copy highly stylized drawings like Manga.
When kids arrive at this level of artistic ability, is when we start to receive inquiries into drawing/art lessons. We typically meet with you and your child in the studio before you would start any type of art class or lessons. We have taken many kids that love to draw and developed their hand eye dexterity taking their ability to the next level. Typically, middle schoolers receive instruction and support in creating portfolio pieces, and the proper presentation of their art. The reward is a skill which can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment.
Contact me for more information on private and semi-private art classes. We are currently developing an after-school drawing class for girls, called, “Girls with Graphite“, see below flyer and link for more information.
The reward of treating yourself to something comes with age. We earned the reward with hard work and therefore, the thrill of receiving it is so much sweeter. When we allow ourselves time to focus on our own needs, we want that reward to be fulfilling and special, like taking private art lessons.
Taking art lessons when you are an adult is satisfying on many levels. The first reason is that we are making time for enrichment and knowledge. Second, we are looking for new experiences that open us up to growth. Lastly, we have a need to create or nurture an inner voice or creativity.
Of course, this does not mean you’re an artist looking for a formal education. Private art lessons mean different things to different people. It can be that one thing you do for yourself for no other reason than to explore a new world or activity. Art can also be as important as exercise when it comes to wellness. As we age and take control of our free time we look more to mental and physical health. I have often heard from my adult students that it “clears their mind” and is “relaxing” after class.
In fact, according to Psychology Today’s article on art making and stress reduction, adults may experience a measurable reduction in their cortisol levels after a 45-minute art making session. Cortisol is often defined as a “stress hormone” that is correlated with levels of stress in the body. So, we suggest that along with that Paleo diet and yoga or Pilates, a private art lesson or two might just be what the doctor ordered.
During your private are lessons, you will be catered to and creatively met at your level. Art is personal with us and we customize your learning to draw paint or print so it inspires you and helps create lifelong learning. Why not try a class?! We even accommodate your time. After all, time is the most precious commodity we have…well, that’s what we have learned now that we are older and wiser. Contact me for more information on private art classes.
When given the choice of watercolor vs. acrylic painting, everyone chooses to learn watercolor. In fact, I have to give the acrylic painting pep talk when I get inquiries about learning to paint. The truth is most people feel comfortable with watercolor because it is used everywhere. We are drawn to it’s pigments because they are happy and bright. We see watercolor images in card stores, on labels, illustrations, in animations and the list goes on forever.
However, when we think of acrylic painting, our thought process changes. We think, “Oh, I am not an artist” or “That looks hard. I could never do that.” Want to know a secret? It’s actually just the opposite! Acrylic paint is very forgiving and perfect for learning. Therefore, it is a great medium to use when you begin painting. Acrylic dries fast and covers well because it is opaque. You work the paint from dark to light colors. When applying color over the top of any dry area of your painting, the true color will show on top of even the darkest color. If working while wet, the paint blends beautifully and mixes on canvas, without pre-mixing on your palette.
Watercolor can be more challenging. With watercolor you can build up layers of colors while painting, but you work in a different order than you do with acrylic paint. Watercolor is translucent and unlike acrylic, you can not cover up your mistakes. If you want to preserve areas of light color, then you must plan ahead in your painting. In class, I teach little tricks of the trade on how you can preserve the white space on your paper and how you can delicately “fix” some overly saturated areas of color. Watercolor is a patient process. It is a dance of learning the right amount of water to pigment and applying it on a absorbent paper. The key is timing, and it’s comes with experience and a lot of painting. You can work with watercolors as wet on wet or wet on dry. Once you learn the balance of how much water to use, it will completely take your painting to a higher level, and allow you to establish real color.
I recommend learning acrylic painting first and discovering some of the principles in painting that will help you in learning watercolor. Watercolor is the older wiser sister to acrylic when it comes to painting. I definitely like to see people take a few acrylic painting classes, and then move into a comfortable relationship with watercolor.
With the Spring and Summer months approaching, you may want to take your painting outdoors. If that is the case, then watercolor is definitely the perfect medium. Watercolor is the minimalist medium, because you just need your travel set of colors, one full brush that comes to a very narrow point, a great 140lb bond watercolor paper, and a spray bottle of water. If you are painting with watercolors outside and your paint dries, you can just dip your sable brush into the water and rewet the paint or paper. You can even revive dried watercolor paint by adding water, depending on what pigments you use. Acrylic painting outdoors can be more challenging. Acrylic paint is actually a type of plastic and the sun and temperatures tend to make it dry faster. Paint can even dry on your brush before you ever reach the canvas. And, unlike watercolor, adding water does not make more acrylic paint.
April and May bring beautiful flowers and it’s a great time to learn how to paint those pretty blooms. If you are ready, you can take a class anytime! Just schedule day and time, or check out the April calendar and join us in a small group setting.
Have you ever heard of the game Two Truths and One Lie? It’s a little trivia game where you tell three things about yourself — but one of them is a lie. I thought it would be fun to get to know each other a little bit and play to see how much you know about Raye of Light Studio.
Here are my two truths and one lie — can you figure out the lie?
1)Raye is my first name.
2)Raye of Light Studio is hard for Google to find.
3) Ray of Light Studio does yoga on the West Coast.
…. scroll down for the answer ….
If you guessed that #1 is a lie, then you are correct! Raye is not my name, although you get extra points if you can figure it out by the end of this blog post. Not everyone knows this though, because the number one thing that people say when we meet in the studio is, “Nice to meet you, Raye.”
Raye of Light Studio was actually named as a concept, an image, something you can visually see in your mind. I wanted you to see the light — no pun intended.
When an idea or creative thought pops into your head, you typically think of the image of a light bulb over your head. With the Raye of Light name, I want you to think of the studio as a place where you go to develop your own creative thoughts and ideas. Being creative starts with an idea. Many of us have ideas but we dismiss them. At Raye of Light, I want to create an environment where you can bring those creative ideas into the light.
Many people don’t know my first name and I am ok with that. I am thrilled that you have heard of Raye of Light Studio. I want to invite you to come take a class now that you realize it’s a fun opportunity to develop your creative side. This is a private studio in which you can feel comfortable to come alone or bring a friend or two. We keep it small, personal and creative! Many people have gone from treating themselves to classes to actually feeling nurtured and continuing to create at home. We say bravo to that and applaud that you “shine” on! You don’t have to be an artist to create art, you just have to be open to a new experience.
So what is a Pour painting? “Pours” seem to be trending in the art world today. If you remember doing Spin Art at a carnival or at school, then the pour painting artwork is going to be a bit of a throw back for you. The best part is that this art form is all based on the luck of the draw and is stress-free! Each piece is created by the ebb and flow of weights of paint, medium and silicone. The outcome of your art will be a fun surprise and a new discovery each time. Pour painting is a great place for novice artists to start because it is so non-threatening and inviting.
Breaking the pour painting process down is very easy. All you need are are cups, any acrylic paint (Folk Art to Goldens will work here), mediums, silicone, and distilled water. The tricky part is controlling the mess because everything shifts like oil and water. There are many recipes out there for this painting process and they can range in price, so choose what works best for you.
If you want to try it without the price rage of expensive name brand mediums and the messiness of silicone, you can use Elmers Glue All (not school glue) and acrylic paints . It is important that you use liquid body acrylics for they lend themselves to be poured.
Here is our recipe for those who have secured a flat surface space where they can leave their creation for 24 to 48 hours while drying.
Mix one part acrylic paint and two parts Elmers glue all together completely.
Then add a half part distilled water.
Mix all together until you get the consistency of pancake batter.
Tip: 1oz shot glasses are great for measuring, but you can also pour all into a cup sitting on a kitchen scale to measure that way.
Repeat this process for each color you would like to use.
Once you have all three colors prepared, you mix them together in one cup and pour them onto your canvas by turning your cup completely over and lifting up swiftly and completely. Or, you can pour each color on individually and watch them combine.
Three colors will produce the best color combinations. Remember starting with primary colors will result in beautiful secondary colors! It is also fun to do something in the same color family like a series of blues and add white, or a series of reds and add a yellow.
There are endless ways to create your pours and those that are adventurous will experiment with the process trying many different approaches from the dirty cup to a direct pout of each color. How you pour it on is up to you. The key to success is the drying process. You should make sure that you do not move your pour art until it is fully dry — at least 24 hours. The glue recipe does dry faster than if you were using a medium and the silicone. That is why we encourage you to try this at home.
If you want to create a “wow” piece you can always take a Pour it On art class at our studio. We use the silicone and medium together along with the water and paint, which allows the paint to rise to the surface and pop through creating little “cells” of color. Many of these paintings look like geodes because of the cell formation. Click here to learn more!