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!
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.
In a recent meeting with a group of very creative people, someone made the comment, “Color is scary for some people.” That statement really threw me off guard. I don’t understand how color can be scary. It’s just an odd concept to me, since I feel that color is life itself. Color is associated with so many things in our day to day lives, like moods, the seasons, appetite, gender, light, sports, identity and so much more. In fact, there is even a color of the year chosen yearly and psychology of color too. So, how can color be something to be afraid of when it’s all around us?
If you are afraid of color, it may because you don’t understand color and how colors work together. A good, simple, old school approach to becoming comfortable with using color is to use the color wheel. The color wheel is a circular chart for color reference. Every color can be made by using the primary colors, which are red, yellow, and blue, and adding the neutrals of black and white. When you mix yellow and blue you get green. Mix red and blue and you will get purple, and if you mix yellow and red, orange is the result. Orange, green and purple are called secondary colors because they are derived from the primary colors. Finally, there are tertiary colors, which are a third set of colors that are made using primary and secondary colors. For example, when you mix purple with blue the result is blue violet. If you mix purple with red, you’ll get magenta. The placement of the colors on the color wheel show you how colors will work together in your art.
When you begin working with color, keep it simple by selecting no more than three colors to use in your art. This simplicity will help you develop an eye for color. Then once your eye is trained, you can ask yourself what your art needs. Color can make your world a happy place or a place of solace. It’s all around you and the non-verbal messages are sent daily into your world. Don’t be afraid of it – come and explore it in a class. On April 10th and May 9th you can come paint with colorful alcohol inks.
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.
I used to day dream about having an art studio at home. I always put off creating one because I thought I needed a certain space, the perfect design and money to build it. You might be dreaming about a studio of your own — especially if you see blog posts by other creatives that feature their home studios. Well, I am here with a little wake up call! Or, in the words Nike borrowed from Andy Warhol…just do it! Actually I think the words he used were “don’t think about making art, just get it done”. Either version applies here, though!
There are many glamorous images in peoples minds as to what makes a great studio space. We have all seen beautiful spaces transformed into a creative studio space with dazzling white walls, industrial floors, and lots of natural light. In these photos, everything seems to have a place and everything is in it’s place. In fact, there are many HGTV shows that focus on just this topic. I let not having the ideal space at home keep me from creating art for many years before I had that “ah ha moment”.
Really the main ingredient for a studio space, no matter how large or small, is accessibility. For many years I pushed back the tablecloth and worked at my kitchen table. The main reason I did this was because I had easy and quick accessibility with, of course, great lighting! Whether you stand or sit in your space is really not important. Whether its new or old, clean or cluttered, doesn’t matter. The determining factor for you should be accessibility! If it’s not convenient, you will never take the time to do your project or create when inspiration hits.
Close the Door
You also want to be able to close a door and walk away. Working in this manner whether it be at sewing, writing or painting, will allow you to pick up where you left off. I have toured many friend’s home studios locally and found them to be everything from a small table in the attic by a window in an empty bedroom, or just a clean spot at the end of the kitchen table. We all imagine the perfect setting and think it will produce better work, but honestly it just doesn’t always exist for the talented artists that I know.
If you want to start to create, find a small pocket of space and start! Don’t make excuses or hold your self back — and don’t wait for someone to go off to college either. I’m baring a little bit of my soul here, but here is my space. No judgments. Just use this post to add fuel for your fire!
If your haven’t found your creative corner in your home yet, don’t worry, I have the perfect spot for you to create. Come join us at any of our workshops this February. Use this link to see all of the classes that are available. I’m happy to share my creative space with you!