Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Anne Bagby & Lynne Perrella - Clown Workshop

It was my over-the-top-LUCKY day when I learned Anne Bagby and Lynne Perrella were coming to my island (little, remote San Juan Island) to teach a 4-day workshop! Their theme was clowns... they would alternate teaching, two days each.

I've taken classes from both of them previously (at Art Fest), learning much of what I know about painting with acrylics and collage from them. I've incorporated painted, decorative papers into all of my beaded books. Above all, I owe to them the techniques of layering and glazing.

I want to write more posts about the workshop, which just finished yesterday, and show some of the teachers' and other students' work. But for today, I'm just going to show my own work.

Day 1

Anne taught some methods for drawing faces, and how to alter a picture of a face (perhaps taken from a magazine) to suggest a clown's face. We used white oil markers to make the faces white. I had two types. The whiter face was done with a Sharpie marker. Some of the other students used color pencils to shade the faces and make them look realistic. Since I've never even attempted to draw a face, I just stuck to outlines this time. But I envied the more realistic look.

Clown with Beard
Using painted 5x7 canvases, we collaged papers over the surface as a background for our "clowns." On other canvases, we simply sponged paint on the surface to give it a more complex look.

Lee and Madeline
We cut a "lump" out of painted papers from our stash (or Anne's stash) for the body, and used matte medium to attach it to the canvas.

Clown with Red Hat
Finally we added the face. To complete the pictures some students added ephemera, such as lace, buttons, etc. to make them more clown-like.

 I chose to keep them simple, but did glaze most of them to soften the look.

Day 2

Lynne taught how to work with a toner-copy of a photograph, how to make it our own using her new favorite medium, Portfolio brand water soluble oil pastels (24-colors). She showed us how to cut stencils and masks to enable coloring in certain areas and to make lines like the shoulders on my painting below.

Alfred Tomkin
Using gel medium we attached our pastel-worked faces on 8 x 10 canvas boards, which in my case, were pre-painted. Lynne showed us how to collage papers and work with paint and/or pastel layers to integrate the faces with the background. Since my face images were face only (no neck, shoulder, or body), I had to create those parts with paint and pastels.

Lilly Tomkin
The images I used were family photos - my great grandmother, Lilly Tomkin, and great grandfather, Alfred Tomkin. I never knew them, but always loved these pictures of them. I just couldn't make them into clownish, clowns. So I just suggested the clown idea with colors and the use of the diamonds (harlequin) motif, while trying to preserve the dignified portrait look.

 Day 3

Anne taught four different methods for creating masks and stencils of figures. She also taught us how to make complex papers, which are collages of various painted papers, used then as a single sheet of painted paper. Her work using these methods is phenomenal (as you'll see in a future post), but I struggled hugely this day.

Cab Calloway
We were supposed to do four figures. I only did one. His face is one I drew on day 1... again, I wished I knew how to shade the features. One student was using water soluble pencils to shade her work, and the results were stunning.

A problem for me was that I couldn't find a way to relate, personally, to the faces and figures, to care about them, to find meaning in doing them. This one, for example, didn't have meaning for me until last evening when I showed it to my husband. He said it reminded him of the musician, Cab Calloway. OK... now I like it better.

Day 4

Lynne worked with us to pull it all together... everything we learned in the previous three days. The project was to make a vertical or horizontal panel with several faces.

What fun it was to turn a photo of my husband, our Siamese cat, and my grandmother into a painted-collaged piece! I call it "Directors," because these are three influences that in different ways direct my life journey. The night before, I re-read favorite chapters in one of my favorite books, "Improv Wisdom," by Patricia Ryan Madson. Brilliant! It really freed me to have fun, to play, to let go of "doing it right." I love the results!

More pictures from the class soon. Don't forget, you can click on Lilly and Alfred (day 2) to enlarge and see more details.


  1. Great break down Robin!
    You really turned out some wonderful work and it was, I think, one of the best workshops ever!

  2. These are wonderful, Robin!!! I can tell you certainly enjoyed the workshop!!! Just great pieces!

  3. Jan Clem4:39 PM

    Seeing your results again today was great, Robin! Fun to hear the back story on "The Directors" as I didn't realize in class who these people were to you. Today still basking in the glow of the workshop. So glad I got to meet you!


  4. Didn't we have a blast?! I so love the pieces with your great grandparents and the subtle harlequin patterns. Your husband is so right - that guy does look like Cab Calloway - just about to burst into "Minnie the Moocher"!
    So fun to get to know you a bit and find your wonderful blog.
    Erin in Morro Bay

  5. Goodness gracious, did you have ENOUGH FUN or what?!?!? I'm really looking forward to seeing these *for real* sometime, Robin...what a departure from cloth & stitch & beads, but a terrific adventure with new mediums (media ?) I bet that workshop space was positively a-buzz with creative electrical currents! Sooooo glad you went. I wonder where all this will take you??? ;>]]

  6. I love these! The combination of different mediums is incredibly creative.

  7. Cinda Sue9:29 AM

    How fun to be so creative with different mediums. I particularly love the last one, Directors. Wow, good job.

  8. This is really interesting and beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I've always been a bit weirded out by clowns - maybe it's that tragi-comic vibe they have going (and maybe that's the point!)


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!