Ephraim Rubenstein is coming to The Art League in January! The artist, who you may remember from our 2014 Portrait & Figure Festival and more recent workshops, will be here for a double bill: a free talk and a drawing workshop. We talked to him to get a preview of the weekend’s events:
January 5: Artist Talk
Rubenstein’s Friday talk will be an introduction to his work as an artist and to the process of color spot painting.
Color spot (also the subject of a future Art League workshop to look forward to) is a type of alla prima painting. That means the painting is done “at first attempt” or wet-in-wet, in one sitting. Color spot, specifically, was developed around the 1900s by Charles Hawthorne (author of Hawthorne on Painting) and his student Edwin Dickinson.
“It’s a way of seeing color very freshly,” Rubenstein said. The artist pays as much attention to the warm-cool relationships (temperature) as to light vs. dark (value).
Color spot painting is done on a white canvas — no tone — and best in one layer, not built up slowly with grisaille and glazes. The goal is to get it right from the start, “so it has a very fresh look, color-wise.” (This avoids students’ common struggle with “muddy” color, Rubenstein noted.)
A painter working in color spot starts with the greatest contrasts, “setting the perimeter” of the painting with the warmest warms and coolest cools. “Every painting is in a key, the same way a piece of music is in a key,” Rubenstein said.
This talk will cover Rubenstein’s own work in color spot and what interests him as a painter. It will conclude with a brief discussion of the wax-resist drawing technique, below.
January 6–7: Gorgeous Effects with Ink and Wax-Resist
Rubenstein’s workshop will center on a multi-media drawing technique called wax-resist.
This technique uses paraffin wax as a water-repellent resist for subsequent ink washes: the waxy areas protect the lighter values as the drawing progresses. The wax itself can also remain on the drawing and has a cool texture, Rubenstein said.
He said the idea is similar to batik, a fiber dyeing technique that likewise uses a wax resist.
Wax-resist drawing can be seen in the work of, for example, Henry Moore during the London Blitz. In this workshop, students will use a lot of different materials: pencil, wax, ink wash, and water-soluble Char-Kole. Rubenstein said the workshop is for intermediate and advanced students with some general drawing experience.