Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rebecca Crowell's oil & cold wax workshop, Davenport, Iowa

I had been wanting to take a workshop from Rebecca Crowell as soon as I had discovered her work on the web. Then I saw that she had created a website,, which I joined even though I was working in encaustic and had no work to post. I had discovered how much I love wax and oil through teaching myself encaustic (although the only similarity between encaustic and cold wax is oil paint, and that wax is used in both, different mixtures, different techniques, cold v.s. hot, but that's another story), and this was another way for me to combine oil paint with a medium other than liquin, to get more depth, texture, and layers. Below are four of Rebecca's paintings . .

The ones I have posted here range from higher-keyed neutral to more saturated color, cool blue to warm rust, all with subtle layering, marks, scratches, and rich, and those wonderful subtle nuances that draw me in to these paintings. 

I live in southeast Michigan, and Davenport, Iowa (when I looked at a map) was just past the west border of Illinois, and so not that far from  me (as I'm used to driving to Rhode Island to visit my son and his family). The workshop was held in a wonderfully renovated old building, The Bucktown Center for the Arts (ac . . it was hot and humid), an elevator, outside ramp, brick walls, with many large windows. Pictures below  . . 

. . the front

. . and the back.

Our group, left to right: Jacki, Laura, me, Helen, Carolyn, Rebecca, Dianne, Jennifer

Such a nice group of women! . . that wonderful, midwest friendliness I so love. Jacki (far right) & Helen (4th from left) were wonderful hosts. They also have studios in the Center. Some workshop pics of Rebecca teaching and us working. 

While we worked . . Rebecca also worked!

 . . . watching Rebecca demonstrating

Dianne from Chicago

L to R . . Rebecca, Dianne, Laura, Jacki

Carolyn from Massachusetts

Jacki, Jennifer, Dianne, Rebecca

Dianne and Helen

As you can see from these pictures, the building and set-up were great!! The room was very large (wood floors, brick walls, tall ceilings) with lots and lots of very large windows . . and . . it was air-conditioned (that was when the midwest and east were experienceing very hot, unseasonalble weather). We each had a large table to spread out our panels and materials.

And Rebecca . . she was everything I had heard about her . . kind (she brought tools for us to purchase [silicon bowl scraper, brayers], samples of Gamblin coldwax & paint to use), engaging, warm, willing to answer any question . . any time; an experienced professional artist with a wealth of information (powerpoint presentation on visual thinking, her residency in Spain; her generous sharing of all her techniques), and, for those who wished to participate, a session on marketing work. The very large room we were in made it easy to accomodate all this. And, at the end of the last day, as we all went from table to table, I was impressed by her respect for the individuality of each artist's personal, unique vision, palettes, tastes, techniques, ideas.

I love talking process, concept, technique, philosophy, etc. with other artists. I wish it had gone on for a week!!

And below . . something I haven't done on this blog . . is sharing some unfinished work, that I started in class. I know I'll go back to encaustic AND combine the two, but for now, I have eight panels I started in the workshop and have been working on since I came home and three larger panels. So it may be a while before I post finished pics of these. 

Detail of panel below

I have a strong feeling that this one will end up completely different than this pic, but I like the fact that it has some intense cad orange "peeking" out from below the surface (I almost never use saturated color, so a change for me, although I love burnt sienna and rust.).

The only regret I have about this workshop is that it didn't last longer!! I look forward to taking Rebecca's advanced oil and wax workshop. Also check out Rebecca's blogspot, Contemporary Abstractions. . . scrolling through the posts, I've found posts that address issues I struggle with . . like patience! . . a reminder to me to cultivate patience.


  1. I know nothing about cold wax so will read the links, thanks. so refreshing it must have been to get away and join in with others doing what you love! have a creative summer, Suki

  2. I love Rebecca's work. I first saw it in Santa Fe. Rumour has it she is coming to Salt Spring next year. Problem for me is I am sensitive to oils. What was the odour like?

    Sounds like it was wonderful. You lucky duck!

  3. Hi Suki! . . Joining with others with the same passion was great!

    Hi Zen Dot . . Personally, the odor of oils is very minimal, and I love the smell. But my experience and preference is oil and I've learned that I like subtractive technique (encaustic, oil, wax). I (and Rebecca) use odorless solvent and Gamblin and Dick Blick have some. Send her an email about future workshops, she's very nice.

    Hi Brbulka.g . . Thank you. :-)

  4. I, too, love Rebecca's work and would love to be able to take one of her workshops. (Wish I lived a wee bit closer! I'm in Southern Germany.)

    Your works in progress look wonderful! I can't wait to see what they develop into. Very beautiful starts!

  5. Jann, thank you for posting this and for all of your very complementary remarks about the workshop... I really enjoyed the class and I do hope that you and others will show up in my life again, at a level 2 class! Interesting to see the paintings that you have developed further since the workshop.

  6. Rebecca . . complementary remarks well deserved! I enjoyed it immensely!

  7. What a fun post to read and view. I love the deep textures in this work. What an expansive workshop space. It sounds like an engaging time to connect with other artists.

  8. Bonjour Jann, Vous allez d'une toile à l'autre, cela demande beaucoup de courage que je n'ai pas,alors j'admire la patience de la toile et votre retour fidèle vers elle :-)

  9. Leslie . . wonderful being in that creative energy!

    Thige . . C'est amusant de travailler sur un grand nombre de panneaux dans le même temps. . et nécessaire avec de l'huile (le temps de séchage). . et de patience. . qui viennent et s'en va!

  10. How lucky Jann to have had the opportunity to take a workshop with Rebecca. I love her work and in fact am the happy owner of a piece. By the pictures I can see that this was a wonderful experience and I your works in progress look terrific already!

  11. Hi Seth . . . thank you and thanks for stopping by. If I could, I would spend half of my time traveling around the country taking workshops! Yes, I saw on your blog that you own one of Rebecca's pieces. Lucky you!

  12. how very fortunate for you to get to take a workshop from Rebecca Crowell... I follow her blog and am a fan of her work--- and I see you have some lovely starts to continue work on.. very happy for you!

  13. JG - what an amazing workshop - and great to do it with such an intimate group. RC - what inspiring simple work; and the student JG has produced great work in your own right. Continue to create well. B

  14. Wow, Jan! Looks like an amazing space to host a workshop and what an inspiring technique, I love Rebecca's works, and the results of you pieces even tho you mention they're not completed yet. I'm lovin' what I am seeing on the computer screen!