Year of Creative Development Part 1 – Artfest 2.0


photos courtesy of Lacy Young & Michelle Allen

About this time last year, I was packing and getting ready to leave for the first part of my self-declared ‘Year of Creative Development’. My first stop was Teesha Moore’s Artfest . If you are just joining this journey with me you can see the beginnings of it here, here, here and here. My goal is to share my experiences with you all and chronicle it for myself in the process. It was a ground breaking year for me and a really good exercise in getting my creative mojo back- a much needed supplement for those who are ‘creative for a living’, I think.

My experience at Artfest was a great one and in no small part due to the classes I chose and the teachers who taught them. My class this time was “Getcha Paint On” with Michelle Allen. Michelle and I have known each other for a while through the tradeshow circuit and over the years have become good friends. I love her work, and admire her vast creativity and apparent creative abandon in her work. So, needless to say I jumped at the chance to take a class with her! If nothing else, I knew it would be entertaining!

Her class, while indeed entertaining, was so much more! The focus was to try new materials to achieve new textures in our painting. We were given a small canvas, a linoleum printmaking block and some collage materials. We all had paints, brushes and other materials that we were free to use and Michelle had brought black acrylic latex caulk (yes, like from Home Depot!) for us to play around with. Oh what fun!!

The caulk acts as a fast-drying paste that you can either paint over or paint with! I, of course being graphically inclined, had to try to make lines with it (which was less creative abandon and more creative control-freak, but whatever.) and I used my linoleum block to make a statement at the center of my canvas which I had caulked and painted.

I spent an inordinate amount of time carving the letters out of that block, but I really liked the result. The caulk as paint and as texture was such a revelation and really added depth to my painting! I also used some old book pages, and maps to collage a platform for my little quote (affixed with gel matte medium) and finally used some random finials as compass points and attached them to the sides of my canvas for some three-dimensionality.

I have no idea what I will do with my masterpiece, but I had the most fun making it. I felt relaxed (except for when I was carving my linoleum half the day) and had a blast just making something. I loved learning about new materials and having a loose direction and just going with it! Michelle’s teaching style is fun, creative and loose. She is so approachable and flexible that you want to just spend days making a mess and creating things with her. Her creativity seems to be endless. If you get the chance to take a class or workshop with her, it is worth your while. She will be teaching several classes at this year’s Artfest….if you are going, please pop in on her and say ‘hello’!

For more info on Michelle, check out her website and her blog. I will also be posting a tour of her fabulous studio here in a couple of days so stay tuned!

Next Stop: Mary Engelbriet’s Home Companion Workshop in St. Louis!!


Have a great Monday!! xoxo

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