Claire Elliott, Alexandra Stevenson and Vanessa Shinmoto talk about their work and offer an inside view to materials, techniques and creative processes.

Artist Talk: April 10, 2021 via Zoom

Despite some technical difficulties with video, we had a lively and informative conversation with artists Claire Elliott, Vanessa Shinmoto, and Alexandra Stevenson. Thank you to everyone who participated! I will be adding transcripts as time allows.


The individual artists process videos are below – Vanessa’s apparently didn’t work at all during the talk so please check that out to see her in action!

Alexandra Stevenson

TRANSCRIPT: Alexandra Stevenson, cold wax and oil painting demo

I’m going to show you just a few quick things with wax medium, a cold wax medium. I use Dorland’s and oil paint and these are a few of the techniques that I used for the paintings that are in “Inscapes”.

Wax medium is like any medium; it mixes with the oil paint to change the translucency and the texture. This is bees wax with a little bit of resin, lots of different companies make it, and I’ve got it on my palette here.

What I do to start with is use quite a bit of the wax in order to get some translucent layers. So, if I’m using a blob of wax about the size of a dime, I’m going to start with just a little bit of paint, maybe the same amount, mix it up. It will change the gloss of the paint to a much more matte finish, matte texture. And, when it dries, it’s sort of matte, satiny texture. I do apply it with a palette knife, and what I’ve found in terms of spreading it is that while you can use a brush certainly, so if I use a brush I can create some brush strokes or scratch through, really the best way to spread it has been to use some paint scrapers and sort of push it into the weave of the paper. It will pick up whatever weave is on the paper, this doesn’t have much of a weave, it’s a canvas paper, but you can probably see if I bring it up close how it pick that up.

I like to start with thin layers; my favorite tool to use – actually, I show you in one moment here, I’m just going to add some blue. My favorite tool is actually a kitchen tool. I’m going to add a little bit of this blue and then I’m going to use a silicone bowl scraper that I truly ordered online from a kitchen supply store and use that to start spreading. You can see how that can make quite a thin layer or even a thick layer if that’s what you are interested in. So, that’s usually my starting point, putting on those thin layers. What I love about this silicone tool is that it is also great at creating lines and removing (paint). So, you can see as I go through (painted areas) and just sort of scrape it or move it a bit, it will create those lighter, more transparent lines.

I continued to add a few more layers, my colors got a bit murky, and I obliterated the drawing that was underneath here which is fine with me. Sometimes I stick with the drawing I start of with and oftentimes I don’t. I let it disappear and discover something new. These lines here were made just as I was showing you a moment ago, with the spatula. Another way to remove the paint which, I find, is just as much part of my process as adding paint, is taking a brush and some turpentine (to the painted area). A lot of the skies in the Inscapes exhibit that I have were done with this (technique) where I’m really just going back in and loosening paint and creating textures.

I use all different kinds of tools to scratch; this is a broken chopstick. I’m afraid because my colors are murky it’s probably hard for you to see what’s scratching through but I think you can get the idea. And then, of course, even just taking a paper towel or a rag and going into (the painting) and rubbing and lifting up (paint) which is what I would do in the case of this one because the colors did get so murky – and I can remove paint that way.

So, my process is a matter of back and forth between adding – adding paint, adding wax medium – scratching out. Sometimes I’ll try scratching out with things like a plastic fork or whatever I can find around the studio. Adding more, wiping off, so on and so forth. And, as I mentioned earlier, the texture of the paper itself or the hard surface, it works best on a hard surface. The surface that you work on, that texture becomes important and you can manipulate that as well.

For example, in this one, you can see a lot of brush marks in a lot of places where the texture underneath the surface shows through. What I did for this one, is it’s a piece of watercolor paper with gesso, which is a white acrylic primer, loosely brushed on so that the paint and wax go into the grooves. Just a couple more examples of different ways that the wax can look: obviously, scratching through, you can see removing, loosening up with a brush. And sometimes I try to remove so much that I get just kind of a gentle stain on the paper for light areas.

Vanessa Shinmoto

Transcript in progress, thank you for your patience!

Claire Elliott

Transcript in progress, thank you for your patience!