Tucson floor cloth art workshop: Everyone can be Matisseby Karyn Zoldan on Feb. 15, 2011, under Uncategorized
Tucson floorcloth art workshop: Everyone can be Matisse
Upcoming 2012-2013 schedule of classes – new price $130
Sept. 15, 29
Oct. 13, 27
Nov. 10, 17
Dec. 1, 15
Jan. 12, 26
Feb. 9, 23
Mar. 9, 23
Apr. 13, 27
I love art but am not an artist. I have immeasurable respect for people who follow their artistic passions, create beautiful things, and can draw an income in the process.
Marianne Bernsen from BernsenArts invited me to attend one of her floor cloth making classes at her new studio in the Sam Hughes neighborhood.
What is a floor cloth?
According to this website floor cloths are a part of our American heritage. Floor cloths are also known as painted canvas, oil cloths, and floor canvases. At least three U.S. presidents have had floor cloths in their inventory. Floor cloths were first produced en masse in England as a way to insulate floors against cold, windy winters. They were also used in the summer to protect the floor underneath from wear and tear when heavy rugs were put away.
I describe floor cloths as art that you can step on. I own two – one in the kitchen by the sink and one in the living room by the unused fireplace.
Marianne bills the class as “Everyone can be Matisse.” Personally, I lean more towards Andy Warhol.
Bernsen Arts’ studio is very cool. If you went on the recent Tucson architectural tour, you may have seen it in a Sam Hughes neighborhood backyard. Lots of natural light abounds and if your creative gene is dead, you can look around at the various wall hangings, jewelry, floor cloths, and faux frocks for inspiration.
The intimate class begins with an overall explanation of how the day will proceed. At first I thought six hours was excessive but I can definitely see, necessary.
Everyone begins with a blank 2-foot-x-2-foot canvas of which we paint over with a neutral color to close the pores and even out the canvas.
While that dries, Marianne showed us her amazing floor cloths of every imaginable design and what inspired her to do what she did. Inspiration comes from fashion, magazines, listening to audio books, and music. Then we perused design books for ideas.
I have a slight disability in my right hand and didn’t know if I could draw fine lines so as I poured through the books, my mind held to bigger designs like over-sized and hyper-arty spoons and forks, paw prints, and hearts.
On the other hand, Nancy V., a budding Matisse, opted to try an intricate Mexican tile pattern. We could not have been more different in our styles.
Before putting latex color to canvas and choosing the background color, I made pencil drawings on paper.
All this focus on new mediums made me tired and hungry. Marianne provides some nosh (snacks), beverages, and a light lunch of sandwich fixings. You can also bring snacks to share.
We paint. We talk. We laugh. We eat. We let our canvas dry. We walk outside and feel the warm sunlight. We marvel at the art and jewelry. The camaraderie builds. I don’t feel so self conscious about my primitive design or my shaky hand.
I have pretty much stayed on track with spoons and forks and hearts and paw prints, although added different faces to the spoons and red finger nails to the forks.
When our design is done, polyurethane is applied to the max for durability and when that dries, the canvas is hemmed and mitered for a finished product.
This smaller size floor cloth can be used on the floor or hung on the wall.
The next floorcloth classes are Feb. 19 and Mar. 12.
The floor cloth class costs $125 which includes bringing home a finished piece of art, a light lunch, and losing oneself in the serenity of mindful craft – priceless.