05 July 2015

[pdx_art] Bwana Spoons at Muse Art & Design, May, 2015

I have been unfairly keeping this to myself. Bad on me.

Muse Art and Design, the splendid art and inspiration supply store at SE 42nd and Hawthorne, has been holding the occasional demo and seminar. And they get better and better. The one back in February stays in my memory banks, and the one I've dithered on reporting on, this one, in May, was simply fun.

Bwana Spoons, Muse Art and Design, May, 2015.
The bespectacled man in the picture above should need no introduction if you exist in any of the intersections of art and illustration worlds currently percolating around the Portland area, but if you do, this is Bwana Spoons, and he produces trippy illustrations, but he works in chaos.

But more on that anon. The subject of this visit was the release of a line of acrylic gouaches, Acryla Gouache. This, a line of utter vibrancy by Holbein, was something of a revelation. I hadn't imagined that gouache could be anything but a watercolor, but here it was, a gouache created of acrylic … a resin color.

The wet consistency is lovely, thick, rich, creamy, creamier even than water-based gouache. The colors are memorable, and, amusingly, the assembled salon was going in big on a color called Opera, a brilliant pink-orange that is to your eyes what strong citrus is to your mouth.

I make no judgements by saying this; oversaturating your color response just might be the object you're going for. I found a cosmic humor in the way such a color was getting such an overwhelming, gut-level response.

The event was intended to demonstrate the color, and demonstrate it did. But it was also given over to a sense of pleasantly-chaotic play where people just dabbled with mixing the colors or came up with chaotically-inspired pieces. My favorite amongst the group is possibly this one, done by Peter, who runs the place. It started out as clouds and an abstract sun-not-sun in the sky … but it evolved into the most delightful flying snail I've ever seen, riding the air on a trail of fabulous:

You know not where it goes, all you need knowis that Rainbow Flying Snail wants you to be
Me and The Wife™ of course, had some fun. I was a little dry on inspiration today so we got Supernatural Orange Cat and Red Superhero. Wife did Rainbow with Shazam Outline. It was fun.

But, as to Bwana Spoons and chaos? Let me put it this way. We all fancy we can take a few disconnected strokes, pencil marks, what-have-you, and evolve something interesting out of them. Bwana started playing in his sketchbook with just a big, serpentine wave of color. Little-by-little, a detail there, an extension there, an overpaint in another place, and the fabric of that painted space began to take on depth and meaning, as though it was evolving itself through him. 

Skill, he has. I was watching the changer changing the changed and the changed changing the changer, though. It was something on a higher level. And this …

… is the utterly amazing (and maybe a little disturbing) result. The original fat squiggle is on the verso side of the spread and, like a sort of strand of DNA, it gave birth to the rest. And the real reward for the viewer is that it looks so accomplished. That's the true polish of skill. 

Bwana Spoons' website is: http://www.bwanaspoons.com/
Muse Art & Design is, of course, http://museartanddesign.com

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