Photo by Curt Yeomans
Atlanta resident Suzanne Ball carefully works to perfect the shadows in a lighthouse painting using rouging techniques during a workshop at the Clayton County Headquarters Library.
JONESBORO — Suzanne Ball carefully applied a medium brown shade of paint over the oil-covered edges of a lighthouse in hopes that it would create just the right kind of rustic shadows.
She’d already created a light blue sky over the lighthouse. The goal now was to add the right amount of rust to the house’s edges, using rouging techniques, without creating too much rust.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Ball. “It’s like playing in the dirt. You just get your hands in there and have fun with it.”
A dozen painters — some amateurs and others hardened veterans — attended a workshop on painting with rouging techniques at the Clayton County Headquarters Library this week. The class is part of a monthly series of workshops offered at the library by the Clayton Arts Alliance.
“We’re just going to be real people here and we want to provide you all with an opportunity to learn how to make art and experience new techniques,” Clayton Arts Alliance President Mary McCracken told the workshop participants. “We want to make it possible for anybody to do this.”
Rouging is a technique that emulates watercolor art, said McCracken. Artists start out by using pen and ink techniques to create the outline of an image they will later fill in with paint. They then cover the canvas with linseed oil. Once the canvas is covered, they take a “drop” on paint and apply it to the image “and it kind of floats in the oil,” said McCracken.
The arts alliance president said the painters then use their brushes and “barely touch the paint and spread it in the oil.” It then takes up to two weeks to dry, she said.
“It’s an awful lot like watercolor, except with watercolor you have to know what you’re doing,” said McCracken. “You can’t cover up your mistakes. With rouging, you can use a tissue and wipe your mistakes off the canvas.”
Lake City painter Norma Poulos said she likes the fact that rouging looks like watercolor paintings but she also likes the ability to have an image to use as a guide for painting. “I like the idea that you can establish your shadows before hand,” she said.
McDonough resident Karen Mayo said the ability to make changes in the middle of the process was also a likable aspect of rouging. “It’s kind of different, but it’s fun,” she said. “I like how you can erase everything with one swipe if you want to.”