Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meet Artist Jan Alcalde, Spring Obsession Theme Division Artist

Jan Alcalde
T-018  Oaky Bouquet   wc  12x16  $500

After completing college in 1972, I moved to Murphys from the Bay Area to begin my career in teaching. I had taken an art class in high school, which I thoroughly enjoyed. While at San Jose State, I took a semester of photography, which I enjoyed even more. Always having been a dabbler, I began dabbling in photography. With encouragement from many friends, I participated in several local photography shows in the 80's and 90's (ah, the good ol' days of cellulose acetate and emulsion!)  I even managed to sell several images. With the transition from film to digital, I find that I take lots of images, but I haven't really done anything with them.  I'm now learning how to print them all over again.  There is so much that can be done with digital "tweaking". I find that I'm more of a traditional "purist", and I only mildly manipulate the digital files, in the fashion of film, enlarger, paper and chemicals.  It seems like "cheating" to alter them drastically. As I learn more about the digital darkroom, perhaps I'll feel more included to use a heavier hand.

Upon my retirement from education, I decided to dabble in watercolor. I began taking Gereon Rios's Columbia College class about eight years ago. The supportive group spurred my interest all the more.  About five years ago I began taking watercolor classes with Martha Wallace.  I find that my "style" seems to be quite realistic.  It's ironic, because what I love about watercolor is its relaxed freshness and its capacity to "suggest" images to the eye with just a few swift strokes of the brush. I yearn to work "loosely", but tend to paint with precise detail ... must be a genetic trait inherited from my machinist father. I have enjoyed working from my current and archived photographic images. I love southwest and find myself wanting to translate my many New Mexico photo images to watercolor.

The challenges of watercolor intrigue me. Once the pigment is applied, there is not much going back! One must learn to "think backwards" working from lights to darks and revealing forms as much by painting around them as by painting them directly. The temperament and behavior of water on paper must be studied in order to achieve a particular effect.  It is a truly fluid and mercurial medium, in event sense of the word. Especially for a dabbler.

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