Companions in Creativity
Thursday, May 11, 2006
In a tiny Great Falls loft jammed with easels, tubes of oil paint and other implements of the craft, Mollie Vardell assessed her work in progress -- a shimmering still life of fruit, a delicate teapot and a paisley drape resting gracefully on a wooden table. The smooth, shiny objects were taking form on her canvas.
But the next step, adding the rough-textured table, seemed daunting to the novice artist.
Vardell wandered over to Adrienne Kralick, an accomplished portraitist who was working on the thumb in a painting of her husband.
"Have you ever done wood?" Vardell asked.
"I've done wood before," Kralick replied over her shoulder. "The trick is dry on dry."
Vardell considered this technique -- painting one layer, letting it dry and then painting the next layer on top.
"Dry?" she asked.
Kralick nodded. "If you paint dry on dry, you get that wood grain."
For the seven artists who have set up work spaces in the newly opened Artists' Atelier, on the second floor of a Great Falls shopping center, such exchanges are routine.
In an area the size of some closets in the McMansions that characterize the lush community surrounding the room, the artists are working and growing together.
Ateliers -- the word is French for studio -- have a rich history as a place where artists practice their craft and transmit their knowledge to other artists. Open for just four months, the Artists' Atelier already is a success, say its members, who held an open house Saturday and displayed their work as part of Great Falls Day.
For Kralick, whose commissioned oil portraits sell for $4,000 and up, it is away from the distractions of her Oakton home, which she shares with her husband, Ken, and their two children.