The Great Gold Squaw

During 1982, I had my own adult watercolor classes. It met every Thursday morning at 9:00am to 12:00 noon. There were six to seven women ranging in ages, who were very enthusiastic and eager to learn each week.

Each week I started class with a special demo that I felt the students would enjoy and learn from. One particular day in the spring, we did a paint out to Squaw Peak Park. After I did the lead off talk and demo, I turned everyone loose to do their own work. I had already prepared my own watercolor paper on the board to do the initial drawing and lay in the washes. I encouraged everyone to take photos for reference material. We all brought sack lunches and drinks. At lunch break we all sat around to see each other’s work and critique. I did not much painting on these kind of outings, as I am watching my students and giving them suggestions.

Some stayed to paint and some left after lunch. I stayed later with everyone to get my ideas clear in my mind.

Originally, I thought it looked like the San Francisco Peaks, in Flagstaff, Arizona. I painted it and it looked awful! I had received various gold guilding powders from a framer who was going out of business in Sedalia, Missouri. I soon found I could make gold paint out of it by mixing the powder with gum arabic! I had the idea to go over the painting in a stipple technique which looks like hash marks in pen and ink. I went over the whole painting with this new technique, using the gold powder. It was stunning, and I loved the gold effect. I renamed the painting, “The Great Gold Squaw.” I still own the painting and enjoy its transformation.

The first show was small, “The Arizona State Fair,” Phoenix, Arizona, October 1982, Jury, James Ballenger, Director of the Phoenix Art Museum, Thomas J. Holder, Director of the Heard Museum.

“Glendale22nd Annual Festival of the Arts,” Glendale, Arizona, October 22-November5, 1983, Honorable Mention.

Although the painting was only in two shows, the experiment with gold powder helped me to understand more about experimental techniques.

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