I was invited to a watercolor class taught by my friend, artist Barbara Enochian. Barbara is an amazing acrylic, watercolor and collage artist, but she is also an inspiring teacher.
Barb, I have been to your studio before for a reception. It’s the perfect place to display art. But it’s a great classroom too.
I did not build it. Happily, it was already on the property. The previous owner analyzed computer software and hardware for computer publications, so the space was completely filled with computer monitors when I first saw it. But, the main reason for buying the house was that it had that wonderful space for my studio.
You also have the most amazing garden. You must be inspired by your surroundings.
The next best thing about the house is the backyard. I wish I could take credit for the incredible flowering lilies, agapanthus, and crepe myrtle, but most of that was already there. I did add bright pink penstemon, tiny white alyssum, and lots of purple lavender. The yard is really a riot of color, shape, and line that I find very inspiring. My poor students are constantly inundated with bouquets of whatever is currently blooming whether they like it or not, so you will see my garden in their pictures.
Watching you teach inspires me to pick up a brush. You seem to have what it takes to inspire others, but what things do you think make a great art teacher?
I appreciate that you think I do, but it is always a challenge for me to think of how to explain a project or technique without being intimidating or too confusing. Bottom line is enthusiasm and a true interest in each and every individual. I find so much out about the people in my classes by how they approach art. A lot of people are full of fear when it comes to art. They are afraid of making “mistakes” or looking clumsy. One of the newer ladies in one of the classes said she decided that she could pay a therapist or she could do art, and both would have the same result of relieving her stress and making her feel happy. She chose art!
So, tell us who your favorite artist is.
You know, my favorites change with what I am doing. For many years I would have said Wayne Theibaud. I used to meet with him at UC Davis for private critiques. He was so scholarly and refined, always wore a bow tie and used an impressive vocabulary; what I liked about his work was that he painted ordinary stuff like hot dogs and lipstick and gumball machines and lollipops and on and on. But he painted them with gorgeous blue or purple shadows rimmed with orange or yellow that made my mouth water! His use of color and subject is almost always present in the back of my mind. In a different direction, I became fascinated with Robert Rauschenberg when I started doing lots of collages. I went to UC Berkeley during the 60’s when abstract expressionism was in vogue, so Rauschenberg’s outrageous and fairly loose collages with found objects spoke to me.
You are a master of so many mediums – your early acrylics and more recently, watercolor and collage. What is your favorite medium?
It is hard for me to decide. I could say that whatever is working best at the time is my favorite. This summer I have had so much fun painting loose watercolor images from my wild garden. But, when I do a collage, I find that I become completely engrossed and OCD. They are like eating popcorn or potato chips for me. I just can’t stop thinking about them…so really, I think mixed media is my favorite, but watercolor is a close second. Acrylic painting used to be my niche, but I haven’t done as many lately because they are very labor intensive and I am on the go too much!
Barbara and her “e-Studio” art students will show their work for 2nd Saturday Art Hop, Aug. 8 at GMAC Real Estate Professionals, 1647 Court Street, downtown Redding. To learn more about Barbara’s work and her classes, visit barbaraenochian.com.