Review of Robin Coalson’s color class
In the heart of downtown Benjamin, Utah, is a unique place called Hone Studio. Perhaps Benjamin does not really qualify as having a downtown, since I have never seen a stoplight anywhere and there are certainly no stores in this rural town. Yet, Hone Studio is a “happening” downtown place–a destination for carvers, sculptors, and other artists in this western community. Whether by design or coincidence, Benjamin and Hone Studio are just west of “The Art City” of Springville, home to Utah’s first museum for the visual arts. Over the years, Hone Studio has seen a steady stream of artists and students dropping by or staying awhile for carving, sculpting, and other classes from masters such as Keith Hone, Craig Hone, Al Hone, and Jeff Wolf. Recently, Hone Studio welcomed a new master to town and her name is Robin Coalson.
Robin brings with her a wealth of experience from her years as an acclaimed mural artist in Colorado (see Robin’s website here). Her life has had the most fascinating turn of events leading her from phenomenal mural painting to awesome carving and now to Hone Studio.
Last week I headed south to Hone Studio to take a two-day color class from Robin. Having admired her mural work and more recently how she is using color to enhance woodcarvings, I was excited to see her in action and learn as much as I could. Without a doubt, Robin knows color inside and out. I have always suspected that when you use color on a woodcarving the risk is putting the focus on the paint instead of the carving. Robin confirmed that this is very true. We discussed how to use the magic of color to perfect the illusion that a leaf is behind another leaf, or a mountain is distant and still be able to look through the color to the beautifully carved wood. At one point in class, we were musing how the process of enhancing a relief carving feels a lot like sculpting with color, with the result that elements such as roundness, contours, and layers come to life in a wondrous, yet subtle way.
Robin has the ability to explain and demonstrate at a level that is very understandable for those of us learning a new skill. I appreciated her sharing what works or does not work when using different paints, brushes, woods, etc. Among the myriad of topics covered, Robin’s class also includes discussion of atmospheric and linear perspective, focal point, light source, highlights, matching wood tones, glazing, and the color wheel.
The hands-on practice of Robin’s color class was one of the most fun parts because she graciously shares her eye for blending colors and gently guides through those “ah-ha” discovery moments. One such moment occurred where we mixed purple, yes purple, and glazed this next to its complement and the piece soared with just a magic stroke of color. Robin’s enthusiastic encouragement throughout made this another cherished art class at Hone Studio.