Unique technique

Ruth Hanson uses a watercolor batik process that involves wax for vivid watercolor works.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaddatz Galleries is closed until Saturday, March 21, at which point staff will reassess conditions and decide whether or not to reopen. If it were open, however, you could see Vining-based artist Ruth Hanson’s exhibit, “Watercolor Batiks.”

Hanson taught art in Wahpeton before moving with her husband, a pastor, throughout the United States. She’s taught workshops for 30 years and also taught a batik watercolor workshop in Fergus Falls on Saturday, March 14. Her subjects are drawn from rural Midwestern landscapes. “I grew up on a dairy farm with a lake on it and I’m heavily influenced by country life,” Hanson says.

Watercolor batik is a painting technique that uses wax, watercolor, and rice paper. The wax is used to keep paint off areas that aren’t intended to receive paint, “You start with melted wax to keep your white areas and then you work from light to dark with your lightest color of watercolor first and then all the way to the dark areas,” Hanson says. “The watercolor batik is using melted wax and layering many layers of melted wax with watercolor paint and then you have to let the watercolor dry before you put the mixed coat of wax on because wax doesn’t go through wet stuff, it doesn’t permeate, so it has to be dry.” The final step is to iron the painting to get rid of the wax, and that’s part of what makes the style so appealing to Hanson.

“I had done watercolor before and I tried this class and I just thought it was so much fun because you really don’t know what you’re going to get until you iron out the wax at the end, and the wax intensifies the colors so it’s pretty vibrant and I kind of like … the impressionist era in art history where it’s a moment in time and not a lot of detail but an impression of things, and this process kind of gives you that feel of, just an impression and a little abstraction, instead of very much detail, and then the intensity of the color when the wax is ironed out, I think those two things especially are what I enjoy,” she says. “It’s a surprise, you don’t know what you’re going to get until you iron it out. An adventure.”

The exhibit is scheduled to stay at Kaddatz Galleries until the beginning of April, although the March 20 reception is canceled. If you’re interested in going to see it, be sure to check the Kaddatz Galleries website this weekend for the latest updates on when they plan to reopen.

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