Review of 12th Annual Art of the Carolinas

Finally, Thursday, November 8, 2012 showed up!  I had been eagerly awaiting its arrival for the past few weeks and now at last, it was here!  I arrived early at the North Raleigh Hilton, found the Starbucks and discovered one of the most delicious cinnamon roll buns I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  Coffee and bun in hand, I found a table, settled in and did my “Ahhhhh” sigh.  It was a few minutes past 7:30 am and my class would start at 9:00 am.  I was in my comfort zone.  Early for class, enjoying my coffee, sweet treat and having fun “people watching”.  Being early for classes usually gives me a chance to meet and chat with fellow artists who are waiting for their classes to start.  If you are into networking, early arrival is a must. By the time the classes start, there’s not a lot of time for talking.

By 8:45 am, I’ve arrived in my classroom, set out my supplies and greeted some of my early arriving classmates.  Promptly at 9:00 am, our teacher, Master Artist James Sulkowski, arrives.  He will be instructing us in the principles of light and atmosphere when painting landscapes. He was relaxed and easily passed that feeling along to us.  We spent the first third of our class time observing his demonstrations of techniques as he painted a landscape picture.  No question asked was ignored and he took time to review techniques as he was painting.  From how to position our colors on our palettes to adding light in areas on his painting, he guided us with a practical and professional teaching style.  When we returned from a short lunchtime, we started working, using various pictures of landscape scenes that Mr. Sulkowski furnished for us as a guide.  As we worked, Mr. Sulkowski moved around the classroom giving each student individual instruction, offering advice and demonstrating techniques by using our paint brushes.  For most of us, the class ending time of 4:00 pm came too quickly.  Our paintings were finished and it was fun to view each others work and compliment their efforts.  As our teacher put away his supplies, he remained open to answering those last minute questions that we all have.  Having now experienced Mr. Sulkowski’s instruction, I fully understand why his classes are an early sell-out.  You can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll be quicker to sign up next year.

Friday, November 9th, opened with the vendors in place and ready to sell anything an artist could want at prices that were in some cases 40% off retail. I had taken a chance that someone scheduled to take Mr. Sulkowski’s Floral Painting class wouldn’t show up.  Arriving early, I had the good luck to meet him in the Starbucks area of the Hilton.  He agreed to call me either way.  His call came with news that indeed, all students had arrived for the class.  He did offer me the option of standing in and watching him complete his floral painting, which I immediately took advantage of doing.  It was pure bliss watching him demonstrating how to capture light and using different oil paint shades, construct an eye-catching floral arrangement.  I was impressed with the easy way that he completed the background painting by using cool and warm tones of paints.  As the class broke for lunch, I thanked Mr. Sulkowski for allowing me to view his demonstration and left, vowing to register for classes next year as soon as it was allowed.

The rest of the day was spent with my wandering through the vendor booths and talking with the sales staff about how different products performed.  I had the good fortune to find the booth of Savior-Faire – The World of Art” and talked with Pierre Guidetti CEO and his delightful assistant, Denise Martynec.  Web address information for their web site is  I left with an assortment of oil and solid watercolor pencils [no wood], some oil blending mediums and Pierre gave me a couple of their new brushes to try.  Since then I have had a chance to use the oils and they feel like a silky butter moving on my canvas.  I am sold on the quality of their paints.  Pierre autographed a copy of their new book, “Sennelier – A History in Color” for me.

Saturday saw me at the Hilton’s coffee shop early again, ready to shop a little and then take a class on Waves and Waterfalls that started at 1:00-8:00 pm. Our instructor was David Dunlop, who was well versed in so many different ways to use alternative painting surfaces and how to adapt painting materials to paint on these surfaces.  David’s class was one that was geared to be a demonstrated combination of lecturer and instructor in examples of painting techniques. There was some class participation, but in general, it was more of watching and taking notes for later reference.  David’s enthusiasm for his painting techniques created a fertile field for learning to take our creative endeavors to new levels. We received a couple of short breaks and returned back to the classroom to receive almost more information than one’s mind could hold, hence my copious note-taking.  I most definitely got more than my money’s worth in painting knowledge.  David’s upbeat and happy style of sharing so much information let us know he doesn’t just like painting; he loves it with a passion.  I was certainly thankful that I had taken his class.  Because of doing so, I can say that I now look at what can be done versus of how it’s always been done.

Sunday, November 11, 2012, was the ending day of the 12th Annual Art of the Carolinas.  I used it as a day to visit with the vendors and prepared by David Dunlop’s class, purchase some materials that would help me in my painting.  It was fun talking with other student friends who were making use of Sunday as their shopping day too.  I can tell you that next year, when the 13th Annual Art of the Carolinas is announced, I will be making sure that I am on their web site, signing up for classes and looking forward to having as great a time as I did during this year’s past exhibition. Hat’s off to Jerry’s Artarama who presented this fabulous show to us!