Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop 2 at Dixon Toconderoga.

The second Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop was held at Dixon Ticonderoga's headquarters (615 Crescent Executive Ct #500, Lake Mary, FL 32746). Dixon Ticonderoga is best known for making those ubiquitous 2B yellow pencils that you will find being used in most classrooms and many artists studios, mine included. It was a rainy afternoon on a Friday but all the attendees braved the weather and rush hour traffic. Rachel Fox, Dixon's Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator greeted us in the lobby and guided us to a small classroom set up on the first floor. The room is clearly for younger students with bright picnic tables and a salt water fish tank in the corner, but it suited us just fine.

Rachel showed us some of the art products we would be able to play with and then escorted us upstairs to the Ticonderoga museum and curator, executive assistant Donna Cochran, who offered us a brief tour of the art work that the company has collected over its 200 year history. The jewel of the collection is a Norman Rockwell painting that was one of 3 paintings stolen from the Ticonderoga offices in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1975. This one painting titled "Grandfather and Grandson." was later recovered by police but the other two have yet to be found. The painting has since been cleaned and is worth an estimated 4 million dollars.

In the museum was an old green machine with a hopper that was used to sharpen pencils. The pencils would be rolled over a cylinder of sandpaper. Our time in the museum was limited, so we all immediately set about sketching artifacts and the scene. Everyone was encouraged to take photos of some of the incredible artwork created using the Ticonderoga pencils.

Dixon is one of America's oldest companies, created by a merger of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Corp. with the Bryn Mawr Corp., a Pennsylvania company dating back to 1794 when the company built the first highway in America between Philadelphia and Lancaster. The highway was 62 miles long.  Joseph Dixon began making pencils in the 1830s. Dixon used Cedar wood from Cedar key until the supply ran out. Graphite was mined from the town of Ticonderoga in Upstate New York. During the Civil War, soldiers needed pencils so they could write home. Quill pens with ink weren't a good option to be used on a battle field. In the early years, machines turned out 86,000 pencils a day. The company also made wooden boxes for the model T when it was first rolled off the assembly line. The crayon company willed this automotive order from 1914 until the 1960s. The Dixon Ticonderoga company has since expanded to include other art supplies like Prang, Das, Oriole, Lyra, Daler Rowney, and Canson.

Back in the classroom, we put watercolor on the sketched since wet media wasn't allowed in the museum. I handed out workshop material that covered one, two and three point perspective, I invited everyone to take one of the sketches from the collection and do a sketch that showed the horizon and vanishing point used by the artist. I also asked them to take one item from the collection and interpret it 3 different ways using the three different perspectives. We were encouraged to use Dixon art supplies and at the end we each were given a Canson sketchbook. Students were asked to write an article about the experience and share it on the Orlando Urban Sketcher's Facebook group page. Each of these workshops is a new adventure. Each attendee is quickly becoming an Orlando sketch correspondent.

The Third Orlando Urban Sketching Workshop will be at the Orange County Regional History Center on August 19th starting at 6PM. We will be sketching models of Historic Orange county architecture to further hone our perspective and composition skills. Tickets are $35 and available from Eventbrite.


All artwork is for sale. Some originals available as well as limited edition prints. Commissions upon request. Please contact artist.

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