Monthly Artist Highlight – Richard R. Dick” Davison


Text by Krista Osborne

Richard R. Davison Jr, a Professor of the College of Architecture faculty at Texas A&M University, was born in Marlin, Texas in 1953. He received a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from Texas A&M in 1975. After graduation he pursued his career in art, obtained a BFA and MFA from the University of California at Irvine in 1976 and Washington University in 1979, respectively.

Davison has established himself as one of the major artists in the state and distinguished himself nationally by having been featured in several national exhibitions, including “Superficial: An Exhibition About the Surface of a Painting” at the Art museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi; “Oil Patch Dreams: Images of the Petroleum Industry in American Art”, a five museum touring exhibition curated by Francine Carraro; “Texas Art for Russia”, Invitational Group Exhibition, organized by Art League of Houston, curated by internationally known artist, Frank Williams.

Davison has also been a recipient of several awards, both as an artist and as a teacher. Most notably, he received the Texas A&M association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement award in Teaching and honorary induction into Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society, Alpha Alpha Chapter, Texas A&M University. Furthermore, his work has been featured in solo exhibitions, including, recently, an exhibition titled “Heavenly Architecture” at The Museum of Biblical Art, Dallas.

Commenting on his work, Davison says, “My recent work has taken two unrelated directions. One is about monuments or memorials–how they stand against time (i.e., as compared with our own lives or the ephemeral nature of a reflection in water) as well as how we create them to assuage our own longings, regrets, etc. The other direction falls into the category of landscape, with homage to artists whose work is at once regional and visionary in character, such as that of Charles Burchfield and Samuel Palmer, and to the purpose of reiterating the argument of “natural religion”, that nature herself is the clearest evidence of God.”

Davison’s scholarly interests include design communication, drawing, painting, and color theory.
Five of Davison’s newer works are now on display at the College of Architecture Art Faculty Biennial Exhibition at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries. Moreover, the Stark Galleries hold, both in the permanent collection and as long term loans, nearly twenty original works from Davison.


Fluid Viscosity and Paper Marbling

Text by Gregory Phillipy, Curator of Education

What is viscosity?

Viscosity is the measurement of the rate at which liquids move.  Think of the thickness a fluid has:  Water is thin and syrup is thicker, so therefore syrup has a higher viscosity than water.  Some liquids can move very fast (water and milk) having a low viscosity and others are slower (dish soap and honey) having a high viscosity. 

Paper marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by applying high-viscosity liquid over low-viscosity liquid.   Taking advantage of the adage that, “oil and water do not mix,” this art form is based on controlling the flowing qualities of fluid movement.

Since the late 19th century, a boiled extract of the carrageenan-rich algae known as Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), has been employed to create the mucilaginous and highly viscous solution upon which the colored dyes and paints are applied. Today, many artists use carrageenan extracted from seaweed.   In recent years, a synthetic size made from methylcellulose, a common ingredient in instant wallpaper paste, is often used as a medium upon which to float acrylic and oil paints.  Some artists use ordinary shaving cream as a viscous medium.  The point is that these media will support a layer of higher viscosity liquid upon which to float colors for a design.

Colors made from pigments are mixed with a surfactant such as ox gall. Sometimes, oil or turpentine may be added to a color to achieve special effects.

The special tools of the trade are brushes, a deep tray, pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth.  It is believed to be invented in the thirteenth century Turkistan.  This decorative art then spread to China, India and Persia and Anatolia.  Turkish Ottoman calligraphers and artists used marbling to decorate books, imperial decrees, official correspondence and documents.  New forms and techniques were perfected in the process and Turkey remained the center of marbling for many centuries

This summer in July, Turkish artist Baki Cavlazolgu will teach at Children’s Art Camp at the TAMU University Art Galleries. 

TAMU Art Galleries Summer Art Camp 2013

For Children Ages 7 – 12

Cost: $50.00 per child – Registration limited to 20 students

Wednesday, July 24 – Friday July 26  1:00 – 4:00

Wednesday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 1:30 Registration/ check in: rules and introduction to the Art Galleries

1:30 – 2:30 Stained Glass/ Glassmaking Workshop:  Featuring Runyon Collections from the Forsyth Galleries. Campers learn about how stained glass is made and also about artistry as they create patterns for their own beautiful mosaic stained glass image! No glass cutting or soldering required.

2:30 – 3:00 snack time and games*

3:00 – 4:00 Frederick Remington and Western Storytelling Art

Thursday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Turkish Delight and the Art of Paper Marbling:  with Turkish Artist Baki Cavlazoglu learn the art of true paper marbling history and technique to make your own colorful designs from the traditions of Turkey.

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Tai Chi Fan:  Learn this ancient Chinese martial art celebrated as a healthy activity and as a visual performance art form using a traditional Chinese fan.  Taught by Dr. Suzanne Droleskey and sponsored by the Confucius Institute. 

Friday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Fun Photography:  with Gustavo Castillo: Campers will enjoy making photo techniques using wet plate and cyanotype styles of photography which do not require a camera.  We will also play games based on photography themes. 

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Mask Making: Become anyone (or anything) you want to be.  Make a mask that reflects your inner self.   Campers will explore the history and uses of mask from around the world.  We will use colored papers, tape, pipe cleaners and other materials to make our own masks.

*(Children bring snacks from home) Water and lemonade supplied by camp.  All art materials supplied at camp.

Payment:  Cash or check made out to University Art Galleries

Contact: Trudy Six

University Art Galleries, Texas A&M University


Toilet of Venus- George Woodall

Text by Kenya Hadnot, Gallery Attendant for the Forsyth Galleries


Born into a family of talent in the mid 1800s, George Woodall naturally drifted toward figurative work, life drawing and soon became a skilled craftsman. Between 1881 and 1882, George and his brother experimented with the production of carving cameo glass, soon specializing in this work. George was determined to refine the process used by John Northwood, the first major carver of cameo glass. George was quickly recognized as the greatest cameo carver of his time, as he surpassed the amount of work ever completed by Northwood. As a perfectionist, he was unhappy with the work of other engravers on his team. So he increasingly worked alone, sketching his own designs and carving his own vases; however, he occasionally collaborated with his brother to create highly valued work. He received much attraction for his solo works, not only because of the elaborate, decorative quality, but also because George’s love for photography marketed the glass very well and added to their commercial success.

The cameo technique refers to the art of carving or engraving a figure on a surface made up of at least two layers of different colors. The design is drawn onto the outer, opaque white layer of the vessel while the area that is meant to remain white is coated with an acid resistant agent. A great deal of skill, experience, and patience allowed engravers to endure the slow working process.

The colored plate I chose, Toilet of Venus by George Woodall, is white on blue on plum plaque (three layers) and is 17 1/4 in. George completed this piece in 1898 only after the artist discovered a flaw in the glass, and the whole of the work (which occupied him for many months) had to be recommenced on a fresh piece of glass. This beautiful piece stood out to me because of the hues and shadows that allowed the girls to come forth as angelic. The inner plate stars his daughters, two of whom are interacting with one another, and the third sitting on the floor in her own world. The depth of the photo along with the dark cobalt blue background give the girls an up-close, magnified view, though detail can be seen throughout the picture. The girls themselves look as if they could be statues as they stand amidst fountains, doves, fruit, bodies of water, plants, and other statues. Superb detail encompasses not only the inner plate, but the border as well. The outer plate consists of mythical creatures patterned in such a way that similar heads face the opposite direction, unless of course it is the lion head. These creatures are surrounded by floral designs and vines.

The tiniest flower was shaded to perfection and I am amazed by the amount of hard work George and similar engravers must have put in during their commercial peak. Every piece I’ve seen is amazing, whether it be simply floral designs on a vase or detailed mythological figures referencing Ancient Greece and Rome. Several of George Woodall’s cameo glass pieces are in possession of the Forsyth Galleries at Texas A&M University, including “Love’s Awakening” featuring Cupid, “Aurora” completed by George and his brother, and numerous vases such as “Wild Waves”, “Diana”, and “Sea Gulls”.

What A Workshop!

Text by Kenya Hadnot, Gallery Attendant for the Forsyth Galleries

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The Forsyth Galleries collaborated with an on-campus student organization, Artistic Expressions, in order to host a mixed media art workshop. Glenda Hoon Russell instructed a number of students with diverse artistic backgrounds, showing examples of her work and guiding artists to perfection as they learned her medium of expertise. This non-traditional collage class was like no other; individuals were free to do whatever they pleased with the supplies available. Glenda encouraged artists to experiment and nurtured creativity as she constantly offered new ideas and compliments for unfinished pieces, and encouraged starting over if a student grew tired of the piece on which they were currently working.

Participants were allowed to use art supplies such as watercolor, ink, pastels, charcoal, glue, exacto knives, crayons and much more. Glenda explained that the purpose of the non-traditional collage was to enhance the element of discovery. While some images or text were superbly obvious, others were contrasting or even camouflaged. Artists tore apart books, newspapers, and magazines in order to form the foundation of their art pieces on a cardboard square. With access to a variety of mediums, each piece produced was one of a kind. While some participants worked patiently with blow dryers to melt crayons for cool coloring effects, others used paints and color pencils to enhance their paper findings. Working with cardboard squares and blow dryers in one setting was rather eclectic, but it got better.

Glenda carefully explained several techniques, making sure that each participant understood the vast amount of directions they could go. Instructions included tearing away from their piece with an exacto knife, using paper towels and glue to ball up for texture, painting with fingers and napkins instead of the traditional paint brush, and using tape to hide parts of the piece so other parts could stand out more. In a two hour time frame, some participants worked in detail on one piece, while others were able to produce two or three. For such a learning experience, Glenda Russell’s mixed media art workshop was fun, and simple to duplicate. Inspired by her teachings, Artistic Expressions will allow their members to recreate this experience.

Painting Medium: Gouache

Gouache (goo-ah-sh or gwaush) is a lesser known painting medium, but has been in use since the 1300s in Europe.  Gouache is similar to watercolors in that it consists of pigment and binding agent (usually gum arabic) suspended in water.  However, gouache is opaque, with larger pigment particles than traditional watercolors, a higher pigment to water ratio, and added inert materials such as chalk.  The larger particles and higher pigment content gives gouache a smooth, velvety look with higher light reflective qualities than watercolors.  It is also known as opaque watercolor or bodycolor and is commonly used alongside watercolors to highlight certain parts of the painting.

Dragon Arum and Tortoiseshell Butterfly by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, circa 1580, watercolor and gouache on paper, Arader Galleries

Gouache as we know it was used as early as the 14th Century in Europe, but is more commonly seen from the 1500s and later.  We have historical examples of botanical illustrations from Europe, as well as illuminations from Indian manuscripts and paintings on cotton fabric from what is now Afghanistan.  In the 1800s Frederic Remington used gouache to create illustrations which were then sent to lithographers to copy the work for mass book printing.

Portrait of a Courier circa 1615, gouache on paper, originates from Bijapur, Deccan, India, housed at the British Museum

Claude Monet used pencil, watercolors, and gouache to create humorous drawings and caricatures.  Gouache is still prized by illustrators like Alex Ross and Syd Mead today for its smooth and rich qualities.

The Painter with a Pointed Hat by Claude Monet, circa 1857, watercolor and pencil highlighted with white gouache
Crossing Water to Escape a Prairie Fire by Frederic Remington, gouache on paper, Forsyth Galleries
Blade Runner Street Scene 3 (Blue) by Syd Mead, 1980-1981, gouache on illustration board
Wonder Woman illustration, plates 26-27 by Alex Ross, gouache on Strathmore watercolor bristol series 400 4 ply