Brushes and Bordeaux: KSU Art Students Use Wine Reductions as Pigments

Prof. Robert Sherer leads students in using unconventional resources in their art

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 6, 2019) — Kennesaw State University School of Art and Design students from two painting classes have created works with aqueous media pigments made from reductions of wine. All of the art in the exhibition utilizes colors from red, rosé, and white wine reductions. The artwork will be available for sale at the Decatur Wine Festival November 9, and on exhibition at Worthmore Jewelers in Decatur from November 8 to December 6.

School of Art and Design professor Robert Sherer first got the idea to use wine as paint while sipping wine at an outdoor café in Italy. Shortly after 9/11, Sherer had traveled to Tuscany for an art exhibition and to paint the beautiful scenery, but his watercolor paints were confiscated at the airport, leaving him with only a pad of watercolor paper and brushes. Eager to paint, anyway, he created his first wine painting from a glass of Brunello di Montalcino. The painting was a big hit with his fellow tourists, so the artist began experimenting with creating pigments from wine reductions. Sherer said, “Through years of experimentation with wine as a painting medium, I have discovered that it performs just like watercolors except for the drying time. When you reduce wine to make pigments, it increases the sugar content and makes it slower to dry.”

This year, Prof. Sherer took the idea to his students in Advanced Painting and Painting III classes, resulting in stunning works of art comparable to the finest bottles of wine. Sherer explained that the pigments were created by simmering the wine in a double boiler, which he tested every 30 minutes by creating a swatch on watercolor paper. He added, “We decided to use a range of wines after the discovery that red wines reduce to dark purples, rosé wines reduce to rosy pinks, and white wines reduce to golden yellows. The combinations of these three colors can be stunning.”

Sherer is one of KSU’s most distinguished visual artists and may be best known for his “Blood Works” series that uses HIV-positive and HIV-negative blood as pigment. He said, “Painting with wines is a lot easier than painting with blood because you do not have to worry about coagulation and oxidation. The wine pictures have a similar pigmentation strength. The original pictures using wine reductions from 2001 still haven’t faded.”

The Decatur Wine Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the historic Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Decatur. The Wine Art Exhibition and Sale will be held inside Worthmore Jewelers in Decatur from November 8 to December 6; Worthmore will also host an Artists’ Reception, free and open to the public, on Friday, November 8, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
--Kathie Beckett; images by Shane McDonald