Miniatures Master class offered at KCAI in partnership with Toy and Miniature Museum

30 March 2012

Kansas City, Mo. (March 30, 2012) – The Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City is partnering with the Kansas City Art Institute to offer a Master class in one of the fine-art world’s oldest mediums. “Master Class: Egg Tempera Techniques in Miniature” is a seven-day workshop that will be offered June 24-30 through the Continuing and Professional Studies Program at KCAI. The class will culminate in a reception at the Toy and Miniature Museum, where students will display work they created during the class.

“People often perceive the Toy and Miniature Museum as a children’s museum, when in fact it houses one of the most comprehensive fine-scale art collections in the world,” said Laura Taylor, the museum’s educator. “Through our partnership with KCAI we look forward to creating opportunities for artists to explore this art form and we hope to continue to bring world-class artists to Kansas City to engage with the arts community.”

The Byzantine tradition of tempera painting was developed in 13th century Italy by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Giotto. Tempera is a medium in which a dry pigment has been tempered with an emulsion and thinned with some form of liquid, water, casein glue, linseed oil or in the case of egg tempera, egg. Egg tempera is the most durable form of the tempera medium and one of the oldest mediums, historically used in most cultures until the time of the Renaissance when oil painting became popular. Tempera made with the yolks of fresh eggs is considered to be true tempera though the use of egg whites was not uncommon in the painting of vellum leaves in medieval illuminated manuscripts.

Students will be introduced to the methods of egg tempera painting as it was practiced in 15th Century Italy by masters such as Giotto, Botticelli, Mantegna, Fra Angelico and Michelangelo’s teacher, Ghirlandaio, and will then use these techniques to create a miniature replica of an Italian Renaissance portrait.The Master class instructor, Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel, has been creating fine-scale miniature works of art in pottery and porcelain for more than 30 years. In 1989 Wessel achieved Fellow status in the International Guild of Miniature Artists.

The class also will include a tour of the Toy and Miniature Museum as well as a tour of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where students will look specifically at Medieval and Renaissance paintings with attention to portraits and figures. 

“We were thrilled when the Toy and Miniature Museum contacted us to partner for the Master class,” said Tabitha Schmidt, director of Continuing and Professional Studies at KCAI. “It is a rare opportunity to be able to offer a class in something so unique with an artist who is so well-known in her field. The class is an excellent opportunity for artists to really stretch themselves.”

About the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City

The Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City is located on the campus of the University of Missouri- Kansas City in a historic mansion built in 1911 and houses the largest collection of nostalgic toys and fine-scale miniatures in the Midwest. The museum also houses the largest marble collection in the country and in 2008 set a Guiness World Record for the World’s Largest Marble Tournament. Nostalgic toys include originals such as Tiddly Winks, jacks and paper dolls, and fine-scale contemporary miniatures on display feature intricately detailed working reproductions of decorative artifacts, past and present.

About the Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization.


For more information, contact Cat Szalkowski, 816-802-3458, or