Joy and gratitude. I just returned from a 4 day IEA retreat at Carmel Valley and I feel like my consciousness has been rearranged in the most wonderful way. I have met the kindest people and learned so much about working with wax that my head is reeling with ideas.
I arrived on Thursday and took possession of my comfy bunk at the Carmel Valley Retreat Center. The setting is lovely; jasmine perfumes the air and bird calls resound across the mountains. The wisteria is in bloom as well as the little japanese irises. Life is sweet in California. But you knew that.
There was a lot of this going on.
This is the lunch scene with lots of Mexican and Thai food. And sunshine. Oh, my pasty Oregon skin was so stunned in the dazzling sunshine.
We were charmed with a night of Margarita Madness. Nothing tastes better on a sultry California evening.
May I introduce you to my room mate, Charlotte Ka from Brooklyn, NY. She's been working in wax for over 16 years and has also worked during that time as a teacher. Meeting her and being exposed to her thoughtful work about the black experience was a deep privilege. She has shown her work in Kenya and Cuba among other places.
We got to meet and hear about the career of NY artist Heather Hutchison. I learned so much from listening to her; about her path as an artist and the things she must consider as she does her work. I loved watching her - the way she presents herself and her attitudes about pricing and crafting a professional persona. She charmed and informed me in so many ways. (Above with our wonderful organizer, Cari Hernandez.)
Then there was Margo; a sweet breath of fresh air with her elastick-y button bracelet that I admired and her sea creature encaustic imagery. She was wonderful on "Project Runway" night; you'll see!
Richard Frumess came from R & F Encaustics and gave us the lowdown on particle wave theory (ha ha - I just like the way that sounds!). Seriously though, he told us about refraction and light and lots of things that make our work beautimous - thank you, Richard, for giving us such beautiful materials to work with and for being one of the most delightful speakers I've ever witnessed. We were all in stitches when he ran the color chart outdoors to show us how the colors changed under different light conditions. His enthusiasm was infectious.
We did a little bit of cut and paste collage on our notebooks and it was really fun! Paper and notebooks supplied by the IEA mother-ship. And thank you very much. Loved the cut and paste.
Last night we divided up into groups and created costumes out of aluminum foil, newspaper, tape (red duct and masking) and plastic tie-wraps. Here are our creations. It was really hilarious; all of us laughed and got all competitive and vied for the favor of our judge, Richard Frumess, for the first prize of encaustic paint.
The costumes were clever but the models were the real show with lots of vamping and attitude in their presentation. They were great!
Naturally we had 2nd and 1st runners up and the woman from Texas burst into tears of joy as any good beauty queen does. Verrrry nice.
And the winner is ...... the mandarin Goddess, wow, my goodness. FAB-U-LOUS job guys. Especially considering half of us were working in semi-darkness as we taped the costumes togther .
On the last day we had 2 incredible demonstrations. Above is the work of Miles Conrad from Tucson. Miles showed us how to cast wax forms from molds. My goodness he is a master of wax. We all watched in awe.
Here is one of his silicone molds and the wax casting from it.
And check out the big orb with the orblets attached. You can imagine the time and devotion that goes into each piece.
I didn't get to see all of Lissa Rankin's demo as my flight was scheduled to conflict but the experience was life changing (I've been having quite a few of these of late). Now I just have to sit quietly with myself and decide where this will take me next. I have the Boston Conference in about a month; my question is whether to throw other things aside and fling myself fully into the wax (not literally!) or to try and keep it under control. Because right now, all I can think about is getting back into the studio and trying out some of the many new techniques I have learned. Time will tell. What gratitude I feel to be faced with such a rich dilemma.