Saturday, May 31, 2008

Painting and Teaching

I just realized a couple of encaustics slipped by my notice. The square one is 12x12" on a deep box and the long skinny one is 12x24" on the same type of deep box.

My daughter's birthday is on Monday and she said all she wanted for her birthday was for me to come over to her house and paint over her ugly kitchen doors so that's how I spent the day.

Here are the ugly doors before. Notice the completely unacceptable blotches. Had to go.

I brought over a load of paints thinking it would take a lot to cover the door but I was wrong. The entire operation took only 4 hours or so with a big mexican food lunch and then ice cream to break up the fun. The sun came out so Shellie pulled weeds in her yard while her sweet dog Moose (enormous black lab) and savvy white and black cat (Sam) kept me company inside.

Every so often Shellie would come in and snap a photo of the progress and give me helpful advice. Then my other daughter Steffi came over with her friend Susie and they had ideas too, like "add dinosauers" and "where are the peasants". Uh, thanks, guys.

I had to talk Shellie out of a stone arch, a pathway and a water feature; what does she think I am, a PAINTER? Hard enough to fake your way through a mural painted with chip brushes without adding features. (Hey, I just found the color doo-dad on my menu bar.)

While I painted I drank green tea and listened to loud music and had a thoroughly blank mind. Just dibble dibble here and dabble dabble there until the doors were covered with paint. Then step back and scratch my chin.

Here they are at the end of the day. She's going to live with them a couple of days and then see if she wants any changes but she was very pleased and glad to be done with the ugly "befores".

Now a little update and reminder about a great retreat scheduled for October. I'll be coming to Cedarburg, Wisconsin to teach at the Raevn's Nest. This is a first year effort by Kim Rae Nugent to create an artful gathering in the midwest for all of us who love to get away and make art; I have never attended a class where I did not learn something wonderful or meet great people or have my spirit renewed by the experience. Check out the site and see if it fits into your fall schedule; I've never been to Wisconsin before and I'm so excited to teach there.

You have some wonderful teachers to choose from and many interesting classes in a historical setting at a gorgeous time of year.

The gathering promises to be intimate and fun; I've heard several people say that the midwest could use a great retreat so now is your chance. I hope to meet some of you there.

Friday, May 30, 2008

All A Dither

I've lost my focus this week, there's no getting around it. I figured the one thing that would be good for me would be to get back into the studio and work. Well, this hodpodge of images looks to me like the inside of my head; the earnest desire is there but the mind keeps jumping around.

I keep stacks of inkjet prints of photographs and of sketches I've made on a table in my studio, really they are in a heap rather than a stack and from this disarray I grabbed whatever floated to the top for these images. Each one is 8x10" and they are executed on matboard which stays flat and holds the wax well.

The drawings are carbon paper transfers from sketches on tissue left over from previous work.

Some of the images are ones I've used before like the one of my mother and her cousin. Most of our family photos were lost in a fire at my sister's storage building last Thanksgiving day to my great sorrow which makes those that remain all the more precious.

I'll close with an exerpt from a wonderful book I'm reading, 'Trust The Process' by Shaun McNiff. He says, "There are more people writing poetry than there are readers of poetry. This is a good sign for the world soul, but expectations need to be adjusted. The stage for poetry has to be relocated. If we accept the home and small community gatherings as places for sharing art experiences, creative expression takes on a new potency, in line with its true power to change the world through the aggregate of microscopic acts. . . . If the celebrated artists of the moment are ultimately insignificant in the broader history of creation, this should teach us that there is a place for every person within the creative process of a civilization."

All of our small acts add up. Isn't it wonderful?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play Day

We are drowning in rain here in River City; you always know when Rose Festival is in town because it is invariably dank and wet. But the roses. Oh my heart the roses. They are splendiferous here even in the soggy shade of May. I was feeling blue until I decided to post and visit with you. Now I feel uplifted. So here are a few flowers for you.

We had a mighty windstorm a few nights ago that smacked down my favorite iris but she is blooming her heart out from her smooshed position. I love her sunrise colors, so soft and moody.

My trellis rose that blooms in abundance all summer. All my roses are fragrant. That's the main test for living in my garden. You have to smell seductive.

I love this iris shot because she looks like a dancer with the leaves all posed around her so prettily. Dancing while smooshed. You go girl.

Peace. So colorful when it opens and then fading to a softer shade. We accept her occasional blackspot in the same way we accept the mis-steps of friends; we love them for their other stellar qualities. This I work to balance out with Oprah's good advice to step away from mean people. It's a balance.

Yellow azaleas are fragrant, did you know that? This one smells heavenly. I tiptoe out several times a day to make my rounds of all the fragrant flowers. No one will ever say I didn't smell the roses.

The grass is growing very fast and green in the walnut orchard. A few of these were shot on a sunny day awhile back. The cows and goats can't keep up with the lush meadow across the lane.

The rhubarb is whispering "Rhubarb Crunch" and I am listening. Once a year I eat this rich dessert with ice cream to my heart's content. It is a July 4th tradition although Bossy's Tres Leches Cake has got my attention too. It is my favorite cake and I've never made it myself but her recipe is tempting me.

And so we close the garden tour with a nod to the Pink Rhodies. They are a soothing balm for life's harder moments; they soften us and help us believe in hope.

It's been awhile since I posted journal pages although they get added to every day. Ponderings about every every every thing that falls under my radar. In my journals I am the Queen of Everything and my thoughts are the thoughts that matter.

What power. Ack, this one is rather hideous looking. Well, sorry. Maybe I'll wallpaper over it with some yellow daisies next week. They keep changing even after I "finish" them.

This encaustic painting is 20x24" on a deep stretcher wooden cradle. I've ordered a big supply so I can keep going. One of my favorite comments was that the abstract paintings have less of 'me' in them and I agree. I've always thought of my 'me' paintings as hot and now these abstracts as cool. Unemotional. Impersonal. They just exist as sentinels like the atoms and other mysteries that surround us. Things to make you wonder.

And by the way, thank you an extra bunch for your comments this week. For some reason they have moved my heart more than usual; I am so deeply touched that you take time to respond.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I've been reluctant to post my latest encaustics. I'm struggling through an upheaval here of my former "style" and I'm deep in the fog of not knowing. Well, that's where I usually am but this feels different. This feels like something I should keep close until I figure it out. However, tossing caution to the wind I will share these. My usual polestar (John) doesn't like the minimal ones so much and I do; what say you?

They are all over the place because I am trying out various approaches. One day I'm all about texture, another day it's excavating layers, yet another day it's collage and transfer. Scattered but lots of learning.

The long narrow one is 12x24". I like the proportion; very elegant. The surface looks like candy.

The triptych consists of 3-10x10" panels hung together. The writing was done with a tjanting tool, covered over with ivory wax and then scraped down to reveal the layers beneath. Writing is such a part of me. I will use it but must find just the right way to do so.

The baby is painted over an envelope given to me by Linda; it came from China. The baby drawing was done through carbon paper and then fused into the wax. Feedback?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hot Wax!

Had a busy weekend in a hot studio (90 degrees in Portland!) - but that didn't stop me. On Saturday I painted the 12x24" panel above. It was heaven. I floated away for hours immersed in the experience of manipulating the wax and the pigments. I'm so hooked.

Here's a closer look. The colors of the desert keep returning to me. They are printed somewhere on my DNA. You can take the girl out of the desert but ...

Then yesterday I returned for a bout with a larger panel. This one is 20x24". You can see I taped the sides of the panel to protect it from the wax but when I removed the tape I had to repaint so I think I'll just let the wax drip for now. I don't mind cleaning it up after.

At this point I still had about 4 hours to go and at least a pound of wax to scrape back off. I'm experimenting and pushing the medium to see what happens. I like to take it to the edge of disaster and then save it. I'm a hero!!

At least I hope it's saved. Now I'm worried about the temperatures at the Lake Oswego show. In the past it's been up to 107 degrees on that weekend. Definitely need to paint some acrylic back-ups just in case. No, I will not take these if the temperatures are over 100 degrees. They won't melt at that temperature but I'd feel uncomfortable about it. Does anyone reading this have experience with heat and wax at art shows?

Here's a close up of the wax. Lots of stuff to see when you get closer. On hot days in Arizona we used to eat these popsicles called bullets. These were the colors and how they looked. So cool in the sweltering sun.

I step outside to check on the roses. They are so late this year. Notice the little ladybug doing her job of snacking on aphids. My organic bug patrol in action.

If I haven't lost my mixed media friends by now I'll throw in some journal pages.

I've only sent one proposal to Teesha this year. Next year I will play at Artfest. I love to take classes and there are many teachers there who I've not experienced yet.

More ramblings and drawings and pushing paint. Yes, you can wax small images in the journal. A couple of years ago I sewed in a drawing and then waxed over that in my journal. It's still fine. But if it had deteriorated it would be fine too. I love to watch things acquire the patina and changes of time.

By afternoon 4 varieties of roses had popped open so I ran for the camera. I took many pictures in the garden but you'll have to settle for a few.

'Cause I can't wait to get back into the stuido. Did I mention that the floor keeps getting dotted with wax? My pristine studio; I used to be so careful. I think that's funny now.

Good-bye lovely peonies; this weather will finish you off for sure. Back to my wax or acrylic or whatever I choose for today. Drench me in color. My life is a fairy tale.

Friday, May 16, 2008

IEA PDX Meeting

Just returned from our local IEA chapter meeting. It was great! First of all, Linda's newest edition of her book, Embracing Encaustic had arrived so we all got to look at it. The most wonderful thing about this revised edition is the inclusion of the work of many artists along with explanations of how they achieved their various paintings. I'm going to go through the book and try out the techniques one by one. Thank you Linda!!

(BTW, Bridgette Guerzon Mills has 2 pieces in the book. I have always admired her sensitive touch.) Missy Me has a piece in there too. *big smile* You can order your copy here.

We discussed the upcoming show (June 6-27) that will be held at the Newberg Gallery at 115 N. College St. and 99W in Newberg, Oregon. Some of us will be at the Boston Conference then but the rest of the group will attend the opening on June 6th from 5-9 pm. The name of the show is "Encaustic Road Trip" and I hope everyone in the Portland area who is curious about wax will attend. It promises to showcase many styles and I'll have 4 small pieces in it.

Another glance around the room as Carl holds up a piece he created. Lots of wax on this beauty; deeply carved into to reveal the many layers of color. Really nice. Melinda gave us a thorough photo presentation of the Carmel Valley Retreat; we discussed what a great experience that was.

Susan Freedman demonstrated cutting stencils and using them to apply wax onto wax. She had a great tool that made cutting quick and easy. I'm adding this to my studio asap.

This is what it looks like and you can get it at Michaels or similar stores. It works best on paper.

Here Susan is fusing the wax through the stencil. The adhesive spray is in the photo and keeps the wax from flowing under the edges of the stencil. You definitely want to use that with the stencil or you'll be fiddling with little wax puddles for hours (ask me how I know).

Here are some stencilled shapes on the waxed board.

Finally we admired some of the work that will appear in the show next month. It was a hot summer evening in Portland and we had a great meeting.