Saturday, June 27, 2009

things and ships and sealing wax...

Today I finished making a paper boat for a project that fired my imagination. It's for a fundraiser for Mary-Ann's cottage, a living history museum in Soctland run by volunteers from the Caithness Heritage Trust. There is a blog showing the boats already submitted from all over the world here and so far surprisingly few are from the U. S. If nothing else go and admire the boats already collected; they are fabulous. You have until August 10th if you care to participate. Artists make good things happen! (More photos at the end of this post.)

I've been busy. Walking in the park with John.

Admiring the Queen Anne's Lace that grows along the path.

Basking in the sun that warms the meadow.

Meeting friends in the Hawthorne District to discuss art, travel, writing, Art Fiberfest, the desert.

Relationships, friendships, community and caring for each other.

Rice invited me to journal one afternoon at Reed College where Art Fiberfest was being held so I showed up and worked on my paper boat while Teesha and Tracy worked on their journal pages.

It was fun. Their journals are so beautiful and so uniquely their own. I always get inspired around journalers.

Meanwhile Rice taped and videoed and interviewed the people in the room for her next book. I learned a lot about the early days of stamping. (Check out Tiphoni and Theo's sites too.)

Admired somebody's beautiful tattoos. She's got the skin I would have in a wild dream.

This is one of the boats you will see when you visit the paper boat site. The tiny handmade books fit inside the boat.

Mine is paper, acrylic paint, amber shellac, india ink, beeswax and resin. For awhile it glued itself together and I thought all was lost but I persevered and it worked.

I put in the burning house to signify life's brevity; with the passing of several great artists this week I'm again reminded that we burn through our days; they pass as effortlessly as paper boats on the current.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I'm going through a period of change right now; the blog has been quieter than usual because I'm doing my best to ride the currents silently. I can't talk about what I don't understand yet; I just feel internal shiftings and groanings as I continue my search for authenticity in my work and life. It occurs to me often that we are tainted by our capitalistic culture and by going to art school and absorbing the prevailing dictates to be a certain kind of creative person. I think it's good to question our mission statements from time to time and to ask ourselves if we're really doing what we want to be doing in life and if we're giving as much as we can.

So instead of working in this peculiar state of mind I've been taking long walks along the Molalla River, letting my mind wander as I pluck a stray salmonberry from a bush along the trail or rob a low hanging branch on a wild cherry tree.

I'm writing in my journal as usual but the answers are emerging very slowly when they do. I feel suspended.

Cherries on the hiking trail.

My companion for 30 years. Choose carefully my onions. Although I didn't choose. I fell, tumbled, went down like a stone from the first day we met. What is love and how much of it is hormones, fantasy and projection?

As I walked today I reflected on the sweetness of summer. I gave thanks that there was no howling wind, no biting cold, no winter depression.

I think most creatives share my restless mind, my search for resolution, my endless cycle of work, rest, curiosity and dreaminess. Sometimes we know everything and sometimes we know nothing at all.

Okay, here is the take-home, a quote from Carol Lee Flinders. "When a message wants to move from the unconscious to the conscious level, we experience a kind of turbulence first, the flutters that signal disequilibrium."

I like that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Solstice and IEA

June is the best month and summer solstice is the favorite season; my Fairy Roses bloom, Lake Oswego has a big art festival and our Garden Group gathers to celebrate together. Look how Tao has grown; he can flip through the pictures on my iPhone, say many words, identify all the barnyard animals and charm the socks off a monkey. He gives me the love shivers.

This is the kitchen of our friends' house. It is a berm house (built into the hillside with a southern exposure) and the location of powerful, progressive energy. My friends run a CSA farm and supply food, eggs and honey to their subscribers. The house is heated with a wood burning cook stove and has a toilet that recycles waste into clean fertilizer for the garden. On this day they had planned to cook beans in their solar oven but it was overcast so we ate something else instead.

John and I brought the peeled fava beans, lightly blanched with onion and olive oil. Seiko made the brown rice balls covered with coconut and the mung bean dessert that was foreign looking but delicious. Bev made banana bread and John contributed 2 kinds of home made cheese from their new cow. Noah picked the strawberries and Patti and Paul brought wheat bread and 3 more kinds of cheeses. Chavo and John brought 2 kinds of home made wine.

I brought my appetite.

Solstice strawberries, fresh from the garden.

We discussed current events and slugs in the garden while I took pictures and put all my bracelets on Tao's tiny arms. Bev described how two of their recent woofers (farm interns) brought out their cellos and had played a concert on their deck the night before. Music, wine, friends, wholesome food, slow pleasures.
Finally, some pictures of the IEA tribe who gathered here at my house on Thursday night for a meeting. We planned an Encaustic Jam Session that will be held toward the end of August in Camas, Washington that will hose 30 avid wax artists giving 7 demos a day and making lots of fun together. Anyone who has attended our meetings in the past is invited and of course current IEA members.

We also discussed a big Encaustic show coming up here in Portland next year. Announcement coming soon. This will be an open invitational with a call for encaustic art going out in December. We are all very excited about this.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Four Days by the Sea

I still haven't returned to earth following my time taking classes at Sitka. If you don't know of it, it has been in Otis, Oregon since the 70's offering summer classes and artists' residencies. It is a magnificent place right next to the town of Lincoln City on the Pacific Ocean and the classes offered are excellent. When I heard that a class in plaster painting was on offer I decided to jump - there aren't that many out there and as a teacher of plaster painting myself I wanted to see what another artist was doing with the medium.

This shot looks down at the Centrum Building there. It is surrounded by deep forest and hiking trails. You will see critters and hear quiet nature. Your heart will soften.

You will eat salmon from the local fishermen and you will rejoice in the perfection of nature's bounty.

You will take pictures and sigh and write in your journal and sigh and walk the powdery sand beach and sigh.

You will sleep under a white duvet and keep your snacks handy and have the whole darned place to yourself.

You will squint into the nice view off your patio and watch the sea birds rise and fall against the wind. You will follow the hunting paths of pelicans as they sweep north and south at sunrise and sunset.

Your excellent teacher, Patricia Wheeler will demonstrate her approach to painting, transferring and scribing plaster. You will learn finishing techniques you did not know before and you will be glad!

Here are my classmates creating a painting together. It only took about 10 minutes and it turned out beautifully.

Every person in the class had a hand in this. It was magic.

A gathering of angels, playing together for 4 days and making an ungodly mess of the studio. We were like children in mud.

This is our studio where the magic transpired.

Holy, holy, holy. With art in my life every moment is a waking dream.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Two More

Yes, my studio is full of plaster dust and niblets of dried plaster but all in the name of science. Tried a different material today; plaster of paris instead of the mud in the tub. It was really different to work with and the surfaces of these two feel different than the previous experiments. The colors are much softer too.

I am loving this so much. I burned the surface of one of these with a torch until the plaster swelled and made a loud popping noise. That's the kind of experiment I love. No guts, no glory. Or something like that. Now I have to rush off and do laundry for my trip to Sitka. I'll be posting from there in the coming week. Chow.

My Talented Bro'

You gotta check out my brother-in-law's new blog here. Load him down with comments, please? He is a plein air painter with an extraordinary eye and color palette. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is on the verge of starting an etsy store at my behest. He has resisted starting a blog until now so let's welcome him big time. Thanks!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Plaster Plaster Plaster

It was hard getting the colors right on this one. The surface is a soft, powdery blue with warmer layers revealed and sharp focus lines scored in. A colleague once pointed out that a good abstract should contain areas of soft as well as areas of sharp focus; I don't know if I'd adhere to that but this one has both. I haven't cold waxed the surface yet but I'm going to. That should bring up the color a little.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mo' Plaster

One more for the day. I'm anxious to work larger but for now I just need samples for my class in July. I used the same approach on this one as the last one; meant to take the torch to it but think I'll do that before I go to bed tonight. Anyway, here it is. This time I made the photo of the finished piece larger so you can see the detail if you click on it.

This is what I started with. I'm so into this that I signed up for a 4 day plaster painting class that starts on Wednesday of this week. I'm sure another artist will have her own techniques to share; Pat Wheeler is the instructor and I'm looking forward to meeting her. Mmmm, staying in a motel and painting all day for 4 days; can I take it? hee hee. I think I can. Nothing I love more than being in the classroom, equally as a student or teacher.

This is a midway point in the work on this piece. I'm all excited to pack up my bags again and head on over to the beach; I'll post from there and take lots of photos for you.

Okay, back to the studio to start the next one. This one will get the big torch burn. Show you the results next time.

Plaster Layers & Excavation

I'm knee deep in plaster. This is the sample piece I finished this morning; layers of plaster and paint, distressed, sanded, wire brushed, built up and worn away. It's as though centuries of time have passed to make this plaster wall soft and beautiful. These are the paintings in my dreams - warm, ancient, glowing with color.

I started with a plastered board that I'd laid textures onto. Random painting on that. I always start out thinking I'll photograph each step and then after a few photographs I go into a trance and only wake up when the work is finished. That's when I smack my head and remember I was supposed to be recording the process.

So I missed many steps. But you'll get an idea of what's going on. More plaster mixture added in this step to the painted layer. Then some sanding and distressing.

Until I got this.

And this was the last photo I shot (all these photos shot on my iPhone) before I left off taking pictures. The finished surface (first photo, not this one) is so soft and beautiful. I finished the plaster with Dorland's wax, something that I usually use to tone down a shiney surface but in this case it closed the pores in the surface of the work and left a soft satiny glow. I don't normally use cold wax on plaster but I was curious.

Heading back in there now for more plaster fun. Wheee, I can't get enough!