Thursday, December 30, 2010

Encaustic Days 7-8-9

Tonight I'm tired. I've been underwater in the land of no time as I've lost myself in the wax. It's cold in my studio with the exhaust fan on all the time and winter really here now. I'm bitten good.

If you work in colored wax yourself you know that each color breaks differently under the heat and that you will not fully control everything that happens. You just work toward an idea with an open mind.

At least that's how it's been for me. Each of these pieces started out in an entirely different direction than how they ended. The wax is deep and covers the past as though it never existed. Well, not entirely.

It can look hard, pillowy, glassy or matte. Transparent or opaque. It is immediate gratification.

I love color and most of my work is extremely colorful but for some reason (because it's winter?) I just want white in these. Ivory, gray, flecks of color but mostly neutral whites.

Each day I think I won't have the energy to do so much again but I am getting up earlier and staying up later to do this work. It is the best feeling in the world. When the muse favors you and brings you faith in yourself. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Encaustic Days 4-5-6

Wheee, I'm on a roll. This is my favorite of the day; I think you can really see the desert influence coming out here. For some reason it reminds me of a kachina doll all squared off and rigid. Rain on the desert. Anyway, I'm happy with it.

And a detail. I love lingering over the board, carving away and slowly building up the surface.

This next one is the least favorite of the day. 'Nuff said.


And this was my 2nd favorite. Playing with the texture and color.

Detail. Now I get to take the next 2 days off. Big smile.

Encaustic Day 3

This one I'm calling "Ooze". I expected the oil paint in the little protuberances to do something very different than what it did when I applied heat. Anyway, that's what this is about; trying things that I am curious about and learning from my experiments. 

Several readers asked how I got the texture in the last encaustic. The answer is that I used a combination of wood cutting tools and small loop tools to dig out the wax and then I fused it to soften the edges. 

Okay. Time to make the donuts.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Encaustic Day 2

I already missed a day but I'm going to do a 3rd one tonight that will be an improvement (I hope) on this one. So far what I'm loving is texture and pattern. It's foreign for me to work without a representational image to sort of anchor the abstract but that is what I'm trying to do. To stay mostly abstract.

It's a fun and interesting challenge for myself. It's hard not to want to pop in some literal subject matter.

Okay, that's it for today. I'll be very surprised if I can stick with this for a month, We'll see.

BTW, one reader suggested using soda crackers in the place of graham crackers in the toffee recipe. She said that she's had it both ways and I can imagine that salty toffee instead of sweet would be amazing. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Wax Bug

Christmas Day with the family. It was cozy, magical, a day filled with lots of fancy food and my good people. 

John pointed out that if the lights are low enough we don't look bad. He's a corker.

Our first-born girl. She's the image of her grandpa and grandma Newton. My but I'm proud of her.

Our baby girl Steff. Who hosted the family this year and who is the spirit of all goodness and kindness. We're kind of proud of her too.

The tall and handsome mystery man grandson. Another Newton look-alike. He is smart, thoughtful, talented and kind. *sigh* Everything I could ask for and the apple of grandma's eye. The arrow sent out from my bow.

This is a spread prepared for the written journal page. It's a painting in itself. I love making the pages ahead of time and then watching them evolve with words and images.

The recent wax classes have me bitten again by the wax bug; this time really hard. So I got into the studio and fiddled around. The image above just shows a bunch of colors blown randomly around by the torch. I just wanted to watch the wax move.

I grabbed a bit of collage and turned the board into this. It's not exciting to me because I just did stuff I already knew about so in the next one I pushed myself into newer territory.

This is the next board at a stage that had interesting parts but didn't feel finished. I was working intuitively here and while it reminded me of space phenomena it didn't satisfy me. So I kept going and arrived at the next shot.

Now I like it. The writing says, "Touch Me, Don't Touch Me." 

Abstraction is something I'm still learning about and that I want to do more of. This one I like because I can feel it. That charge of energy when two beings touch. 

Here's a close up of the wax. My challenge to myself is to complete at least one wax painting a day for the next month. We'll see if I can keep to that pace. Now it's time to get TUIT.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do You See What I See?

Look what I found on my morning stroll. Nature has everything under control. The daffodils are on their way. Doesn't that make you happy?

And the Christmas camellia is blooming once again. She loves freezing rain, snow, icicles, anything you can throw at her. She is an ice princess.

While inside the snug little cottage mama bear bakes up a nice batch of toffee graham crackers. These are so easy even I could pull off a win.

Graham Cracker Toffee
  • About 12 whole (24 squares), (honey) graham crackers (perforated) broken into quarter sections
  • 1/2 lb  butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar
  • 3/4 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 3/4 C Chocolate chips
  • 1T milk
Line up the 44 pieces in a jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with low sides), sides touching. Over low heat melt butter. Stir in the sugar – simmer (not boil) about 10 minutes – until it melts.  Occasionally stir. Pour mix over crackers – spread evenly. Sprinkle w/nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Cool & separate onto aluminum foil.
Over low heat melt chocolate chips and stir in milk. Top crackers with ribbons of melted chocolate by dribbling off a spoon. Add more milk if chocolate is too thick to form a ribbon. Package and give away to friends!

Not much going on for the past few days beside keeping up with the season and doing my morning pages. Everything waits for winter and then winter is very busy.

It's a time of making out the teaching schedule for 2011 and dreaming of travel, friends and looking back on the last year's journey. That long journey that took so many dives and turns, darknesses and light, loss and redemption. I was lost and then I was found. Amazing grace.

This is a good time to remind you again that I'll be teaching at Malibu in March; a deep, thorough class in art journalling where we will share in sacred play, stare dreamily at the ocean and explore our love of writing and painting. All experience levels welcome; join me for a journey into self discovery.

I've been making sample boards for the wax classes. So many ways to play in wax. To experiment with a fascinating medium. Sometimes it's fun just to wax on the colors and blow the molten wax around to see what happens.

And one thing I forgot to mention when I showed you this piece of Kay's - the stencil used to make the Greek key design is from a set given to me by Mary Beth Shaw. She designed the stencils and has them on offer here: thank you Mary Beth for such useful and inspiring stencils and especially for giving me a second set after I misplaced the first set. (Duh!)

Okay, time to put on my dancing shoes and head into the last days of 2010. I'll try to post at least one more time before the year turns. Sending out love to each of you; stay warm and share yourselves with each other. I wish you all moments of magic and safety.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I am mesmerized by the wax - like a drunken sailor, helpless before the call of the sirens. The melty, fragrant, challenging medium has me for sure. Right before Christmas. This is why you won't be getting a card from me. I'm off waxing.

She kind of looks the way I feel. Aye, aye, aye, Christmas again and me with my head in the wrong place, off chasing fireflies and phosphorescent waves. No plum pudding for this family.

This painting is on a deep stretcher with wood panel on top and it is 12" square. I glued Italian writing around the edges; walnut stained.

What a fun day it was. It's sure a good thing there are no holidays coming or I would be feeling guilty about spending so much time in the studio. (ha ha - NOT). xo

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blue Virgin

I'm posting this image to force myself to stop messing with it. I feel like I finally accomplished something in the studio after a long period of procrastination. Yeah, whenever anyone asks me how I get myself into the studio to work I have to admit that I'm as bad as anyone for putting on the brakes when I want to be working. It's just getting started that's hard. Then you pretty quickly go into that state of mind where time stands still and nothing else matters but what you're doing.

This painting is 8x10 on wood panel and the first $150 takes it, shipping included, priority mail. Just email me at and I will let you know if it's still available. It is ready to hang and will be to you in time for Christmas if it can go by Monday's mail. I can take credit card or pay pal.

I have a few paintings like this one that I only hang at Christmas. I guess they are my ornaments since my little tinsel tree only has lights.

I have my little Christmas corner all set up and am feelling quite festive here. Anyone for a mug of hot buttered rum? It's really cold outdoors and it will warm us up while we visit. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010


These are the women that came to my studio over the weekend and pulled me out of my winter funk. That's my end of the story. Their end of the story is that they learned encaustic and had an exciting day making work that they are really proud of. As they should be.

Here is Kay using the scraper on the wax. The leaf with the gold highlights is a section of one piece she made. I'll show it in full at the end. Kay brought us a pear-chocolate-pudding that was yum. Not that we spend our time eating - lol.

Christine made this scientific piece for her husband who works with equations and such. I love seeing the layers of images through the wax.

Hi Christine! She brought enchiladas, brownies, cookies, lots of amazing food to share. She says, "honey, I'm from Louisiana. We don't go anywhere without food!" There is a world of sociology behind that statement; a world of love, generosity, extravagance and community. I'm going to make more food for future classes; I want to be like Christine. (and OMG, her enchilada recipe! A new tradition.)

Here she is painting on her hot palette encaustic face. Beautiful, isn't it?

Next we have Nancy's winter tree in a field of sparkling snow. Nancy took to the wax like a duck to water. She shared stories and photographs of her travels and experiences. Thank you Nancy, for the wonderful bits of fabric and photography that you gave us.

Nancy smooshing a piece of tissue into the warm wax. She made the most pieces I think. These guys were really productive.

This is Nancy's encaustic painted face. Doesn't she have a shy bit of whimsy in the curve of the mouth?
And I love the brushwork on the shoulders. Yellow always does it for me.

Kay took a broad interpretation of her face. Something about it reminds me of a Spanish matador. The sweeping gray stroke of the collar and judicious use of gold works well to frame the face.

This is Christine's face; a faithful rendering of the example in her packet. It may seem cruel to ask wax beginners to start out on such a difficult task but as I explained to them it is good practice in observation and you learn more from attempting something rather difficult that you do just skimming over something easy. Almost everyone who does this exercise is shocked by how good they are at it. That really gets you motivated to keep at it.

The beautiful primary colors.

And here is Kay's piece in it's entirety. The leaf is a pressed leaf that she embedded in the wax.

I know I said I wasn't going to teach in January but this was sooo much fun and pulled me out of my winter funk and maybe you will be at sixes and sevens in January too so if you want to learn wax with me in a 2 day class just go to this link and let me know. Once again, I only have room for 4 and if the weather is dramatic we will reschedule for the following weekend.

Plus I'll be making Christine's enchiladas for all of you. Toot sweet!!