Thursday, December 30, 2010

After the Storm





Still in vacation mode but what a wild week it has been. I spent Christmas in Georgia and my 2 night visit turned into 4 nights when flights to Boston were cancelled because of the blizzard. I think if I had been home I would have enjoyed taking photos of the storm but my photographer friend Rob Kipp captured the essence and the beauty far better than I could have. To see more of his work visit http://robkipp.com/newwork; he is an award winning photographer and you will see why. 



General Glover House in Winter Snow Storm, Marblehead, MA taken by Rob Kipp



Morning walk from yesterday, the sidewalks aren't cleared but the streets are... walking the dog is a real challenge!









After the new year I will be back in the studio continuing my sea and sky series, and the following weekend is the opening of the winter show for the Swampscott Arts Association. I have also been substitute teaching in town and am trying to find a new balance with the additional work.

I wish you all a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful new year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making time for ... Morning Light



Once there is time (after the holiday season), I am thinking I will use this photo from this morning as inspiration for my next encaustic painting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookiemania

I never would have ended up with the wonderful assortment of gingerbread cookies if it weren't for the help from my daughter and her friends. These two simple cookies took me such a long time I knew there was no way I would have enough decorated before tonight's party.


Luckily there was a half day of school and my daughter (hiding behind her long hair on the right) along with her two good friends spent most of the afternoon turning plain gingerbread into works of art.

My contribution, this simple oatmeal cookie assortment.

Here is their collaborative effort, if you looks closely you will see Harry Potter characters (left side) to ninja warriors (with toothpick weapons) to couples in matching argyle sweaters. I wonder if it will be hard to watch people eat them!

The Art of Food, Baking for the Holidays.

It's been a busy few days for me as I have been preparing for a party tonight here in my home. I found out last week that the local art association did not have enough of the membership signed up to attend the holiday party; it's usually held at the Nahant Country Club and I decided to offer my home as an alternative. I felt terrible knowing the annual party (which is also when the officers and board are approved for the coming year) was going to be cancelled. I was president of the organization about ten years ago so I know first hand how frustrating it can be when the involvement from the membership is minimal. I also know it's an expensive event and many people are cutting back this year.

Who loves a good party... I do! I decided to co-ordinate with Barbara, (president of SAA) main dishes... I am making a turkey breast, she is bringing a honey baked ham, and each person coming tonight is to bring a side dish or appetizer. I think I will have between 15 - 20 people which is very manageable. I had to clean up my painting space aka my dining room and new paintings are on hold until after the season. I found a different creative outlet and have been spending my time discovering new recipes and baking this week.

This morning I will be decorating my gingerbread men! I have an army of them and was too tired to finish last night. The twist to all of this is that I recently rejoined Weight Watchers and all of these recipes are 2 point desserts... if you are a member you know what a joy anything 2 points can be. I will add more photos as my "artwork" comes to fruition later today.

Bon Appetit!


These gingerbread men are waiting for their faces, the icing will consist of powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest.


Candied ginger-oatmeal cookies have small bits of crystalized ginger which adds a wonderful zippy flavor.


These oatmeal-raisin bites were a recipe in the handout from the first week of the new weight watchers plan. Absolutely delicious.


The gingerbread I made was cake-like and IMHO not worth the 4 points value each slice has according to the diet plan.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Storm Wave, 16" x 20" encaustic painting

Trying to make the time to paint this week has been a challenge, having constant interruptions has been an even bigger challenge! I can't decide if this is finished and I need to spend time looking at it from a distance. I love the abstract feeling the layers of wax create, and I realized today the reason I have been drawn to painting seascapes with encaustic is probably because of the fluidity in both. What I am thinking of adding to this painting is detail that will create more definition where the wave is, and possibly some 3-dimensional texture. The entire painting surface is smooth and I totally bonded with my torch when I painted this time! Using the wax abstractly is so different from what I had been doing with the image transfers that it's too soon for me to know how I feel about it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Morning Walk at High Tide

Technology continues to amuse me and challenge me, I am new to youtube videos. I decided to try putting together a short video from this morning, I wanted the sounds of the rocks and the waves combined with visuals. What do you think?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Wishful Thinking

It's a Friday in December, no matter where you go there are more people, more cars, and everything takes longer. The good news is, my creative juices are flowing. The bad news, I did not have the time to stay home and work on what could possibly become my next series of work. I had time to melt wax medium in my new 11 x 11 skillet early this morning. I had time to order more medium from the Dick Blick website, anticipating that I will need more than what's melted in the skillet. But life got in the way, I had to go out.


My skillet with melted wax medium, my hake brush (and holiday decorations)


Every morning when I walk my dog along the beach I am inspired. Sometimes I pull out the camera in my cell phone and take pictures because I see so many patterns and designs that it makes me want to re-create them. I think there is a delicate balance between what we see abstractly and what is actual reality. How can I re-create the illusion?



Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Big" plans

This time of year there are so many distractions that I have trouble maintaining a studio schedule. I left town for Thanksgiving and returned just a few days later, but there is so much going on! I feel like sometimes I have to hold my creative outlet on the back burner until the holidays are passed. One thing I have had on my mind is that I had purchased larger wood panels anticipating my desire to work on larger encaustic paintings. I also had been planning on getting a larger heating appliance for melting the wax medium and I finally made the time to do that yesterday. (I hope it works right otherwise I may have a slight kink in my "big" plans). It's even possible I will have time to start painting tomorrow. Joy.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

W.orld W.ide W.eb - the endless possibilities

The past few days I have been focusing on taking advantage of different tools available on the internet that allow me to share, promote, and sell my artwork. I have been overwhelmed by the unlimited resources and although I have maintained a personal website (www.fineartbyrobin.com) for over ten years, I decided there was more I could be doing to become more visible on the web. As we enter another holiday season, I will be curious to see if joining various websites will actually make a difference in my art sales although either way I know being visible on the internet is always a good thing.

I decided to include links to these new websites on my blog and you can see them on the right side column. My first new addition was joining the Encaustic Art website where I hope to both share and learn from other encaustic artists. I never would have found this site if it weren't for my newest follower, Wax Beach Artist, and my ability to find her blog which lead me to this site. The next addition happened over the weekend when I had a friend request on facebook from someone local in my town who created, manages, and promotes the greenlifesavor website and she asked me if I would be interested in sharing my artwork on her website. Then yesterday I decided to join the fineartamerica website, mainly because I had heard from my friend and fellow blogger Deborah that the site allowed for artists to offer for sale both prints and note cards of their work and that they actually created everything for the artist, assuming the artist wanted to offer that service to their patrons.

There is a wealth of knowledge just waiting for us to tap into, all just a keyboard and computer monitor away. I have recently been educated and inspired by Katharine Cartwright's blog and Joanne Mattera's blog and continue to learn from these wonderfully insightful and experienced teachers.

Now that the watercolor class I teach is over, I have more time to focus on the business of art along with developing my skills (just in time for the holiday season). My demo painting from the last class was inspired by color and mood along with the upcoming winter season.

Romantic Reflections, watercolor, 18" x 24"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Opening to Possibilities

This week I let myself drift into several new ways of using the encaustic medium. I have always been cautious when it comes to exposing my art to the public eye but I have been more willing to take chances on my blog. Sometimes I use your feedback here and then decide which pieces I will feature in upcoming shows and it really is nice having this venue for previewing my artwork. 

I demonstrated encaustic image transfers on Tuesday night although I didn't have time to complete this transfer until the next day. Dimensional landscape painting has been my way of incorporating wax in my artwork for the past year and a half.

Frozen Pond, 8" x 8'



At the demo I also talked about the endless possibilities artists have been using wax medium and I also decided to try a few new things. There are actual maple leaves in the collage below, but I wanted them to look more like skeletons so they are flattened and encased in wax. 

Red Maple, 8" x 8"



I walk my dog every morning and even though the ocean has never been a subject I have gravitated toward, I felt like I had to try to paint the way the water and sky made me feel. I never would have attempted an abstract if it weren't for all the questions and preparations I made before the demonstration. I also came to realize I know more about this medium than I originally thought.

Gray Day at the Beach, 10" x 10"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eucalyptus, encaustic collage

Had to add more details to my collage! Working with organic material felt a lot like arranging flowers in a vase. I had fun building depth by layering leaves.


I have several other projects happening, some are still in progress, some are complete, all are encaustics, soon to be shared.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Go with the Flow

Eucalyptus, 6" x 6" mixed media collage, is this finished?


This morning I decided to transfer a black and white landscape image onto the green tinted colored panel that I prepared last night. It was a disaster! I am still feeling so naive and under educated when it comes to encaustic painting but the best way for me to learn is by trial and error hopefully with an occasional success. I melted off the transfer because it just wasn't going to work the way I had envisioned and then I started adding other colors only to feel like I ended up with mush. I melted off wax once again and sat in front of my panel wondering why nothing was working for me today. Then I started playing with my heated palette and pushing the panel onto it not caring what happened because I had already failed twice... I had the wax dripping off, then tried building it up more, then melted it down again, and did this until I felt comfortable with the color remaining on the panel. When I was finished, it looked like the color of eucalyptus. I had dried eucalyptus in the house, and the next thing I knew, I was dunking the leaves into my wax medium and adhering it to the colored panel. The DVD I watched yesterday ("Encaustic with a Textile Sensibility" by Daniella Woolf) had included a section on collage and I learned that a variety of organic materials were preserved in the wax.

I can't decide if I need to add other elements to this (silver markings, depth in pigment) because collage with wax is so new to me. I keep thinking about my original idea which was to incorporate pencil drawing into this panel, guess I got side tracked. I can still smell the eucalyptus, I wonder how long the scent will last.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And so it goes...

I continue to prepare panels, collect transfer images from my photos, and make notes for the demo I am going to be presenting on Tuesday night at the Swampscott Arts Association. I have spent most of my energy during this past year and a half learning how to transfer images into wax medium, then add layers of colored wax to create dimensionality within the transfer, and I feel confident that I can share my process stress-free. Preparing for the demo has made me more aware of all the different ways other artists are using encaustic that are different from what I am doing. It's overwhelming!

This past June I had purchased several DVD's at the encaustic conference I attended and finally I made the time to watch one of them this week. I highly recommend Daniella Woolf's DVD, "Encaustic With a Textile Sensibility" and a visit to her websiteDaniella demonstrates so many different techniques in such an easy to understand way.



I have already prepared several panels with wax medium (above) and at the demo I will have enough of a ground to proceed comfortably into the image transfer. After watching Daniella's DVD I decided to add colored wax before I transfer one of my images although I have never done this before and I may try and work on this in the morning rather than try something new for the first time with an audience watching. I am thinking about drawing the image with colored pencil and transferring it as a drawing rather than a photograph...


Ready, Set, Go!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Performance Art

Last night I went to a reception that was absolutely fabulous! I taught several workshops at Express Yourself last month and was thrilled when I was invited to attend this event. Artist Nancy Ostrovsky painted to the rhythms and beat of Stan Stickland and his drummers while we all watched her transform a blank canvas into an energized painting. Last year the Express Yourself organization performed for the president as they were awarded and recognized nationally for the work they do with disadvantaged youths.


video

Monday, November 8, 2010

Winter Show, featured artist

This morning I received an email from my friend Barbara, the president of the Swampscott Arts Association, asking me if I would be interested in having one of my paintings featured on the winter show exhibit announcement for the SAA. I was flattered and happily agreed, then she and I met and together we designed the show card. We kept the design simple and although I had to crop my painting I was pleased with the way the finished card looks.




What is different about this show from past winter shows is that it is being held in a gallery exhibition space in Salem rather than at the college in town where we usually exhibit. Normally we get publicity in the local papers but sending out postcards is a requirement of the gallery and not typical of a SAA show. It's two months away but before you know it, the holidays will be upon us and it was nice to get the card done before craziness sets in.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

prep work day

A week from Tuesday I will be doing an art demonstration with encaustic (wax) paints and although I have done many watercolor demonstrations in the past, I have never done an encaustic demo. I was hired by the local art association and I know some of the membership, but I always like to do as much prep work ahead of time so the demo will run smoothly. Today I decided to prepare several wood boards and because I plan on doing an encaustic image transfer, I thought it would be good practice to work out which image, what size, and assorted other details.

This photo of a country road in New Iberia, Louisiana, was one of my favorites from my visit there over the summer.

8" x 8" encaustic image transfer - I ended up working on this most of the day and now I may have to find something else to use the night of the demo!


My photo used for the image transfer is seen below, next to another copy of the image already burnished and transferred with colored wax details added to it.


I prepared another smaller cradled birch panel, 6" x 6", ready with 3 layers of wax medium. You can also see all of the small works waiting for images to be transfered and painted above. There aren't enough hours in a day and I even had an extra hour today!



Monday, November 1, 2010

Musical Inspiration

I have been working (slowly) on a demo painting from the class I teach on Thursday nights. I wanted to  blend impressionistic brushstrokes into representational form. This weekend I decided to download and purchase some Andrea Bocelli music along with several other classical Italian singers and something happened to me when I took out my paints, I got lost in my creative process, for hours and hours. It was heavenly.

Halloween proved to be a bit of a distraction but this morning I think I finished working on my newest  pathway painting. This has been an ongoing theme in my art for almost a year and a half now, and I do think I am about ready to see what's waiting for me on the other side. (I have to admit, viewing this painting works best at a distance). I hope the feeling I was trying to convey translates on your computer monitor.

"Another Pathway", watercolor, 30" x 22"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

MTEL's - results are in

Yesterday I received my initial test results from when I took the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure last month. I passed all three tests. YEAH! I had thought the communication and literacy test was not too difficult, both written and reading tests, but you never know. The visual arts test was a real challenge! The questions covered the classics to modern art to graphic design. It was humbling for sure. I will get my numerical scores in postal mail next week, then I can take the next, final step ... applying for the actual license through the Department of Education.

And I had more good news - I sold 3 encaustic paintings off of my website this week. Out of the blue someone found my site and decided to purchase two small works; once he received them he decided to buy one more. It was the first time I had used my paypal feature but it sure made the sale transaction go smoothly.

I am slowly painting a large 30" x 22" watercolor as my demo for the class I teach. I was going to work on it today but ended up getting sidetracked with a few Halloween diversions. 


The pumpkin was designed by my daughter, she said this was a "Harry Potter-esque pumpkin".

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

more sculptural paintings

A couple of weeks ago I saw on a facebook post that the Ampersand Company had created a special panel for encaustic painters. They were offering painting boards that were already treated and "primed" with a white ground and when I called to order some of these boards, I was also offered free samples! Within a week, I received 2 small boards that were 3"x 5" and 5" x 7". I also ordered square cradled panels along with the trading card size.

3.5" x 2.5", these paintings will be floated and mounted in a 6" x 6" shadowbox frame



3" x 5", Autumn Pond


My encaustic paintings are starting to have more depth with layers of color, I am focused on creating sculptural qualities (I had trouble scanning the images because the 3-dimensionality throws off the scanner).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Art and Technology, and more pathways

Recently I updated my computer by installing newer software. I never realized how important my computer was to my art until I had trouble finding specific photographs that I needed in order to start working on new encaustic image transfers. It made me think about the fact that my creativity is dependent not just on my ability to paint but also on my computer and printer, what a dichotomy!

new small encaustic paintings



I feel like I can relate to Monet's haystack series in a new way as I continue to paint the same place and pathways using different colors during the different times of the year. Each time I do one of these small encaustic paintings I am developing and refining my skills as an encaustic painter. My focus on the details changes despite the fact I am using the same images. My favorite encaustic technique (for now) is building up sculptural qualities with the wax so the painting is literally 3-dimensional.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

corrections

This was one of those paintings that changed from good (my initial paint wash was clean with a strong composition) to bad to worse, then I decided to collage leaves into it, and I tried to "save" it. I also realized the lighting was way off last night when I took photos and the colors here are now true to the actual painting.

"Crimson Wind", 30" x 23" watercolor collage


It is time for me to move to my next project, my encaustic paints are calling to me. Last weekend when I was exhibiting I met a patron/artist who told me she was painting with beeswax and watercolor paints. She starts with wax medium then paints with the watercolors, then another layer of medium, then some sculpting into the layers of wax... I am curious.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

watercolor resist ... turned collage


"Crimson Wind",  30" x 23",  before and after adding leaves (I am going to add even more leaves)


If I had been more focused when I put down my initial paint washes, I could have allowed for falling leaves (in lighter colors) without needing to turn this into a collage. Live and Learn.

Oh, and this was my other demo





Thursday, October 14, 2010

Double workshop day

Last week at Express Yourself, the first workshop I taught was for adults and we used tape as a watercolor resist. There was a videographer filming and I was told (as the microphone was being attached to my shirt) there will be a short film made at the end of the school year highlighting a variety of the year's activities, shared on stage and accompanied with a live performance. The participants at Express Yourself will perform a range of artistic expressions that they learned and developed while attending the program.


Teachers and other adult participants learned my watercolor techniques during the first workshop (later that day I was back teaching an artist trading card workshop to high schoolers).



Some of the finished paintings from the morning workshop



This afternoon I go back to Express Yourself to teach another artist trading card workshop to a younger group of active kids. Last week when I taught the high schoolers it was easy to keep them occupied because I brought in prepared encaustic cards ready for them to etch and embellish with oil pastel. It's always exciting to be able to teach and learn a new art medium. This afternoon's cards will not include encaustic but there will be a wide variety of art supplies available for card making geared toward the younger age group. After the workshop ends I will have a short break, then I teach my regular Thursday night adult watercolor class at the college. We have also been working on the watercolor resist lesson because I feel it is an excellent exercise to help learn the qualities of the paint. When we go back to landscape painting there is always an improvement in layering color and depth which is why this lesson is a personal favorite.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

show re-cap




My booth was 10' x 10' and it was the first time I exhibited a combination of watercolor and encaustic landscape paintings.


There is always a fundraising event tied to the art show, this year it was food,  crEATe
Each place setting (pictured above) including the centerpiece, was created by one of the exhibiting artists.


Early Monday morning, the hallway in the main building (with my booth left front) shows how few people arrived when the show first opened at 10am. There were 275 exhibitors, ranging from fiber artists, jewelers, furniture makers to painters, and everything in between. I was in the Arena building but there were 2 additional annex buildings and a main exhibitor tent (and a huge food/music tent).

My personal favorite - the sculptural garden outside, (pictured below) a combination of rock, wood, and metal sculptures.



Now that my car is unloaded and I am sitting leisurely at home, I can start to process what happened at the show beyond my actual art sales. I never had as much interest and as many people looking in my booth as I had at this show and I have to attribute that to the new combination of watercolors and encaustic paintings. As artists we forget that the non-artist community is not as informed and is looking to understand the creative process and details. My encaustic landscape paintings were new and different. When I went to an encaustic conference this past June I felt like I was doing something wrong because the way I was using the wax in my paintings was not like anyone else at the conference. I was using the medium less abstractly, and worried I wasn't building enough of a luminous effect with the wax medium. Now I can say that I am confident I am doing exactly what I should be doing!

Despite the fact that my total sales for the show were down about 10% from last year (and I still had a productive, profitable show) I have several galleries interested in showing my work, assuming they follow up, and for me that is another level of success. I am invited to show again with Paradise City in the spring season and I am thinking I have to embrace the opportunity. But right now, it sure feels good to be home.