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


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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 1 of Paradise City

It was a bit challenging for me when I had to decide the placement of my new work in my booth at the show. I used to bring only watercolor paintings and I used to fill every inch of display space available to me. This was the first time I had a combination of smaller encaustic paintings to hang along side a watercolor counterpart. I also felt it was important to allow breathing space for the new works but that was a challenge.

I have two more days left at the show and I have never been so overwhelmed with curiosity and questions from patrons. The encaustic paintings have definitely been a highlight and I am hoping the interest continues.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the road tomorrow... Paradise City Fine Arts and Crafts Show

Last year I brought a few new encaustic works to the show but I was still confused, trying to figure out what I was doing with my art and the encaustic medium. It was the beginning of a new series and I hadn't realized it yet... isn't that always the way a new series begins?

It's been a hectic week to say the least, and tonight I teach my continuing ed class. I have a fun, easy lesson planned, using masking tape as a resist so we can work on watercolor washes and layering color yet keeping it transparent. I spent most of the day loading my car and packing up everything for the 3 day show (actually I spent most of last night not sleeping, trying to plan out in my mind what I needed so loading today would be easier). My body of work has changed since last year and I am bringing more encaustics and less watercolor paintings; landscape as a subject matter will be the bond that ties these two different mediums together with my "Pathways and Transitions" series making it's debut.

I hit the road in the morning, driving to the western part of the state where I will have the day to setup my booth, the show opens Saturday at 10am. The weather is perfect, finally, and this is a peak weekend for New England autumn foliage viewing.

There has been excellent PR for the show (a reason I love doing it) and people always come to look, whether they decide to shop or not is another question! If I am lucky, a few of my loyal patrons will come see me even if it's just to say hello.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

double workshops today

Each of these cards is 3.5" x 2.5", the first is watercolor and sumi-e ink, the next is encaustic with oil pastel

I am excited to be teaching an entirely new group of students today. I was asked by one of my educators from graduate school to come in and teach a watercolor demo this morning to a group of artists and teachers at Express Yourself. Then later this afternoon I will be introducing an artist trading card workshop to a group of 30 (students and educators combined). When I was in graduate school one of the classes in our curriculum was held at Express Yourself where we learned how to incorporate all different modalities of learning with all different types of learners. 

"Express Yourself immerses young people into the creative world of music, dance, and visual arts and empowers them with life-changing results. Express Yourself celebrates cultural diversity and collaboration with isolated youth from 17 Department of Mental Health residential and inpatient facilities who form their own large community" (taken from the express yourself website).

In preparation for today's workshop, I have covered blank cards with wax, students will be given etching tools (cautiously) and oil pastels to use freely on their cards. There will also be a wide variety of other art supplies and collage materials and students can choose any medium of art that appeals to them. Because I will be teaching a diverse group of students with all levels of art experience, I will have to play it by ear. 

What is so amazing to me is that when I first taught the ATC lesson plan in graduate school I was able to use the small cards as my own personal experiment, learning how to manage a new medium (painting with wax) and it made my learning process much more comfortable and less intimidating. I was willing to paint human form and figures uninhibited, this was a first! As a result, I am now using encaustics in my newest body of work and I have received great successes. 

Yesterday I heard I was accepted into the 66th Annual Members Prize Show at the Cambridge Art Association and last week I received the 2nd place award at the Swampscott Arts Association; both shows I had submitted small encaustic works made with a small card design combined with collage elements in presentation. I used a shadow box frame, I mounted the card on foam core, floated it on watercolor paper, and used my chop stamp underneath the card. 

Sample of an early encaustic work, collage elements complete the presentation:

The artist trading cards I made initially, combined with my willingness to try something new, led my art in an entirely new direction. My hope is I will be able to inspire and share this creative process with the students I have today as well as expose them to a wide variety of art mediums in a non-intimidating way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Is it wrong to use white?

 "Autumn Pond", watercolor, 26" x 32"

At the beginning of each new class session, I discuss basic techniques we will be using and the lessons I hope to cover. I like to make sure the students in my class are familiar with my style of painting and hope no one is disappointed with my liberal approaches toward creating a successful watercolor. My focus is on patterns and impressions in nature rather than realism. I mention there will be times when I feel using white paint is necessary even though there is an ongoing debate amongst fellow watercolorists as to whether using white paint is appropriate or not (this topic comes up when I am reviewing everyone's supplies).

“The classical way to produce a white passage or line in a watercolor is to “reserve” the white paper for it, that is leave the paper completely untouched.  This can be done by carefully painting around the area.  And the classical way to lighten the tone of a paint is to dilute it with water and let the white paper show through the wash.  There are some artists who consider themselves purists who would only support reserving paper or diluting with water in watercolor.” 
(taken from

I use Holbein's antique white when I need to add whites and lights to smaller areas in the painting. It sometimes is a solution for me when I have a heavy, dark area that needs to be broken up. The antique watercolor is not a gouache but is more opaque than traditional watercolor paint. When I am working in a small area (ex: brittle tree branches) I prefer responding with detail after the paint washes have flowed onto my paper rather than tightly controlling them ahead of time.

Above is my initial paint wash from the first class, I had established a general sense of composition and mood based on the placement and colors I chose.

I did not mask out areas where I wanted to show dense tree branches but instead I choose to use white paint after creating a greater sense of depth with layered washes.

Crispy burnt orange and yellows were my primary focus, combined with the impression of the dried out white branches, help me to convey the feeling of full autumn foliage. The linear use of white is my way of adding depth and pattern to the composition. Fall is my favorite color time of year.

This painting will be an addition to the Pathways and Transition series.