Saturday, December 10, 2011

Demo's from last weekend

"Dreaming", 8" x 8" encaustic on panel

This week I was able to complete one of my demonstration paintings from last Saturday's reception. I added oil pastel and a greater sense of depth with pigmented wax, now this feels right to me. I continue to question why I am so attracted to painting the landscape even though I always admire abstract art done by other artists. I thought I would feel connected to vibrant color with the second demo started last weekend, but it just doesn't click with me when it's me painting! I am going to add white oil pastel to the piece below, and it will probably become more of a "thing", I just don't know what thing that will be yet.

"Abstract", 8" x 8", work in progress

My big project waiting to happen is going to be working larger using jumbo sized watercolor paper (that's been sitting in my studio for years). I want to have fun, mask with tape creating resists and many layers of watercolor washes, trees are going to continue to be my inspiration. 

Somehow I managed to do most of my holiday shopping already and now I can have some fun stimulating my creative juices.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pathways Reception and Demo

Thank you to all that came to yesterday's reception and demo. At one point the room was quite full with curious onlookers and I was able to share my enthusiasm and joy for encaustic painting. I demonstrated several techniques but my focus was on image transfers enhanced with layers of wax medium and pigment. 

I had prepared several wood panels with wax medium in order to show the different stages involved with the image transfer technique that I used in the Pathways Series. The panel below was started before the demo and at the demo I added layers of detailed color and medium. One more layer to add greater depth should complete this piece.

It was important to me that everyone see what I consider the most important first step of fusing the image into wax (shown below). Watching the image mesh into the wax medium is always a highlight. I will fill in gaps when I incorporate details with pigment.

These enthusiastic patrons stayed for the entire length of the demo, thank you for coming, asking questions, and sharing in my passion.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Local Publicity

Fortunately over the years I have established a relationship with two local Arts reporters. My current show has been publicized weekly for the past month in the "Arts and More" section of the town newspaper ( The Swampscott Reporter) with show information and a brief description posted every Thursday, the day the paper is printed. I also was interviewed by the Arts reporter for the online paper, the Swampscott Patch.

Deahn Berrini Leblang came to the show, took photos, and yesterday I was the feature story in the Sunday column of local culture.

Swampscott Patch

It's been great getting all the publicity and this week I will be preparing my encaustic panels for Saturday's demo. I want to have plenty of choices and backup plans in case the wax and I aren't in sync. Just like I always tell my students, the worst thing that can happen is the painting does not turn out the way I envisioned it, but I will still be sharing the process which is really what it's all about.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving holiday usually means a trip to Chicago to spend a few days with my mother and brothers and their families. When my adult children can join me every other year, it's a more meaningful holiday, and I am always grateful.

I am starting to plan my move back from the east coast to the Windy City, and after having spent 23 years living in New England it will feel good to move back to my roots. One of the biggest challenges I will face is networking and re-establishing myself in the art communities. It's been too distant to grasp so far and I still have plenty of time with an estimate move date planned for the summer of 2013. My art has always been inspired by my surroundings and I wonder if the cityscape will become a new, important inspiration. I am already thinking about streets, angles, grids, and geometry.

View from the hotel, looking east toward the lake -

These encaustic paintings (medieval walled cities but city inspiration nonetheless!) could be a precursor of what's to come -

Yesterday we managed to make time to eat out, shop, and eat out again! The holiday decorations are always so beautiful. 

Today will be a big, festive, extended family get together and I am so grateful that we are able to do this.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. What are you grateful for?

Monday, November 21, 2011


Recently I had been told about an application that allowed retailers (specifically, me when I am at shows) to accept credit card payments without charging a monthly service fee. I had been apprehensive about making a change over to a new company that would need to be linked directly to my business account but after many years of paying monthly service fees that continuously increase (with an additional fee based on a percentage of every credit card sale that is processed and deposited into my account), I finally decided to make the change. The application is called Square, and their website is

I am already setup with Paypal for online purchases, but now I have the ability to accept credit cards and NO MORE MONTHLY FEES!

Once I signed up with Square I received one of these small swiper plug-ins for my iphone. After swiping the card, the dollar amount and description is entered on the phone, I can even include a photo of the purchase! A receipt is then sent in the form of an email (or text message) which includes the dollar amount, description, customer's signature, and my business information. 

Please let me know if any of you have heard of Square or similar applications, I am still curious and open to learning about various options that do not carry a monthly service fee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mission Accomplished

You can see the challenges I faced when hanging the show - the long gallery wall has windows dividing up the hanging space and the opposite wall has two oversized windows facing the street with a very narrow hanging column between them. I added my easels in order to include the Autumn pond paintings in the show and I also think it creates a more interesting space.

Small encaustic works followed by Summer Pathways

Autumn and Winter hang together on the far end wall

Summer hangs on a side wall opposite the big windows

Spring hangs on the shorter entrance end wall (after the doorway)

The gallery director will be typing up and labeling each piece for me, along with putting together a book including my artist statement, resume, bio, and price list. All that's left for me to do is prepare for the demo I am doing at the opening reception on December 3, and hopefully the show will be well attended. Maybe I will see you there!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Space limitations

Today I brought "Pathways and Transition" to the Willow Community Gallery at Lynn Arts (it was hanging day for my solo show), only to discover there was not nearly enough wall space to include everything. What was I thinking? I setup and display work in a 10" x 10" show space regularly but this was much more challenging for me even though the space was larger at 12" x 25". Not leaving any breathing room between paintings made them all look terrible. 

Eventually I worked through the space problems (with the help of the gallery director) and tomorrow I will finish hanging, tweak a few other things, take photos, and probably obsess about details for another day. I have until the end of the week for the show to be completely setup.

Over the weekend I had worked on a large encaustic version of the Autumn Pond thinking it would be a nice addition to have in the show, especially this time of year. Unfortunately two of the pieces that had to be eliminated were the photo and watercolor versions of the pond.

"Autumn Pond", 18" x 24" encaustic on panel

Digital photograph, 16" x 20"

Watercolor on paper, 18" x 24"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recent sketch

9" x 12" soft pastel and ink 

One theme that consistently reappears in my work is the tree-filled landscape. Simple lines give the impression of dense growth and depth, often depicted when the branches are bare.

I usually sketch during break times when I am working as a substitute teacher; the pastels travel easily although I am limited to working smaller.

Below you can see some of my watercolor paintings with the same linear qualities:

My ongoing challenge is to explore working with a subject I know and reinterpret it in new ways. Less is more.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tuscan landscape, redux

Today turned into a fix-it day and I decided to have some fun. I reworked one of my Tuscany paintings with the attitude that the worst I could do was ruin it, it already was not working for me the way it was so there was no down side!

"Tuscan Vineyards"
12" x 12" encaustic and oil pastel on panel

I built up layers of clear wax medium plus I decided to use oil pastel in between each layer. I wanted to loose the texture and details from the earlier version and dilute some of the background colors. I am still learning how to fuse the wax with just the right amount of heat. I was able to develop a more ethereal, dream like feeling with the addition of oil pastels.

The first version is shown below - 

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Final Pathway

The final piece to be included in my "Pathways and Transition" series was completed today. For me it's the closure I needed.

"Winter Pathway"
18" x 24" encaustic on panel

My other large encaustic paintings can be seen below, shown in the order in which they were painted. The show will also feature photographs, watercolors, and smaller encaustic paintings.

"Summer Pathway"
24" x 18" encaustic on panel

"Spring Pathway"
20" x 16" encaustic on panel

"Autumn Pathway"
24" x 18" encaustic on panel

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Autumn Painting

"Autumn Pathway", 24" x 18" encaustic on panel

Below is the photograph I used for the transfer, although I had it printed in black and white. You may notice that the transfer process reverses the image.

I have been focusing on the final details for my upcoming solo show next month and I decided to add a large encaustic painting to the "Pathways and Transition" series. I already had the 24" x 18" encausticbord here at home and thought the autumn pathway in that size would be a welcome addition. (I will also try to make time to paint the winter pathway in a larger size but will have to order another panel). The autumn and winter encaustic paintings I had originally done in this series are only 8" x 8".

I photographed the stages of my image transfer process and you can see how the initial transfer is a simple black and white photo. The paper I use is inexpensive and rips easily but these gaps will not show up once I add colored wax.

After adding initial color to the first layer, it is a building process of fusing wax medium and pigmented wax. In the morning I will decide if I need to make any changes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Assessing and Next Up

Booth setup from the weekend 

This past weekend was the Paradise City fine art and craft show in Northampton, MA; my 6th year exhibiting in this particular show, and definitely the most exhausting exhibition and display setup that I do in the course of a year. My newest challenge was making room for both encaustic and watercolor paintings without confusing patrons and potential customers. I wanted to display my large landscapes (watercolor) along with my encaustic "water life" paintings. I made the decision to not bring any encaustic landscapes because I need most of them for my solo show opening locally next month but ... looking back now I can say it would have been a better mesh of themed work if I had only landscape paintings in both the watercolor and encaustic mediums.

As I answered questions and explained the encaustic process at the show, I realized that this medium was confusing to a majority of patrons. I made changes and adjusted my display throughout the weekend but going forward I will not be combining different mediums unless they have the same theme.

Fortunately, next up is my solo show at Lynn Arts where that is exactly what I am doing! My photographs, hanging next to the watercolor interpretation of that photograph, next to the encaustic image transfer of that same photograph. The flow between each piece already exists.

First day at the show, most of my encaustic paintings are hanging grouped together rather than spread around.

Day 2 at the show, I added my giclee prints to the booth. I realized smaller, less expensive pieces needed to be included.

Was the show a success? The attendance was there (so they said), but most of the 2-d artists were having a tough time. I felt fortunate that I had prints, note cards, and small works. Part of doing these shows is the selling opportunity, but the other part is the PR aspect and having the first hand conversations with the people that want to connect with artists. A combination of current economic turmoil and extreme weekend temperatures (mid and upper 80's) definitely impacted all of the exhibitors.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Northampton, here I come!

My panels are finally dry although if you look real close you may notice the water stain from the flooding earlier this week. My car is packed and loaded up. And once again I am looking forward to what I consider to be a working vacation at the Paradise City 3-day art show.

I love visiting the western part of Massachusetts this time of year. The leaves are changing colors and I am always inspired. I spent a long time deciding which paintings I should bring to the show and I knew I wanted warm, burnt orange, autumn colored watercolors along with my newest series of encaustic paintings from the Water Life series. To help myself work through the details I always print pdf's. Below you can see my choices (although size does not translate). I am also bringing small encaustic works in shadowbox frames along with small prints, hand painted and printed note cards. Something for everyone! Northampton here I come ...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mother Nature, boss of us all

Later this week I am on the road to Northampton for the Paradise City art show. The only problem is, we had some serious rain and flooding early this morning. Totally unexpected.

I store art supplies in my garage which is on ground level - watercolor papers, paints, boards and frames, an assortment of mediums. More importantly, I also store my display panels, electrical lighting, and show materials.

The storm I heard at 5am turned out to be massive, we had 6 inches of rain.

Mr. Policeman checking things out in front at 7am

Across the street

Back door, Charlie surveying the situation

What is so unbelievable to me is I always watch the news and feel terrible when places I have visited are devastated by storms and floods, but it's never been something I experienced first hand until now.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Second Workshop

Yesterday I taught the second and final watercolor workshop of the fall, we shared a wonderful mix of skill levels, and regardless of previous experience, everyone was able to learn several new techniques. I always demonstrate when I teach, and below is my demo from the day (I was able to finish it today).

"Snow Day", 22" x 30"

Last spring when I taught a weekend workshop, I had started a basic watercolor wash but never developed the painting. Using this yesterday allowed me the opportunity to show how painting snow was similar in technique to painting clouds, as well as mountains. 

Below you can see some of the works in progress from yesterday, a few of their paintings are complete.

 We had such wonderful energy and I look forward to the next workshop, but right now it's time to switch gears and prepare for the 3-day Paradise City fine arts and craft show opening this Saturday in Northampton.