Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sea and Sky

Morning walks with my dog Charlie inspired my first encaustic seascapes and I am still painting with the influence of this winter season. My challenge has been understanding the dynamic qualities of the encaustic medium and I feel as if I continue to refine my skills.

"Another Gray Day", encaustic, 16" x 20"

I always start with 3 layers of clear medium fused on the cradled wood panel. Fusing with heat evenly is tricky although I am getting better at it.

The initial layer of color on top of the clear medium appears spotty and thin. It's just a starting point.

More pigmented wax, and layers of clear medium; the concept of building up the colors combined with the medium is very similar to how I build up layers and create depth in my watercolor paintings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Juried Shows

Recently I submitted work to two different juried shows; I was accepted to one, rejected from the other. The standard procedure for art associations is to post information about the juror prior to the submitting of work which can be a tool to help the artist get a sense of what the show may look like based on what style of art the juror is associated with. I have always struggled with this; I have both watercolor and encaustic paintings, both impressionistic (and more recently) abstract styles of painting. Even now for me it's a challenge to not second guess my submission choices. Needless to say, I was disappointed when one of my newest works was rejected from a show, and I ask myself... but what if I had submitted something more abstract, would I have gotten into that show?

My practice for right now is to trust myself, and follow my heart when I create new art. I have to turn off the inner critic, and just continue to move forward. I was going to end this post with a question asking if anyone else has ever experienced these self-doubt feelings but I already know the answer.  :)

Accepted pieces:

Rejected pieces:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Wonderland, revisited

Last week we had several feet of snow fall and I was inspired by all of the beautiful trees covered in ice and winter white. A few days later when I was walking past the same spot I realized many of the tree branches are now broken because of the weight of the ice and snow. The beauty was gone, the moment in time I had captured in photography would never be the same. I felt the need to paint the same spot again, this time larger and with more focus on the black and white contrasts.

"Winter Wonderland", 11" x 14" encaustic painting

It is always a challenge photographing encaustic paintings. In order to avoid getting a glare the light source has to be natural. I thought the above image captured the 3-dimensionality of the work but the colors were yellowed by my ceiling lights. The below image is truer color but does not reflect the depth of the painting. Which image do you prefer?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

working it out

"Purple Haze", 11 x 14 encaustic painting

I spent most of today adding pigments to the birch panel I prepped with wax medium yesterday. I used to think prepping the panel was the hardest part of encaustic painting, but painting without an image transfer is still such a challenge for me. It requires so much thinking because of the constantly changing dynamics of this medium: how much pigment to mix with beeswax, how high or low heat on the griddle should be, how do I keep the heat from the torch even on the surface, not letting the wax bubble over ... just to name a few. 

I forced myself to paint another sea and sky scape and I think it's the best way for me to learn. I am still thinking about the storm photographs I took this week and I want to spend more time painting winter scenes; it almost feels like I am painting with wax 2 very different ways and I am not sure if I have found "my way" yet. So for now, I will just do it any way that happens, and keep learning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

After the Storm

"After the Storm", 6 x 6 encaustic painting

Yesterday I was inspired by the beauty of the snow. Today I wanted to try to recapture the stark winter palette of colors, and the brittle branches coated with ice and snow.  

I used the photo above as a reference although because I took it today, the sun was out and the sky was blue. The contrasts were great, but I needed to change the color to black and white in order to focus on using minimal color. When I paint on square panels I crop and change the composition of my photos slightly so I decided to also do an un-cropped smaller version, seen below.

2.5 x 3.5 encaustic painting, another version of the same place

My encaustic "plan" had been to continue working on the ocean and sky paintings that I started last month because I am learning how to use the wax in new ways but there is something very liberating about not sticking to a plan. Often I have to remind myself to continue to "go with the flow".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why do people blog?

Lately I have been distracted with current events and not focused on new blog posts. I use to feel like blogging was an extension of my artistic development. It represented another venue where I could share my creative process which helped me to develop and grow as an artist, and possibly help my blog followers too. I have not been able to focus on making new art these past few weeks...

Yesterday I was a substitute teacher for social studies at the high school and it happened to be the same day there was a special school assembly regarding the new chemical health policy for the student body. Students were disturbed at the concept that their "extra curricular" activities away from the school would be a factor as to whether they could participate in school sports and clubs. The new policy states no student shall be caught either using or present while other students are using illegal drugs or alcohol from the time they complete middle school until the time they complete high school, 365 days a year. There have been a stream of 17 tragic deaths in the past four years, all were graduates of the high school, all were alcohol or drug related that started at some point when these students were in the public schools. I guess for me as a parent and teacher, it was upsetting to see so many students having issue with the new policy. My biggest concern was that any illegal activity no matter what time of day or night it occurs, is still illegal. Why were students so outraged? Substitute teachers usually are given a simple lesson plan which students usually don't take seriously and I have to admit, being a substitute can feel more like babysitting for the day. I was encouraged that I could discuss with my students the new school policy and felt like we really did accomplish some "social studies", but at the same time I was saddened by their negative reaction.

Last night the parents were also required to attend another assembly so that they could sign off on agreeing to the new policy, and this was the school principal's way of forcing parents to be involved. Some of the parents resented the policy and were angered by the school's need to watch over our children 365 days a year. Police were present, and there was a media circus being restrained outside the school property. Why?

The other current event that tied into my classroom topics from yesterday was the tragedy of the shootings in Arizona and congresswoman Gabby Giffords. It feels to me like a sign of the times, both on a local and national level, reflecting the depressed condition of our great nation. Politics has never been something I have felt connected to following and I admit my artwork has always been the tool that allowed me to detach from the craziness around me, leading me to a place of peacefulness and serenity. When will I be ready to reconnect to my art making? maybe tomorrow when we get a foot or two of snow!

Why do you blog? and why do you make art?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hidden Sunset

My series "Sea and Sky" continues with this first painting of the new year. I had been thinking about painting a serene, bland abstract of the ocean and sky ever since I completed the turbulent ocean paintings last month but just have not had the time to focus until this week. I am still not clear as to which method of encaustic painting I prefer - image transfers or free-hand paintings. I am hoping I find my niche with the medium soon.

Hidden Sunset, 11 x 14 encaustic painting

Sunday, January 2, 2011


A little bit of local publicity never hurts!

It's a new year, and I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011. Rather than not having a winter show because of cutbacks at Marian Court College, the Swampscott Arts Association has been asked to host their winter show at the Gallery at Grosvenor Park. The gallery at this nursing care facility has an interesting history and is about to enter it's 10th year of hosting artists and exhibits. I plan on showing the featured painting on the show postcard along with it's encaustic counterpart. If you are looking  for something to do next Sunday afternoon, try and stop by. The show is free and open to the public.