Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day weekend

"Silhouette", 12" x 12", encaustic painting

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Traveling to foreign countries always makes me appreciate life here in the U.S.A. and Memorial Day is a reminder that our freedom comes at a cost, however... being in Italy last month was incredibly inspiring and continues to stimulate my creative juices. Thankfully, the holiday weekend allowed me time to work on a project I had been planning for weeks.

I wanted to use a photograph I had taken in San Gimignano for an encaustic image transfer. I also knew I had a special custom panel and frame I had purchased from Rodney Thompson last year at the National Encaustic Conference. The cradled wood board came wired and with a deep, black wood frame.

My biggest concern was finding a composition that would work well in 12" x 12". I had to crop my photo and I actually like it better now. The most important element to me was the texture of the different bricks and by using the encaustic medium I was able to create literal 3-dimensionality.

It's always challenging transferring the image without creating holes or rips in the paper but as you can see below, once the heat fuses the paper onto the board, it takes on a translucent appearance.

After the photograph is fused I add details with pigmented wax and this allows me to fill in any of the holes created during the transfer process. The vibrant, colorful highlights are the reason the painting "pops", and the reason I love working with the encaustic medium.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I have a confession to make... when I am a substitute teacher, if I have a free period or a study period to cover, I usually end up sketching something with my pastels. That's how all of my new pastel work happened. The reason I am using pastel is it's easy to transport - no water, brushes, and minimal mess. Everything I need fits into my tote bag and I am able to keep myself busy when there is a lull in the course of my substitute-teacher work day. I used to bring my Matisse book with me, until there was the "incident",  so today all I had with me for inspiration was my lunch... a few pieces of fresh fruit and some vegetable soup. I decided to sketch the pear before I ate it, and it reminded me of one of my favorite bloggers and her recent Pear sketches, Eva.

In a way, sketching with pastels in a school setting is perfect for me. I have never worked with pastels before and I am learning by just doing it. I usually think like a watercolorist, working light to dark. I am now learning that with pastel (and oil and acrylic, 2 mediums I rarely use), to work from dark to light. It was fun working on this, and in a way it made those first bites at lunch time taste even sweeter!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Next painting...

My next encaustic painting will be one of these two images. I have already printed both in 12" x 12" but I have not had the time to decide which one to use. With the long holiday weekend almost here, I should finally have the time. I have already painted the Tuscan landscape in watercolor because the rolling vineyards, purple mountains, and lush greens captivated me. Now I am leaning toward the cobblestones with silhouette, focusing on texture and shadows, not color and hue. Which do you prefer?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer Festival time

Saturday morning I plan on submitting an assortment of my work to the annual Marblehead Festival of ArtsEvery 4th of July weekend I look forward to participating in this event, whether it is by acceptance to one of the juried shows, or because I signed up for the "Painting the Town" (plein air) day. This year I decided to submit work to more venues than ever before although I think I will pass on the plein air event. Notifications on acceptance (or rejection) are sent mid June so I will keep you posted on results.

Marblehead is known for it's sailing community, and in the summer time the yacht clubs draw tourists from all over the world. It is also known for being the birth place for the American Navy, and home to the painting, "Spirit of '76". I recommend visiting the links above, all related to the wonderful New England history right next door to where I live.

"Howling at the Moon" is one of my newest (and favorite) watercolor paintings that has not been shown anywhere as of yet. I hope it is accepted into the painting exhibit.

"Winter Wonderland" won an award in the Lynn Arts photo show this past winter. Photography has become an integral part of my encaustic painting development.

"Sitting" is another one of my new pastel drawings, I have never tried to enter the drawing venue of this festival before.

Lastly, my large version of "Wisteria" has not been shown yet. "Gray Day at the Beach" has only been shown once before. I was a judge for the mixed media exhibit last year and I am hoping that both pieces are accepted.

It really is such a change for me to be involved in so many different art mediums. I can still remember when I was only sharing watercolor paintings; it sure is nice to see personal change and growth.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Exciting news... I just found out 2 of my newest works were accepted into the BUMP show, "A Juried Exhibit of all things lumpy, bumpy, obstructionist, and detouring. What are your bumps?"

I submitted "Nude" (pastel drawing), my thinking was there are plenty of bumps and curves in her body, and "Wisteria (encaustic) because it is literally bumpy and 3-dimensional. What is encouraging to me is that my biggest insecurity as an artist has always been drawing the human form and face, and I feel as if I have gotten over the hump by submitting this piece and then actually getting accepted into the show. Of course my inner critic is whispering into my ear that maybe there were not enough submissions to fill the gallery and maybe there was desperation in choosing pieces just to fill the space. Gotta love (and coexist with) that inner critic.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Exploring Pastels

There was a time when I would never publicly share the early stages of exploring a new art medium, but then I went to graduate school and spent two years learning how to accept and live with my "inner critic".

The past few months I have been reading about Henry Matisse and observing the style of his figure drawing and paintings. He has been inspirational to me. Although Matisse did not use pastels, he did draw and paint the human form in many other mediums. I think his paper cutouts from later in his life are some of my favorites.

My first few pastels are child like, simple forms with bright colors. I am exploring pastels and will continue to refine my drawing skills. It feels liberating to be using a medium I know nothing about (pastel) combined with a subject I have never studied in depth (figure). It can only go uphill!

Two nights ago I was fortunate enough to go to an art demonstration by Clayton Curtis, a fabulous local artist who at one time was the head of the art department at the high school. As luck would have it, his demo was "still life" using pastel.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Pretty as a Picture", encaustic painting interview

link to interview - Swampscott Patch

Yesterday I woke up to find the interview from last week already published online, it was an unexpected Mother's Day gift. That, combined with my acceptance to the Cambridge Art Association's Northeast Prize Show has encouraged me to continue exploring encaustic image transfers and painting. My painting "Storm Wave" is in the show; one of 112 pieces out of 725 submissions. I must be doing something right!