Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Copley Society of Art

It started back in July when I decided to submit a preliminary application to the Copley Society, 4 jpg images with a very brief 1 page form outlining specifics regarding my art. Within a month's time I heard back that I made it successfully (my last attempt about 5 years ago was not successful) past the initial application process and I was now eligible to submit the full application, a much more detailed package of information.

Next I was to submit a minimum of 5 jpg images that were a strong, cohesive body of work with the #1 image actually brought in, framed and ready to hang. We were told that we could include up to 20 jpg's although the first 5 were the only that would be juried. Additional images would be included on the website if accepted as an artist member. I also had to include:
- a current resume (something I needed to format properly and spent numerous hours reviewing)
- a personal statement that specifically addressed my process and inspiration (I also spent numerous hours refining this)
- hard copies and digital images, all on a disc in the required format
- a personal reference from a credentialed source
- any articles, reviews, or additional references were optional
- check payment carrying a 2nd application fee

This was my choice for #1 image

I had another month to organize and prepare all of these application materials and this was a key opportunity to bring my behind the scenes, professional details up a notch. I met with Kim Bernard, an encaustic artist and consultant I respected, and the first professional to actually review my encaustic paintings and technique. She also helped me refine my website and better merge the two mediums I am using, encaustic and watercolor painting, into a more cohesive presentation of work. She was also the affirmation I needed in the encaustic art world. My preferred medium is encaustic, and the Copley Society was given the Water Life series to judge in my application.

About 2 weeks after submitting everything I received word I was accepted as an artist member at the Copley Society of Art. Wow. I am thrilled, and looking forward to participating in all that the society has to offer.

The Copley Society of Art is the oldest non-profit art association in America. It began in 1879 and ...

"As the oldest nonprofit 501(c)(3) art association in America, the Society remains true to its original mandate by promoting the advancement, understanding, and enjoyment of the highest quality visual arts. By engaging its artist, patron, and volunteer members in exhibitions and innovative outreach programs - such as award and scholarship support for artists, Masters Workshop Programs, gallery talks, and critique sessions - the Society is prepared to reaffirm its mission for the next millennium."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Re-connecting with Watercolor

It had been three months since I painted with my watercolor palette, until yesterday when I taught the first of a two- part weekend workshop at Montserrat College of Art. I had spent the summer focused on my encaustic "Water Life" series and after attending an intensive 5-day watercolor workshop (as a student) in June, I felt the need to take a break. Teaching is probably the most creative muse I have discovered to date, and demonstrating techniques with the ability to share the process is one of the most exciting things I get to do! Yesterday brought me back to my watercolor roots.

I have a group of 7 students, most of them are new to watercolor. My favorite first lesson is creating a resist with tape, an easy way to mask out areas of the paper, allowing students to focus on learning how to layer their watercolor washes without worrying about loosing the crispness of white. Below you can see our room set up with everyone busy working. 

We spent the morning working on water washes, learning how to create depth by layering paint, and after a lunch break we shared in a group critique. I was able to start a second demonstration, a landscape painting, focusing on more specific painting techniques. My initial paint washes were simple but my composition and colors were set. 

Today at home I was able to continue working on this painting; as I painted I listed key elements I want to outline and share next weekend when we complete the workshop. I am not sure if I will add anything else to this, it feels finished right now but I need fresh eyes to be sure.

"Bonsai Glow", 30" x 22"

Watercolor concepts
1. Know your subject - look at it, study the shapes, know the place.
2. Work wet!
3. Control the paint by using the spray bottle; respond to where the paint leaves a mark rather than forcing the paint, don’t fight “happy accidents”.
4. Build up layers, use a hairdryer between each layer, finish with glazes if necessary.
5. Lift paint with a clean, wet brush.
6. Work dryer as the painting progresses, spattering and small linear details should be saved until the painting is almost complete.
Final note
7. There is always a point when you need to stop using a photo reference, when you need to stop looking and trust your instincts, freeing yourself to experience the free flow of the watercolor medium.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Art and the Economy

Needless to say, I am a little (a lot) concerned about the upcoming Paradise City fine arts and craft show just 3 weeks from now, because of the economy and the general depression of the country. As an artist, I feel it is my responsibility to create art that connects to people, whether viewing my art ends in a sale or not is a different type of success.

I am bringing my newest body of work to the show, The Water Life series, and in order to encourage a positive (purchase) response I decided to also offer smaller (less expensive) versions of the series. It was difficult working this small, using the torch to fuse the wax, but I was still able to  translate the movement of water.

Both of these paintings are 2.5" x 3.5", encaustic on board -

Floating each piece with foam core on a sheet of watercolor paper, then adding my chop (signature) stamp and putting it into a 6" x 6" shadowbox frame, all adds to creating a stronger statement with these smaller works. I price these at $95.

Talking about art and blogging, going to galleries and openings, teaching workshops and attending classes, all contribute to nurturing those of us struggling in the art world. I wonder when this grey cloud hanging over the country is going to pass.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Autumn in the Air

Lot's of activities going on this time of year and at the end of the month I will be teaching  Saturday workshops at Montserrat College of Art. Last spring we decided to offer the workshop on 2 consecutive Saturdays rather than 8 weekly evening classes and it was a much more successful, intensive way to teach and learn. There is still time to sign up and if you are interested, all information is in the workshop link above.

I also have been busy ordering new business cards with my new domain name (, creating a new sign for my exhibit booth, and with the Paradise City fine arts and craft show just a few weeks away I decided to put together the show announcement promoting my upcoming solo show.

My new booth sign is a simple font (which happens to match my web design) with the background from one of my newer encaustic paintings (which happens to match my blog header). The sign is 8 inches high and 4 feet wide made out of gator board and will hang from a support bar near the back panel of my booth.  

The Cambridge Art Association Fall Salon opens this Friday, it's the one show each year that is not juried and allows every artist member to participate. I have a few other things in the works and hope to have news and updates by the beginning of October. There certainly is a huge amount of work behind the scenes, tending to the business of being an artist. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take 2

I had to try one more time to use the wine photo, but this time I scaled it down to 8" x 8". I did not want to let myself get caught up in the geometric details and only chose to highlight random spots. I made sure the image was transferred without rips and I reminded myself not to over work this but it looks cloudy and lifeless, maybe that's why I am so attracted to painting nature. Kinda looks like cob webs and dust are surrounding the bottles, doesn't it?

"A Good Year"
8" x 8", encaustic on panel

I also added a few foreground details into "Sandy Beach Waves", now I can call this a finished work.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Win Some, Loose Some

Yesterday I started working on a large image transfer and today it transformed into one huge disaster. Let's just say I could not remedy the problems I created with the red and black wax and melting it off caused the image transfer to fall apart (I admit I was not gentle with the torch)!

In order to find some peace of mind I took out a smaller panel (11" x 14") and decided to paint sandy waves. Every day when I walk my dog I notice the colors of the sand, waves, water, and sky. This was the last official day of summer although I am sure the beaches will continue to be my inspiration.

"Sandy Waves" (in progress)
11" x 14" encaustic on panel

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Geometric challenges

My usual preference in subject matter is nature -  trees, mountains, oceans, anything outdoors. I can't explain why I felt compelled to paint bottles on a wall in a wine cellar, other than this project is the opposite of everything in my comfort zone. Plus, seeing bottles everywhere was eye-catching, and I do love tasting wine.

I started off with an 18" x 24" wood panel, prepared with painters tape to protect the edges (a new process I am trying) and 3 layers of fused wax medium. I had my photo enlarged on a basic paper (printed at the local Staples) and I burnished and transferred the image onto the panel although I had some trouble keeping the image intact.

As you can see there are plenty of white spaces, and I am considering leaving some of the white areas. The key will be finding a balance between the colors of the stacked bottles and maintaining a pattern.

I progressed as far as painting all of the wood shelves, and some of the darks and reds in the top right hand corner. It's frustrating because I know I am not able to create an even bottle pattern without a stencil and I am trying not to get caught up in precise details. Tomorrow I will make better progress, maybe even finish this.