Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Online Support

The internet has changed the way we live and process events, it has changed the way we are educated and are able to develop personal relationships. From online support groups dealing with terrible tragedy... to art education, to personal shopping ... the world is at our fingertips.

Last week I joined another Facebook group geared specifically toward critiques. Usually I just read selective topics and take it all in, rarely posting. As many of you know, my struggle with abstract vs. representational art continues and I decided to post about my personal struggles in the critique group.

 Here is the condensed version of my post:
"Truth be told, I seem unable to create art without connecting landscape into everything I do. I started a series of abstract paintings this summer, but keep falling back into the small representational works.
So I struggle, do I push toward abstract, do I do both? or am I better off sticking to the small, salable, easy to relate to representational works? Is encaustic art suppose to be abstract? All feedback welcome."

I received such wonderful responses but the three that stuck out most in my mind were from three artists I have actually met.

Rodney Thompson -
"'So I struggle, do I push toward abstract, do I do both? or am I better off sticking to the small, salable, easy to relate to representational works'...which one thrills you, delights you, intrigues you, makes you most happy to see your finished work
Rodney's art blows me away, his connection with spirituality and earth is like no one else.

Laura Moriarty -
"It sounds to me like you are rushing the process of finding an authentic voice in order to put your work in the marketplace. Ultimately the direction of your work must be determined by you, not others. I think it's best to be clear about what you are doing before you start marketing it. For now, it may be best for you to sell the work you understand, while you continue to develop the complexity. Slow down, and let the new body of work build. Take your audience along for the ride in a way that helps them understand the twists and turns in the road. You do that really well with your blog, btw. But don't sell work until you have a chance to get really comfortable with it.

Laura's art takes encaustic into a deeper, more physical view of geographic wonder.

Hylla Evans -
"Robin, you do know some of us. Don't let lack of confidence into your studio. Paint, paint, paint. Save the second guessing for later editing what you want to show. Chill and paint.
 Landscape seems always to be referenced when an abstract is grounded in horizontal lines. That isn't a bad thing. You can sell them both. Don't think about finding an audience while you're painting. Save those decisions for afterward.
Hylla taught a color mixing workshop that I attended several years ago as well as a talk about artistic copyright. Her encaustic paints are rich and lush and remind me most of the Holbein paints I use in watercolor.

There were many more responses, but what a wonderful place for professional (and personal) support.
Next month I look forward to following my heart and seeing where the paints take me.

I continue to sell small representational works. I add my signature using a custom made chop, a translation of my name in Chinese. After several years of trying to always stamp work in just the right spot I decided to order a new chop using a circular design. 4 different characters that translate my name both phonetically and literally make up the chop. I used the same company that I discovered online when ordering the first chop, and once again I embraced the ease and accessibility of online resources.

As easy as using the internet is, nothing replaces human touch and the need for a hug.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lupines at Sunset

"Lupines at Sunset", triptych

I had a project take on a life of its own this week. What started as a simple request for two small paintings that paired together ended with a week of painting new work and a framed triptych. I had the frame in my possession before I even started this project and it just made sense that three of the new works hang together even though they were painted separately. The truth is, in the back of my mind I had been thinking these would make a much stronger impression if they were shown together. The idea of painting small works grouped together in a single frame could be something I pursue further, it's got me excited. I had done it once before after my visit to Cape Cod this summer -

My only concern was that the ready made shadowbox frame did not show off the small works enough, even though I floated each painting with 2 layers of foam core. I did not want the frame to distract from the dimensionality of the work. Creating textures and etching into the wax, for me, is the most exciting element in these encaustic paintings.

Below are two other lupine paintings from this week, framed separately... although these would also work well together in a single diptych frame. Finding ready made diptych and triptych frames will be more challenging than painting the actual work.

Looks like I will be ending the year with new ideas for new projects, that's never a bad thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Commissions and Creativity

Last night I received an email from an art patron who had seen my work in a holiday small works show. He asked me if I had another lupine painting that would be a similar match with one of my pieces in the show, he was thinking of purchasing a pair as a holiday gift. My December plan had been to take a short break from painting new work but his email request had me back in the zone and I spent the day painting.

"Lupine Sunset"


Both of these paintings are new versions of similarly painted small works, each is 2.5 x 3.5, and will be floated on 6 x 6 watercolor paper with foam core, then signed with my chop stamp signature and placed in a 10 x 10 black frame. I decided that even if this patron is not interested in these new works they are still very salable ($105 framed). This leads me into my next thought...

Making salable art vs. making art that pushes personal boundaries.

Over the summer when I attended an encaustic workshop taught by Laura Moriarty, I focused on pushing myself into learning more abstract encaustic techniques. I discussed with the other artists in the workshop how I had always been able to sell the safer, more traditional landscape paintings but that my heart wanted to explore outside of my comfort zone. At that time, I made a conscious decision to continue to create these small landscapes because of their salability but that I would also pursue a more abstract art form (Outback Series) using newly learned encaustic techniques.

I am just now starting to show the abstracts I created since July, the jury is still out on the success and acceptance of these new works. I may add some smaller abstract pieces to my Etsy shop, soon.

What do you think, is it better to make more salable main stream art? or is pushing boundaries, exploring new art forms, (and possibly failing), a more professional direction? I ask myself this question all the time and still don't have the answer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Transition into Holidays

While I begin preparing for my planned move to Chicago (June 2013), creative inspiration and new work is temporarily on hold. Studio space (the dining room) has been in a state of disarray since Thanksgiving, ever since I gave my son a shelf unit that was used to house small encaustic paintings, and throughout the month of December I will find it difficult to find undistracted studio time.

I am going to visit family end of December and possibly sign an apartment lease then. In the meantime, I have small works and prints for sale in several local and online shops:

Copley Society of Art
Lynn Arts Holiday Boutique
Etsy Shop *free shipping* use code 112912HOLIDAY
Fine Art America

I am teaching another encaustic workshop in January at Brush Strokes Studio and Gallery, (only a few spots remain open) and a watercolor workshop in March (and possibly another encaustic workshop) at Montserrat College. Details will be available soon.

December is always a crazy time of year but once the dust settles I hope to be sharing new works. In the meantime, here's to a joyful holiday season. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Art of Baking

I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen (rather than the studio) the past few days baking desserts in preparation for my adult children coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I put away my paints, palettes, and brushes in exchange for the mixmaster, cookie sheets, cake pans, and butter. My Grandma Esther would be proud, as I not only baked many of her family recipes but I also created a small cook book for my children, nieces, and nephews so that they each will have the opportunity to continue the legacy of what has become family favorite dessert recipes.

Below are crescent rolls that are filled with butter, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins. Once they are rolled they have to sit an hour before baking so that the yeast dough can rise a bit.

Fresh out of the oven.

Coffee cake, sour cream dough with a filling of brown sugar, white sugar, lemon and orange rind, walnuts, and raisins.

 Mandel bread, a buttery cookie with almonds and walnuts, very similar to biscotti.

Basic chocolate frosting, it goes well with anything and everything!

Chocolate buttermilk cake with frosting.

Banana cake with and without frosting.

Basic brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar.

My grandmother had 3 sons, my father was the oldest. I was the first born of her granddaughters and always felt a special bond with my grandmother. I have wonderful memories of family holiday dinners and in a way it felt as if I was channeling her with all of the baking I did this week and then by putting together her recipes for the kids. There is definitely an art of baking and cooking. On facebook today one of my cousins posted this comment after seeing some of these photos - "When grandma would make me scrambled eggs she would say 'a little paprika just for color'". My grandmother was an incredible artist in the kitchen, this post is in honor of her memory.

Grandma and me around 1965.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How Important are We?

24 x 24 encaustic on cradled panel

Primordial thoughts - thousands of years ago, how challenging was daily survival? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Process and Growth

Less is more... that is my current mantra. Right now I have time to explore and develop encaustic technique and although painting representational landscapes has been my "happy place" with art for many years, I am shifting focus. My goal is to use minimal, essential lines and marks that make an impression and tell a story. This goal started nagging at me when I viewed Robert Motherwell's exhibit at the Cape Cod Art Institute this summer. Then I was sidetracked and fell into developing new techniques I learned this summer (building up layers of colored wax, then scraping and shaping down layers) which led to the Outback Series.

"Cave Dwellers" was created by layering and fusing wax with the addition of pigments and oil pastel.

"Cave Dwellers"


Primitive art continues to be a strong influence on me but mostly I just want to follow my heart and make essential marks that convey a story.

I have been following a private facebook group of encaustic artists. I rarely post in the group but have learned an incredible amount of information from everyone. I don't agree with some of what people are sharing but I have been exposed to such a diverse group of artists, it's almost like taking a class!

Below, 2 recent encaustic demo paintings, done at the same time with the same color palette using different techniques, neither of these pieces follows my "less is more" mantra, but I am working toward breaking a habit and it will take time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Influences, good and bad

Please let the election arrive already and finally put an end to all of the political unrest, ridiculous commercials, and horrible economic news. It's definitely taken a toll on my creative juices. Facebook posts have me cringing and it feels like people have lost all respect to personal choices and privacy. It also feels like there are less bloggers posting less frequently (myself included). This election can't end soon enough.

Fortunately, I have another encaustic workshop planned for this Sunday. Last week I had fun demonstrating a texture technique by building up layers of wax in a more abstract way.

I also used a leaf to create imprints, added inlay details, then scraped away to smooth the surface. 

There were only 4 people in the workshop which allowed for everyone to get plenty of individualized help. It should be the same group this Sunday. 

The gallery and I are discussing the possibility of me teaching another workshop in January. Hopefully by then there will be less negative economic and political energy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Local Press

"Great Dividing Range", 14 x 11 encaustic painting

Yesterday I was able to complete my demo painting from last Sunday's opening reception. I am looking forward to teaching the encaustic workshop this weekend and received wonderful press in the local papers.

One of the things I will miss most of all after I have relocated in Chicago next summer will be all of the publicity contacts and reporters I have met over the years. Last week I was interviewed and the online article was posted yesterday, the paper copy will be available tomorrow.

Online article -
All of her Beeswax 
Same article reformatted (without the advertisements)            

* Just received my paper copy and was pleasantly surprised that more of my work was pictured with the paper version of the article.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Shows and Demos

It's been a busy month so far, starting with the Paradise City Fine Arts show over Columbus Day weekend. This was my last Paradise City show because I will be moving to Chicago next year. 

The 3 day shows are exhausting and the day after coming home I had to begin setup for the next event... Yesterday was my solo show opening at Brush Strokes Gallery, a new local venue that has also invited me to teach encaustic workshops. 

The building once was a daycare center and Jon Corbino, the building owner, decided to convert the space into artist studios with a large, main gallery on the upper level.

Brush Strokes mission statement: "Our mission is to create meaningful connections between artists, collectors, curators and visitors. By establishing an environment that is open and unintimidating, we hope to enable reflection, to encourage passion and to provide a forum for the exploration of all media: painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video and more.  Our roster includes artists both emerging and established. What unifies them is our belief in their material and conceptual vision."

I have never had the opportunity to exhibit so many pieces of my work in such a large exhibit space and admit it was both exhilarating and challenging to make everything flow together. Both watercolor and encaustic paintings are on display, all of the work is inspired by the land and earth. 

I decided to hang awards I have received next to the corresponding pieces as visual endorsements of my work.

This show is my first introduction of the Outback Series, an abstract interpretation of Australian lands. The gallery offers wood display panels on wheels which allow for the room to change with the artist's needs. It was the perfect space to separate the representational landscapes from these new abstracts.

An hour into the reception, I demonstrated several encaustic techniques. I had prepared an 11 x 14 panel with many layers of wax that were then scraped, molded and reformed. I demonstrated inlay techniques, image transfers and oil pastel etched into wax medium. The interest and energy in the room was fantastic.

The first encaustic workshop starts this Sunday and hopefully I will have time to complete the demo piece started yesterday before the workshop, pictured below.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Embracing Encaustic

I received word this week that I will be one of the artists featured in the 3rd edition of "Embracing Encaustic: Learning to Paint with Beeswax" by Linda Womack due to be released before the end of 2012. I am thrilled to be included with this group of fine encaustic artists.

We were required to submit up to 4 jpg's along with a brief explanation of our process. Below are my submissions. In the next few weeks I will find out which image was chosen for the book.

Brief description of my process:
I use photos I have taken and transfer the images by fusing them into wax medium. I then paint additional details using small brushes, pigmented layers of wax, and sculpting tools to create a greater sense of depth.

Once I received the news that I was going to be included in the book, my confidence was up and I decided to submit to the Cambridge Art Association upcoming BLUE show. Below are the pieces I submitted, (the middle image is watercolor, the others are encaustic).

I also applied to SOLO Competition at the Bromfield Gallery. The work I submitted was from my topography series. 

My encaustic body of work has been transitioning from representational into abstract, always pulling inspiration from my love of the land and earth. Having my encaustic image transfers chosen to be featured in "Embracing Encaustic" validates the process I have been developing for the past 3 years. The inner critic is now anxiously awaiting for either acceptance or rejection of my new abstracts. I will share the outcome here once I receive notifications.

The other side of my art business is exhibiting (and selling) starting this weekend at the Paradise City show in Northampton, MA Today I load up, tomorrow setup, and Saturday through Monday I will be  exhibiting. The following weekend my solo show at Brush Strokes Gallery opens followed by teaching beginner encaustic workshops. This is a busy time of year for me and I am embracing all of these encaustic opportunities.