Sunday, December 29, 2013

Featured Artist

I am fortunate to be the featured artist on the FUSEDChicago website and rather than summarize the article I have copied it below. To learn more about FUSEDChicago you can visit the complete website at


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Our featured artist,  Robin Samiljan, is one of the new artists included in the Chicago Art Source Gallery Winter Show   opening January 11  and closing on March 31, 2014.
You’re relatively new to the FUSEDChicago group, how did you find out about us?
I grew up in the Chicago area and moved to the suburbs of Boston shortly after marriage. I spent twenty-five years on the east coast, and when I decided to move back to Chicago I knew I wanted to seek out other artists working with encaustic. Fortunately, I discovered the FUSEDChicago group at the International Encaustic Conference in June 2009. I befriended several artists at the conference and reconnected with them once I moved to Chicago this past summer. In the fall, FUSEDChicago members Karen Tichey and Jenny Learner allowed me to participate with them in the group shows they were hosting, providing me with an introduction to the Chicago art scene. The organization has helped me find exhibition opportunities in the Midwest.
How did you get involved with encaustic painting?
I discovered encaustic painting in 2008 when I went back to graduate school for a Master of Education degree in Arts and Learning. Being in graduate school mid life and specifically being in the graduate program at Endicott College forced me to try new things and open myself to being vulnerable in the studio. I had heard of encaustic painting because I was teaching watercolor painting at Montserrat College of Art, and at that time Joanne Mattera was using the college to host her International Encaustic Conference. After I spent time in my studio playing with beeswax and watercolor collage, I decided it was time to get serious, learn more, and I signed up for a post-conference workshop in 2009 with Tracey Spadafora. Her class was my official introduction to the medium and was the beginning of my love affair with encaustic. The following year I attended the full conference and also took a color theory class from Hylla Evans. I continued experimenting with encaustic and was drawn toward image transfers. I began to develop a unique style of encaustic mixed media work by combining photos I had taken, fusing these images into medium, then creating textures and greater depth with pigmented wax and oil pastels. Two years later I wanted to learn new encaustic techniques and I took a workshop from Laura Moriarty at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.
I decided it was time to apply as an artist member to the Copley Society of Art in Boston, a long time professional goal of mine, and met with Kim Bernard to determine if I had a strong enough body of encaustic work. Kim helped me put together my portfolio and improve my website and resume. I became an artist member of the Copley Society a few months later and have been juried into most of the member shows ever since.
Tell us about your process and inspiration.
I’ve always been inspired by landscapes. Living in New England, I was able to visit the Green and White Mountains, rocky ocean coastlines and beautiful rolling meadows in the country. One of my artistic goals has always been to re-create visually the feelings I have from the places I have been. It is interesting that since I have moved to the city of Chicago my inspiration has shifted to urban settings, incredible architecture and cityscapes.
How much time do you spend creating vs marketing your work? What marketing techniques work for you?
The business of being an artist is as important to me as the creative time I spend in the studio. Having an up-to-date website and promoting events (on and off social media) make a difference. I have always applied to local and national shows in order to develop my resume, I believe that is the only way to justify pricing for galleries. When I was teaching at Montserrat College I was asked to appear as a guest speaker at Salem State College to talk about the business of being an artist. The opportunities to exhibit and sell are everywhere if you make the effort, another reason joining FUSEDChicago was important to my relocation to Chicago.
Do you have a favorite Chicago museum or gallery?
My favorite childhood exhibit at the Art Institute was the Thorne Miniature Rooms. The incredible details confined into a small space took my breath away as a child. To this day, I still love visiting the exhibit. My miniature encaustic works (2.5” x 3.5”) are a direct result of my love for miniature details in a confined space.
Where can we see more of your work?
I will be one of the new artists included in the Chicago Art Source Gallery Winter Show opening January 11 – March 31, 2014. I also have work in “Winter Visions”, juried by Hope Turner and Zola Solamente of Arden Gallery in Boston at the Copley Society of Art this winter. My work can also be seen on my website and in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Upcoming Winter Exhibitions

I can't believe its less than a week until Christmas and before you know it 2014 will be here. I have been fortunate to have found gallery representation and look forward to being one of two new artists at Chicago Art Source Gallery. I also received word my photograph was accepted into "Winter Visions", Copley Society Members' Winter show.

The photo accepted into the Copley show was a first for me... I usually only submit encaustic paintings but had decided this photo captured the essence of a winter vision and the jurors must have agreed.

The last painting I completed for the Chicago Art Source Gallery show was a night scene at Comiskey Park. The piece below was one of 15 the gallery manager choose for the January show and although I would like to spend more time painting night scenes, it will have to wait until after the new year.

So much has changed for me this past year, I plan on writing about the year in review some time next week. Doing that always helps me to see where I am at with my art and what direction I want to move toward in the coming new year.

Monday, December 9, 2013

More New Work

This week I started thinking about the new work I plan on showing next month in Chicago Art Source Gallery and realized I was not happy with the mini works I had done since moving. The theme of the January show is places I have been to in the city. The work will hang without titles and people who come to the show will have to guess where the inspiration came for each painting.

The works below are 2.5 x 3.5, and will be floated and mounted in 10 x 10 shadowbox frames. I will also be featuring 6 x 6 and 12 x 12 paintings. 

It's such a change for me, from painting the ocean and rural landscapes, to painting skyscrapers and urban landscapes. 

Gold Coast

White Sox Park

Christmas in the City

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Work

Michigan Avenue Bridge
2.5 x 3.5

Wrigley Building
12 x 12

Michigan Avenue
6 x 6

It's been a hectic few weeks, between family and Thanksgiving, finally I had time to paint this week. December is always a difficult month for me to focus because of holiday distractions, and this year I am also dealing with interrupted sleep. The building I live in is an old vintage building but the heating system was updated this summer. Now, the pipes bang throughout the night when it's cold. I am not sure what the solution is and the building management will hopefully figure something out soon. Lack of sleep is not good for creativity.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Evanston Art Expo

Photos from preview night at the Evanston Art Center. The show runs November 23 - December 22.

Jewelry Room, my paintings were in here

Pottery, glass, and wood 


Accessories, hats, journals, housewares

Back in the jewelry room

Some of my work on shelves...

And some of my work hanging

Fellow encaustic artist and new friend, Maike and me

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chicago, six months later

Opening next weekend, the holiday Winter Arts and Craft Expo at the Evanston Art Center

I am dropping off 26 small encaustic paintings this afternoon and look forward to attending the preview party this Friday.


It's almost been six months since I moved to Chicago and I have to admit, it's been a huge adjustment both personally and professionally. The first priority was getting here, which happened early June. After that, finding professional networks and exhibition opportunities became my focus. I don't always make accurate first impressions but here goes...

I joined FUSEDChicago before I even got here because I knew several of the artists from the encaustic conference I attended in 2010.  I immediately befriended several more members and was able to participate in a small group show at the Fine Arts Building and I felt fortunate to have made the connection. Through the Fused Chicago group I submitted and participated in WAXinBlue at Morpho Gallery this fall and was also referred to another artist group that meets weekly at a local restaurant, the artist's breakfast group

The breakfast group allowed me to talk to long time professionals, several of which are members in the Chicago Society of Artists and it was suggested that I also join this juried group of established artists. I submitted work and was juried in, attended their annual meeting last month, and participated in the fall reception last night, hosted at the Tom Robinson Gallery.

The work in the show was a mix of photographs, paintings, and sculptures, ranging from traditional to abstract, similar to Copley Society shows but minus a higher standard that a juror usually dictates. Their website is out of date and postal mail is preferred over email communications. There was no real leadership at the reception and as a new member I definitely felt lost.

Starting over, networking and meeting artists, establishing exhibit and teaching opportunities, getting my work "out there" has been exhausting, frustrating, and a huge challenge. I miss going to receptions comfortably alone, seeing friends and colleagues, and feeling like I belong.

Fortunately, I will be one of the featured artist's this January in the Chicago Art Source Gallery. As I continue to paint new work, maybe it will lead to a better fit in future endeavors.

P.S. I did complete "Tribune Tower", had to make a few minor changes, and will be starting a companion piece soon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tribune Tower

"Tribune Tower"
12" x 12" encaustic on panel

When I combine my photographs with wax, I work toward finding a balance between photographic realism and dream-like impressionism. It has become my personal challenge to unmask the hidden landscapes lurking throughout the city.

Monday, November 4, 2013

North Pond

"Crow at North Pond"
12" x 12" encaustic on panel

The colors of autumn are breathtaking to me and I just can't get enough. Every day (weather permitting) I walk my dog and have been overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, hidden within an urban setting. The North Pond Nature Sanctuary is my usual walk, the loop around the pond from my apartment is 2 miles and I try to do it twice a day. Walking around the pond takes me to a wonderfully tranquil place. Today I couldn't help but notice how the colors have become even more golden, less green and I had to take more photographs.

The pond is such a change from my walks along the beach when I lived in New England. I have decided I am more inspired by the autumn foliage than the ocean, at least for now I have dozens of paintings waiting to happen. 

Photos from today's walk -

Saturday, October 26, 2013

All in a day's work

"Lakefront Trail"
8" x 8" encaustic mixed media on panel

I knew from the small works I painted earlier this week that I also wanted to paint a larger version of the autumn colors. I am still thinking this work is not enough for me to feel "done" with burnt orange and golden sunlight and I may have to do an even larger 24" x 24" version! Using small works as a study makes working larger on the same subject a lot smoother, the composition has already been worked out in my mind and things just flow. 

Several weeks of hard work have left me burnt out from painting (for now)… so the paints are cleaned up and put away forcing me to take a break. I am going to see "Madama Butterfly" at the Lyric Opera house tonight. It will be wonderful to drift into another world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Inspiration is Everywhere

Lately everywhere I go I take photos and think about how I want to paint where I have been. I am working small (3.5 x 2.5), medium (6 x 6), and large (12 x 12).

Here are a few new small works from local neighborhood places. I plan on painting a larger version of the Autumn trees this weekend, I love the colors in nature this time of year.

The snow scene below will be in the Copley Society small works holiday show along with three other paintings, opening reception is November 14.

I also painted my favorite morning scene, a misty Goldenrod Meadow in Vermont, this time it's a larger 12 x 12 version, probably the last time I will paint this place.

The strongest common element in each of these encaustic paintings is the linear etching in the wax. I am in the zone right now and looking forward to painting all weekend.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gallery Representation

Great story - I moved to Chicago in June and have spent the past few months learning about galleries here, art events, organizations. A few weeks ago I stopped into a fantastic frame shop which also hosts an impressive gallery space (chicago art source). The gallery manager was sitting at her desk alone and we started chatting, I was sensitive to the fact that I did not want to interrupt whatever she was doing... but I wanted to ask about the gallery. One thing led to another, she visited my website, we clicked. As luck would have it, she currently has a client that is looking for something more traditional (representational). All of the current work featured in the gallery is abstract. 

She is waiting to hear back from her client (a major University) about having me do a large commission piece, but in the meantime I am now represented by Chicago Art Source gallery. I will be one of the featured artists in the January show and several of my works are there now. Good things sometimes come when you least expect them. Even if I don't get the commission, I am in the gallery.

My paintings will all share the common theme of Chicago; places I have seen and visited since moving here. 

"Mile 6.5", inspired by the Marathon last weekend.
12" x 12"

Pictured below, paintings completed for the holiday show at the Evanston Art Center, good thing the work is done because now I am focused on the upcoming gallery show in January.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

More new work

The deadline for the Evanston Art Expo is fast approaching (October 21 inventory lists are due) and I am working diligently. I have a few other additional "things" in the works, and when I have the facts I look forward to sharing.

"Autumn Sky"
6" x 6" encaustic on panel

"Snow Reflection"
6" x 6" (another version)

Thursday, October 10, 2013


6" x 6" encaustic on panel

Above, one of the three paintings I will be exhibiting in "BEECause", an exhibit devoted to bringing awareness to the plight of our pollinators. 

Zhou B Art Center - Fabulous galleries, studios, and art center.

The vision of the Zhou B Art Center is to facilitate the exchange of contemporary art between Chicago and the international art community and promote the convergence of Eastern and Western art forms in the United States.
The mission of the Zhou B Art Center is to promote and facilitate a cultural dialogue by organizing contemporary art exhibitions and programs of international scope.

I also received word today that I was accepted into the Chicago Society of Artists. I had applied when I first moved to Chicago, after hearing about the organization from the first group of artists I met. The application process was very different from when I applied for membership at the Copley Society of Art in Boston. I found it peculiar that both organizations claim to be the oldest in the country so I decided to do a little research. Here is the information taken off of each organization's website.

The Copley Society of Art
The origins of the Copley Society of Art date back to the 1870s, a time when interest in the visual arts was gaining momentum in Boston. In 1876, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston opened the doors of its new building in Copley Plaza, and in 1877 the School of Drawing and Painting (later renamed School of the Museum of Fine Arts) began its first classes.
In 1879, members of the first graduating class of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts felt the need to keep the ties they had formed, and to help each other in their struggle to become prominent artists. In May of that year, largely through the efforts of Alice Spencer Tinkham and H. Winthrop Pierce, the Boston Art Students Association (now the Copley Society of art) was formed.

The Chicago Society of Artists 
The Chicago Society of Artists is a non-profit organization begun in 1887. The Chicago Society of Artists is now well into its second century and is the oldest continuing association of artists in the United States. Since its inception and its incorporation in 1889, the Chicago Society of Artists had as its primary objective, the advancement of art in Chicago and the cultivation of a climate to support the production and display of member art works.

So I did the math and will try to keep it to myself!

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Work

Lots of new work in preparation for upcoming shows! Each of these is 2.5" x 3.5", will be floated and mounted in 10" x 10" shadowbox frames.

"Lincoln Park Conservatory"

"Snow Reflection"

"Wildflowers in Vermont"

"Buddha Garden"

"Field of Sunflowers"

I need to have a completed inventory list turned in by October 21 for the Evanston Art Center Holiday Expo which is why I am so motivated to complete new small works daily. I am one of the exhibitors for this month long show, details can be found HERE.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Holiday prep

I know tomorrow is only October 1, but before you know it the stores will be stocked with Christmas decorations and gift ideas. I spent the past few days painting new small works (6" x 6") in preparation for holiday season, with more on the way.

"Cafe Brauer, pond side"

Most afternoons I walk through the park, past Lincoln Park Zoo and the North Pond. I never realized how beautiful the landscape was and am constantly impressed with the beauty and tranquility that can be found in the city.

"Misty Morning"

This is a favorite place of mine (in Vermont) and I have painted it several times. I never tire of the misty morning feeling.

"Sunday Sail"

I had no idea sailing was so popular in Chicago. Every weekend I have seen the boats on the horizon and notice most of all the color of the lake - more of a sea foam green in contrast to sky blue.