Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More processing

"Remains of the Day"
24 x 24 encaustic on panel

My newest encaustic painting finds inspiration from a study of cave paintings, Native American symbols, earth and clay, and even sumi-e line work, all with a lean toward landscape. The Sumi-e  influence is transferred with simple lines and open space.     

After completing "Remains of the Day" I decided to rotate it and now I am unsure which direction this should hang. A successful abstract painting can be viewed and hung in more than one way, right?

In my home I have objects with the same earthy qualities. A favorite vase, a clay planter, shells in a glass bowl, are just a few things that bring me closer to the earth.

When I decided to clean the catch-tray to my electric griddle because of the wax buildup I was surprised to see such beautiful layering from colored drippings. I was going to melt down and recycle the drippings but it's too beautiful a "happy accident" to loose.

Drippings as they appeared in the catch tray, top view -

bottom view -

side views -

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Process in Stages

"Fire and Wind"
8 x 8 encaustic on panel

The above painting was the result of three continuous days in the studio, working through personal and creative challenges, and completely changing direction. I hesitated to share the stages I went through because I am sure there will be someone who prefers one of the versions that no longer exists. Maybe if I explain the thinking behind the process you will understand what I was trying to achieve.

Starting with more than 10 layers of colored wax, I carved, etched, added colored inlay, oil pastel and used the panel as a demonstration piece.  I scraped away to expose layers of color and wanted students to see how versatile and forgiving the wax can be. When I came home I had decided the remaining color was too busy and I toned it down by adding a translucent layer of yellow. I thought if I could adhere some of the scrapings on top it would be more interesting. The only problem was, the next day when I viewed the small pieces on top they were too busy for me.

I decided to pull off the scrapings and began etching into the top layer of wax. I also added some light blue inlay although it became too chaotic again.

It was time to do some serious "erasing" by melting off several layers of the existing wax. After the surface was smooth and down to a cream color I could once again try and create something that felt "right". I added the warm colors of sunset combined with the cool colors of water. This now was a landscape waiting to happen, and I drew tree shapes. I almost stopped at this point, but it seemed too pretty and too literal.

Easy enough to add a few more layers of wax, draw in a few more organic shapes but now the warm yellow colors were missing. Plus, I was still being too literal. I have been working toward a simplified understanding of land and earth.

After adding a few more layers of cream, orange, and warmer colors I was able to find the color palette that worked for me. The piece below is an idea and a feeling - the natural elements of fire and wind recreated using color and brushstrokes rather than representational drawing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Encaustic Workshop

The past two Saturdays sure kept me busy. I was teaching an Introduction to Encaustic workshop at a local art studio. It was important to me to start by sharing safe studio practices and review essential tools used with the encaustic medium. The first Saturday I demonstrated image transfers and collage, and we discussed artistic copyright. The second Saturday I demonstrated more transfers, free hand drawings using tracing paper, and shared inlay and scraping techniques.

It is always interesting to see the different styles of expression each student gravitates toward. I have their permission to share finished work. My 2nd demo piece (directly below) is still a work in progress and in the morning I hope to add final touches. It has changed quite a bit since class ended. I was able to share inlay, scraping, and oil pastel transfer techniques all on this one piece. 

Image transfers are my small work staple in sales on Etsy. I incorporate pigmented wax and oil pastel to make the image "pop" and this was the most popular technique with my students. We all had lots of fun and I may be offering additional classes next month, details to be determined.

Student work below -

Ginger Zeller 

Jon Corbino

Betty Dumas (2)

Pat Marshall

Pam Jones

Friday, January 11, 2013


Working in threes has always felt good to me. Whether it's "politically correct" in the art world, or just intuitive artistic sensibility, triptychs make better sense. I have just completed another series of 3 paintings that work independently of each other but viewed together make a stronger commentary in regards to Native American life and an intrinsic appreciation of the earth.

12 x 12 encaustic and oil pastel on cradled panel

The other 2 paintings:

"Cave Dwellers"
12 x 12 encaustic and oil pastel on cradled panel

"Rain Dance"
12 x 12 encaustic and oil pastel on cradled panel

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Round is better than square

My small encaustic works have always been signed with a personalized chop, a translation of my name in chinese characters. Last month I ordered a round stamp to replace the square shape I had been using. I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner but the circular shape eliminates the worry about lining up the hard edges with the art.

These new works are all 2.5 x 3.5, mounted with foam core on 6 x 6 watercolor paper then placed in a 10 x 10 shadowbox frame. I continue to have success selling in my Etsy shop as well as in local galleries. My favorite subject is the New England landscape, particularly from my visits to Vermont and Maine. I love being able to add depth and texture to the wax by using paint brushes and sculpting tools.

"Rangeley Lake"

"Beyond the Meadow"

"Golden Mist"

Stamped, Mounted, and Framed

This last piece below still needs to be stamped and framed, what a difference it makes.

"Morning Passage"

I also wanted to share the final version of "Rain Dance" seen below. It is important to me to keep the cradled panel edges clean of wax, something I just started doing several months ago. What started as a series of paintings inspired by Topography then moved into the direction of the Australian Outback is now taking me into a study of Native American and Primitive art.

"Rain Dance", 12 x 12 encaustic painting

It feels good to be back in the studio plus I am looking forward to teaching a beginner encaustic workshop over the next two weekends.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cave Painting

Finally, I was able to focus on new work today, and have been patiently waiting to do so. The last 2 abstracts from my Outback series were inspired by cave paintings and my drift toward native american influences are obvious. I need to explore further the primitive art that ties me to the earth.

I will have to wait for morning to add several more layers of wax and rephotograph with daylight, but I wanted to share this work in progress.

"Rain Dance", work in progress
12 x 12 encaustic and oil pastel on panel

The most exciting gift I received last month was a full set of Sennelier oil pastels. I had started using them with wax in November, transferring simple drawings into the encaustic medium.

LOVE these pastels.

It's encouraging that just last week I heard one of my new cave paintings "Cave Dwellers" was accepted into the Copley Society winter show, juried by Kaveh Mojtabai, the founder and publisher at Boston Publishing House LLC, Artscope Magazine. This is the first time I submitted new abstract work into a juried show.

Opposite of the abstracts, I continue to paint and sell small representational mixed media works. It almost feels like I am working in 2 completely opposite directions but no complaints here, just call me Sybil!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I spent today getting back into the swing of business, shows, and life in general but it wasn't easy. I can hardly believe we are into a new year ... where does the time go.

Moving to Chicago is not just a far away idea anymore, it will become my reality in a few months once I sign an apartment lease. Last Friday I looked at a few apartments when I was in town and I discovered a very cool building; the lobby hosts small monthly art shows and even though the apartments did not work for me, I may be able to get into a small neighborhood show there around September.

Lobby at The Belmont (gallery space on the background walls)

My next trip to Chicago won't be until March when I can actually sign a lease. In the meantime, I have several upcoming shows and workshops to teach. Details are listed on the right in "Current and Upcoming Events".

The Copley Society, Small Works show -

Swampscott Art Association, Retrospective show -

The Swampscott Art Association is also having another winter show in Salem, I have until Friday to figure out if and what I will submit.

Next workshop I am teaching is January 12, Intro to Encaustic at Brush Strokes Studios. In March I teach my last watercolor workshop at Montserrat College of Art, and after that moving will be my job 24/7.