Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year, New Series to follow...

"Stained Glass"
6" x 6"
mixed media encaustic on 300 lb. Arches paper

mounted and floated in a 10" x 10" shadowbox frame

I am entering the new year with new ideas, new hopes, and new inspiration for my art. I plan to focus on historic Gothic architecture, stained glass, connecting the history of art while working with the encaustic medium. Hopefully, I will be able to explore a variety of churches throughout the city and share a unique, impressionistic vision. This first piece above is small and restricted in details; I am thinking working larger is a must. 

Recently when I visited a Gothic church in Chicago, I couldn't help but reminesce college days, spending hours in the dark basement of the art history building, studying the slide trays for upcoming exams, memorizing the details of historic religious art pieces throughout time. Boy, technology sure has changed the way we learn! 

I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous new year. Lets hope 2015 brings us all closer to finding joy and fulfillment, peace and happiness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Full Circle

Works on Paper
December 15 - January 12, 2015 
North Shore Art League
Winnetka, IL.

When I was 12 years old, I attended Saturday art class at the North Shore Art League. Joan Weinger was my teacher, and with her guidance and encouragement, I was introduced to multiple art mediums at a young age. The days in her classes were the beginning of what has become my professional art career. I believe if it weren’t for her incredibly nurturing teaching style, I would never have connected to my love of painting, creativity, and expression. I feel fortunate that 45 years later I am back exhibiting and teaching in the very same place my artistic journey began.

Love of life, land, color, and spirituality are the common denominators. The miniature encaustic paintings are inspired by the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute, a place of fond memories and shared visits with my grandmother from years ago. I have re-created a tiny world within a 2.5" x 3.5" space, and hopefully will take you there with me. 

This show has truly brought me full circle.

"Young Girl with Umbrella"
tempera with ink resist
c. 1970

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reconnecting with Heart and Soul

"Holding Me"
26" x 19"
encaustic on Rives heavyweight

"Rifts From Within"
19" x 26"
encaustic on Rives lightweight

"Smell the Roses"
19" x 26"
encaustic on Rives heavyweight

Encaustic painting has consumed most of my creative energy for the past 5 years. My focus has been on developing a technique using image transfers fused into wax medium, enhanced with pigments and oil pastels, and learning how to master this technique. I found immediate success with the process, and have been developing a body of work with current inspiration coming from new and varied places; the city of Chicago, surrounding public and private gardens, and the lake. Shortly after I arrived in Chicago, I found an amazing gallery to represent my work, Chicago Art Source, and continue to exhibit in national juried shows, competitions, and art fairs. The gallery manager asked for larger cityscape pieces and I have spent a good portion of the year creating them. 

This past July I learned about a new process, encaustic monotypes. Immediately, I felt a connection to working on paper, using encaustic paint and layering, very similar to how I work when I am building a painting with watercolor washes. Back when watercolor was the only medium I focused on, I learned from Jeanne Carbonetti to let the paint flow, and to respond to it rather than trying to force or control it. Her teaching methods were introduced to me when I read her book, The Tao of Watercolor, and later when I went to meet her in a private 3 day workshop at her home studio in Chester, VT. My artistic path also led to reading Art as a Way of Knowing by Pat Allen, and Trust the Process by Shaun McNiff. All of these books helped to understand that for me, there are two kinds of art; the art I sell, and the art that is created to explore inner feelings, meditations, and deeper understanding. Sometimes the work can do both, but not always. 

Creating encaustic monotypes brings me back to the root of my own creative processes, to not just think with that inner critic looking over my shoulder asking "what is the most salable art to make". The purist form of creativity is the art that allows you to find your soul and comes from the heart.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini Works

I continue to work off of photos I took when I was recently at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I plan on going back each season but for now autumn remains my focus and inspiration. All of these are 2.5" x 3.5", mixed media encaustic on 300 lb. Arches paper.

"House on Water"


"Pathway to the Japanese Garden"

"Autumn Tree"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This and that ...

New encaustic paintings, demos from the class I teach using image transfer techniques -

"Autumn Sky"
2.5" x 3.5"

2.5" x 3.5"

Also, I decided to add a shellac burn to tint each of these older paintings (and made several other minor adjustments).

I removed the antelope in the foreground.

And I added color with oil pastels (below), combined with the shellac burn, to break up the massive greenery.

But the most important project I completed was organizing the details for my upcoming solo show. 22 pieces are framed and ready to hang. This week 2 other group holiday shows open, and the season is almost upon us. Where does the time go...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Demonstration Painting

I always incorporate demonstration time when I am teaching encaustic painting. I think the best way to learn new techniques is by seeing them happen.

"Chicago Botanic Garden"
8" x 10" 
encaustic on board

I used slightly tinted wax medium to build up base layers, added the warm tones of yellow-orange into the medium, which allowed the transferred image to retain the glowing colors of burnt orange. I used a pointed tool to create tree textures and added oil pastel to highlight these markings. I know the trees are going to become bare and monochromatic soon, and was anxious to capture this autumn landscape one more time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Encaustic Monotypes

Being able to paint with wax on paper feels so familiar, I know it's because of my watercolor past. I used black oil pastel for linear definition, and I am looking forward to developing this technique further.

"Freshly Cut"
22" x 30" on Arches 88 lb. paper

16" x 22" on Rives lightweight paper

"Red Tide"
12" x 16" on Kozo paper

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Autumn Landscape

What can I say... it's the time of year when the leaves are changing and all I want to do is paint a palette of burnt orange, alizarin crimson, sap green and yellow ochre. This is my favorite color palette and I decided to work on paper using encaustic monotype techniques.

"Autumn Landscape"
16" x 22"
encaustic monotype on Rives lightweight paper

I continuously notice the leaves falling, their shapes and colors. The oak leaf below, grouped with the other leaf impressions, painted last week, makes for an interesting series. I plan on showing this work as part of my solo show next February at the North Shore Art league. I will probably have time to add more by then, too.

10" x 10"
encaustic on panel

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn Inspiration

The colors of fall are everywhere! I walk around the Nature Museum and North Pond daily, gathering leaves and pressing them. I have wanted to try several new encaustic techniques, creating interesting textures and patterns in wax and the leaf imprints seemed like a good combination.

mixed media
 10" x 10" on wood panel

mixed media
10" x 10" on wood panel

mixed media
10" x 10" on wood panel

After painting layers of colored wax on panel, I burnished the leaf, creating imprints. Next, I added another layer of wax before lifting the leaf off of the surface. I then added shellac as a final layer, and torched the shellac before it dried completely. The result is a sporadic lace pattern of shellac combined with encaustic. This technique is just one more of the many different ways the encaustic medium can be used. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Encaustic Monotypes and Upcoming Shows

16" x 22" on Rives heavyweight paper

16" x 22" on Vellum 

"Ornamental Grass"
19" x 26" on Rives heavyweight paper

Using the encaustic medium on paper brings me back to a familiar creative place, very much like working with watercolor on paper. For me, there is a similar use of color, airy application of paint, and the ability to create fine details with brushwork. I have been embracing the many varieties of paper, each has it's own unique qualities. As I continue to build a larger body of encaustic monotypes, I can see my love of landscape and nature re-emerging.

Other news - I received notification that one of my large cityscapes, "S-Curve",  was accepted into the 57th Mid States Competition at the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science. 57 pieces were accepted from the 400 submitted. More information is available on the museum website - http://www.emuseum.org

30' x 40" mixed media on panel

And my painting "Ripples" is currently on display in Miami at the International Encaustic Artists Opened Juried Show in the Audrey Love Gallery, show information available here - http://www.international-encaustic-artists.org/Devil-In-a-Straight-Line

22" x 16" on Rives lightweight paper

Holiday shows are next on my agenda, followed by a solo show at the North Shore Art League next February. One of the important things I have learned since relocating in the Midwest is to keep chugging along, and that there are always new exhibition opportunities if you are willing to do the work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New works

30" x 22"
watercolor and ink on paper

After spending a good part of the past year painting the city of Chicago, working with photo transfers combined with encaustic medium, I reached a point where I missed watercolor. It had also been on my mind to move toward nature-inspired places and things as subject matter. Even in the big city, I seem to find elements of nature everywhere.

8" x 8"
encaustic on panel

I also started teaching a weekly encaustic class and each week I incorporate a demo sharing different techniques. The first class was more about supplies and safety, with a short demo on how to build layers of wax and texture. I had to finish working on this piece at home and look forward to sharing the end result with the class. I will also be offering a 1-day encaustic workshop on October 25 at the North Shore Art League. The workshop will be an abbreviated version of the weekly class, but supplies are included and the cost is reasonable for those not sure if they are ready to make a weekly commitment.

The dragonfly has always been a symbol to me of creativity, artistic freedom, and beauty. I never tire of painting her. Life has been hectic both personally and professionally yet somehow when I go back to painting Ms. Dragonfly, I find peace and calm and the ability to center.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bonsai, an interactive art form

Landscape painting has been on my mind a lot lately. I have spent the good portion of a year photographing and painting the incredible architecture in the city of Chicago, but now nature is calling out to me. Earth, rock, trees, green... mother nature is alive and constantly changing, the reason why I love painting her.

This week I became the owner of Serrissa Foetida. It has always been important to me to have live plants indoors (and outdoors when ever possible). I used to have bonsai, before I moved to Chicago, but am now rebuilding my indoor garden, slowly but surely. I think of these plants as sculptural art and the knowledge and care required to keep them alive makes this an interactive art form.

Serrissa Foetida Bonsai, Tree of a thousand stars
The Serissa foetida has small oval leaves, it can explode with small white star flowers several times per year giving it the nickname the "Tree of a thousand stars".

Taken from the book "Bonsai, the art of growing and keeping miniature trees" by Peter Chan:

"Bonsai is an art form. Like any of the other visual arts such as painting and sculpture, it has all the essential aesthetic elements of composition, balance, perspective, depth, texture, color, and so on. The analogy of bonsai with painting in general, and landscape painting in particular, is especially appropriate. The objectives both in landscape painting and in bonsai are the same, in each case to create on a reduced scale what one observes in nature." (p. 9)

I have painted the landscape featuring bonsai throughout the years. I plan on getting back into the roots (pun intended) of bonsai as subject and recently came to a clear understanding why I feel so connected to this after reading Peter Chan's book.

I also have my eye on a very old Chinese Elm, but these trees require a lifelong commitment of watering and care, something that a painting does not require. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blog Hop

The Blog Hop is going around...

I have been invited to participate in a “blog hop” by artist Alicia Forestall-Boehm. Alicia is one of the many active members in the FUSEDChicago group and one of the first artists I met when I moved back to Chicago last summer. Participating in the blog hop allows me to introduce her art and her blog along with three other artist bloggers I admire. I also have an opportunity to answer 4 specific questions, allowing me to share more about my creative process and art.

Alicia Forestall- Boehm
Alicia’s encaustic and fiber sculptures are a simplified interpretation of urban living and spaces we inhabit, quite a contrast from my interpretation of cityscapes and skyscrapers, which is why I find her art sculptures so fascinating. Thank you for including me in the blog hop, Alicia!

“My encaustic and fiber sculptures reduce larger images and concepts into elegant simplified forms.  By paring down basic elements of color, shape and movement I am able to acknowledge another kind of space.  Ultimately they become symbols of incompleteness that come together in works of art that are complete and whole.  My work elevates the humble cheesecloth.  When married with encaustic it becomes surprisingly malleable allowing for a broad range of sculptural treatments.  The resulting works are abstract representations of urban history that often explores the physical and mental boundaries of public and private spaces we inhabit.  I am currently working on an encaustic and fiber sculptural installation for a solo show at Art on Armitage in Chicago December 2014.”


Blog hop questions:

1) What am I working on? 
I am close to completing a Cityscape series of mixed media encaustic paintings, something I immediately started once I became settled into urban life last summer.  Moving back to Chicago after spending 25 years on the East coast gave me a refreshed appreciation of the amazing combination of urban architecture alongside landscaping, perennials, and nature. I am also exploring encaustic Monotypes, layering color and texture, working on paper, reconnecting with my watercolor background and nature inspired techniques. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My vision and inspiration comes from every day life. I am always looking at my surroundings, often photographing (with my phone) when I find a composition that is unique to Chicago. I have noticed most recently how beautiful the city is landscaped and my depiction of urban life involves combining elements of nature balanced between the  skyscrapers, concrete, and amazing skyline. 

3) Why do I write/work what I do? 
Sharing my vision and understanding of land, the gifts of nature, and our world through various art mediums allows us to understand what words cannot always express and allows me to share my unique vision of finding the beauty in everything I see. My life feels more complete after each idea comes to fruition in a painting, and my hope is that others can feel the same beauty and peacefulness as I do upon viewing my work.

4) How does my working process work? 
I always start with a composition and color. Color is my immediate connection to mood. Sometimes I let the paint dictate and I follow, other times I have a specific plan and I always seek to find a balance between the palette and depiction of place. Most important to me is that I trust my instincts and process, allowing for deviation from the original plan if need be, yin and yang.

I have chosen to feature 3 artists and bloggers I have known for many years, and have also included links to their blogs.

Barbara Parker and I met in 2007 when we both attended the Master of Education program in Arts and Learning, at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. We both were mid-life mothers going back to school to embrace the creative learning processes and as part of a small cohort, we were able to grow and learn in the safety of the graduate school setting. Barb is an amazing painter, writer, bookmaker, with a full time balancing act between her family and her farm, and her art.

Bio: Barbara graduated in 1979 with a BS in nursing from Syracuse University. Her lifelong passion for drawing, writing and photography led her to complete a MEd program in Arts and Learning from Endicott college. She and her husband live on a small farm north of Boston where they raised their four children alongside a potpourri of farm pets. Bookmaking and sketchbook journaling are a favorite pastime along with painting cows.

Barb’s blog link - http://barbarazparker.com/my-blog/

Kathleen Krucoff was one of the first artists I became familiar with online via the Art Calendar website from almost ten years ago. As long as I have known her, Kathleen has been able to share her amazing art jewelry through social media. I feel like I have a deeper connection to her work because many of her jewelry pieces are landscape inspired, similar to my paintings.

Kathleen Krucoff

"I have always loved working with my hands, so the tactile experience of sawing, filing, sanding, and working with metal is as necessary as breathing is to me.  I have never been one to color inside the lines, so my feelings are my work should not be limited by any boundaries.  Being creative is an essential part of my life.

I consider my art jewelry unique forms of personal adornment.  Mountains, trees, and landscapes speak to me as I start working with stones and metal.  I must listen and then I create.  I must see what is taking shape in my mind's eye, transferring that imagery to my work.

My life is shared with my best friend, soul mate and husband Dan, who is a photographer, along our three very colorful Basset Hounds.  Our life is never dull.

I grew up in Northern Illinois and today I call Colorado my home.  The rugged beauty and charm of the Rocky Mountains captured my heart over 20 years ago.

Throughout my life I have studied various art forms.  Once I discovered metalwork, I knew I had found my passion.  I am honored and humbled every time one of my pieces speaks to someone and they become a collector of my work."

Deborah Younglao is another artist I met via the Art Calendar website around the same time I became familiar with Kathleen’s work, and I have watched her silk paintings develop as 2 dimensional art, three dimensional quilts, and as wearable art. Her style of painting on silk feels very much like watercolor washes, something I admire and also can relate to on a more personal, creative level.

Deborah Younglao

"Painting on lustrous silk with brilliant, liquid dyes has been my passion for nearly 20 years. A piece of silk being painted becomes a living thing. While the dyes are wet they are constantly on the move… the creation in front of me is always changing. The dyes, the silk and I dance together. Sometimes I lead; more often than not the painting leads. My painted silk may become a 2-dimensional painting, a 3-dimensional quilt, or a fluid piece of wearable art to grace your shoulders."

Deborah blog link - http://www.deborahyounglao.com/blog

Next weekend all three of these artists will be participating in the blog hop, and you can find out more about them and artists they admire by visiting their blogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

End of a Series

"Approaching Michigan Avenue"
30" x 30"
mixed media encaustic on panel

How do you know when a series is complete? For me, a year ago I started challenging myself to work larger with the encaustic medium and shortly after I moved to Chicago, I started photographing places I visited in the city. It was a huge contrast from the landscapes I painted when I lived in New England, and I was determined to combine elements of nature in between skyscrapers, concrete, and urban chaos. I have now completed a series of larger cityscapes (you can see them on my website here) and I am ready to move onto the next thing....

...the next thing, for me, happens to be encaustic monotypes. Watercolor was the only medium I worked with for over 20 years and working on paper feels natural and connected to my past. Being able to use much thinner layers of encaustic paint, fusing directly to paper without a torch or heat gun, allowing translucent qualities of the paint to build the composition layer upon layer, all brings me back to my love of watercolor techniques. I am sure I will continue to photograph places I visit, and maybe the large cityscape paintings will continue, but not until after I play around with the monotype process!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Upcoming shows and events

"Rock Falling"
Encaustic Monotype
18" x 12"

This weekend will be my last of the summer outdoor art festivals for this season and now that I have a few under my belt, I am definitely going to apply to more opportunities next spring and summer. The 42nd Annual Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival is held along the lakefront in Centennial Park, August 2 & 3 from 11am - 6pm. I will be featuring new cityscape paintings along with nature inspired monotypes, (most of the monotypes will be in my portfolio rack). I also have planned for a new booth design and look forward to sharing photographs.

Another opportunity to see some of my new work is at Unbound(ed), An Encaustic Exhibition, in Morpho Gallery, Chicago. Tonight is the opening reception, 6 - 9:30pm and the show runs through the month of August. This year Morpho gallery opened submissions to all national encaustic artists (not just regional) and the quality of work is phenomenal.

Morpho Gallery

Encaustic Monotype
12" x 18"

"Upstream", diptych
Encaustic on panel
8" x 16"

I have to admit, on a whim, I decided to submit to Real People - an exhibition of Figurative Work. My inspiration most often comes from land but experimenting with self portraits was a part of my studio practice while I attended graduate school several years ago. The show is sponsored by the Northwest Area Arts Council in the Old Court House Arts Center, Woodstock, IL and runs from August 7 - September 28, 2014.

Real People - an exhibition of Figurative Work

"Self Portrait in Blue"
Encaustic on panel
8" x 8"

Starting in September, I will once again be teaching encaustic painting at the North Shore Art League, Winnetka, IL.

North Shore Art League