10 Things Artists Can Do During Corona-Crud Confinement

Trying not to think too hard about why I’m sequestered in my studio, I’m actually enjoying this quiet time and realizing I have much to do that I was saving for a rainy day. The following is a list of what I’ve accomplished so far and look forward to accomplishing. Hoping it will give you some inspiration to get S**T done.

At the end of this first week of the Coronavirus Confinement & Social Distancing experiment, a meme I saw the other day describes it perfectly…What a long year this week has been…

As working artists, we are pretty much used to being self-quarantined in our studios. I must admit, at the beginning of all of this, I kind of welcomed the stopping of the clock, mandatory shut down of life so I could get some work done. Trying not to think too hard about why I’m sequestered in my studio, I’m actually enjoying this quiet time and realizing I have much to do that I was saving for a rainy day. The following is a list of what I’ve accomplished so far and look forward to accomplishing. Hoping it will give you some inspiration to get S**T done.

I realize there are many of you who can’t get to your studios at this time and believe me, I empathize. There was a time not too long ago when I was in the same boat. For you, I have this post and this post, listing portable, non-messy art supplies you can purchase to use at home or out at your favorite hiking trail. Fortunately, Amazon still works and you can purchase these supplies and more at my Amazon Store.

  1. Make one thing on your Idea List I have an ongoing list of 20-25 ideas that randomly pop into my head when I’m working on must-do things. This list consists of fun things like embroidery or sewing projects, making sketchbooks or portfolio boxes to house my ever growing collection of artist postcards. If you sew, make a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus should you venture outside. If you don’t know what to make, start an idea list now!
  2. Have a melt down For encaustic artists and those who can get to the studio…melt down your encaustic scrapings-doing this makes great grays and taupes. I have a collection of scrapings I’ve been saving since forever and now is the time to melt! If you don’t know how to do this, stay tuned for a how-to on My Youtube Channel and IGTV.
  3. Read that giant art book you got over the holidays Yeah, READ IT, don’t just look at the pictures. I just read the Lawrence Carroll book, I Have Longed to Move Away, it was awesome and allowed me so much more insight into his work.
  4. Clean It’s spring after all and if you can actually find cleaning supplies in the stores, get busy cleaning out the winter scuzz from those nooks and crannies.
  5. Clean Out Go through your collections of books, pencils, paints, brushes, paper pads, whatever you’ve been hoarding and get rid of some stuff. Donate it to a local school, summer camp or after school program. Even if the kids don’t get back to school this semester, they will use it in September.
  6. Draw For those with or without a studio, it just takes a substrate and a drawing implement to make some art. Not sure what to draw? Visit 5 Mark-Making Exercises to Jump Start Your Art for ideas.
  7. Catalog your art inventory Oh, its soooo booooring! But it must be done and I’m sure you’re like me and have been putting it off like the plague-no pun intended. No more excuses, get busy and get it done. Sign up for ArtWork Archive to make your life easier.
  8. Start that one big art marketing thing you’ve been putting off We all have that thing that looms so big we can’t even imagine how to begin. Start a web page, a blog, a new Instagram account, a Facebook Fan page, learn a new technique, make videos, etc. For me, it’s online classes. I’ve been circling around it for years and it has become more imperative for me to begin now that I may not have a 2020 workshop season.
  9. Bake From the looks of the shelves at my food store and the yummy pics on my social media, everyone has had the same idea to make a sweet treat to get through this time. For artists, we can take it a step further and creatively decorate our yummies. Visit my Cakes! Pinterest Page for inspiration-even if you don’t bake, it’s fun to look.
  10. Do not fear, think positive, wash your hands and realize that all of this is temporary I have seen people referring to this as ‘the new normal’ and some have settled into a mindset that all of this is forever. It is not, my friends. While this virus should be taken seriously, be secure in the fact that it is a virus and we will find a vaccine, if not a cure to combat it. This too, shall pass and when it does, I think we will all have a better outlook on life and in our fellow humans. Be safe, healthy and wash your hands.

The Importance of Contrast

When I think of visual contrast, especially as it pertains to painting, the first thing that comes to mind is light/dark, but contrast is so much more than that.

I am on the tail end of my Second Annual Self Made Artist Residency in Florida and unfortunately, a bout of the flu set me back a week in my plans, so I’m afraid that a lengthy blog post isn’t in the cards. However, a valuable lesson is…

While a good part of this residency is reserved for time to paint, read, write, rest, I also spend a lot of it hiking and taking photographs for painting inspiration…or I photograph just because I see a thing and want to keep it forever 😉 Looking at these photographs as well as paintings I’m attracted to, both my own and other’s work, I’m learning there is one thing that I need to see to both attract and keep my interest: CONTRAST.

When I think of visual contrast, especially as it pertains to painting, the first thing that comes to mind is light/dark, but contrast is so much more than that. In Christopher Alexander’s amazing list, 15 Elements of Style, contrast is succinctly defined as ‘visible opposites’. It became most apparent to me to create a list of what those opposites could be when teaching my Beyond the Basics Encaustic Workshop. During the excavation phase-scraping and carving out a composition after laying down layers of paint and/or during an Encaustic PaintSmash session (see links below)-its like unwrapping a gift, but the gift can shift and morph into one amazing thing after another. Students often ask what to look for, what to highlight…and the answer is always, Contrast. The following list has grown considerably since I first started it in BTB Encaustic and its now shared with all of my workshops. I hope you find it helpful to your process and please feel free to add to it! Below are some paintings chosen randomly from my Pinterest Collection that exemplify the points on the list.

  • Complimentary colors
  • Smooth vs texture
  • Geometric vs organic form
  • Light vs dark-value
  • Solid vs patterned
  • Earthy/grays vs brights/clear
  • Sharp vs Blurry
  • Detail vs Loose

VISIT THIS POST to see images of student work, plus more in depth information about Beyond the Basics Encaustic. Visit this post, this post, this post and this post for more information and images about Encaustic PaintSmash as well as my YouTube Channel for videos.

Pattern & Decoration: A Little Known Art Movement

What is it about those of us who like to include a ton STUFF in their work? I began to investigate this phenomenon in grad school and discovered an art movement that even my professors had never heard of before-Pattern & Decoration or P&D for short.

I do admire artists who can say a lot with a little, however, I have to admit, I’m just not one of them. My confession of the day is…I like a lot of stuff (or shtuff, as I like to say) in my work: images, layers, materials, colors, patterns, processes. Sometimes I think it’s a bit too much and critics of my past often said this was so…but I like to ignore critics and did so then. Over the years I entertained the notion of paring down, simplifying, only to soon after add back in that which I had taken out. What is it about those of us who like to include a ton shtuff in their work? I began to investigate this phenomenon in grad school and discovered an art movement that even my professors had never heard of before-Pattern & Decoration or P&D for short.

P&D artists practiced Maximalism, a term that basically describes extremes and can be applied to anything in life and to any type of industry. In art, it is an extreme use of color, movement, pattern, repetition, an all-out explosion of shtuff! Both P&D and maximalism arose in the early 70’s as an answer to minimalism and its austere, almost restrictive practices. P&D paintings lean toward the decorative, with elaborate compositions of flowers, ornament and swirls, the use of collaged fabrics, glitter, decoupage and gold leaf. It’s for this reason that the P&D movement itself is generally thought of as feminine or craft driven, although a good number of artists were male and all artists were mostly painters. The movement itself was relatively short-lived, lasting only about a decade, yet many of the artists associated with it are well known, some still creating interesting work today. A few of my favorites include, Miriam Shapiro, Joyce Kozloff and Robert Kushner (all pictured in that order in the gallery below).

To my delight, P&D has come out of obscurity within the last year, with four shows in major institutions celebrating this movement. Further, if you look at any contemporary painting gallery today, you’ll see at least one artist whose work could be described as maximalism and has likely been influence by P&D. P&D is alive and well in my studio and in many of yours, I’m sure. To those of you who are holding back, I say MAX OUT, give it all you’ve got…life is short, my friends. Check out the gallery below for inspiration and if you need more, please visit my Pinterest board, Painting: Pattern.

Living In Gratitude

Since I started writing daily gratitudes, my mindset has greatly improved. I’m able to see the half full glass, smile and be more relaxed even when I feel like exploding. Take it from a skeptic, Living In Gratitude really does work!

As we enter into a new year and a new decade (!) I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. It’s such a cliche, really, so new age-y to discuss gratitude. And I must admit, it’s for these reasons that only until a few years ago, I never really considered it a part of my life. Sure, I’m grateful and always have been, I’m certainly not an ingrate.. but I never really considered what Living In Gratitude meant and how practicing this simple concept could change my life.

I was introduced to gratitude as a practice when I took Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Bootcamp course (now called Art Biz Accelerator-a segment of her Art Career Success System.) Taking this course and later, becoming a part of her Inner Circle were two of the best things I ever did for my art business. So much of Art Biz Bootcamp was helpful toward building my art business and many of the lessons learned have remained in my daily, weekly and monthly business tasks, including my gratitudes list. I had often heard that writing a daily list of gratitudes was helpful, but I always thought it had to be this profound list of great and wonderful thoughts. What Alyson impressed upon me the most was that the list of gratitudes can really be quite simple. To illustrate how simple, I shared 20 (plus 1) of my most repeated 2019 gratitudes below. I do them everyday before I go to bed and I always write them-writing them is important as it reinforces the idea. Also important is to write them as complete sentences beginning with ‘I am grateful for..’ or ‘I am thankful for..’ Alyson suggests five gratitudes a day, but I usually write just three. You can do them in the morning or evening as it’s best to do them as a start or finish for the day-these are the best times for reflection. For me, writing my gratitudes at the end of the day provides me opportunities to take note of a positive things taking place throughout the day so that I can recall those moments and write them down. Noticing these moments helps me get through with a more positive outlook, even on the worst days when nothing seems to be going right. Overall, since doing this, my mindset has greatly improved. I’m able to see the half full glass, smile and be more relaxed even when I feel like exploding. Take it from a skeptic, Living In Gratitude really does work!

  1. I am grateful for the sun shining on my face.
  2. I am grateful for the time to hike and the beauty I discovered today.
  3. I am grateful I feel inspired and painting is going well this week.
  4. I am grateful my car still runs and takes me to far away places where I can escape.
  5. I am grateful for the pain of the last few months and the opportunities it has opened for healing old wounds.
  6. I am grateful for pizza and chocolate chip cookies.
  7. I am grateful the flowers are blooming outside my window.
  8. I am grateful for my caring friends who listen.
  9. I am grateful people forgive.
  10. I am grateful I am a strong person.
  11. I am grateful I didn’t get a ticket even though I was way speeding.
  12. I am grateful I have a comfortable bed to come home to.
  13. I am grateful I saw the moon and stars tonight.
  14. I am grateful for random heart shaped things on the trail on my hikes.
  15. I am grateful my work is sought after and appreciated.
  16. I am grateful I got to sleep late today.
  17. I am grateful to be in the studio all day today.
  18. I am grateful for the cool thunderstorm today.
  19. I am grateful for my freedom and to live in this country.
  20. I am grateful for new art to look at and for artist painting trades.
  21. I am grateful I get to do what I love everyday.

Holiday Gratitude & Wishes

Sending you all a sincere Thank you for your support throughout the year

&

Wishing you a very Merry Holiday Season and a Creatively Prosperous New Year.

Workshop & Retreat Guide: Which One is Best for You?

I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants.

I hadn’t really given this question much thought until it was posed to me during my interview with Alyson Stanfield for her wonderfully informative Art Biz Podcast. I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants. To my knowledge, no one has formally defined these two things so I’d like to add a bit of a disclaimer that the following guide is based on my own experience and are the guidelines I personally use when promoting and organizing my classes.

Artist Workshops are:

  • A gathering of like-minded individuals for a week or less for the purpose of learning, completing a project, exchanging ideas and/or discussion.
  • Usually takes place at a facility/house/room/building equipped specifically for the workshop, but may also be used for other purposes at other times.
  • Taught by a 1-2 professional instructors.
  • Although some may travel a distance to participate in a workshop, many may be also be local. Accommodations and meals may be, but are not always included as part of the workshop.
  • Offered multiple times a year.

Artist Retreats are:

  • The same as workshops in concept (see point one above), but are scheduled for a longer period of time-at least a week or more.
  • The location is important, is most often a destination locale and is often explored as a significant part of inspiration for the retreat.
  • There are side/field trips scheduled as part of the workshop inspiration.
  • Food, yoga, meditation, spa, and other body pampering activities are scheduled or available to the retreat participant.
  • Participants likely travel to the destination and are encouraged to stay at the location for the duration of the retreat in order to totally immerse themselves in the experience. Accommodations and meals are usually included as part of the retreat.
  • A unique experience and may be offered as a once in a lifetime or as a rarity.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and informative. Please see this post for a comprehensive listing of my 2020 Artist Workshops & Retreats.

My 2020 Workshop & Retreat Schedule

Is there someone on your holiday gift list who has everything? Instead of more STUFF, give them the experience of a creative Workshop or Retreat! Buy one for someone you love, buy one for yourself or both!

Is there someone on your holiday gift list who has everything? Instead of more STUFF, give them the experience of a creative Workshop or Retreat! Creative experiences make great gifts because they keep on giving for a lifetime. Buy one for someone you love, buy one for yourself or both!
Before choosing a Retreat or Workshop, please be sure to read my Workshop & Retreat Guide to find out if a Workshop or a Retreat experience (or both!) is the best choice for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about any of these Retreats or Workshops.

2020 Retreats

WILD RICE RETREAT: EXPLORING LANDSCAPE THROUGH ENCAUSTIC & THE MARK
Wild Rice Retreats combines food, wine, body self-care and gorgeous inspiring landscape to round out their creative expression retreats. Please visit the workshop link below to read more about Wild Rice, view their lovely photo gallery and to find out more about my class.
**SIGN UP FOR THIS RETREAT DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER AND RECEIVE $100 OFF PLUS A BOTTLE OF WINE!**
July 12-16
Wild Rice Retreat, Bayfield, WI
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for Retreat Highlights and Student work made in Retreats similar to this one.

IRELAND ARTIST RETREAT: MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
Created by and for encaustic artists, the Essence of Mulranny Retreats offer state of the art facilities, sweeping coastal and mountain views and miles of inspiring Irish landscape make this retreat a once in a lifetime experience you will draw inspiration from for years. Please visit the links below for Retreat details and photo gallery.
August 1-8
Essence of Muranny, Mulranny, Ireland
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this gallery for Retreat Highlights and Student work made in Retreats similar to this one.

VERMONT ARTIST RETREAT: EXPLORING LANDSCAPE & THE FIGURE THROUGH PHOTO ENCAUSTIC
I have teamed up with photo encaustic artist, Leah MacDonald to teach this once in a lifetime Retreat in rural Vermont. Lareau Farm Retreat offers comfortable country accommodations, farm to table meals, miles of hiking through meadow, forest, mountain and swimming in the Mad River. Leah and I have planned a wonderful five days photographing the figure and expressing the landscape as well as a few fun local excursions. Please visit the link below for photo galleries and a detailed Retreat description and itinerary.
August 17-28
Lareau Farm Retreat, Waitsfield, VT
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION

NOLA ARTIST RETREAT: A HISTORIC CEMETERY EXPLORATION THROUGH MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
A truly unique experience not to be duplicated, I have teamed up with New Orleans based artist and historian, Heather Veneziano to offer an immersive creative exploration of New Orleans extraordinary cemeteries. In addition to cemetery excursions and ample studio time, Heather and I have planned several fun food and creative excursions to New Orleans lesser known inspiring spaces and resources. Please visit the link below for a detailed Retreat description, itinerary and photo gallery.
November 9-13
Paper Machine Studio, New Orleans, LA
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION

2020 Workshops

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC COLLAGE
April 18-19
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, NJ
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: FIBER EXPLORATIONS
May 1-3
Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: FIBER & STRUCTURE
June 28-July 2
Cullowhee Mountain Arts, Cullowhee, NC
WORKSHOP WEB SITE COMING SOON!
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

APPROACHES ON PAPER: ENCAUSTIC & PRINTMAKING
September 17-19
Elise Wagner Studio, Portland, OR
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: TEXTURE & LAYERS
October 14-16
R&F Paints, Kingston, NY
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.