I may have jumped the gun when I introduced what I thought was the complete line-up of included artists in this show. I’m so pleased to announce two new additions, Deborah Kapoor and Cari Hernandez.
Title Image: Deborah Kapoor
We are in the home stretch for installation of With Wax, my curated show at the Chester County Art Association coming up in the first week of September! I can’t believe it, it’s been almost a year in planning. Please read my first article about this show, which includes images and statements from the eight other artists, as well as my curators statement.
I may have jumped the gun when I introduced what I thought was the complete line-up of included artists in this show. I’m so pleased to announce two new additions, Deborah Kapoor and Cari Hernandez. I have long been a fan of both of these artists…first, because they are amazing women and second, they have consistently made work that is always innovative, inspired and engaging for the many years that I have known them.
With the addition of Deborah’s and Cari’s work, the line-up of artists is finally complete. Please note that the images included in this article may/may not be work that will be included in the show.
I do hope to see some of you at the opening when I will be presenting an interactive encaustic demonstration. If you can’t make it to the opening, I hope you will come by and see the show, it’ll be up through September.
With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic September 8-30, 2022 Opening Reception & Encaustic Demonstration, September 8, 6-8 pm Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania Website
Deborah Kapoor – Washington, USA I am inspired by cultural markers related to spaces the body inhabits. Universal themes I traverse include embodiment, destruction, renewal, legacy, perseverance, spirituality, and the space language and architecture occupy — with a particular interest in the vulnerable. My work is process-oriented, often beginning with a piece of fabric or paper, adding threads, ephemera, paint and markmaking — to create haptic, dimensional wall pieces, sculptural objects and installations There is an inherent intimacy in what I make, no matter the scale. My attention lingers in the liminal, making connections between states of being and the need for belonging at a time when there is a poverty of empathy in our global community.
Cari Hernandez – California, USA Her work combines rich color fields in conjunction with an elegant layering of line and pattern creating a developed depth of interest in each painting whereby the human experience is woven into her rich layers of material, creating a historical record for exploration. When working with other mediums such as oil or fiber, her focus continues to be centered on color study, shape, and form. She is endlessly inspired by her natural environment of the ocean, mountains, and wildlife that surround her in Sonoma County. The sculptural work in this show is from a series I have been working on for the past decade, exploring the notion of thought, and how the strands of ideas might intertwine in/out of our reality.
When I was asked to curate an exhibition of encaustic work for the Chester County Art Association, I was over the moon and agreed to do it without batting an eye. I was given absolute freedom to include any artist and work around any theme, it was almost overwhelming. I went back to the only place I know…my Fiber roots.
I selected artist friends, former students and others whose work I long admired. This post is a sneak peek of who and what will be shown in September, I hope to see some of you at the show!
Title Image: Bonny Leibowitz
While I was teaching at Tyler School of Art, part of my departmental responsibilities was to curate the student shows each semester and the Annual Department Student Show in the Spring. It was an honor for me to showcase the fabulous work of select students from each course in the Fibers & Materials Studies Department and I have missed it terribly. I loved creating a visual narrative between disparate pieces of art, uniting them on one level, while maintaining the unique qualities and content of each on an individual level.
When I was asked to curate an exhibition of encaustic work for the Chester County Art Association, I was over the moon and agreed to do it without batting an eye. I was given absolute freedom to include any artist and work around any theme, it was almost overwhelming. I went back to the only place I know…my Fiber roots. I selected artist friends, former students and others whose work I long admired, I can’t wait to see their work come together. I invite all of you who are in the area to come by and see the show and hopefully, some of you can make it to the opening–some of the artists will be there and I will be giving a free encaustic demonstration! I will also be showing my experimental encaustic collages, books and sculptures in the smaller gallery (more about this show in a future post). Please read on for my curator’s statement, abbreviated statements of the included artists and a sampling of their work. Please note, that because most of work by each artist is specially created for this show, the work shown in this post is similar to, but not necessarily what will be included in the exhibition.
With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic September 8-28, 2022 Opening Reception & Encaustic Demonstration, September 8, 6-8 pm Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania Website
Curator’s Statement Encaustic is my primary medium because of its smell, it’s luminosity and tactile qualities that are unmatched by any other medium. Although encaustic is a painter’s medium, I approach working with it is as a craftsperson. To me, my work is not about the act of painting, but rather, to develop a deep engagement with my materials, to perfect my technique and support my content at the same time. There is a distinct process involved with working in encaustic; apply the paint, fuse the layers, then scrape back or add more paint. It’s like a dance or a poem as the creation and meaning of each step or verse hinges on the other. As the process continues, the work becomes a manifestation of the compiling and arranging of fragments in repetitious sequences, creating a visual rhythm in the work. This collection of work by a few very accomplished artists from the United States and Canada, displays my ongoing interest in the fusing of fine art disciplines with craft and design-based materials and processes. As the layers of materials come together in the work, so do the concepts of drawing and painting, fiber and craft, art and design, memory and time. A significant part of working in contemporary fiber/craft is the consideration of process and material and how these things relate to the content in the work. The artists selected for this show all possess a sensitive and symbiotic relationship with their materials as well as present thoughtful and meaningful content in their work. Although the common thread in this exhibition is wax, wax is not the star of this show. Rather, this show is about stretching the boundaries of materiality by combining unusual materials, tactility and most importantly, engaging content. It was important to me to present serious art that is also inviting, warm and inspiring. Art that encourages the viewer to feel as well as think. I purposely kept the list of artists relatively small, so that each artist could exhibit a body of work rather than just one or two pieces. Most of the work by each artist is specially created for this show, most of it is being shown for the first time. I’m truly grateful to each artist for agreeing to participate in this show, for striving to show their best work, and for consistently growing, thinking and innovating, acting as an ongoing inspiration for me and countless other artists.
Anna Wagner Ott-Ottowa, Canada Wagner-Ott’s cages/nests began at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Through those sculptures she interprets ideas of repression, entrapment, isolation and fragility using encaustic and mixed media. In 2022 she continues to create her nesting architectural forms but also integrates other materials such as Tyvek and her themes include the earth’s topologies.
Bonny Leibowitz –Texas, USA I create objects and installations utilizing a variety of materials; plaster, encaustic, plastics, paper, foam, Tyvek, branches, roots, faux fur and wings, in ways that confuse the manufactured with the natural. I like to think of my work as fragments of a blown apart reality where forms collide and conjoin in myriad nuance and potential. “We are constantly creating the environment that creates us” – David Whyte
Alaina Enslen – New York, USA I work with encaustic medium for its willingness to be transformed, fusing cloth and monotypes. The abstract collages that result are maps of my own making shaping the contours of memory and experience.
Angela Hansen -BC, Canada Angela’s pieces are inspired by the fantastical sculptural imagination of Mother Nature and the creative myriad of plant life.
Kelly Sheppard Murray – North Carolina, USA Kelly Sheppard Murray’s multimedia sculptural work fashions a wide range of polymorphic, multicolored structures that have their roots in natural forms. She draws from the shapes of plants, moss, lichen, fungi, shells and geological forms. Collecting hundreds upon hundreds of sculptural elements, Murray slowly and deliberately assembles her pieces for installation—each one a unique building block within the visual language she articulates within her exhibitions. By developing her own malleable visual idiom, Murray expresses her curiosity and invites that of her audience. Further, through her careful and consistent day-to-day addition of sculptural elements, she reminds us how small steps can have a significant impact on both our perceptions of the world and our environment itself.
Skyler McGee – Illinois, USA Based on the sculptural quality of landscapes, this work explores the process of reorienting oneself after global and personal upheaval. Through mapping macro and micro perspectives, these sculptural paintings act as talismans of place, and vehicles through which to mark movement and find solid ground.
Lindsay Fort– Pennsylvania, USA I am attracted to objects that show the evidence of time. In my work I develop surfaces and combine various found materials with an interest in style and age in visual culture.
Nancy Sanders – Georgia, USA Nancy Sanders art draws from her inward journey of personal introspection of deep separation, transformation, and connectedness. It explores the mystery of human life from a multidimensional context, providing the viewer with the possibility of self-reflection, and therefore the possibility of reconciliation.
Encaustic is an amazing painting medium and I’m sad when I hear that artists have given it up because of a problem that could have easily been fixed with knowing only one useful tip. If you’re having painting bothers, read on for the rescue.
I’ve been teaching encaustic painting since 2005 and throughout my teaching I have noticed four major recurring issues, problems and mistakes that many (beginner to advanced) encaustic painters encounter. Application, temperature, translucency and fusing issues are the infamous four problems. Even more of a problem is that these issues are difficult to pinpoint as some beginning painters may think it’s just the medium itself and give up before they really get started. Intermediate and advanced painters may have learned to adapt, but still end up getting frustrated. Encaustic is an amazing painting medium and its so sad when I hear that artists have given it up because of a problem that could have easily been fixed with knowing only one useful tip.
So if you’re having some painting bothers (both encaustic medium and pigmented encaustic paint), don’t throw down your brushes in disgust just yet…read on for the rescue. I’d like to preface by saying, if you’re heavy handed, a texture fiend, a fuse monster or anything else on this list and it doesn’t bother you….by all means, do you! Just make sure you have the control you want when it’s applicable and you’re obtaining desired results.
PROBLEMApplication– This is the number one issue on my list because this is where it all begins–if your application goes wrong, it’s pretty much a melty mess from there. Encaustic application is affected by many factors: the amount of paint on the brush, the size of the brush, the type of the brush and the angle of the brush as well as the temperature of the paint, which I address below in #2. Improper paint application can cause issues with too much texture, blurring or obscuring collage elements, wasting paint/medium, not to mention endless frustration. FIXTry using a smaller brush. Seriously, I know those 4-inch brushes are luscious, but you don’t need one that large when you’re painting on anything smaller than a 36×36 inch panel and even then I would question it’s use. The brush size should reflect the panel size and/or the function of the stroke. For example, I never go above a 1.5 inch brush when applying medium over collage and I have several sizes below 1.5 in my medium skillet. When painting, you can get a bit larger, but stay proportionate to the size of your panel and/or the effect you’re trying to achieve. FIXTry a different type of brush/tool. Most encaustic painters prefer hake brushes to chip brushes as they hold a nice amount of paint and make a nice smooth stroke when needed. However, if you’re not getting the results you like with a brush, try an alternative application tool, such as a palette knife or squeegee. See this blog post for how to make an alternative brush from flashing. FIXScrape off excess paint. If your brushes are sitting in cups or skillets of paint/medium and you’re not scraping them, you’re likely applying too much. Any brush, especially a hake is just sitting in there soaking up the wax. Try scraping the brush on the side of the cup once or twice. This works wonders, trust me. FIXAdjust the angle. Because of the way a hake brush is made, it holds most of the paint at the base. So if you’re looking for a lot of paint to flow smoothly, try holding the brush at a 45 degree angle to the substrate with a gentle pressure instead of just the tip of the brush touching the substrate.
PROBLEMToo much Texture This problem is very much related to application, but it’s a solo number on this list because it’s possibly the most annoying and prevalent issue in encaustic painting. This is also one of those problems that can cause someone to either begrudgingly accept it or quit encaustic altogether. FIXAdjust the Temperature. So simple, yet it’s ignored or not sufficiently attended to. The proper working temperature for encaustic painting is 200 degrees Fahrenheit….nothing less and sometimes more! More people than I can count do not keep their paint hot enough for proper encaustic painting. I use a pancake griddle in my unheated studio and in the winter I usually have it at 225F. Most pancake griddles are not meant to be working for hours at a time, so the heating elements are not accurate. If your wax is cooling on your brushes and too much texture is on your substrate, your wax is simply not hot enough. FIXLoad Your Brush. While having too much paint on your brush may cause problems, having too little can be problematic as well. If you’re mixing your paint directly on the griddle and not in cups, chances are you’re not loading your brush. Make sure you have a nice puddle of paint, your brush is laid flat as you soak it up (not just the tip) and you load both sides of the brush. FIX Keep your brushes warm. During painting, your brushes should always be kept in the cups or on your griddle to keep them warm. When they begin to cool as you paint, lay them flat for few seconds on the griddle to warm up.
PROBLEMToo much Opacity, No Translucency. One of the most amazing things about encaustic is its wonderful translucency and yet, I see very few artists taking advantage of this gift. Most are adding way too much pigment and not enough medium and/or not understanding that translucency is even an option to take their work to the next level. The ability to look through the layers to embedded information creates interest and encourages the viewer to remain engaged with your work. The key to translucency lies in the paint mixing. FIX Add color to Medium. In my teaching, I see way too many artists adding medium to their melted paint in order to create a translucent glaze and then end up using ten pounds of medium for a single color. Instead, add color to the medium to create a glaze. Melt a small amount of medium in your color cup or on the palette and then add a very small amount of color to create a tint. Keep adding color in very small increments until the desired color/translucency is achieved. Color test as you add. You will be amazed at how this changes your color mixing knowledge as well as the look of your paintings.
PROBLEMOver fusing I can’t tell you how many (mostly beginners) tell me that they love what they painted, but when they fuse it, it gets all smushed together and ruined. While fusing is definitely necessary, there are various levels and various fusing tools that can be implemented according to the technique you’re employing. For the purposes of this article, I am focusing only on painting and not collage or other mixed media. FIXTry another tool. I use three tools for fusing; an iron, a heat gun and a torch. Many beginners start encaustic painting with the torch and only use it for the duration of their careers. This is fine if it’s working for you, but in many situations, it isn’t working. I always say, begin with a heat gun and gradually add in the torch. Also, most expensive heat guns are way too hot and heavy for what you need. I love my embossing tool and have used it since the beginning. It’s exactly what I need and if I need anything stronger, I use my torch. FIX Don’t Fuse Every Layer. What??? Yes, that’s what I said. If you’re fusing every single application of paint, you likely have a very hot surface you’re working on and this is creating a hot waxy mess instead of a painting. Okay, if you’re a heavy handed painter, you should probably fuse every 1-2 layers. But if you’re applying thin to medium strokes and those strokes are only in one part of the painting, I recommend only fusing every 2-4 layers. Your substrate is already warm enough from your last fusing and therefore doesn’t need another right after you just applied new hot paint. Many people are perplexed when I tell them this liberating fact after they have been over-fusing for so many years. I have paintings out in the world that are now over 20 years old and they are still in excellent shape. Try it! Trust me, you’ll thank me later. FIX Employ the The Glazed Donut Standard. Many encaustic painters seem to be mistaken in thinking that in order to properly fuse, the wax needs to be brought back to a molten state or close to it and this is just not the case. It’s for this reason that many painters sadly obliterate their paintings. But for the foundation layers, it’s only in very few cases that you would ever need to fuse back to a molten state. For the most part, most fusing should render the surface no more shinier than a glazed donut and this is where the standard on your fusing scale begins. Sometimes you will need to fuse more than a glazed donut, sometimes less, but this is the fusing surface you are attempting to achieve.
Just like the planet Mars has been around forever, so have R&F Paints’ Mars Encaustic colors, only I just discovered them while at my Brown Pink Residency…my trip to Mars took a few turns, it seems. I’m speaking specifically of Mars Red, Mars Orange and Mars Violet. Although I have all of them in my home studio collection, I’ve never used them. Even after working with encaustic for over twenty years, I often forget that a lot of the colors look wildly different when they’re melted, especially the more earth based tones.
Just like the planet Mars has been around forever, so have R&F Paints’ Mars Encaustic colors, only I just discovered them while at my Brown Pink Residency…my trip to Mars took a few turns, it seems. I’m speaking specifically of Mars Red, Mars Orange and Mars Violet. Although I have all of them in my home studio collection, I’ve never used them. In fact, my Mars Violet is so old it’s still donned with discontinued packaging format and is likely a collectors item at this point.
Why I avoided these colors (and others) is only somewhat relevant to this article and a subject I would like to revisit more in depth in a later post. In terms of the Mars colors, it seems I just reached for colors I was more familiar with using and which happened to be near enough in color for what I wanted-or so I thought. Even after working with encaustic for over twenty years, I often forget that a lot of the colors look wildly different when they’re melted, especially the more earth based tones. Yes, of course, I have my R&F color chart proudly displayed and I consult with it often. However, when I’m in ‘the zone’, it’s difficult to get me to look at anything else other than what I’m painting.
So why did I pick up the Mars colors at Brown Pink? Because they were there, I wasn’t in my home studio where my colors are organized differently and because I was at a paint company’s residency, I was in an ‘experiment with colors’ mindset. For a few years now, I’ve been working with a certain color group; blacks, whites and grays as the base with blues, pinks, reds and browns as highlights. If greens and yellows enter in, it’s more of the dark olives and ochres respectively. I use these colors because they connect to both landscape and the body, the notion of which is conceptually at the core of my work. While I was at the residency, I totally got into the fact that I had the entire R&F color line in front of me so why not try other things. I know what I like, but that doesn’t mean I know everything.
The following is a list of the colors and how they differ from the colors I normally use that are within the same range. I also discuss how I paired them next to and with other colors and you can see some of the results in the images below. Additionally, I have included inspiration photos I’ve recently taken where these colors show up in nature. Take note of the color combinations in the photos, this is what I do for inspiration when creating color palettes. Please check out my favorite encaustic colors blog posts for more about color and how I use it here and here. Going forward, my new studio life on Mars is looking pretty good!
Mars Red I’m so in love with this color! The reds I pick up without fail are Alizarin Crimson, Turkey Red and Warm Pink, with Alizarin Crimson being the one I use most to hint at the body, blood, flesh, etc. However, I was always trying to tone down the violet undertones in AC, it just seemed more lively than a sanguine color. When I picked up the Mars Red, there was an instant recognition that it was the color I was always trying to mix…an aha moment, for sure. I mixed it with Alizarin as well as Brown Pink and all were amazing rich reds. In addition, I can’t tell you how often I search for the Perfect Pink and usually begin with Warm Pink and several other colors to move it toward a salmon, peach or violet pink, but still always left me wanting that Perfect Pink. When mixed with any white, Mars Red makes the pink of my dreams and created the best watercolor sunsets in my landscape mono-prints. Last, a great combination is painting this color next to any blue or blue-toned color to make both colors sing. In the images below, I used combinations of Payne’s Gray, Cerulean Extra Pale, Cerulean Gray and Cobalt Teal.
Mars Orange The oranges I use most are Alizarin Orange and Burnt Sienna and Indian Yellow, which I count as an orange. In fact, I have to say that these are the only oranges I use as I’m not particularly drawn to yellows and oranges. However, I do have a deep love of the ‘red earth’ of the desert as well as the ‘black water’ in Northern Florida where I travel to do my self-made residencies (images below). These are the oranges I’m attracted to in nature and I tend to pick up the Burnt Sienna and Brown Pink when I want to replicate it. Mars Orange by itself is exciting, but it totally pops Burnt Sienna and Brown Pink when they are mixed with it. The best mix is Mars Orange and Mars Red for a very rich, earthy red. For a little extra zing, add in to that mix a small amount of Cobalt Yellow, Cad Lemon or Olive Yellow. Just like Mars Red, Mars Orange sings when paired next to any Blue/Green color and I would add Phthalo Green Pale, Malachite Green, Turkey Umber Greenish and Celadon to the list of pairings.
Mars Violet I never use purples or violets, but this color is deceptively named as it’s very close to Sepia and Brown Pink. Both Sepia and MV have purple(ish) undertones when compared with other browns, Mars Violet being richer, a little more red and a tad brighter, while Sepia is a bit darker, more violet and closer to a classic brown. I likely never picked up the Mars Violet because I’m totally in love with Sepia and Brown Pink and always reach for them first. Mars Violet bridges the gap and adds a richness between Brown Pink and Magenta. In the images below, you’ll see I mixed this color with Payne’s Gray to make a lovely dark gray and when mixed with Neutral White and/or Brilliant Yellow Extra Pale, it makes a still lovelier pale gray with a violet undertone. I found it’s best when painted next to rich oranges and reds, whites and my favorite pairing color, Turkey Umber Greenish.
I was so fortunate to have been invited by R&F Paints to delve into their new Brown Pink Residency Program for two weeks in February-March. I worked really intensely and ended up making more work than I usually make at home in a year…
I was so fortunate to have been invited by R&F Paints to delve into their new Brown Pink Residency Program for two weeks in February-March. For an artist inspired by hiking and immersing oneself in the environment, this was the perfect two weeks to be in Kingston, New York. I saw bitter cold, a couple of snowstorms, ice chunks on the Hudson the size of buildings, plus a surprise few days of sunny, spring-like temperatures..and I attended a fabulous opening of a group exhibition of collage at The Lockwood Gallery. I took advantage of those spring like days to get out of my own head, photograph and be inspired. Even though I took those breaks, most of my time was spent eating a lot, sleeping little and basically wearing the same clothes everyday…I also made a ton of work, some of it I really like and will continue to explore.
I love my self made residencies sequestered in sunny Florida, but it was wonderful to have a real studio filled with luscious paints and visitors to talk to from time to time. Because this residency was scheduled for a much shorter time than I’m used to, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish and pretty much did them all. Most of it was work I had in my head to make for a long time… Some of it worked, some of it didn’t, but I kept moving, following my instincts, plugging away and trying not to be too hard on myself. I worked really intensely and ended up making more work than I usually make at home in a year…not necessarily in quantity, but in exponential growth and conceptual quality, because what came out in the end were the beginnings of several distinctive bodies of work that will continue for years. I describe the work below in detail with image examples and notes from my sketchbook and Instagram posts I wrote during the residency.
I started with this fun group of collages made from cutting up my encaustic mono-prints on Masa and rice papers. I was inspired to do this with my acrylic paintings during my class late last year with Stephen Aimone so I wanted to see what I could do in encaustic. These pieces were fun to make, whimsical, a bit silly and almost cartoonish at first glance. I like them, they’re so different for me. What I’m learning about myself through this work is that painting is not enough for me. I do want to make that painted mark, but I also want to isolate it, reinterpret it through the cutting and then manipulate it further through layers and materials, changing its context and content. The possibilities are endless. Another important lesson I’m learning is that the typical painting in the square/rectangle format is also not enough for me. I have always worked to escape it when experimenting, only to return to it when the work becomes ‘solid’. The biggest reason why I do this is because the rectangular format is what a painting IS, the rectangle is what is acceptable., it’s what is most people purchase and feel comfortable hanging on their walls, but are these good enough reasons? I’m exploring this in my thoughts and work, there is much more to think and write about on this topic.
Last year during my Florida residency I was inspired to burn layers of paper, but my vision was not complete and I got stuck on where to go next. Now a year later, I pulled out this pile of burned paper to try to make some sense out of it. My original intention was to bind it all together, but now I’m seeing separate ‘books’ with drawings or paintings on the ‘covers’ or conversely, separating them, collaging them and burning again-which is likely what will happen. The best part about being in a residency is that I don’t have to know where it’s going and I can just plug away until it turns to gold-or ash, as it were. I’m intrigued by the dichotomy of fire-it’s destructive powers as well as it’s ability to fertilize life after destruction. I’m constantly reminded of fire’s acute beauty as I hiked around Florida, as almost everywhere I went there is evidence of controlled burns in the forested areas. It’s also in Florida that I began my photo journal of bark-peeling; burned, marked, degraded, moss covered, etc., so many different looks that bark carries-all of which resemble skin and as I photograph, I recall my own fragility and vulnerability-both physical and emotional.
I grew up on the Delaware river centuries ago when huge ice chunks would flow and collide in the strong current, creating a gorgeous sculptural spectacle. Even while watching it go by as an apathetic teenager, drinking instant coffee and smoking a cigarette at the bus stop, I was awed by it. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen ice like that in years, but was treated to the frozen patterns and sculptural amazingness along the Hudson River that brought such inspiration to my studio work. I took hundreds of photographs that are paintings in and of themselves and these inspired a more muted palette as well as some of the forms in the following collages. As i look back at some of the sketchbook drawings I’ve been doing over the last year, I can see the similarities in the forms in the ice. You can see a video of my ice photographs, past drawings, present collages here.
I’ve had it in my head to make work like the following collages for a long time and they turned out better than I’d thought-that doesn’t always happen and I’m thrilled that it did. They are inspired by my multitude of photographs of Philly and other city walls taken over 20 years and and are born out of inspiration from urban layers and grids, piles of studio ephemera and process. This is the most exciting series I made during the residency, but unfortunately, I can speak the least about it because this pieces are so new. However, they will be the first series I’ll pick up on when I can next work unencumbered in the studio.
The last goal I had for this residency was to make more ‘worry blocks’. This is an ongoing encaustic sculpture series I started at a time when I was very much in transition with my work and life and this series came about as a way to sort out my thoughts through meditative process. I call them ‘worry blocks’ because these pieces are the vehicles by which I deposit my worries. Through the repetitive process of burning holes and using encaustic to place my hair strand by strand in grid patterns on scorched found wood, I think, reflect and heal. I’ve had a nervous habit since I was little of twisting my hair when I’m stressed or contemplating and I keep a bag of it in the studio that I add to frequently. I have been using horse hair as well as my own hair in my work for quite some time. It makes a beautiful line in the wax and it also speaks to the bodily connections that have always been at the core of my work. I first showed my worry blocks at the old R&F Paints Gallery in 2011 where they were very well received and this encouraged me to keep making them. I don’t make them much, but I had a goal to have them come full circle to be shown in the new R&F Paints Gallery called Work In Progress this April. The show is called Beauty in the Breakdown and will present a sampling of my favorite pieces from the residency as well as 6 new worry blocks. See some earlier pieces from this series here.
During this residency, I also pulled a ream of encaustic monoprints as ‘warm-ups’ before getting started each day. I’m writing about those separately along with new favorite R&F colors for next month’s blog post. For more photos on my residency work at Brown Pink, visit my Instagram and Youtube and go see the show in April at R&F! Many thanks to you for reading and to @rfpaints for this tremendous opportunity.
The mix of light and darkness faintly reflect another world by the creation of shadows. Shadows create a suggestion of space, creating a reality where none existed in total darkness.
I’m grateful to have been invited to give an artist talk recently to a lovely and receptive audience from Catalyst Art Lab. Before Covid, I had been giving talks like this a few times a year in some form-short versions at gallery openings and longer versions with slides to college students, collectors and others artist groups. Before I present one of these talks, there are a number of hours spent updating the words and images of past work to put into context what I’m currently doing in the studio. Some of this updating entails reaching far back into the past to read my graduate thesis paper written 2002-2003. Please enjoy the following excerpt on Light and Shadow from said paper…It’s always fun to delve into the past to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Light and Shadow
Light has many forms and associated meanings which range from its inherently luminous physical properties to its intangible metaphorical and conceptual inclinations. Light “can be natural or artificial, direct or reflected, interior or exterior…transcendent and mystical.” Dawn, sun breaking through clouds and moonlight all bring a sense of relief to us in some way as they symbolize a new beginning, another chance to live and love. “Light throws doors and windows open, makes wall transparent, spans unlikely distances, links matter and spirit.” Light lives in us, around us, compelling us toward life and serving as a reminder of hope, peace and harmony.
“God is called Light, not so much for His spirit, or essence, as for His very energy.” Light embodies many things, but most importantly, light is known to all humans in some way as the direct opposite of darkness and evil. Darkness does not exist as a physical phenomenon as light exists, but is only revealed by the contrast of the absence of light. Elements in our physical space are not noticed unless the light and the atmosphere creating that light exist to eradicate the darkness. In the physical world, contrasts and differences of values of space serve to express light and with that light comes a reflection of righteousness and Divinity. This can be true in the spiritual sense as the presence of light illuminates that which was dark within us. Aspects of our spiritual selves that were previously unnoticed are revealed by the light, thus provoking an awakening, an arousal of the spirit. This inner illumination emanates as a glow, a sourceless radiance that originates from the soul and implores outward reflection. Coming in contact with this luminousness spreads warmth and solace, filling the world with a sense of harmony. In this sense, light signifies all that is good in the universe as it peacefully pervades the physical darkness in our lives and expresses the spiritual “cosmic forces…the divine element in nature, invisible but present.”
The mix of light and darkness faintly reflect another world by the creation of shadows. Shadows create a suggestion of space, creating a reality where none existed in total darkness. “Shadows hold no physicality, yet they are so critical to our seeing, we cannot see form without them.” The play of light and shadow on surfaces creates shifting pockets of space which unite and harmonize forms, allowing us to visually make sense and create a semblance of order to our lives. “There are those who leave the fire and move toward the deeper reaches of the forest where they believe a source of light to exist which is more intense. A light that breathes, not at all a fixed symbol, a light that alludes yet beckons-the unity of which lies hidden in the chaos.” The shadows that light casts can work to conceal and even to deceive, but the importance of the shadow lies in what it can reveal.
“The ways of darkness always come to an end before long, but the mystery of light we find to reach on and on forever.” Light radiates warmth and comfort to all life on a daily basis. The reality of light is that it exists as a constant physical, living presence in our lives-as our shield from death-for without it there is no life. Its existence compels us to revel in its beauty, simplicity and life-sustaining power.
 Jarmusch, Stalking the Light, p. 1.  Graef, Heinz, Light in Pictures, (Western Germany, Herder & Company, 1954), p. 14. Hereafter cited as Graef, Light in Pictures.  Reutersward, Patrick, “What Color is Divine Light?” from Light in Art, (New York, New York, Macmillon Company, 1971), p. 123.  Graef, Light in Pictures, p. 14.  Irwin, Robert in Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions, (video production/director, Leonard Feinstein, 1997)  Terrae, Imago, Paul Jenkins: Broken Prisms, (Paris, France, Galilee Editions, 1989), p. 189.  Graef, Light in Pictures, p. 18.
Image: Early Spring Fresh, encaustic monoprint on rice paper, 9.5×11
I have received so many emails and questions asking about my encaustic studio set-up and the equipment in it, I decided to write a post about it so it’s all right here for everyone to reference.
Happy New Year! A little late, but better late than never.
The past few years have brought about many changes in everyone’s lives and as evidenced by the amount of questions I have received on the subject, it seems that many are relocating, downsizing and/or updating their encaustic studio spaces. I have received so many emails and questions asking about my personal encaustic studio set-up and the equipment in it, I decided to write a post about it so it’s all right here for everyone to reference.
My studio space is a little over 300 square feet and about a third of it is devoted to encaustic and cold wax, so a lot of magic happens in a very small space. I have never boasted a fancy space, you’ll not see me in a pristine Instagram photoshoot making paintings while donned in roller skates and a bikini-I’m a real person, making real art in a real studio, down and dirty. So if you’re here to look at an amazing studio space, this ain’t the place to do that. I’m here to show you that you don’t need anything especially fancy, large or expensive in order to make good art.
It seems that many artists have been inquiring about downsizing rather than upgrading and my studio is definitely a downsize from most, so I think this article will be helpful. For space organization and equipment ideas, see the images below as well as a list with purchase links. If you see something in the photos that I don’t list, please email me or leave a comment. Everything listed below can be purchased at my Everything Encaustic Amazon Store unless otherwise noted.
Studio Furniture & Design
Tables Ikea is a wonderful place, as you all know. The table in front of the window is similar to this one and I really love the shelf at the bottom, plus the table itself is adjustable. The table to the left is from Amazon and is your basic, sturdy, good quality table. I also highly recommend stainless steel tables which can just be heated and wiped when wax drips, plus you don’t have to spend extra money on silicone sheets to cover the tabletop.
Electricity If you’re lucky enough to be upgrading your electricity, install 200 amp service on 2 or more separate circuits around the room.
Chair Basic tall desk chair if you prefer to sit..make sure it’s adjustable. I prefer a chair without arms because they just get in the way.
Mats Better for your back than sitting is to stand at a tall table, but make sure you have good cushioning under your feet. These mats are a great value and your feet and lower back will thank you years from now. My studio assistant kitties love to sharpen their claws on them, so unless you want holes in yours, keep them away from your furry friends.
Paint Storage I recommend storing your paints in drawers to keep them dust free-so the dust doesn’t get in your paintings, of course. I wish I could share where to purchase my paint storage cabinet, but I’m not sure where to buy one.. I purchased it used from Craigslist-it’s very old, very heavy and exactly what I needed when I was shopping. Try Facebook Marketplace in addition to Craigslist, I find amazing deals from locals in my neighborhood on there.
Studio Encaustic Equipment
Roland Hot BoxUse for encaustic monoprints. This is available from Vent a Fume and the link will take you to their very comprehensive information page. I have the double size box and it’s sufficient for many things. I know many people who have the single and wish they had a double size, but you’ll have to make that decision based on the size of work you’re comfortable making. R&F has encaustic monoprint classes and everyone gets a hotbox to try, so maybe you should take a class first to figure out what size you like.
Vent a Fume portable ventilation system that can be installed via casement window in basement or through wall. Consult Vent a Fume initially for advice and HVAC to install. If you have a window, these window exhaust fans are an excellent supplement to the VAF. Make sure any fresh air ventilation is in front of you-meaning the fumes are being pulled away from you as you stand at the encaustic work table.
Extra Large Pancake Griddle I can’t tell you how many people ask me about my griddle! It’s much larger than your basic pancake griddle and allows much more room for paint mixing.
Small Electric Skillet I like to keep my medium separate from my colors so this little 7×7 inch skillet is perfect.
Paint Pans I use these disposable mini bread pans for my medium and bulk colors and these cupcake pans for smaller amounts of color-I like that they are extremely economical and I can easily form them into a spout for pouring. Just a note that R&F does not recommend aluminum pans for paints as they can sometimes discolor them. When I taught with Dietlind Vander Schaaf last summer she had these extra large paint pans for medium and I’ve actually started to collect them in my studio as well.
Embossing Heat Tool I prefer these tools to larger heat guns-I can turn them on/off with one hand, they’re much lighter and they take up less room. They don’t get as hot as the larger ones, but they work just fine for encaustic purposes.
Silicone SheetsI used paper for years to cover my work surface and absolutely hated changing it. Silicone baking sheets are so easy to clean and pay for themselves as they rarely need to be replaced. I have smaller sheets, but now you can get a larger silicone mat here.
Irons For collage and small paintings, I use the Clover Mini Iron and the Dritz Petite Press. The Petite Press goes in and out of a favor on Amazon, so if it’s not available there, search it on Google. These are my go-to irons and are also available at Joanne’s, Walmart and Michaels. For larger areas and larger paintings, I use the Hangar 9 Sealing Iron.
Hake BrushesMost encaustic painters use these goat’s hair brushes and they are available in a wide range of sizes, quality and prices at Michaels and other art supply stores as well as my Amazon Encaustic Store. I would recommend starting out with .5 inch, 1 inch, 1.5, 2, 2.5. Any larger than that is too big and not necessary. Also good to have around are hogs bristle brushes in those sizes as well as very small sizes. Whatever you purchase, make sure it is a natural hair brush and not a synthetic as these will melt.
Students of all levels are encouraged to participate in this professional development workshop that will focus on the thoughtful creation of art, ways to improve content and how to self critique, while also expressing personal values, beliefs and aesthetic interests.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. – Vincent van Gogh
What Finding Your Creative Truth: Artist Professional Development Retreat
When July 25-28, 2022
Monday 7-9pm Orientation Tuesday-Wednesday, 9am-4:00pm Workshop Hours Thursday, 9:00am-2pm Workshop Hours (Scroll down for detailed daily itinerary)
Limited to 12 participants! Level: All Levels $1500 includes accommodations** (See the list of available rooms below), breakfast and lunch and most workshop materials (see supply list below)
Not Interested in Railroad Inn Accommodations, breakfast or lunch? $1000 includes workshop fee and most materials (see supply list below)
Registration Instructions if staying at Railroad House: 1. See the list below for available rooms and brief description of each. You can get a sense of the rooms by viewing the images below or visiting the Railroad House Website. DO NOT book the room from the Railroad House website!!! 2. Contact Lorraine via email email@example.com with the number of the room you’d like to book and for payment details.
Available Rooms at Railroad House as of December 22, 2021 *NOTE* All rooms include a private bath and TV unless otherwise noted.
Room #3: Queen bed
Room #4: King bed/balcony
Room #5: King bed/mini fridge/ largest room
Room #7: Queen bed
Room #8: Queen bed
Room #9: Queen bed
Room #10: King bed
Room #11: King bed
Room #12/Suite: Shared Room…King bed with 2nd roll-in bed, bathtub and mini fridge. No TV. *NOTE* Because this room is double occupancy, two participants who choose this room will pay $1350 total for the workshop.
Payment Payment of 50% of the workshop fee + materials + accommodations ($750 if paying via check or Venmo, $777 if paying via Paypal) is due at the time of registration with the remaining 50% ($750) due approximately 6 weeks before the workshop date. Please contact Lorraine for payment details.
Create, reflect, rejuvenate and connect with other artists in an inspiring atmosphere full of history and nature. Students of all levels are encouraged to participate in this professional development workshop that will focus on the thoughtful creation of art, ways to improve content and how to self critique, while also expressing personal values, beliefs and aesthetic interests. Daily walks led by the instructors explore the natural beauty of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna River and provide inspiration for expressive mark-making, journaling and meditation in situ as well as subsequent mixed media studio experimentation to further your practice. Daily readings, writing prompts and group discussions encourage self reflection and help identify and conceptually develop your ideas. Participants are invited to expand upon a current body of work or begin a new series based on techniques learned in the workshop. Optional individual critiques with both instructors is offered to all participants.
**Please note that participants should be prepared to spend time outside as well as in the studio. Any participant unable to take part in the outdoor activities are welcome to opt out and alternative indoor creative exercises will be provided.
Monday 6-8pm Orientation Introductions, Overview of the retreat. Wine/snacks by the fire pit in the courtyard of the RailRoad House Inn. Brief discussion about finding your artistic voice.
Tuesday Breakfast 7-8am, Lunch 11-12, Dinner on your own 9-4:00 Workshop Brief writing discussion and presentation of Art Inspired by Nature. Walk along the Susquehanna River and/or carpool to Chickie’s Rock. Sketchbook activity, journaling by the water exploring water as subject matter. After lunch, we will return to the studio to expand on the morning sketches and written exercises to explore your personal relationship with nature. Evening reading and writing prompts to organize your thoughts.
Wednesday Breakfast 7-8am, Lunch 11-12, 7:00pm Dinner on your own or Optional Group Dinner 9-4:00 Workshop Morning journaling in courtyard, reading discussion and discussion of Art Inspirations from Environment, Objects & Architecture. Walks around Marietta to take photos, work in sketchbooks, develop ideas. After lunch studio exploration works on paper, journaling and individual talks with both instructors. Evening reading and writing prompts to organize your thoughts.
Thursday Breakfast 7-8am, Lunch 11-12 9-2:00 Workshop After morning discussion, we will continue with uninterrupted work time to further explore new ideas and relate them to current ideas, develop conceptual ideas, read, write, walk by the river and informally discuss your progress with both instructors. After lunch we will have a show and tell discussion of the work created this week, share inspiration images and journal writings.
Color relationships, composition, application, content, proportion, scale as an effective foundation for other painterly information.
Mark-making exercises geared toward making simple or complex marks to generate a personal language.
The option of an Individual Consultation/Critique discussion with each instructor. Bring a piece of work, a question, a concern, a problem and discuss it with Terri and Lorraine.
Some guided meditation time and planned hikes will relax and open your mind and spirit to the land, helping to support and nurture your unique creative voice.
A slide talk with examples of contemporary artists whose work applies the ideas and concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration.
Lots of open studio time to explore and interpret the inspiration gained from the meditations and hikes. Work on a current body of work or start a new project.
SCROLL DOWN TO THE END OF THIS POST TO SEE Images of student work and fun scenes from encaustic retreats at Lareau Farm Inn in 2021, student work and images from other workshops taught by Terri and Lorraine. For more images of past Artist Retreats co-taught by Lorraine visit here, here and here. Additional blog posts related to artist retreats co-taught by Lorraine are here, here and here..
Images of Historic Railroad House Inn& Marietta For more images and information visit the Railroad House website.
About Terri Yacovelli
http://www.terriyacovelli.com/ Instagram @tyacovelli Terri Yacovelli holds a MLA from McDaniel College and a BSE from Millersville University. As a long time Adjunct Professor of Art at York College of Pennsylvania and studio art teacher, she has had the opportunity to share her love of art and art history with a diverse group of students. Her explorations with textured surfaces in mixed media led her to the exciting world of encaustic painting. Terri’s art embodies the inherent abstract characteristics in which an interplay of shape, texture, color and line quality explore physical and spiritual journeys. Additionally, her appreciation for the natural world enlivens her art with a relatable experience for the viewer. Her work has been exhibited locally and regionally in galleries and juried exhibitions. She is a recent recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Cultural Alliance of York and received an Award of Distinction from the 2021 YorkFest Juried Art Exhibition.
About Lorraine Glessner
lorraineglessner.net Instagram @lorraineglessner1 Lorraine Glessner’s love of surface, pattern, markmaking, image and landscape has led her to combine disparate materials and processes such as silk, wood, wax, pyrography, rust, paper and more in her work. Lorraine is a former Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a workshop instructor and an award-winning artist. She holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a BS from Philadelphia University, and an AAS in Computer Graphics from Moore College of Art & Design. She has a diverse art background with skills that include painting, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, textile design, photography, digital imaging and much more. Among her most recent professional achievements is a Second Place award in Sculpture from Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA, a recently completed artist residency at Jentel Foundation and an acquisition by Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Lorraine’s work is included in the recently released Encaustic Art in the 21st Century by Ashley Rooney and Nuance, a curated book by artist, Michelle Stuart. Lorraine frequently lectures and participates on academic panels at various Conferences including The International Encaustic Conference, SECAC and The College Art Association Annual Conference. Her work is exhibited locally and nationally in galleries, museums, craft centers, schools, libraries, universities, and more. Like her work, Lorraine brings to her teaching a strong interdisciplinary approach, mixed with a balance of concept, process, history, experimentation, problem solving and discovery.
Workshop Supplies & Materials Materials Included: The following list of materials is provided for the student
Paper Towels, Watercups
Lyra Water Soluble Graphite Pencils
Some collage papers
Pastel Chalk, Oil Pastels
What to bring: the following is a list of materials for the student to bring to the workshop (Visit Lorraine’s Amazon Store for Art Supply/Portable Art Supply Ideas)
Sketchbook/notebook, pencil or pen for note taking
Drawing Pencils, Black Sharpie Marker
Portable watercolor sketchbook (lay flat size 9 x 12, mixed media or watercolor sketchbook, heavy stock to withstand wet media, (Strathmore 300 Mixed Media (117 lb) is an excellent choice)
Watercolor Paint Set, Brushes
1-2 drawing media of your choice (pencil, pastel, conte charcoal, oil pastel, Crayon, graphite, Sharpie felt pen, etc.)
Closed toe shoes for safety in the studio
2-4 actual OR images of your work, digital prints or phone/iPad sharing is fine
materials for collage (fabric, papers, magazine images, photos, etc.)
Cancellation Please note a $100 cancelation processing fee will be deducted from any refund. In the event that you need to cancel your workshop, please notify Lorraine via email. Cancelations made 30 days or more from the workshop start date will be refunded their deposit (minus $100 processing fee). Cancelations made 30 days or less from the workshop start date will be refunded their deposit (minus $100 processing fee) only if the space can be filled. If the space cannot be filled, no refund will be issued.
Images of student work and fun scenes from encaustic retreats at Lareau Farm Inn in 2021, student work and images from other workshops taught by Terri and Lorraine. For more images of past Artist Retreats co-taught by Lorraine visit here, here and here. Additional blog posts related to artist retreats co-taught by Lorraine are here, here and here..
Basically, the Very Basics Encaustic A Live Virtual Zoom Workshop Registrants receive a Zoom link to join the workshop & have access to the recorded session for a limited time following the workshop. Level: Beginner
When January 6, 2022 1:00pm-3:30pm EST *We will take a short break during the session
Who For Lorraine’s bio, portfolio, exhibitions, teaching and anything else you might want to know, please visit her web site.
Start the New Year off right by doing what you’ve always wanted to do: learn encaustic painting! This is an extremely comprehensive LIVE Virtual Demonstration jammed packed with everything you need to know to start painting with this inspiring medium. It’s all here, plus some additional advanced techniques for those who may want a bit more. Also…a LIVE Q&A will immediately follow the demonstration.
If you’re ready to take your encaustic painting knowledge to the next level, then this is the workshop for you. Designed for those with some encaustic painting experience, this workshop takes a deeper dive into progressive painting and mixed media encaustic techniques to include color mixing, transparency and opacity, blending and gradations and how to organize layers of color and visual information.
If you could say it with words, there would be no reason to paint. –Edward Hopper
Beyond the Basics Encaustic Painting A Live Virtual Zoom Workshop Registrants will receive a Zoom link to join the workshop & will have access to the recorded sessions for a limited time following the workshop.
Limited to 10 participants! Level: Intermediate to Advanced
When 3 Days-April 5, 7, 12, 2022 1:00pm-3:30pm EST each day *We will take a short break during the session
Price $450 Venmo or Check $466 Paypal
3 Ways to Register 1. *PREFERRED* Venmo: Send to @Lorraine-Glessner 2. Paypal: Send to firstname.lastname@example.org 3. Check (please contact Lorraine for mailing address)
Who For Lorraine’s bio, portfolio, exhibitions, teaching and anything else you might want to know, please visit her web site.
If you’re ready to take your encaustic painting knowledge to the next level, then this is the workshop for you. Designed for those with some encaustic painting experience, this workshop takes a deeper dive into progressive painting and mixed media encaustic techniques to include color mixing, transparency and opacity, blending and gradations and how to organize layers of color and visual information. Organized into three comprehensive segments with time in between for experimenting with the techniques at your leisure, this workshop is designed to offer you the group workshop experience without leaving home. Segment one is focused on encaustic color mixing, translucency, opacity, alternative application techniques and tools. Segment two is an even deeper dive into encaustic painting techniques, layering, blending, gradations and comprehensive scraping and layer manipulation techniques. The third segment is a deep dive into encaustic collage, including seamless placement, application and fusing, image transfer, mixed media and composition. It is helpful, but not necessary to have had any previous experience with the encaustic medium to take this workshop.
You’ve worked in encaustic for a while and have never used its transparency and layering possibilities to full advantage.
You’ve worked in encaustic for a while and have never scraped your layers(!) to reveal the awesomeness underneath.
You want to express yourself in a more meaningful way with your work.
You want to create consistency, a personal voice, your own mark, in your paintings and body of work as a whole.
Your creative process is stagnating and you need to learn a new process, idea or technique.
You love image and collage, but when you embed these elements into encaustic, the collage is blurred, burned or looks clunky.
You love painting with the intensely pigmented color of encaustic and want to learn how to effectively apply it-how to mix color, how and when to use glazes, what brushes and tools to use.
You are frustrated with your current body of work, your process(es) and want to create consistency, and a cohesive portfolio.
You are a semi-beginner to advanced painter (encaustic or other) who often finds their paintings rife with color, paint, collaged, etc. information, but can’t put a finger on what is lacking or how to finish it.
You have great ideas but your compositions are scattered, nothing connects or works together to tell your story.
What happens in this workshop? What will I learn?
Learn tips for getting out of your own way so your painting process flows.
Learn how to apply encaustic paint in layers and in various levels of transparency, as well as how and when to scrape back to reveal exciting forms and patterns within the layers.
Learn how to use the transparency of the wax to allow pattern and information to combine and ‘talk’ within the painting.
How to effectively use the palette for mixing and painting in encaustic.
Learn alternatives to the tools, painting and scraping methods from the ‘usual’ encaustic techniques.
Included in all of my encaustic workshops
Color, composition, application, content-the basics, the intermediate, the advanced.
Using color relationships, proportion, scale as an effective foundation for other painterly information.
Learn how to use encaustic’s strengths (layering, transparency, luminosity) to tell your story.
Group sharing and discussion-always an amazingly helpful time for participants to share their victories and struggles.
A slide talk with examples of contemporary artists whose work applies the concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration. Some examples of the slides included in the talks for this workshop is just below.
Individual and group instruction/critique throughout the workshop.
SUGGESTED MATERIALS PARTICIPANTS HAVE IN THEIR STUDIO