Author: lorraineglessner

I'm a mixed media artist, workshop instructor and former assistant professor at tyler school of art in Philadelphia, PA.

A Desert Artist Retreat: Exploring Landscape Through Encaustic & the Mark

Awestruck, we found ourselves face-to-face with the rising sandstone cliffs of the Capitol Reef. The only comparable vista that I have ever seen is at the site of Petra, in the land of Jordan. However, the Capitol Reef is not only much vaster — extending over a hundred miles; unlike Petra — where Man had a major role in carving out its topology and architecture — the Capitol Reef owes its unique landscape and incredible array of multi-colored sandstone canyons, castles, pinnacles, and buttes — some of them reaching right up to the sky — to Nature’s rich endowment of evolutionary forces. Here, over eons, the rain, the snow, the sun, and wind have converged, employing all of their might to render a grandiose and unforgettable landscape.

Terry Tempest Williams

What
A Desert Artist Retreat: Exploring Landscape Through Encaustic & the Mark
Limited to 8 participants! 3 Spaces Available!
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
$755 includes most materials (see below)
For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorigles@earthlink.net

When
August 21-25, 2017, 10am-4pm each day

Basic Description
Utilizing the natural luminosity, textural and layering possibilities of encaustic, participants will experiment with innovative materials, drawing and marks to depict the spirit and essence of the land. Easy to moderate hikes exploring the high desert landscape of Torrey, Utah are led by Jeff and Lorraine and will provide the inspiration for which to develop ideas and provide areas of focus for series based work while also developing your personal artistic voice. Considerations of the use of the grid as a conceptual and compositional tool as well as its direct relationship to landscape will also be discussed. Optional individual critiques with both instructors will be offered to all participants.

 SCROLL DOWN TO SEE the images below of student work and fun scenes from hikes and studio during last year’s Torrey Retreat, 2016.

torreypromo

Where Jeff Juhlin Studio, in beautiful Torrey, Utah located just outside of Capital Reef National Park in the heart of the southern Utah Red Rock country. (pictured above: Jeff Juhlin’s Torrey, Utah home and studio)

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE the pics below for more of Torrey’s amazing landscape and Jeff’s studio, as well as additional blog posts related to the Torrey landscape here, here and here.

Who A collaborative teaching venture with Jeff Juhlin & Lorraine Glessner

Jeffjuhlin.com
Jeff’s work is about discovery, the hint of possibility. It’s about the layers or strata of things substantive, imagined, physical and implicit. He accumulates layers of material, images and color that make up the whole of a painting, then goes back in and to explore, excavate, expose and obscure. The end result is a non-literal visual form, a translation of that experience and process.
Jeff uses various materials and mediums to create these works however encaustic incorporated with mixed media including paper, ink and oil paint are most often the primary mediums. Encaustic’s luscious luminosity; physical presence and translucent quality seem the ideal medium to explore this process.
Jeff has completed Residency/Fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Arts and VCCA France, Moulin Au Neuf, Auvillar France. He has been Artist in Residence 2010-2015 at the Hui Art Center in Maui, Hawaii. His work can be found in numerous private, corporate and public collections as well several public art commissions. Jeff holds a BFA degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. He maintains studios in Salt Lake City and Torrey Utah. He teaches Regularly at the Hui Art Center in Maui, Hawaii, the Kimball Art Center in Park City Utah and at his Studio in Salt Lake City.

lorraineglessner.net
Lorraine Glessner’s love of surface, pattern, markmaking, image and landscape has led her to combine disparate materials and processes such as silk, wood, branding, rust, paper and more in her work. Lorraine is an 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 has been exhibited locally and nationally in galleries, 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.

What Else?

  • Color relationships, composition, application, content, proportion, scale as an effective foundation for other painterly information.
  • Learn how to use encaustic’s strengths (layering, transparency, luminosity) to tell your story.
  • Mark-making exercises geared toward making simple or complex marks to generate a personal language.
  • Individual consultation/critique discussion with each participant. Bring a piece of work, a question, a concern, a problem and discuss it with Jeff and Lorraine.
  • Daily hikes and meditations relax and open your mind and spirit to the land and to your own creative voice.
  • A slide talk with examples of contemporary artists whose applies the concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration.
Student work and other fun stuff from Torrey Retreat, 2016

Materials Included: the following is a list of materials provided for the student

  • All encaustic paints, extra medium, tools and equipment
  • Graphite paper, sumi ink & other misc. drawing media
  • Misc. drawing papers
  • Paper towels/rags
  • Extra encaustic brushes

What to bring: the following is a list of materials for the student to bring to the workshop

  • Sketchbook/notebook, pencil or pen for note taking
  • Smock (optional)
  • Closed toe shoes for safety in the studio
  • Lunch and beverage each day
  • 6-10 wooden painting panels (your preference of 8×8 or 10×10, but no larger or smaller, please) Experimentation is great! You must bring the wooden painting panels, but other suggested substrates are: stiff card, paper, masonite, board, plexiglass, etc. (nothing coated in acrylic or acrylic gesso!!) wooden panels will also be available for sale in the studio during the workshop.
  • 2-4 actual or images of your work
  • 5-10 natural hair brushes in various sizes for encaustic painting (1 brush will be designated your medium brush, so it must be free of color if you are bringing used brushes)
  • a variety of basic encaustic colors will be provided, however, if you prefer certain colors, please bring them. (containers provided)
  • a variety of pigment sticks will be provided, however, if you prefer certain colors, please bring them.
  • drawing media of your choice (pencil, pastel, conte charcoal, oil pastel, Crayon, graphite, felt pen, etc.)
  • any tool or material for any technique that you normally employ while working with encaustic
  • iwatani torch with extra butane (optional)
  • textured objects and/or sharp ended tool for pressing into/incising/writing/drawing into wax.
  • 1 lb encaustic medium (containers provided)

 Hiking Equipment Recommendations

  • Sturdy hiking shoes/boots
  • butt pack or small backpack
  • comfortable clothing
  • light rainwear
  • Hat
  • water bottle
  • Digital Camera or smart phone or point and shoot camera or DSLR
  • bag for collecting found materials

For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorigles@earthlink.net

Payment Payment of 50% of the workshop fee + materials ($377.50) is due at the time of registration with the remaining 50% ($377.50) due on the first day of the workshop. Please contact Lorraine for payment details.

Cancellation In the event that you need to cancel your workshop, please notify Lorraine at least 30 days prior to the start of the workshop and your deposit will be refunded. No refunds will be available for cancellations occurring less than 30 days from the start of the workshop.

Accommodations  THERE IS ONE OPENING FOR THE CABIN AVAILABLE. CONTACT JEFF FOR DETAILS. (Pictured below) The large cabin next to the main house and studio is walking distance to the studio and is available for $100 per night with each person an additional $25 (up to 6 people) and a $100 deposit. It includes one bunk bed (two beds) Rear bedroom, two single beds in a middle bedroom and one double bed in the other middle bedroom, (see images) one full bath, full kitchen. A group of friends could take the whole cabin or 3-6 people could stay there for very little cost. Please contact Jeff jeffjuhlin@yahoo.com if you are interested in renting the cabin on the Torrey property.

lodgepromo1lodgepromo2

Cabins and hotel rooms in town (less than 10 minutes away) Start at $60 and up. There is a tent camping and mobile home park in Torrey also. Please see the web sites below or contact Jeff for more information.

torreyutah.com
airbnb

Food Filtered water will be available for drinking and tea, however, you may want to bring other preferred beverages. There will be no food served during the workshop, you must bring lunch and snacks each day. There is a full supermarket 25 Min away located on Loa, Utah and a small market right in Torrey with local meat, some vegetables and basic food items plus a Deli that serves breakfast and lunch. Contact Jeff jeffjuhlin@yahoo.com if you have specific food needs and questions.

Two Exciting Upcoming Workshops Demystified

With workshop season fast approaching, I would like to introduce you to two of my most popular workshops. But before I do that, just below is a brief introduction to some of what you will learn in all of my encaustic workshops.

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.
  • Individual consultation/critique discussion with each participant. Bring a piece of work, a question, a concern, a problem and discuss it with me. My most favorite part of the workshop is this special time I spend talking one-on-one with each participant.
  • Learn how to use encaustic’s strengths (layering, transparency, luminosity) to tell your story.
  • Mark-making exercises-whether you are taking the line workshop or not, exercises geared toward making simple or complex marks to generate a personal voice.
  • Book-sharing-each pariticipant brings their favorite art book to share.
  • 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 applies the concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration. Some examples of the slides included in the talks for each of the workshops discussed in this article is just below.
Pattern & Repetition Slides Examples
Grid & Line Slides Examples

ENCAUSTIC PATTERN & REPETITION

Basic Description
Repeated use of a shape, color or design element unifies composition, creates pattern, rhythm and movement as well as reinforces content. This workshop focuses on the creation of intricate patterns, expressive personal surfaces and complex, multi-layered pieces utilizing and in combination with encaustic painting techniques. With an emphasis on mixed media, methods and materials covered in this workshop include the use of organic and geometric form, realistic and abstract imagery, patterned collage, stencils, candy molds, tjaps, and branding (creating marks with heated metal and wood burning tools). Considerations such as using pattern and repetition as content itself, to tell a story, support and/or strengthen the message will also be discussed.

Who should take this workshop?

  • You swoon over textiles, prints, decorative arts, design, anything with pattern and you want to learn how to effectively incorporate these elements into your work.
  • You already include lots of pattern and repetition in your work, but the work hasn’t moved past mere decoration to involve meaningful content.
  • You desperately want to include pattern in your work, but you are fearful that it will be received by the viewing public as decorative art.
  • 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 dilute, 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 want to express yourself in a more meaningful way with your work.
  • Your creative process is stagnating and you want to learn a new process, idea or technique.
  • You have always wanted to create ‘visual poetry’ in your paintings.

What happens in this workshop? What will I learn?

  • What a motif is and how you can generate one to create personal patterns with meaning and how to incorporate them into your work.
  • Create personally designed fabrics and papers using indigo, rust and compost printing and use them as a basis for a painting.
  • Create repetitive patterns using innovative tools and techniques such as pyrography (making marks with heated metal and tools), tjaps and candy molds.
  • Learn my technique for applying decorative stenciling into my work and how you can use stenciling to strengthen your compositions and content.
  • 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.
  • Practice the effective application and fusing of encaustic collaged layers so you aren’t tempted to give up collage forever in frustration!
  • Experiment with doodling, mark making and process to create personal patterns.
  • Learn how to use the transparency of the wax to allow pattern and information to combine and ‘talk’ within the painting.
  • Learn how repetitive pattern, symbols, text, ornament adds power and interest to the work and therefore brings the viewer closer to it’s message.
  • How repetition can create visual poetry, rhythm, music, etc within the work.

What kind of work will I make?
Please enjoy the work example pics below from participants who have previously taken this workshop. Please also visit additional blog posts here and here and here for more information related to this workshop.

ENCAUSTIC LINE & GRID

Basic Description
Lines lead the eye and communicate information through variation in width, direction, density, length and character. They are as integral to any composition as the composition itself. Despite the incredible versatility of the encaustic medium, there is a limit to the techniques available in which to incorporate line. This workshop explores line and linear language far beyond the usual methods and materials to include the use of tjanting tools, masks, drawing with horse and human hair, branding with heated metal and wood burning tools, as well as creating your own grids, laces and lace like forms using free motion sewing machine embroidery on water soluble stabilizer. The workshop begins with a comprehensive exercise involving composition generation, which will result in several compositions from which to explore these new techniques. Considerations of the use of the grid as a conceptual as well as compositional tool will also be discussed.

Who should take this workshop?

  • 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.
  • You are interested in what the grid can do for your work, but don’t want to make gridded paintings. NOTE: You won’t make a gridded painting in this workshop unless you want to do so, but understanding the concept of the grid as a foundational structure will make your paintings stronger. Guaranteed.
  • 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 materials and innovative ways to use them.
  • You dislike drawing and/or you’re afraid of it.

What happens in this workshop? What will I learn?

  • In depth discussion, brainstorming and slide talk about line and the grid-what it means in art, what it does, how to generate it, how to use it.
  • What the concepts of good design are and how to apply these ideas to fine art.
  • Marking, drawing, making marks with fun exercises involving music, text, folding/cutting paper, collage, fire, found materials are sure to relax you so that you don’t even know you’re drawing and are designed for you to generate ideas, content and a personal mark.
  • Effective and productive doodling.
  • Experiment with line ideas using innovative techniques and materials such as horsehair, pyrography (making marks with heated metal and tools), stitching by hand or machine, Solvy (water soluble embroidery stabilizer).
  • Experiment with encaustic tools such as a tjanting, incising into the wax, creating grids and lines using masks, paintsticks and encaustic friendly drawing media.
  • How you can create your own process to make a cohesive body of work and how that process can relate to and enhance content in that work.
  • Learn what found drawings are and how you can use them as a tool for inspiration and content generation.

What kind of work will I make?
Please enjoy the work example pics below from participants who have previously taken this workshop. Please visit additional blog posts here and here and here and here for more information related to this workshop.

WHERE CAN I SIGN UP!

Mixed Media Encaustic: Pattern & Line
June 11-16
Cullowhee Mountain Arts
Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
WORKSHOP WEB SITE 

Mixed Media Encaustic: Line & Grid
September 5-8
Northeast Art Workshop Studio, Gloucester, MA
WORKSHOP WEB SITE

Mixed Media Encaustic: Pattern & Repetition
October 2-6
Studio Joy, Kansas City, MO
WORKSHOP WEB SITE

If you have taken one of these workshops and it has made an impression on your work, I invite you to write briefly about your experience in the comment section and include a pic if you would like. I look forward to hearing from you.

Encaustic Paint Colors I Can’t do Without

My favorite encaustic tools post was so popular I wanted to write about my favorite encaustic paint colors as well. There are so many amazing colors out there, it is overwhelming to choose! When choosing, we all tend to gravitate toward our favorites or the bright, pretty colors. Unfortunately, what we overlook by doing this are the most amazing earth tones, grays and colors that may look a little blah in the raw, but when melted on the palette, truly come alive. The colors I’ve listed here are not to be used as a guide for color mixing or as basis for a beginner to start a color collection. Rather, these are the colors I choose to work with again and again, they are my favorites no matter the palette. I also want to mention that I never use any color ‘straight out of the tube’, meaning all of the colors in my paintings are mixed-made up of 2 to 5 colors. I always choose the colors below because when added to other colors in small doses, they slightly alter those colors and create a more personalized palette for my work. Last, these are by no means ALL the colors I use, I use many, many more…too many…I hoard encaustic paint! These are simply the colors I use most frequently, the colors I never put ‘away’ so they are always out for me to grab.
I was having the most difficult time deciding how to photograph the paints for this post, so I thought I would do something fun-I just photographed them on top of an in progress painting and as-is-dirty, gritty, cut up, melty with other colors on them. The images hint at my process, plus the paints themselves look like little sculptures! If you want to see the clean versions of the paints, just click on the name below and you’ll be taken to the distributor’s web site. This list is in no particular order and my explanations should be used as suggestions only, there is no right or wrong here. For more comprehensive suggestions and color mixing ideas, take a workshop with me this summer or fall, I discuss color mixing in all of them. I hope this list introduces you to a color that makes your current palette sing!

R&F Paints

  • Neutral White  I have used this color since I started painting in encaustic sixteen years ago and painted with it almost exclusively then. When mixed with any color, it lightens and makes it a bit more earthy. Also, when mixed 50/50 with zinc white, it’s the perfect white-not as bright white as titanium and slightly richer than zinc alone.
  • Alizarin Orange I LOVE this color. Bright and versatile, it can go from a light gold to a rich rusty orange in one swipe. When mixed with white or any other color, it retains it’s richness.
  • Payne’s Grey I use this instead of black to darken any color. For me, black tends to deaden the color as it darkens, while this one allows the original color to retain it’s voice.
  • Brown Pink Like alizarin orange, brown pink changes color from a subtle pink-taupe to a rich brown taupe. I mix it to add a dark earthiness to any color.
  • Warm Pink Like neutral white, I have used this color since I started painting in encaustic. It brightens any color and when mixed with a little and painted next to or on top of earthy blues, grays or greens, the eyes vibrate!
  • Warm Grey (limited edition color not pictured on R&F page-see my pic below) BRING IT BACK!! PLEASE!!
  • Brilliant Yellow Extra Pale I love to use this color instead of white as it not only lightens, it adds just a touch of yellow and whimsy as it brightens as well. 
  • Cobalt Yellow Use in place of yellow to ‘sour’ any color. I love it as it’s just a bit off and when painted next to any color, the colors sing!
  • Olive Yellow Works just like cobalt yellow, but is a bit brighter. 
  • Celadon Green Love this in place of white as a mixer or to slightly gray down a color. This is one of the few I would paint straight out of the tube in place of white.
  • Cobalt Blue A bright, clear blue, I use it more than any other blue.
  • Warm Rose I use this color much in the same way I use warm pink, but this one is just a bit more pink and anyone who knows me knows how I love pink! Mixing this color with warm pink is my go to pink.
  • Malachite Green I use this color way too much. It’s one of those colors that changes as it’s painted next to different colors. It makes any color and any painting sing.
  • Aquamarine Blue (limited edition color not pictured on R&F page-see my pic below) I purchased the entire inventory of this color at a past encaustic conference and I’m on my last of it!! BRING IT BACK!! I NEED THIS COLOR!!
  • Cerulean Extra Pale Not quite gray, white or blue, it’s an amazing substitute for either of those colors to mix or use straight out of the tube…wait..did I just say that?
  • Green Gold I use this color constantly as I do cobalt yellow. It adds a bit of ‘sour’ to any color and makes other colors sing when its painted next to them.
  • Turkey Umber Greenish This is probably one of the most overlooked color in the R&F line as it looks dead and dull in the packaging and really not much better when its melted. However, try mixing it with any blue, green, black for an amazing richness. Also, try adding just a touch of it to any warm color to gray down, but not make gray. Its truly one of those indispensable colors that no one seems to use!
  • Phthalo Turquoise Another color that looks dead in the package and like black when it’s melted, it is actually one of the brightest and most versatile colors. Add just a touch of any white and watch the magic happen.
  • Cadmium Lemon A great substitute for any of the cadmium yellows, it ‘sours’ anything its mixed with and makes any pairing colors sing! I use it like cobalt yellow and olive yellow, this one is much more clear and can also be used to slightly lighten and brighten any color.

Enkaustikos I can’t link directly to each color, so this link goes to all of the colors listed below, just scroll the list to see the color.

  • Opal Aquamarine I love this color so much I buy it in huge bulk and for all of my workshops. It makes any blue or green bluer and richer, like the most amazing, clear glacier water. 
  • Golden Buff Titanium I’m a sucker for any white and this one is indispensable as a white with a touch of a tan or use as a basis for flesh tones.
  • Warm Pearl Want just a bit of a glimmer, this is your answer. It adds just a tiny bit of shimmer without being garish and without much of a change to the original color.
  • Indian Yellow Bright, clear, not quite yellow, not quite orange. I reach for it time and again in place of yellow and mixing it with R&F’s Alizarin Orange is magical.
  • Anthraquinone Blue Looks black in the package and melted on the palette, but mixed with black, blue or Payne’s Gray produces the most amazingly rich dark midnight blue.
  • Super Gold Pearl I’m not a metallic, shiny person, but when I want to add shimmer PLUS a little golden glam, this is the color I use. It’s not quite gold, which is too BUY GOLD STRIP MALL STORE for my taste, this one is a bit more antique-aged, if you will.

Evans Encaustics

  • Orange, Red, Blue, Green Interference Colors Hylla knows her shimmer and does it best. Again, I’m not a shimmer, shiny person, but the interference colors do just that-add a bit of a surface light reflection to the surface of any color.
  • Rose Gold This is the first color I ever purchased from Evans and I go through it like water. It’s pink, so that’s one reason and the other is that touch of rich gold shimmer.
  • Buff Again, I’m a sucker for any white. I love this in place of white to lighten any color and add an earthiness as well. Can also be used straight out of the tube in place of white.
  • Cold Steel (Limited Edition, Renamed or Discontinued, not pictured on Evans site-see my pic below) Sort of silver and gold together, just a lovely addition when mixed with grays and blacks.
  • Glowing Sky I’m totally into blue lately and need all kinds of blues to round out my palette. This one has just the right mix of lavender and gray with just a touch of shimmer, it’s different from any other blue.
  • Cloisonne Pink (Limited Edition, Renamed or Discontinued, not pictured on Evans site-see my pic below) What can I say, you know me and pink!

Kama Pigments I can’t link directly to each color, so this link goes to all of the colors listed below, just scroll the list to see the color.

  • Rose Hornyak/Hornyak’s Pink Again, me and pink-I’ll buy any pink. This one is so Pepto Bismol its almost gross, but it does so many things that the average pink doesn’t do! It adds just that tiny bit of purple that makes other colors vibrate. Try mixing this with Alizarin Orange and/or Warm Pink and/or Brown Pink for a pink magic fest.
  • Buff Titanium Another white that went on vacation and got a tan. I love this one because even though it’s tan, it’s still got the brightness of titanium.

Miles Conrad

  • Mesquite All of the colors in Miles’ line are as mysterious and enigmatic as their desert inspiration. Is it brown or gray or red or all three. I love this color for it’s changes depending on what it’s painted against. As a mixer, it adds a rich earthiness.
  • Sunset Orange-Is it pink or orange, this is is another color that just sings. Mix it with any of the oranges or pinks or even yellows above and the magic begins.

5 Encaustic Tools I Can’t Do Without

Since the start of the year, I have slowly been purging my studio of materials I have acquired over the years. Each time I pick up an item, I ask myself if I really need this thing, will I ever do anything with it? As I make my way around the studio to my encaustic table, I can’t bear to rid myself of any of my encaustic supplies, so I’m working backwards..isolating the items that I can’t seem to do without, the things that I reach for all the time, everyday. Of course, there are a lot more than five tools I use, but if I were stranded on a deserted encaustic island, these are the things I would want with me. I use all of these tools in my encaustic workshops, explain the techniques and bring extras for students to try out. So if you haven’t signed up to take a workshop with me this summer and fall, do so now because they are filling fast!

  1. Clover Mini Iron

29949-clover-mini-iron-mci-900

This tool is one of the first tools I ever used when I started working with encaustic in 2001. At that time, there were very few tools available and very little information about encaustic until Joanne Mattera’s The Art of Encaustic Painting came out a year or so later and changed my life. Until that time, I muddled through on my own, learning this difficult medium with snippets of information from the internet and materials I already had in my studio. In my former artist life, I was an art quilter and has this little piecing iron that I used to iron the seams of my quilts, so I tried it as an alternative to the heat gun and fell in love. Not only is the Clover Mini Iron an excellent little detail iron, but it is the ONLY tool I use to fuse collage and my horsehair drawings. When I first started teaching encaustic workshops in 2005, those who hired me as well as workshop participants would laugh when they saw the irons because no one was using them at the time. One of the things about my work that people respond to is the craftsmanship and how the collage seems to merge seamlessly into the painting rather than being a separate inclusion. This is wholly because of this iron. Those of you who have taken my workshops know that I do not recommend the torch for collage for safety reasons-often the medium is blown off of the paper collage during the fusing process and it ignites. Most importantly, both the torch and the heat gun introduce air and most of the time the collage piece pops up a bit and does not lay flat on the surface. For a lot of artists, efforts to remedy this annoyance often ends in frustration or giving up encaustic collage for good. Once learning to use this and other small irons for collage, the work will drastically improve, guaranteed!
I’ve had mixed reactions with workshop participants who have tried this iron during my workshops, some find it awkward. I recommend The Dritz Petite Press as an alternative just for fusing, but I find it difficult to use for collage. If you use collage in your encaustic work and have experienced frustration, I encourage you to take one of my workshops this summer and fall to learn my technique.
Two more amazing things about this iron is that it has it’s own temperature gauge and it can also be used as a heated palette knife.
This iron is available online and in-store at most craft and hobby stores that sell fabric related craft supplies as well as online at Amazon here, where I have always found the best prices.
NOTE: If you do a google search for the clover mini iron, make sure it the one you purchase looks like the one pictured, don’t confuse it for the Clover Mini Iron II which is red and white, not mint green and white.

2. Double Sided Detail Scraper
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Other than my Clover Mini Iron, double sided detail scraper is the tool I use the most. I have purchased dental tools, wax carving tools, Kemper clay shapers, wood carving tools, etc. and I rarely use them. This tool is extremely versatile and supplants most of the tools of it’s kind. First and foremost, it is an excellent detail scraper for those hard to reach areas. The two sizes, pointed tip and the curved nature of the blade allow for almost any kind of scraping in any kind of area. I also love it for carving complex lines and shapes. The attributes I previously mentioned also allow for carving any shape-small or large or for any line, thick or thin. The use of the blade’s wider area and narrower pointed tip enable me to make my incised calligraphic lines in the wax, making it the closest thing to real drawing in wax. In some of my older work, the complex raised areas shown in the image below are only made  using this tool. It is also the only tool I use to place the hair for my hair drawings. The blade is wide and the curve is gentle (almost flat) giving it enough surface area to press the hair down without gauging the surface. I also use it to clean up the clingy wax from the edges of the stenciled areas of my paintings. Last, it’s also excellent for removing dust and those weird little hairs that always seem to find their way into the wax.
I have seen Kemper tools with one side shaped like this scraper, but never the double sided tool I have described here. I have only seen this particular tool sold by Enkaustikos here.

3. Sculpture House Encaustic Loop Tool

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Possibly the best scraper ever invented, it works like a combination razor blade and the average clay scraper. I still love my razor blade for taking off little bits and my other scrapers for their specialties, but this scraper is the one I reach for again and again, especially when I need to really cut into the surface and remove some wax. Hand-made with a carbon steel blade, it is extremely sharp and makes scraping so easy, with less residue and annoying ‘gum up’ on the blade. It removes the wax in a long, fine ribbon, which I have never seen in any other scraper. I love these scrapings so much, I have started collaging them back into the work in places where I want a multi-colored, textured effect. After the scrapings are fused, they can be left as-is for raised texture or scraped back further for an interesting ribbon of color. The corners of this tool are also great for making wide incised lines.
I first purchased this tool from Enkaustikos here, but it is also available directly from the Sculpture House web site here. I recently emailed SH because I hadn’t seen the tool on their web site for quite some time, but it has just been re-listed. Get them while they’re hot!

4. Ball Stylus

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Many of you probably use this tool, but I’m always amazed at how many people have never seen it or know what it is when I use it in my workshops. Originally designed for embossing into soft metal or paper, this tool is useful for many art projects. I love it for incising in the wax because it’s rounded end doesn’t cut into my board surface and chop it up like pointy tools do. It’s also great for using on transfer papers, again, because it doesn’t rip into the paper like a pointed tool does. These tools come in a variety of sizes and sets, which make it easy to carve various line weights as well as make different kinds and sizes of marks using transfer papers.
This tool is available online and in-store from most craft stores and online at Amazon here. There are also many variety sets available for purchase online here.


5. Apollon Elephant Painting Panels

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Just plain, old raw birch painting panels, they are cheap, well made, sturdy and most importantly, they are lightweight. I use about 15-20 layers of wax on my paintings and many artists use much more. With the weight of that much wax combined with the weight of a wooden painting panel, the finished painting feels like lead. Imagine hanging a show with 10-20 lead panels by yourself! So lightweight, but durable, is key for me. Also, for a starving artist on a budget, the price can’t be beat. I have tried and just can’t find a comparable, quality painting panel even close to the price of these. Also, they scorch to a lovely caramel or dark brown/black. For those of you who don’t know, I always begin my paintings with a gridded pattern of scorched brands. My newer work utilizes much more paint and for the most part, the brands are concealed…but I still begin the painting that way, it just feels incomplete without.
These panels are sold with a 1.5 inch cradle (deep) as well as uncradled (standard) with a 1 inch depth. Also very useful are the quarter inch panels I’ve seen only in the store. I use these for samples in workshops, for color tests or brush tests in the studio and anytime I need a wooden surface, but don’t want to use a whole panel.
The painting panels and birch panels are sold exclusively at Artist & Craftsman Supply, both online (with sizes up to 24×24) here and in store for all painting panel sizes up to 60×60.

 

***Stay tuned for the next blog post on my favorite encaustic paint colors.

Carol Bajen-Gahm & Pamela Blum

In mid-December, I was fortunate to have been invited to teach at R&F paints. In addition to their stellar workshop space, R&F also has has a wonderful gallery space, which always has an interesting and engaging show. The show up while I was there was THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, FORCES AND artifacts, the work of Carol Bajen-Gahm and Pamela Blum and it was a stunner. I’ve long been a fan of Pamela’s work, but was unfamiliar with Carol’s, so it was such a pleasant surprise to just happen upon it. The muted tones, expert use of high contrast, scale and materials make both artist’s work sing, but together, the pieces were orchestral. I haven’t seen a more perfectly paired two person show than this one in a long time. Unfortunately, the show is now over, but it continues virtually here.

Pamela Blum‘s statement for the show…My small sculptures are massed objects. They suggest forces over time on anthropological body parts and cultural relics. Blum uses dominantly black and white encaustic paint surfaces to communicate polarized times and conditions such as life and death, disease vs. health, uselessness rather than usefulness, human actions as comedy and tragedy. The encaustic paint, covering wire mesh, plaster gauze, and papier maché, embodies the tension between longevity and vulnerability inherent in wax and in all things organic and inorganic.
Indebted to others’ perceptions, feelings, thoughts and beliefs, I draw from artwork of the past. The work assembles many different ways to prompt viewers, including myself, to reinterpret the work.
In an effort to communicate something essential, I use the arsenal of visual literacy: titles, form, dimensionality, expression, materials, color, position, relationship of parts to wholes, marking or lack thereof, different scales, different contexts and references to things we see every day.
I intend my work to be disturbing, funny, and sometimes sexual. The work, founded formally, conceptually, and technically in history, rests on two quotations from Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible:
“My life: What I stole from history and how I live with it.”
“Misunderstanding…is the cornerstone…of civilization.”

Carol Bajen-Gahm’s statement for the show…I have always been attracted to dark spaces: tangled roots, wells, and caves. The shifting time and spatial juxtaposition of fairy tales and dreams hold an equal fascination for me.  I like to explore where my wild things are.
If you take the time to see what a fairy tale or a dream is saying, you usually end up at a deeper level of understanding where there is both the fear and the promise of the unknown.
I like to work with those dark spaces, tangled areas, time shifts and spatial juxtapositions in my work. For this series, I used the root cellars of Newfoundland as a starting point. Root cellars are used to preserve food during the cold months. I was attracted to them because they are an example of a dark space as a nurturing force, a kind of transformation by preservation.
I built the images using elements that related to the root cellars: seaweed which is used as fertilizer, and netting which is a crop protector.  In some cases, I used digital transfers of actual photographs of the cellars.  As I build the image at some point a state of chaos occurs – and my job is to bring the disparate elements into balance; to tame my wild things.

New Drawings Series

As promised in my last post, this months post is devoted to a new drawings series that I began during the workshop I taught in Torrey, Utah with artist friend, Jeff Juhlin. I continued to work with these drawings through subsequent travels and at home during the months to follow.

I should mention that my previous feeble attempts at drawing the Torrey landscape from life were just horrendous. Whenever I try to control anything I do in the art making process, it turns out to look contrived and just awful. This landscape is especially overwhelming, wherever you look there is something inspiring, something as an artist I wanted to capture and hold. I couldn’t do it by just doing it, I had to invent a process.

The focus of the workshop was making marks inspired by hikes through this amazing landscape and then translating those marks to encaustic paintings. One of our mark-making exercises was to collect items from the landscape that could be made into brushes or other types of mark-making tools. We then dipped these brushes and tools into Speedball Super Black India ink and made marks in response to meditations and sketches from our hikes. Working in my favorite 6×6 Stillman & Birn, Zeta series sketchbook**, I took a slightly different approach and instead made marks that loosely followed the contour of the landscape as I observed it through the studio window as well as from my sketches made on our hikes. These contour marks along with the brushes that made them are below.

I liked the marks I had made but I felt that something more was needed so I just started working back into them and responding to the marks with two of my favorite drawing pens..a Pilot G-Tec-C4 for thin lines and a small size Faber Castell Pitt artist pen for thicker lines. The results are so complex and full of life! I love that these drawings are made with a combination of my hand and the actual landscape itself. Unbelievably, through this simple process I arrived at drawings that look like what I had been trying to capture in those first unsuccessful drawings from life…and I got there through process and giving up a bit of control…two techniques that I constantly have to remind myself (and my students) to employ in the work.

These drawings are immensely gratifying, meditative and I just love the results. People I’ve shown them to ask me what I’m going to do with them and I haven’t really decided. I’m thinking that making them on larger sheets of paper might be an idea or using them somehow in my paintings might be another. Right now, I’m just going to focus on making more of them.

If these posts about Torrey, Utah have inspired you, you are in luck because Jeff Juhlin and I will be teaching in Torrey together again in August, 2017. Visit the updated blog post for details about this exciting workshop. If you are interested, you had better hurry…there are only 2 spots left!!

For even more inspiration, view two other posts on Torrey here and here. To learn more about employing process in your own work, see notes from a talk I gave last year at the International Encaustic Conference here. For more inspiration on lines, see this post here and follow my Marks Pinterest board here.

**I LOVE this sketchbook! Thick, quality paper that holds water media, ink, etc. and stays flat, without any curling or buckling. It’s very sturdy, stayed intact through six months of travel and many hikes. Get one, especially if you like to sketch in any kind of water media!

Torrey Layers

As I wrote in my last post, the workshop I taught in Torrey, Utah with artist friend, Jeff Juhlin and the subsequent hikes through Capital Reef and Arches National Parks, was most inspiring. The land, colors, forms, lines, just everything, inspired me. Part 1 of my Torrey posts focuses on the the amazing texture and sculptural forms within the landscape and I’ve devoted this post, Part 2, to layers, color and marks.

My foundation as an artist lies in textiles, specifically in quilting, which ultimately led me to explorations in encaustic. Building up the layers of colored wax, fusing them with heat and scraping them back to reveal amazing things will always keep me working in the medium. To me, layers of wax and other materials represent skin, cells, earth’s geology and its atmosphere, while layering itself relates to memory, perception and time. I see layers in everything and what better place to view earth’s layers than in Torrey, a place that changes daily, but so slowly and gradually, it seemingly never changes at all. In this amazing place and similar to the the process of encaustic, earth’s layers are built up and through the slow processes of water and wind erosion, those layers are revealed and transformed.

The surfaces of most rock faces in Torrey are covered in spectacular colors ranging from subtle pinks, yellows and whites to the deepest sepias, siennas and umbers. These painterly surfaces are known as ‘desert varnish’, a staining that occurs over time through an extremely slow combination process of water and time. Other surface marks, textures and swirls are also visible on the rock’s surface, manifesting a ghost of the water that created it.

Just as stunning as the desert varnish are the colorful, textured markings of lichen, covering the more protected, hidden rock surfaces. Most striking are the color contrasts arising between the greens, yellows and blues of the lichen and contrasting red earth or black lava rocks. Because lichen in the high desert grows abundantly on porous surfaces protected from strong wind and sunlight, it is often overlooked and/or quickly dismissed. However, those who look closely are rewarded with brilliant color, extraordinary patterns and unexpected plant-like formations.

In addition to my own photographs, I have included other artists whose work references layers and marks similar to the surfaces I encountered on my hikes. See more artists like these on my Fiber Pinterest board here and my Drawing and Marks Pinterest board here. Names and web site links to the artist’s included below are in order as follows: Bill Gingles, Deborah Kapoor, Dorothy Caldwell, Erin Endicott, Fran Skiles, Jeane Meyers, Jennifer Reifsneider, Jeri Ledbetter, Junko Oki, Lee Kaloidis, Matthew Harris, Sue Hotchkis, Ward Shumaker, Adam Cohen.

Stay tuned for the next and last post (January, 2017) related to my wondrous trip to Torrey, in which I will share a series of drawings I started during the workshop I taught there and have been working on during my subsequent travels and since I returned home.

If these posts about Torrey, Utah have inspired you, you are in luck because Jeff Juhlin and I will be teaching in Torrey together again in August, 2017. Visit the updated blog post for details about this exciting workshop.

For even more inspiration, view other posts on Layers here and here. See some student work from a workshop I taught on Layers and Texture here and follow my Layers Pinterest board here.

Torrey Textures

I love to teach and I love to travel, so what better way to make a living than teaching workshops all over the country! Teaching and interacting with so many amazing people informs my work in countless positive ways. But for me, the true inspiration comes from many cross country drives to amazing destinations, and the breathtaking landscape, weather, skies and sunsets I encounter along the way.

One of the most inspiring workshops I taught this summer was with artist pal, Jeff Juhlin at his home and studio in Torrey, Utah. After a few hikes with our class, a crazy strenuous hike with Jeff through a canyon (mostly through water) after our workshop as well as some hikes on my own through Capital Reef and Arches National Parks, my inspiration was overflowing. The landscape is otherworldly surreal to say the least-with every turn is something awe-inspiring that can only be fully appreciated by actually being there. I took thousands of pictures, I just couldn’t get enough! I wanted to capture and hold every magnificent thing that I witnessed. This place is overwhelming (in a good way) and I couldn’t wait to share what I experienced.

For this first of two posts about my trip to Torrey, I’m focusing on the sculptural qualities of the landscape. The monumental forms and precariously balanced boulders with their carved and etched markings brought to life the fragility, violence and vulnerability in nature that I investigate in my work. I could almost hear the glaciers grinding and scraping against the rocks to create these amazing surfaces. Through a process of wind, water, weather and time, those marks are transformed into gravity defying sculptural forms and surfaces. Besides inspiring a new series of drawings (to be posted January, 2017 on this blog) this landscape reignited a longtime desire to carve into plaster, clay or wood and combine these things with encaustic. Along with my photographic inspirations, I have included some other artists whose work references these amazing sights. Names and links to the artist’s web sites as follows: Conrad Jon Godly, Leslie Wayne, Piero Manzoni, Richard Tuttle, Arthur Pena, Laura Moriarty, Bram Bogart, Elisabeth Vary, Marlies Hoevers, Hilary Harnischfe.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Torrey inspiration, which is focused on layers and color in the landscape and will be posted by mid-December. If this post has inspired you, you are in luck because Jeff Juhlin and I will be teaching in Torrey together again in August, 2017. Visit the updated blog post for details about this exciting workshop.

 

Inspired by…Lovely Lines

From May to August, I taught eight different workshops in eight different states, from big cites to remote locations where I barely got a cell signal. My favorite thing to do at the end of each teaching day is to treat myself to a walk around the town where I’m teaching and I almost always find something to inspire me. I take pictures of anything that attracts me during these walks and then organize them into folders, which I look at later for inspiration. Always attracted to line in everything I see, I put together this small, but strong, collection from my walks.

Perfect Palettes

While my advanced encaustic class at Arrowmont was outside doing their morning drawing exercises, I noticed these amazing colorations on the kiln just outside of my classroom. I became totally obsessed with capturing the subtle changes, exciting contrasts and marks on and between the bricks as well as the placement of the gridded pattern and some of the interesting sculptural moments. I see something different in each image.