fiber

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.

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.

Fabric Pattern & Image 1 Final Projects

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Missy Furman, hand dyed, rust printed, hand sewn, hand made chainmaille

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Elyse Roat, indigo and synthetic dyed fabrics, machine pieced, hand quilted

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Lucy Davenny, hand dyed, bleach painted, hand stitch

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Margie Ricchezza, hand dyed, pieced, stitched

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Jackie Rosenzweig, hand dyed, pieced, embellished

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Maddy Greco, ice dyed fabric, screen printed, sewn

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Shea Lohss, hand dyed fabric, hand cut, beaded, painted and sewn embellishment

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Annabelle Weidorn, hand dyed, screen printed fabric with thermal pigment

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Rachel Cosgrove, hand dyed fabric, collage, felt, beads, mixed media

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Ashley Blubaugh, hand dyed fabric, machine stitched Solvy doilies

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Tori Tisot, hand dyed fabric, stuffed, sewn

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Rose Schisler, hand dyed fabric, pieced

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Ari Flood, hand dyed fabric, found fabric, tea stained, sewn

Inspired by…Texture & Layers

I’ve been so inspired while getting ready for my Mixed Media Encaustic Workshop at Northeast Art Workshops next week, May 9-13 that I had to share the inspiration!

This is the first and only time this year that I will be teaching this workshop and there is still some room and time to sign up! See this post for the workshop description, registration information and student work examples and this post for related inspiration.

In the meantime, be inspired by these pics from my pinterest.

Fabric Pattern & Image II Final Projects

Julia Haines
Flowers, Ashes, Blood
hand dyed, rust printed fabrics, hand constructed, sewn garments and head garland, mixed media, hand made book
Photo Credit: Abigail Muth

Mikaila Brennan
Untitled
natural dyes, compost printed fabrics, hand constructed, sewn garments
Model: Lauren Michelle

Noble Stultz
Sculptural Chair
Hand dyed, stuffed and constructed

Esther Scanlon
All I Need is in this Bag
Found garments, hand dyed, mended, repurposed, hand made book

Inspired by…Layers

Busy in the studio and in the final weeks of the semester teaching at Tyler, but I have some exciting posts coming up soon. In the meantime, enjoy some inspiration pics from my ‘Layered’ board on Pinterest

MAKERSPACE @ AAC

Abington Art Center (my very local art center) just created a new space within the art center that will be primarily devoted to fiber and fiber related happenings! Here is a little blurb from their web site…

By blurring the boundaries of analog and digital, art and science, traditional and experimental, new ideas have room to grow and develop. Inside our Makerspace, you’ll find 3D printers, laser cutters and computers side-by-side with sewing machines, hot glue guns and saws. Come find your inspiration and bring your ideas to life!

My sewn collages and encaustic paintings are now hanging in the space and as part of the opening, I will be giving a talk on Saturday, April 9, 10am-12pm about my work in fiber. Coffee and other refreshments will be served, so come out and see this exciting new addition to the textile world!

Inspired By…Fiber & Paint

Painting and fiber, two disciplines whose marriage has always intrigued and inspired me throughout the evolution of my work. Over the 15+ years since graduate school, I have completed several series of work, all of which borrow and combine aspects of both disciplines. However, each series leans either to the fiber or painting end, but never fully captures the essence of either discipline.

For this reason, I am fascinated when I come across artists whose work fully exhibits the perfect balance of material, materiality, color, tactility, surface, pattern and process that encapsulates the two disciplines of fiber and painting. I must mention that there are many artists who work within these boundaries and without listing them-there are so many-I am inspired by them all. However, it was difficult to find artists amongst this group whose work possessed a blending, rather than a combination between the materials, process and techniques used, a seamlessness, a perfect balance, a sensitivity, a symbiosis that is almost intangible and cannot easily be put into words. I have chosen three artists whose work stands out and characterizes these qualities .

I have always been a fan of Margery Amdur’s work and first came across it when she was working with layers of painted, hand cut mylar in wonderful diagrammatic floral patterns that resembled the preparatory acetates and paintings I used to do when I was a textile and rug designer. In her layered paintings, there is a painterly quality in which the materials, process and content effortlessly support one other. Her latest work applying paint, pastel, ink and silkscreen on cosmetic sponges takes painting to a whole new level. Some may categorize these pieces as sculpture, but the use of materials, repetition, tactility, process, technique and structural pattern all speak to textiles. The reference to flowers, the garden, layers and the mark of the hand is also evident.

Julia Bland’s work is what sparked the writing of this post as it imbues the perfect blend of fiber and painting I describe above. Bland’s work is founded in weaving and craft based traditions and her stem from her interest in religious and cultural patterns. Working hand in hand with the repetitive process of weaving, she adds, subtracts, cuts, glues, sews and paints elements into her large scale wall hangings. Hand worked details, knots, stitched and painted areas are added after the weaving takes place making piece exciting and interesting both up close and at a distance.

At first glance, Gabriel Luis Perez’s work may just look like mixed media paintings. However, what I see in these richly layered surfaces are references to quilting, applique, weaving, sewing, embellishment, pattern-making, design and repetitive process all densely integrated with painted pop imagery, text and collaged elements. Of his work he writes, “It is important to me that all my pieces inherit an energy; sometimes that energy is one produced during its performance and at other times it is a conjured from past or future experiences.” They do have an energy and I totally get it.

Juliette Elisa Bataille

I discovered Juliette Elisa Bataille’s work by accident while googling contemporary embroidery. Interestingly enough, Bataille’s work is NOT contemporary, which is what interests me the most about it.

Juliette Elisa Bataille was born in 1896 in Pas-de-Calais, France, married in 1917 to an abusive husband and in her 40’s began to exhibit symptoms of mental distress. She was eventually institutionalized where she began creating expressive pastel drawings and these wonderful embroideries. Her emotionally charged stitched lines are placed with finality, and a determined self-assuredness. Incredibly, she only produced these works during a three year period (roughly, 1948-1951) making the few documented pieces still in existence that much more remarkable.

Read more about her and see more work here.

My Surface Design Journal Article

I’m so excited to share with you my first published article now in the current issue of Surface Design Journal! I am so grateful to editor, Marci Rae McDade for allowing me this opportunity to share my work, inspirations and teaching. This issue of the journal is dedicated to artists who combine wax and fiber in their work and I am honored that my work is included with admired colleagues and others who innovate these two mediums and continue to inspire me as an artist.

The Surface Design Journal is one of my favorite publications-always lusciously illustrated, with thoughtful, intelligent writing, it never fails to inspire. The journal is produced by the Surface Design Association, an international membership group with over 3,000 members dedicated to all things textile, fiber, fiber-related, tactile and amazing. I have been a member for at least twenty years and will continue to support this wonderful organization for a long time to come. Visit this page on their web site to read about all of the many benefits to becoming a member-it’s much more than you would think.

To purchase this stellar current issue and back issues of the journal, visit this page on the SDA web site. You can also conveniently view a sample of the current issue here.

Thanks so much for reading and for your support!