in my studio

My Fairy Tale Love With Encaustic

I confess, I am in love with the medium of encaustic. Just like any great relationship, it faithfully welcomes me as I enter the studio with it’s warmth, smell and luminescent glow. It always yields to my wishes without too much resistance and surprises me by doing things I didn’t even know I wanted it to do. Although we’ve had many tiffs and I have strayed to other mediums, I always return and our partnership gets better and better. We have a symbiotic connection, encaustic and I…yes, I am blissfully in love. But this wasn’t always so….

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there I was, a mid-thirties Fibers & Materials Studies Graduate Student at Tyler School of Art in 2001. I was working with ideas related to creation and the cyclic nature of life-imprinting, staining and marking as it relates to birth through to death and decomposition. More specifically, I was interested in the physical mark and pattern of this cycle on the earth and body. I began making visual comparisons using these kinds of patterns with images I took myself or found on the internet. Some of these were uncanny in their similarities as you can see below.

At the same time I was doing this research I was also looking for materials and processes that could replicate these patterns. Simply copying them or painting them didn’t work and looked contrived, I had to make these patterns via mark-making and process. One of my professors had taught with Christopher Leitch at the Kansas City Art Institute and recommended I look at his work combining organic printing processes and textiles. Based on the one paragraph and few images of his work that I found on the Internet, I developed my own process of rust printing and staining on textiles using decomposing organic matter and the results were more amazing than I expected. Using natural processes to depict natural processes also supported my content, it was astoundingly brilliant. I have included images of some of these fabrics below.

I came into the graduate program as an art quilter, hand dyeing my own fabrics and sewing large beaded and painted creations that included everything but the kitchen sink. I loved quilting and wanted to expand on what a quilt could be based on the simple definition, ‘three layers of material stitched together from front to back’. I used the fabrics I had created combined with papers, image transfers, mark-making, burning and lots of machine and hand embroidery. I spent the next year sewing very large, intricate quilts (which I later stretched and called paintings) for my upcoming graduate thesis show. These pieces are pictured below along with smaller quilt studies.

Even though they were a huge labor of love, I felt these quilts were just not enough. I wanted to show another side to these ideas and sculptural books were another thing that intrigued me. I wanted to work with anything skin-like. My quilts spoke very much to landscape and alluded to the body, but I wanted something luscious and something that could be touched. I experimented with melting Tyvek, plastics, crayons, layers of glue and although I liked some of these things, I didn’t find anything I could pour myself into doing. During a critique, one of my professors suggested encaustic. I had never heard of this mysterious and scary sounding thing. At the time, there were no books available yet and the images I found on the Internet of other encaustic work was done with an iron on card stock and was just not my kind of thing. I decided to experiment on my own and purchased a sampler of cheap encaustic colors, a bunch of beeswax and a pancake griddle. I also employed my Clover piecing iron that I used for quilting and I still use this versatile iron today. My first attempts were horrible, I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t ventilating properly, I wasn’t using Damar resin in my medium, I wasn’t fusing properly, my cheap colors were flat and muddy-I hated this crap and what I had made with it! I threw all of my paints, griddle and everything else encaustic into a closet hoping to one day sell it all on Ebay…And in that closet it sat for almost a year…

For the better part of that year, I continued sewing, making books, experimenting with materials, teaching and learning, getting ready for my thesis show. It turned out that the gallery where I was to have my show had a little room off to the side about the size of a walk in closet. Neither me or my gallery partner could figure out what to do with the space, so we tossed it between us for a few weeks. Finally, it landed in my lap and I was totally overwhelmed with what to put in there and I only a few weeks to figure it out. I started rooting through all the samples I had made to come up with an idea and I stumbled across those awful encaustic paintings…which surprisingly didn’t look so awful anymore. I attribute this change to two major turning points throughout that year.  One, was an amazing graduate level drawing course I took at the beginning of my second year. I had never drawn very well and was nervous about this course, but I was encouraged by my professors and fellow students to take it. This was not a typical drawing course, it was focused on mark-making and process-two ideas that were relatively new at the time and very new to me. This course completely changed the way I thought about drawing and making work in general. It completely changed my life in the studio and the way I taught my classes and I continue to carry those ideas into both parts of my life to this day. Two, was the writing of my thesis paper, for which researching and writing had played an integral role in marrying my content with what I was doing in the studio. For the first time in my life, my ideas and the work I was making were becoming one thing. I had grown immensely and knew myself and my ideas, I had become an artist and could look at the work I had made through that lens. The featured image at the top of this post is made up of two of the first experimental paintings that I hated. After rediscovering these two along with the other paintings, I began pairing them together and they were complete. This piece called Damage was the most successful and is now in the collection of one of my grad school friends, traded for a few glass pieces that he made.

One of the experiments I had done was to dip my stained and rust printed fabrics into encaustic medium and really liked the way it added depth and enhanced the marks on the fabric. Since I had been stretching the sewn pieces into paintings, why not do the same here. I mounted the fabrics using wax, only using minimal color and letting the stains and marks speak for themselves. I made ten of these paintings and hung them in the small room adjacent to the main gallery, which housed my large sewn pieces. The opening was in the gallery district in Philadelphia on First Friday so we had a packed house and there were so many people in that tiny room ogling my encaustic paintings, one could barely move. People were interested in the sewn paintings but it was sparse interest and they sparked no real discussion, everyone wanted to know about the luscious paintings in the tiny room. The icing on the cake was that I also sold one of the encaustic pieces to someone I didn’t know, wasn’t related to and was a museum curator. This was the first thing I had ever made that had sold, so I saw it as some kind of sign that encaustic is what I should be doing. The piece that sold is called Fulfillment, pictured below with images of some of the other paintings in the show.

I followed all the signs and immediately abandoned the sewn paintings to continue exploring the fantastic medium of encaustic which I have loved and made my own at the same time the medium itself was becoming it’s own. Over the years, I added more color, collage, image, hair, mark-making and investigated various ideas, although my core ideas have remained rooted in the earth. The rest, as they say, is history and encaustic and I continue to live happily ever after.

To see what came after this early work, visit my web site portfolio and begin with the archives here.

This post is a lot longer than I had intended so stay tuned for the next post focusing on the lessons learned in this fairy tale and some ideas that may help you in your own studio practice.

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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

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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.

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!

STUDIO TOUR GOODNESS

I participated in my first Chester County Studio Tour last weekend and it was a blast! Despite the rain, there was steady traffic of art enthusiasts, collectors, friends (old and new) and just nice, interested people.

I keep thinking about one collector who came in with her friends and while they were very talkative, she was so quiet and just kept staring at the painting shown above, Every Flower Has a Silver Cloud. I began talking with her and she shared with me that she had suffered a painful loss and the line of ovals in the painting combined with the imagery seemed to symbolize the before and after of her life after that loss. In turn, I shared with her a painful loss that had taken place in my life and that my work often consists of contrasting imagery which marks that event and the growth that often takes place after one experiences such an event.

I am so pleased that the painting touched her in such a deeply personal way and that it will now be a part of her collection, always reminding her of her strength and continued growth. I have had conversations like this with other collectors and it is always so good to know that there is a reason why I am making this work and that it does affect and help others in positive ways as I hope it will.

I am so grateful to Jeff Schaller for the opportunity to camp out on his lawn and show my work during this wonderful event!

Best of Show at Chester County Studio Tour!

So excited to be participating in the Chester County Studio Tour at Jeff Schaller’s Studio this weekend, May 21 & 22, where I will be selling my coveted encaustic mini paintings and worry blocks.
Make plans to join us and over 100 other artists for an exciting art filled weekend.
I look forward to seeing you there!

CHESTER COUNTY STUDIO TOUR
Pink Cow Studio (#16 on the web site map)
80 Highspire Road
Downingtown, PA
CLICK HERE FOR MAPS AND PARTICIPATING ARTIST INFORMATION

Visit the accompanying show VIEW where my piece, Pink Snow, shown above, won
BEST OF SHOW!!! 

VIEW
May 4-July 8
The Art Trust
16 West Market Street
Westchester, PA
WEB SITE

A fabulous part of the studio tour is the County Collector, in which participating artists create a unique 6×6 piece to sell for an affordable $75. This is an excellent idea that makes collecting original art accessible, fun and affordable.
My county collector painting, Basket Case, is shown below.
Sales of these pieces begins Saturday, May 21 at 10am.
CLICK HERE FOR THUMBNAILS OF ALL THE COUNTY COLLECTOR PIECES

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Basket Case, encaustic, collage on wood, 6x6x1

New Mini Paintings

I just finished an exciting new crop of mini paintings this week! Sizes range from 4×4 to 10×10 and are affordably priced from $55-$500. For titles and specifics regarding these and other small paintings, visit the small works gallery on my web site.

These paintings will be offered for sale this Sunday, April 3, 3-5pm at Galer Estate & Winery in Chaddsford, PA as part of the Encaustic in the 21st Century Book Signing Event….visit here and here for more information about this and other art events happing in the Chaddsford, PA area. Have some wine, enjoy some art, purchase a book and have some fun…I look forward to seeing you there!

Please note that my small paintings tend to sell quickly, so if you see something you like, email me and I’ll put it aside for you. 🙂

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!

 

The Pentaculum & Me

Vision, Uncertainty and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists much acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of excecution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue ~David Bales & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

About this time last year, I was invited to attend Arrowmont’s 2nd Annual Pentaculum as part of the Textiles Studio. Spending a blissful week in the Smoky Mountains creating with like-minded individuals was something I was definitely not going to pass up…So without even thinking, I accepted the invitation. As the week neared after the busy holidays, my mind raced about what to pack-what was I going to work on, what can one complete in only a week? I nearly packed my entire studio for a month long residency at Jentel Artist Residency, so I decided that I was limiting myself to only a small suitcase of studio materials. As part of the Pentaculum, Arrowmont generously allows participants to use any equipment housed within their respective studio so I only needed to think about my supplies. I didn’t pack any encaustic because it is what I do in my home studio, it needs special equipment/ventilation, plus I wanted to work on other things. I ended up packing tons of found papers and fabrics I had been saving, paints, brushes, paper, hand and machine stitching materials, canvas, rust printed and drop cloth scraps and 3 books. Thinking that the lightening rod of inspiration would strike me as I entered the Arrowmont studio, I had only an inkling about what I was going to work on so I just sat down and started painting.

If you follow me on facebook or instagram, you have seen my drawings/paintings on Mylar. The skin-like translucency of Mylar references the body and this is why I am so attracted to it. Linking the earth and the body through visual patterns and similarities is the crux of my work, so I am attracted to materials that reference either. The work on Mylar is an ongoing experimental series I that began in grad school and have since translated into stitch, encaustic and mixed media collages. This language of squiggles and looping gestures is part of my signature group of marks and is derived from embroidery, hair, loose threads, maps and landscape. I have returned to this series again and again for inspiration and making these drawings something more than just inspiration is one of my New Year Studio Resolutions (stay tuned for a blog post about this), so this is what I focused on at the Pentaculum.

Because I was part of the Textiles Studio, I was inspired to apply hand stitching to these paintings-this was something I had always wanted to do, but never had the time. I also began deconstructing a muslin fabric that I had brought-this fabric covered the springs of an old piece of upholstery I trash picked years ago. The fabric has been in my studio forever and has aways inspired me with it’s interesting sewn structure, rust marks, holes and history. It took a few hours to deconstruct it and through the repetitive process of ripping out stitches, I got to ‘know’ the fabric’s structure and function. I can’t begin any art piece with a blank slate, I always need a mark on the surface that I can use as a place to respond. In this case, the deconstructed fabric happened to be laying on my Mylar so I used it. I began with pencil tracing the holes, the loose threads and in some cases drawing the threads within the weave structure. Just the pencil tracings alone were simple and beautiful, referencing and becoming a map for my response in paint and stitch. Being limited in my supplies, I worked within a palette of white, black and red paint along with white and black thread. At the end of the week, I was amazed to discover that I had completed ten of these drawings. I would consider none of them ‘finished’, but they are a step in my process that I had always wanted to take. I am so thankful for having been given the time to take this step at Arrowmont. The result of combining the hand stitching with the paintings was more successful than I had imagined and has moved me forward in my creative walk.

Being in the studio was awesome but just part of the Pentaculum experience. There were so many other amazing moments during the week that would take too many words to describe…I took a day to hike in the Smoky Mountains National Park, read extensively in the amazing Arrowmont library, photographed, socialized, ate great food, did yoga and patronized the largest scrapbooking store I have ever seen. All in all, the Pentaculum was exactly what I needed to start off the new year!

Be sure to read this blog post about the other Textiles Studio Participants and their amazing work.

 

 

happy summer!

i will be taking the next two months off from blogging and will return in early september with lots of exciting new posts!

i will leave to drive from philadelphia to wyoming (an adventure in and of itself) in mid july for jentel artists residency and will be there until mid-august, making lots of exciting new work that i will post about when i return.

i have plans for what i would like to work on during the residency, but it’s my first residency and i’ve heard from a lot of artists who have done residencies that your plans pretty much go out the window once you get there. the paintings above are ideas i’ve been playing around with and will develop during the residency…among other ideas in my head…but i will keep those a secret for now. i will also do lots and lots of hiking, picture taking, reading and writing. blog posts and facebook posts will be at a minimum because of limited internet service where i’m going. this will be a difficult thing to get used to, but will definitely help me to focus in the studio and focus is why i’m going in the first place.

have a productive, happy, healthy and creative summer!