With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic (Sneak Peek 2)

I may have jumped the gun when I introduced what I thought was the complete line-up of included artists in this show. I’m so pleased to announce two new additions, Deborah Kapoor and Cari Hernandez.

Title Image: Deborah Kapoor

We are in the home stretch for installation of With Wax, my curated show at the Chester County Art Association coming up in the first week of September! I can’t believe it, it’s been almost a year in planning. Please read my first article about this show, which includes images and statements from the eight other artists, as well as my curators statement.

I may have jumped the gun when I introduced what I thought was the complete line-up of included artists in this show. I’m so pleased to announce two new additions, Deborah Kapoor and Cari Hernandez. I have long been a fan of both of these artists…first, because they are amazing women and second, they have consistently made work that is always innovative, inspired and engaging for the many years that I have known them.

With the addition of Deborah’s and Cari’s work, the line-up of artists is finally complete. Please note that the images included in this article may/may not be work that will be included in the show.

I do hope to see some of you at the opening when I will be presenting an interactive encaustic demonstration. If you can’t make it to the opening, I hope you will come by and see the show, it’ll be up through September.

With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic
September 8-30, 2022
Opening Reception & Encaustic Demonstration, September 8, 6-8 pm
Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Website

Deborah Kapoor – Washington, USA
I am inspired by cultural markers related to spaces the body inhabits. Universal themes I traverse include embodiment, destruction, renewal, legacy, perseverance, spirituality, and the space language and architecture occupy —  with a particular interest in the vulnerable.
My work is process-oriented, often beginning with a piece of fabric or paper, adding threads, ephemera, paint and markmaking — to create haptic, dimensional wall pieces, sculptural objects and installations
There is an inherent intimacy in what I make, no matter the scale. My attention lingers in the liminal, making connections between states of being and the need for belonging at a time when there is a poverty of empathy in our global community.

Cari Hernandez – California, USA
Her work combines rich color fields in conjunction with an elegant layering of line and pattern creating a developed depth of interest in each painting whereby the human experience is woven into her rich layers of material, creating a historical record for exploration. When working with other mediums such as oil or fiber, her focus continues to be centered on color study, shape, and form. She is endlessly inspired by her natural environment of the ocean, mountains, and wildlife that surround her in Sonoma County.   The sculptural work in this show is from a series I have been working on for the past decade, exploring the notion of thought, and how the strands of ideas might intertwine in/out of our reality.

With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic (Sneak Peek)

When I was asked to curate an exhibition of encaustic work for the Chester County Art Association, I was over the moon and agreed to do it without batting an eye. I was given absolute freedom to include any artist and work around any theme, it was almost overwhelming. I went back to the only place I know…my Fiber roots.
I selected artist friends, former students and others whose work I long admired. This post is a sneak peek of who and what will be shown in September, I hope to see some of you at the show!

Title Image: Bonny Leibowitz

While I was teaching at Tyler School of Art, part of my departmental responsibilities was to curate the student shows each semester and the Annual Department Student Show in the Spring. It was an honor for me to showcase the fabulous work of select students from each course in the Fibers & Materials Studies Department and I have missed it terribly. I loved creating a visual narrative between disparate pieces of art, uniting them on one level, while maintaining the unique qualities and content of each on an individual level.

When I was asked to curate an exhibition of encaustic work for the Chester County Art Association, I was over the moon and agreed to do it without batting an eye. I was given absolute freedom to include any artist and work around any theme, it was almost overwhelming. I went back to the only place I know…my Fiber roots. I selected artist friends, former students and others whose work I long admired, I can’t wait to see their work come together. I invite all of you who are in the area to come by and see the show and hopefully, some of you can make it to the opening–some of the artists will be there and I will be giving a free encaustic demonstration! I will also be showing my experimental encaustic collages, books and sculptures in the smaller gallery (more about this show in a future post). Please read on for my curator’s statement, abbreviated statements of the included artists and a sampling of their work. Please note, that because most of work by each artist is specially created for this show, the work shown in this post is similar to, but not necessarily what will be included in the exhibition.

With Wax: Materiality & Mixed Media in Encaustic
September 8-28, 2022
Opening Reception & Encaustic Demonstration, September 8, 6-8 pm
Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Website

Curator’s Statement
Encaustic is my primary medium because of its smell, it’s luminosity and tactile qualities that are unmatched by any other medium. Although encaustic is a painter’s medium, I approach working with it is as a craftsperson. To me, my work is not about the act of painting, but rather, to develop a deep engagement with my materials, to perfect my technique and support my content at the same time. There is a distinct process involved with working in encaustic; apply the paint, fuse the layers, then scrape back or add more paint. It’s like a dance or a poem as the creation and meaning of each step or verse hinges on the other. As the process continues, the work becomes a manifestation of the compiling and arranging of fragments in repetitious sequences, creating a visual rhythm in the work.
This collection of work by a few very accomplished artists from the United States and Canada, displays my ongoing interest in the fusing of fine art disciplines with craft and design-based materials and processes. As the layers of materials come together in the work, so do the concepts of drawing and painting, fiber and craft, art and design, memory and time.
A significant part of working in contemporary fiber/craft is the consideration of process and material and how these things relate to the content in the work. The artists selected for this show all possess a sensitive and symbiotic relationship with their materials as well as present thoughtful and meaningful content in their work.
Although the common thread in this exhibition is wax, wax is not the star of this show. Rather, this show is about stretching the boundaries of materiality by combining unusual materials, tactility and most importantly, engaging content. It was important to me to present serious art that is also inviting, warm and inspiring. Art that encourages the viewer to feel as well as think. I purposely kept the list of artists relatively small, so that each artist could exhibit a body of work rather than just one or two pieces. Most of the work by each artist is specially created for this show, most of it is being shown for the first time. I’m truly grateful to each artist for agreeing to participate in this show, for striving to show their best work, and for consistently growing, thinking and innovating, acting as an ongoing inspiration for me and countless other artists.

Anna Wagner Ott-Ottowa, Canada
Wagner-Ott’s cages/nests began at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.  Through those sculptures she interprets ideas of repression, entrapment, isolation and fragility using encaustic and mixed media. In 2022 she continues to create her nesting architectural forms but also integrates other materials such as Tyvek and her themes include the earth’s topologies.   

Bonny LeibowitzTexas, USA
I create objects and installations utilizing a variety of materials; plaster, encaustic, plastics, paper, foam, Tyvek, branches, roots, faux fur and wings, in ways that confuse the manufactured with the natural. I like to think of my work as fragments of a blown apart reality where forms collide and conjoin in myriad nuance and potential. “We are constantly creating the environment that creates us” – David Whyte

Alaina EnslenNew York, USA
I work with encaustic medium for its willingness to be transformed, fusing cloth and monotypes. The abstract collages that result are maps of my own making shaping the contours of memory and experience. 

Angela Hansen -BC, Canada
Angela’s pieces are inspired by the fantastical sculptural imagination of Mother Nature and the creative myriad of plant life.

Kelly Sheppard MurrayNorth Carolina, USA
Kelly Sheppard Murray’s multimedia sculptural work fashions a wide range of polymorphic, multicolored structures that have their roots in natural forms. She draws from the shapes of plants, moss, lichen, fungi, shells and geological forms. Collecting hundreds upon hundreds of sculptural elements, Murray slowly and deliberately assembles her pieces for installation—each one a unique building block within the visual language she articulates within her exhibitions. By developing her own malleable visual idiom, Murray expresses her curiosity and invites that of her audience. Further, through her careful and consistent day-to-day addition of sculptural elements, she reminds us how small steps can have a significant impact on both our perceptions of the world and our environment itself.

Skyler McGeeIllinois, USA
Based on the sculptural quality of landscapes, this work explores the process of reorienting oneself after global and personal upheaval. Through mapping macro and micro perspectives, these sculptural paintings act as talismans of place, and vehicles through which to mark movement and find solid ground.

Lindsay Fort Pennsylvania, USA
I am attracted to objects that show the evidence of time.  In my work I develop surfaces and combine various found materials with an interest in style and age in visual culture.

Nancy SandersGeorgia, USA
Nancy Sanders art draws from her inward journey of personal introspection
of deep separation, transformation, and connectedness. It explores the mystery of human life from a multidimensional context, providing the viewer with the possibility of self-reflection, and therefore the possibility of reconciliation.

Light & Shadow

The mix of light and darkness faintly reflect another world by the creation of shadows. Shadows create a suggestion of space, creating a reality where none existed in total darkness.

I’m grateful to have been invited to give an artist talk recently to a lovely and receptive audience from Catalyst Art Lab. Before Covid, I had been giving talks like this a few times a year in some form-short versions at gallery openings and longer versions with slides to college students, collectors and others artist groups. Before I present one of these talks, there are a number of hours spent updating the words and images of past work to put into context what I’m currently doing in the studio. Some of this updating entails reaching far back into the past to read my graduate thesis paper written 2002-2003. Please enjoy the following excerpt on Light and Shadow from said paper…It’s always fun to delve into the past to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Light and Shadow

Light has many forms and associated meanings which range from its inherently luminous physical properties to its intangible metaphorical and conceptual inclinations. Light “can be natural or artificial, direct or reflected, interior or exterior…transcendent and mystical.”[1] Dawn, sun breaking through clouds and moonlight all bring a sense of relief to us in some way as they symbolize a new beginning, another chance to live and love. “Light throws doors and windows open, makes wall transparent, spans unlikely distances, links matter and spirit.”[2] Light lives in us, around us, compelling us toward life and serving as a reminder of hope, peace and harmony.

“God is called Light, not so much for His spirit, or essence, as for His very energy.”[3] Light embodies many things, but most importantly, light is known to all humans in some way as the direct opposite of darkness and evil. Darkness does not exist as a physical phenomenon as light exists, but is only revealed by the contrast of the absence of light. Elements in our physical space are not noticed unless the light and the atmosphere creating that light exist to eradicate the darkness. In the physical world, contrasts and differences of values of space serve to express light and with that light comes a reflection of righteousness and Divinity. This can be true in the spiritual sense as the presence of light illuminates that which was dark within us. Aspects of our spiritual selves that were previously unnoticed are revealed by the light, thus provoking an awakening, an arousal of the spirit. This inner illumination emanates as a glow, a sourceless radiance that originates from the soul and implores outward reflection. Coming in contact with this luminousness spreads warmth and solace, filling the world with a sense of harmony. In this sense, light signifies all that is good in the universe as it peacefully pervades the physical darkness in our lives and expresses the spiritual “cosmic forces…the divine element in nature, invisible but present.”[4]

The mix of light and darkness faintly reflect another world by the creation of shadows. Shadows create a suggestion of space, creating a reality where none existed in total darkness. “Shadows hold no physicality, yet they are so critical to our seeing, we cannot see form without them.”[5] The play of light and shadow on surfaces creates shifting pockets of space which unite and harmonize forms, allowing us to visually make sense and create a semblance of order to our lives. “There are those who leave the fire and move toward the deeper reaches of the forest where they believe a source of light to exist which is more intense. A light that breathes, not at all a fixed symbol, a light that alludes yet beckons-the unity of which lies hidden in the chaos.”[6] The shadows that light casts can work to conceal and even to deceive, but the importance of the shadow lies in what it can reveal.

“The ways of darkness always come to an end before long, but the mystery of light we find to reach on and on forever.”[7] Light radiates warmth and comfort to all life on a daily basis. The reality of light is that it exists as a constant physical, living presence in our lives-as our shield from death-for without it there is no life. Its existence compels us to revel in its beauty, simplicity and life-sustaining power.


[1] Jarmusch, Stalking the Light, p. 1.
[2] Graef, Heinz, Light in Pictures, (Western Germany, Herder & Company, 1954), p. 14. Hereafter cited as Graef, Light in Pictures.
[3] Reutersward, Patrick, “What Color is Divine Light?” from Light in Art, (New York, New York, Macmillon Company, 1971), p. 123.
[4] Graef, Light in Pictures, p. 14.
[5] Irwin, Robert in Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions, (video production/director, Leonard Feinstein, 1997)
[6] Terrae, Imago, Paul Jenkins: Broken Prisms, (Paris, France, Galilee Editions, 1989), p. 189.
[7] Graef, Light in Pictures, p. 18.

Image: Early Spring Fresh, encaustic monoprint on rice paper, 9.5×11

Workshops! Workshops! Workshops! My 2020-2021 Encaustic Workshop Schedule

Are you in need of something new to occupy your mind in this time of crazy? Take an encaustic workshop to soothe your soul, help you gain perspective, or get out those frustrations by throwing some paint around the room!

Are you in need of something new to occupy your mind in this time of crazy? Take an encaustic workshop to soothe your soul, help you gain perspective, or get out those frustrations by throwing some paint around the room!
Whatever the reason…buy one for someone you love, buy one for yourself or both.
Before choosing a Retreat or Workshop, please be sure to read my Workshop & Retreat Guide to find out if a Workshop or a Retreat experience (or both!) is the best choice for you. Please note that an additional category has been added to my workshop listing..Virtual Workshops! More virtual workshops will soon be added for January-March, so keep up to date by:

1. Checking my web site Events Page
2. Following me on Instagram or Facebook
3. Becoming a member of my New Facebook Group-Full Spectrum: Lorraine Glessner Painting Workshops Forum
4. Signing up for my Newsletter so you can be the first to know of new listings.
5. Asking! Just email me and I’ll send you a link to my latest schedule.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about any of these Retreats or Workshops.

2020-2021 VIRTUAL WORKSHOP & RETREAT SCHEDULE

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC COLLAGE
Live Zoom Workshop

October 26-27, 2020
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION



EXPLORING LANDSCAPE IN ENCAUSTIC & THE MARK

A Live Virtual Retreat
December 6-11, 2020
WORKSHOP WEB SITE
WORKSHOP REGISTRATION



2021 IN-PERSON WORKSHOP & RETREAT SCHEDULE


MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
March 24-26
Aya Fiber Studio, Stuart, Florida
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


ENCAUSTIC COLLAGE
April 16-17
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


BEYOND THE BASICS ENCAUSTIC
June 18-22
Peters Valley School of Craft
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


EXPLORING LANDSCAPE THROUGH ENCAUSTIC, MARK-MAKING & THE HANDMADE BOOK
Use discount code: Glessner2021 Hurry, it expires 2/8!
July 11-15
Wild Rice Retreat, Bayfield, Wisconsin
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION

EXPLORING LANDSCAPE IN ENCAUSTIC & THE MARK: A VERMONT ARTIST RETREAT W/DIETLIND VANDER SCHAAF
July 26-30
Lareau Inn & Farm, Waitsfield, Vermont
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


EXPLORING LANDSCAPE THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY, THE FIGURE & ENCAUSTIC: A VERMONT ARTIST RETREAT W/LEAH MACDONALD
August 9-13
Lareau Inn & Farm, Waitsfield, Vermont
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: FIBER & STRUCTURE
August 27-29
Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


EXPLORING LANDSCAPE THROUGH MARKMAKING, JOURNALING & THE BOOK: A TUSCAN ARTIST RETREAT

October 3-7
In Collaboration with Strada Toscana, Tuscany, Italy
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: TEXTURE & LAYERS
October 28-30
R&F Paints, Kingston, New York
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


NOLA ARTIST RETREAT: A HISTORIC CEMETERY EXPLORATION THROUGH MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
November 8-12
New Orleans, Louisianna
WORKSHOP WEB SITE & REGISTRATION


Pattern & Decoration: A Little Known Art Movement

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

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

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

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

My 2020 Workshop & Retreat Schedule

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

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

2020 Retreats

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

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

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

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

2020 Workshops

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

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

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

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

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

9 Art Works I Need To Exist

Continuing my quest to explore why art is needed in the world, I list 9 works that are of profound significance to me as an artist.

As I was writing my last post 5 Reasons Why the World Needs Art & Artists, I had wanted to include images of art works that have resonated with me, that I can’t imagine the world without. But instead of including them in the last post, I needed to honor them with their own post. To have examples of actual works drives home the point that art is needed in the world and you, as an artist, are needed in the world as well. I have to say that there are thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations, etc. that have made their mark in my world but to include all, of course, would need a whole blog devoted to the subject. (Actually, there such a blog called Oh What a World, What a World. It’s my first blog that unfortunately got hacked so I no longer can add to it, but you can still view the amazing artists on it.)

In order to pare down my list I came up with the following criteria…I had to have seen the work in person, I had to remember the work without too much thought or googling, the work had to mark a turning point in my thinking or life, I would have it my personal collection if I could and the number of works had to be less than ten. Now, you may have seen most of them before, they are not obscure, but that’s not what this list is about. This was an interesting exercise for me and although I write about each work, I can say that whenever I viewed these pieces, overall, I was immediately at peace and invited to escape into a dream for a moment.

Are there artworks that pop into your head that are of a profound significance to you? That for you, absolutely must live in the world? I’m curious what they are and what it is they did/do for you. Please add them in the comments section located on the left at the top of this post near the title.

  • Agnes Martin, The Rose, 1965, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 72×72   When I first saw this at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I was still in my teens and I thought this plain old grid was so boring…then I looked closely and SAW it. It is a light pencil grid on an almost indiscernible pale pink ground. That an artist could capture the essence, delicacy and beauty of a rose within a simple grid pattern while using almost no color left me speechless and forever in love with exploring the possibilities of the grid.
  • Cy Twombly, Shades of Night, 1978, oil paint, oil stick, graphite on paper, 41×27  The PMA has a special room for the suite of 10 paintings, 50 Days at Iliam. When I first saw it, I was in my late teens and the work angered me. I loathed these paintings. Despite my strong feelings of hatred, they intrigued me and I always made it a point to visit these works every time I was at the museum. I would stand and stare at them, the marks, the movement, the paint application, the paintings were so large and aggressive! Each time, I had a strong reaction and my hatred eventually turned to love as I learned about Twombly’s work and myself as an artist. I must say that every time I visit this room or any of Twombly’s works, I learn something more about painting.
  • Klee, Fish Magic, 1925, oil, watercolor, on canvas, 38×46  Who doesn’t love this painting? It’s a relatively small work tucked into a dark corner of the museum. Reminiscent of a child’s scratchboard drawing, it was one of the first paintings that communicated to me the message that art can be fun!
  • Picasso, Young Girl With A Goat, 1906, oil on canvas, 54×40  This lovely painting hangs high on a wall, close to the ceiling at the Barnes Museum. Despite my many visits to the Barnes, it was only on a recent visit that I noticed it. I can’t really put into words what attracts me to this painting except that its pink and gold and just makes me happy. I was in a happy place when I first noticed it and when I see it now, it takes me back to that moment. If I suddenly come into a large amount of money, it’ll be the first painting I purchase.
  • Henri Rousseau, Carnival Evening, 1886, oil on canvas, 46×35  I was very young (maybe junior high?) when I first saw this painting at the PMA. I loved Rousseau’s dreamy, clean, graphic painting style. I could understand his work, unlike the abstract expressionist works my young mind wasn’t quite ready to absorb. This painting was a dream and for many years, the postcard I purchased in the museum bookstore allowed me to dive into that dream whenever I wanted.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue 2, 1918, oil on canvas, 35×29  If you’re a fan of this blog, then you know of the profound effect Georgia O’Keeffe had on my growth as an artist. This particular work was the first art poster I had in my room as a young teen, (it even took the place of Sean Cassidy, but I digress). I had it right in front of my bed, so it was the first thing I saw in the morning. I got lost in the sensual forms, tracing them with my eyes as I got used to the morning light. This certainly had some effect on my visual memory and likely carries into my paintings to his day.
  • Sandy Skoglund, Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981, Cibachrome color photograph, 27×35  It was at the PMA that I first saw Skoglund’s work in my mid-20’s. I was always intrigued with photographs and loved how Skoglund could realize fantastical worlds in her work. Within a few years, I learned Photoshop and was on my way to realizing my own fantastical worlds.
  • Picasso, Glass of Absinthe, 1914, painted bronze with absinthe spoon, 8x4x3  I’m not a big Picasso fan, so I’m totally laughing right now that two of his works made it to this short list. Although I’m not a huge fan, I learned to appreciate his work when I took a summer art history class in grad school. I had to choose one work of Picasso’s in the PMA’s collection for my paper and this one was it. Before that time, I didn’t know Picasso had done any sculpture and I loved the intimate scale and general fun-ness of this one. I researched the piece extensively and fell in love with the whole series. Once again, I was pleased to learn that an artist could wear many hats, make work in many disciplines and just have fun, Picasso or not.
  • Leon Frederic, Four Seasons, 1894, oil on canvas, 49×32  I was very young when I saw these pieces at the PMA and to this day, still visit them whenever I’m at the museum. What I love about them is the joyful exuberance and pure love that the artist had for these works…love, that you as the viewer can actually feel standing in front of them. This was another postcard purchase that I carried with me and hung in my room for at least a decade, it always brought me joy whenever I looked at it.

5 Reasons Why the World Needs Art and Artists

Winston Churchill once asked a most important question, “What is society worth without poets and artists?” The answer is nothing and here are 5 reasons why…

Winston Churchill once asked a most important question, “What is society worth without poets and artists?” Over the last few years, I have had many conversations with artist friends and mentees who have the concern that it feels ‘selfish’ or ‘self-serving’ to make art in a world with so many horrible things going on in it. I’m sorry to say that according to history, the world always has and always will have horrible things going on in it…but it has always had art as well. To fall into despair and want to fight the wrongs is natural for all empathetic humans. But please don’t stop making your art or beat yourself up for wanting to work in your studio rather than go to a protest. The world is a fallen place and we need art now more than ever.
During the last year or so, I’ve asked workshop students what art does for the them, for the world and the following were the most popular answers. There are many such lists that answer this same question and I would suggest that when you feel the need to create protest signs in lieu of your art, read these lists! It will benefit you and lots of others as well.

  1. Asks Questions  In my recent blog post article 3 Essential Art Evaluation Questions, I cite this and the next list item as one of the essential parts of a good work of art. In fact, I think the best art offers no answers but allows for further questions and good art asks both big and little questions. When considering questions in this respect, it’s not the literal asking, but the thought that counts.
  2. Expands Ideas Art provides an endless arena for experimental thoughts and ideas to enter our consciousness, both as a viewer and a maker. Just like asking questions without giving answers, it’s best not to spoon feed all thoughts and ideas right there in the work. Rather, allowing room for expansion of thought, discussion and even debate makes for the most interesting works.
  3. Health Benefits Don’t you feel good after working in your studio? Even if the work wasn’t going particularly well that day, you still feel like you’ve unloaded a burden. Well, there is actually a physical and physiological reason why you feel so good and it’s all in this interesting Business Insider article Why You Should Be Making Art Even If You’re Bad At It. If you stop making work because you feel bad about the state of the world, well, you’re only going to feel worse. So get into that studio, start feeling better and make the world a better place in the process!
  4. Create Beauty As serious artists, we aren’t supposed to mention ‘the B word’ these days. In fact, I’ve heard from a few curators if the word exists in your artist statement it knocks you down a few pegs. I’m a huge proponent of beauty in my own work as well as in the art I purchase. Ginny Ruffner is a well known artist who I have followed since grad school and whose life’s work has been focused on the idea and ideal of beauty. Also exploring the subject of beauty is the Ted Radio Hour Podcast, What Is Beauty? Each speaker makes the case for various kinds of beauty and that we may actually need beauty in our lives to survive. Denis Dutton is one of the speakers, whose work focused on beauty and why it’s actually essential to life. He states that the experience of beauty encourages us to make survival decisions by arousing and sustaining our interest…Beauty spurs us on simply by existing. Dutton also mentions a landscape structure that people all over the world universally consider beautiful. Artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid took this idea a step further by commissioning polling companies all over the world to conduct scientific research in order to derive what the public wanted to see in a work of art. The use of the poll was meant to mimic the democratic vote of the United States and to the make the point that if the general public could choose a president, why are they not a sufficient judge of art? The research data resulted in a series of paintings the two artists created of the ‘most wanted’ and ‘unwanted’ works of art, one of the most wanted is pictured at the top of this article. Also cited in the Ted Podcast is the inspiring story of Nathanial Ayers, the subject of the book and film, The Soloist, whose story serves as an excellent supporting example for why art and beauty is needed in the world.
  5. Spread Hope & Healing In my opinion, one of the most important components to a work of art and one I strive to include in my own. Sometimes we just need a place to escape to and don’t know how to get there. Art presents a vehicle in which to transcend to another time/place in order to reflect on the present. Hope is what is gained from these experiences and from hope comes healing.

Art Podcast Favorites List

The holidays are over, its cold and you’re stuck inside during the January doldrums. Time to grab your phone, start downloading some new art podcasts and get inspired!

The holidays are over, its cold and you’re stuck inside during the January doldrums. Time to grab your phone, start downloading some new art podcasts and get inspired! In my last post, I mentioned that one of my weekly studio resolution carry overs from last year was to keep my habit of listening to or watching Art Podcasts or Videos. In fact, I increased my listening and watching from last year’s 2-4 per week to 10-15 per week this year because I’m kinda addicted. I got so many requests for a podcast list, I see that there are some hungry for art inspiration listening ears.

I should mention that I actually subscribe to many Youtube video channels, but few of them are focused on art. If I watch an art video, it’s usually because its focused on a technique, a product or an artist interview-these are things that I’ve searched for specifically, so I don’t usually subscribe to any one art channel. For that reason I’m sharing with you my favorite Artist & Art Marketing Podcasts only. I subscribe to many, but I kept this list to 10 so as not to get too crazy. I also mention timing, especially the ones focusing on artist interviews…I have a short attention span, I don’t have the stamina for a 2 hour interview and I absolutely cannot listen to an incompetent interviewer. I would love it if you have a favorite art video channel or podcast you would like to share, please list it in the comments section (comments are at the upper left of the blog post title) so everyone can see it. I’m always looking for something new and my readers will appreciate some recommendations as well. The following Podcasts are listed in no particular order.

  1. Onward Creatives A marketing podcast that is not just focused on artists, but on all creative professionals writers, designers, etc. and I love listening to it for that reason. It’s good practical advice that can be applied to many aspects of creative marketing..and life for that matter.
  2. The Savvy Painter Artist Antrese Wood is the Savvy Painter who has a fun, friendly conversational interview style and edits her interviews to 50 minutes. What I really like about her is that she asks the questions I want to hear the answers to and asks them as they arise in the conversation. It’s an authentic, interesting and easy going listen.
  3. The Art History Babes Most of the workshops I teach include some aspect of art history because it is integral to understanding the context of one’s own work. I find that most of my workshop participants are craving some kind of art history in their lives and this podcast offers it up in a fun group chat by extremely knowledgeable women.
  4. 99% Invisible Not necessarily and ‘art’ podcast, but one that focuses on ‘invisible’ art–design and architecture. I love the relaxed interview style and relatively short snippets of succinct information. This podcast also has a knack for delving into unusual and extremely interesting subjects. I always learn so much from listening even for a short time.
  5. Art Marketing Podcast Helpful, practical information on a subject that all of us artists could use help with and delivered succinctly-most podcasts are under 30 minutes.
  6. Artists Helping Artists Two artists, Leslie Saeta and Margaret Sheldon discuss art marketing, materials, studio discipline, process, artist interviews and more in a fun, friendly, non-pretentious way.
  7. Hyperallergic Artist interviews from this always interesting art magazine. Most podcasts are under an hour.
  8. John Dalton Gently Does It Conversational artist and critic interviews. Very interesting guests and spot on interviews with great questions. Give yourself some time to listen to these interviews, they tend to go on a bit.
  9. Make/Time I come from a fine craft background in textiles, so I really appreciate these bite-sized (most 20 minutes and under) fine craft artist interviews focused on process and materials. Unfortunately, a new episode has not been added since August of last year, but I definitely recommend listening to the back episodes.
  10. Modern Art Notes-This is a bonus addition to my personal favorites list and comes from art friend and mentee, Celia Johnson, who highly recommended this podcast. It has since been added to my subscribed list, but unfortunately, I haven’t listened to it yet. However, judging from the podcast listings, it looks fantastic. Thank you, Celia!

Composition Continued: The Fibonacci Sequence

Happy Halloween! One thing that can be really scary for any artist is a painting that is seemingly missing something, it’s just WRONG and you can’t figure out what it is or how to fix it. Composition is a complicated, multi-faceted spooky mystery that baffles even the best of us. The Fibonacci Sequence is another tool for you to add to your composition toolbox and is the one I use most often in my own work. 

Happy Halloween, my lovely blog reading friends. No, I’m not going to talk about scary things in this post, but if you say Fibonacci in kind of a squeaky door, Vincent Price voice it does sound kind of scary : )

One thing that can be really scary for any artist is a painting that is seemingly missing something, it’s just WRONG and you can’t figure out what it is or how to fix it. Most of the time, these problems have something to do with design fundamentals like scale, color, proportion, etc, which all make up the COMPOSITION. Composition is a complicated, multi-faceted spooky mystery that baffles even the best of us, but knowing a few simple guidelines like The Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds can make all difference. The Fibonacci Sequence is another tool for you to add to your composition toolbox and is the one I use most often in my own work.

The Fibonacci Sequence is named after Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, also known as Fibonacci. The Sequence, illustrated below, begins at 0, 1 then those two numbers added make up the next number in the sequence, which is 1, then those last two numbers added make up 2 and so on into infinity. In addition to being used extensively in other mathematical formulas, these versatile numbers are also proportionately related to the Golden Ratio, have been used in poetry and are seen in the growth rate of biological forms nature such as trees, sunflowers, pinecones and pineapples, even human skeletal growth. When these numbers are utilized in any kind of art or design, that design is said to be more pleasing to the eye-it just feels right.

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144….

I first learned about this Sequence as an undergrad in a class called Math for Design and I was fascinated. Later, when I was working as a textile designer, we applied these numbers to our stripe patterns, tile designs and anything else that required repetition. Last, I return to the Sequence again and again in my personal work whenever I have a question about repetitive elements or where an element should be placed within the painting.

To utilize the Sequence in stripe patterns, we applied the numbers to inches, mixed up the sequence and naturally applied color. Illustrated below is a stripe pattern (created in candy corn colors for Halloween : ) that is first shown in the sequence as it stands (1), then the numbers in the sequence are mixed up (2), then another stripe pattern in a random number of inches (3). Which is more pleasing?

Addendum: In response to Tess Stieben’s comment regarding which stripe pattern is more pleasing, I added repeat patterns below to illustrate my response. Thank you, Tess!

Tess: Interestingly I prefer #3, it is dramatic, #1 is boring, #2 ok but #3 has a bold punch in the way the colors are divided making the dark contrast with the lighter colors.

My Response: Thanks for your comment, Tess. I see what you mean. Looking at it as is, without repeating, as if we were looking at a painting is quite lovely and I see what you’re saying. Now, think of the stripe as a repeat pattern, floor to ceiling running across a wall or even on a large sofa. Still think the same? The Fibonacci Sequence and the other ratios are used in design because they make the design more pleasing, more comfortable. The dynamic quality of pattern #3 may be more exciting as a painting, but not necessarily if it was covering the four walls of a room. While making paintings, this is also something to consider.

1

stripe1

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 1.11.28 PM

 

2

stripemixed

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 1.11.46 PM

 

3

notfib

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 1.12.10 PM

 

According to the theory, stripe pattern 1 and 2 would be most pleasing. You certainly could have chosen 3, which is totally arbitrary and follows no compositional rules. Feel free to comment, I would be interested to know which stripe pattern is most interesting to you and why-the comment button is located at the top left of this article.

See the images below for examples of how you can apply this Sequence in your own work. I used this Sequence in grad school and beyond by applying inches to the spacing between repetitive elements as well as in the measurements of squares, circles and ovals themselves. Read this post for more about my early work as a designer and how/why I make the work I make today. When you begin to apply this sequence to your own work, please let me know how it’s working for you and if/how it’s made your compositional life easier.

It is important to keep in mind that all of these compositional tools I’ve been writing about in my last few posts are just tools and can be kept in your mental toolbox to use when you need them. As Francis Bacon is attributed to saying, “Knowledge is Power”, so learn what you can and use it wisely.

Addendum: In response to Shary Bartlett’s comment on this post, I created a gallery below where the areas in which I used the sequence are most prominent in the work. In the paintings below, the sequence is also used in the regularly spaced intervals of information in terms of measurement, however the sequential numbers are not used. Thank you, Shary!!!

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