I’m an artist / maker

fallshow2cardFall has always been my favorite season – the crisp air, fallen leaves crunching underfoot, the incredibly blue sky, the promise of new beginnings (linked I suppose, to the start of school for so many years).IMG_3871Now, however, it’s my busiest time – shows abound and I’m in the studio 8 hours+ on a daily basis. I’m whining (sort of) and I love it as well. I am an artist / maker and creating gets me going. IMG_3870Stitching, collage, photography, encaustic – all fulfill my need to MAKE.IMG_3865Visit me during Portland Open Studios – I’m #64 / Community 6 in NE Portland. You’ll have the opportunity to work with beeswax and make your own small encaustic collage AND see my newest artwork. I look forward to sharing the joys of art making with you!

 

 

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Is it done yet?

IMG_1765Working with cold wax and oil paint is challenging me daily. As someone who likes getting stuff completed in a timely fashion, oil paint demands that I play by its “slow down” rules. When I put paint to board, layer upon layer, I have to wait for stuff to dry and patience has never been my strong suit. Until recently I’d had no experience with this medium and it sucked me in just like hot wax (encaustic). Damn (and thank you to) those bees! This piece was started in early March. The birch panel was first covered with gesso and then a layer of Venetian plaster was laid down. The size alone was intimidating – it’s the biggest board I’ve used to date (18 x 28 inches). Using colors generally not in my color palette made me uncomfortable but I wanted to push myself. Subsequently, I was overwhelmed and put it aside for a month.

In April it went back on the easel and I attacked the surface with more paint, cold wax and lots of scraping and scratching. I kinda thought it was done, but wasn’t crazy about the result, so back in the closet it went.IMG_1782

Upon my return the East Coast (and the 11th International Encaustic Convention) I felt renewed and wanted to see what I could now do to this large panel. More layers and mark-making, a new color-way and finally a sense where this work is headed. And, while not done yet, the end is near (or so I think).IMG_2652

Another work that I thought was “done” and it wasn’t . . . IMG_1785

Thought it was done again but wait . . . IMG_1973

Now I think so.IMG_2645

 

Captivated by beeswax!

fullsizeoutput_31d6Saturday, February 25 from 12-2 pm, I’ll be demonstrating how to use cold wax and oil paints (on both paper and board) at Artist and Craftsman Supply in North Portland – 2906 N. Lombard Street. Drop by, check out the store (it is artists’ heaven) and learn about this way-cool medium. Additionally, I’ll be answering questions about the 2017 Portland Open Studios Tour – the Call to Artists is open now with an entry the deadline of March 3rd.

fullsizeoutput_3214Beeswax! It’s amazing. When combined with Demar resin and heated you end up with encaustic medium, which is used hot. When encaustic medium is combined with Gamsolheated and then cooled you end up with cold wax medium, a paste-like substance which is used cold.

fullsizeoutput_2983Until recently, I focused on creating encaustic artworks, having taken several excellent classes from Portland artist Linda Robertson. I love utilizing iPhone photos, pan pastels and colored encaustic oil pigments, using a heat gun and pancake griddle to heat things up. After spending two days working with the talented artist and teacher, Serena Bartonlearning about cold wax, oil paint, Venetian plaster and more, I am totally smitten with this method of using beeswax.

fullsizeoutput_308fThis encaustic piece combines three iPhone photos (the clouds, the house/field and the crow). All three images are inkjet printed on archival card stock and collaged the cradled birch panel with PVA glue. Warm encaustic medium (both clear and tinted) is applied via a natural bristle brush and then heated with an embossing gun between layers, pan pastels and encaustic pigments are used as embellishments. Again, every time something is laid onto the surface, heat is used to melt the layer into the one below. Having the chance to use my photographs, create imaginary landscapes AND the added bonus of warm beeswax scenting my studio is divine! These pieces do require a certain amount of planning and preparation – what layers go down first, what photos need to be cut, what paper should I print on? How much more wax should be added? My graphic design background comes in quite handy.

lake1Encaustic medium cools so fast – brushing hot wax from one side of a board to the other – it’s cool. Working with cold wax is TOTALLY different and I’m in uncharted territory. Never having used oil paints before (yes, they are used in a diluted form in encaustic), I was unprepared for the ‘drying’ time issue.

fullsizeoutput_313dfullsizeoutput_326ffullsizeoutput_31e2Layers of cold wax and oil paint (mixed at a 50/50 ratio) can take several days to dry, especially in our rather damp Oregon climate. These three abstract works are all painted on cradled birch panels with a base layer of acrylic gesso and a thin coat of Venetian plaster.

Needless-to-say, they are QUITE different from the encaustic medium works! Layering and scraping away, incising the paint with various tools – bamboo skewers, Starbucks® cardboard jackets, forks, paper-towels, a palette knife – whatever I can grab that makes a mark. Even with the element of waiting for stuff to dry, the process is very spontaneous. Inspired by “true life” images and then creating abstract compositions with depth and movement is both challenging and rewarding and so much fun!

A BIG SHOUT OUT to the bees for making such a wonderful product that, whether used hot or cold, allows me not only to expand my knowledge but also adds to the joy of my continuing artistic practice!

Sharing what I love to do

img_0595Portland Open Studios (PDXOS) features 106 artists who open their studios, showing their art and work spaces to visitors. This past weekend over 100 guests learned a bit about encaustic collage, hand embroidery and my art practice. Additionally, everyone was given the opportunity to create their own small piece – working with beeswax, demar resin, oil pastels and encaustic colors. They had a blast and so did I! img_0582img_0583Monday evening I visited 8 of the studios in my artist community  (Community #2). Betsy Levine #11, (her meticulous oil paintings of flowers are delightful) organized this private tour – since we’re all booked during the two weekends of the event. The studios and artworks I saw were amazing and getting to know these artists was a treat. David Friedman’s, #17 paper cutting must be seen in person – photos just can’t capture it’s depth and beauty. Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley’s #20, watercolors and acrylics are wonderful – scientific and whimsical at the same time. Dan Pillers #16, heart-felt mixed media/reclaimed wood sculptures tell stories and share his visions. Mona Cordell’s #19, bi-level studio was full of her powerful figure paintings, sumi brush drawings and more. Would so love to see her body painting on the NW Dance Project performers this weekend! Mandy Stigant’s #18, sturdy wood-fired stoneware would be a great to use. Scott Conary’s #13, masterful oil paintings tell stories of places, people and more. Hilary Pfeiffer’s #12, works embrace several mediums: wood, metal and book publishing. Her painted wood birds and animals are truly delightful. Three hours later I came home visually sated, feeling very honored to be included with this talented group of working artists. pdxoscardfront       I’m gearing up for this weekend’s tour (October 15/16, 10am – 5pm), creating some small encaustic pieces (3.5 x 3.5) on the left-over pine blocks that my sweet husband so graciously cut and sanded for me. Sharing what I love to do, having people appreciate my work and also enjoy trying their hand at making is the best! Here are some the Little Art Works (L.A.W.) that will be available this weekend – $25 each and ready to hang. img_0593img_0591Today’s lovely sun is giving way to a weekend of rain, rain, rain. So please do drop by, have some tea and chocolate, play with wax and see my work – I look forward to sharing it with you. Portland Open Studios guides are available at New Seasons, Collage, Dick Blick, Artist and Craftsman Supply as well as other local businesses and there’s a free app, too!img_0589img_0590img_0594img_0588

In the studio . . .

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There are studio days that are incredibly productive. Correspondence is answered, artwork is shipped, pieces are finished and at the end of the day the studio is tidy. Then there are days like this past Monday . . . where I take two steps forward and four steps back – little is accomplished, the studio’s in chaos and I bounce around from idea-to-idea, leaving half finished projects in my wake.

I’m often asked “How long did it take you to make this piece?” Frankly, it’s the one question I really hate and giving an accurate answer always stymies me. Funny, huh, since it’s the actual process of “making” that fuels my creative soul. Does the person want to know all the little picky time-consuming details? (How many times I gessoed and sanded a birch panel, how I scraped away images, beeswax and oil pastels ’cause the work just isn’t “getting there”? How I can only feed one sheet at a time of Sumi rice paper into the printer because it’s temperamental and chews up the paper?) I think not. I wonder if the questioner is asking for “time = difficulty of process” or “time = years I’ve been creating art” or last, but usually not least, “time = money per hour” information.

On days like yesterday when asked the “how long” question, I feel like tearing my hair out and yelling “I have absolutely no idea!”

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This is my third Portland studio in as many years, and by far the largest and most unusual. I occupy the 2nd floor sunporch of a former 4-plex apartment building,  built in the 1920’s, which also is home to therapists and counselors. No one else was interested in the space and for me it’s perfect.

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Even on my least productive days, time spent in this studio is the best! Favorite tools live there, the north light is perfect, my collections clutter the windowsills and books and materials overflow the shelves. I’m close to good coffee and the activity outside my windows gives me visual breaks when moving forward just isn’t happening.

While I strive for good work days, inspiration and a sense of completion; it all comes down to one simple fact: I love my studio – it’s where I’m most at home. I’m fairly certain that most artists feel this way and cherish the time spent making. What’s your studio space like? I’d love to hear about your “creative home.”

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Great freedom in being a beginner

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I like to reside in the comfort zone of competency, using skills that I’ve already mastered (or so I believe). Being a beginner, listening to that pesky inner demon camped out on my shoulder, hissing “this is SO easy, why can’t you figure this out?”, “you’re doing it wrong”, “who DO you think you are?” is not my idea of a good time. Looking at “experts” in a particular medium can be overwhelming.

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Having embarked on “the encaustic journey” embracing and coming to grips with my “beginner status” is an eye-opener and much to my surprise I’m having a blast. There’s great freedom in not knowing exactly how to do something. I am following the basic instructions, especially those involving safety – overheating the beeswax, having stuff catch fire and burning down the building would be a bummer for sure. Daniella Woolf, Lissa Rankin and Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, all encaustic artists and book authors, have become my new best friends even though they don’t know me!

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Familiar images, handmade papers (crazy love for Indonesian batik dot paper), relatives’ & my own handwriting all meld together and the scent of beeswax is so intoxicating (yes, there’s adequate ventilation). The process has me hooked.

 

Home again, home again . . .

Spent the past weekend in Seattle teaching at LOJ (Letters of Joy) and working on a wrapping project for a client. Visited friends, consumed delicious food & drink and participated in “retail therapy.” What could be better?ImageThe students in my class, Tape it Up, Packing tape transfers for collage, were so creative and enthusiastic – the two hour class flew by and they didn’t want to leave. My phone was almost dead so I didn’t get to photograph all 10 student’s work – here’s a collage created by Andrea.

I’m back in the studio – cleaning, rearranging and getting rid of anything I haven’t used in the last year (10 x 14 feet means that everything has to have a “spot” – it’s like being on a ship). Going home yesterday afternoon I saw a guy “dumpster diving” in the building’s HUGE recycle bin. I’d put out a big box of paper scraps (end cuts from invite jobs, etc.) and was glad to know that my trash was someone else’s treasure!

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Encaustic painting is something I’ve been wanting to explore for a while – took a beginning class at Collage in March, but I resisted purchasing supplies or starting on anything until after all the pieces were done for the Maude Kerns show and LOJ. Am making space by the window (for good ventilation) and will soon be ready to experiment with color, beeswax and collage – looking forward to see where it takes me.

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