When does your year begin?

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Last summer, in Paris I secretly photographed this gentleman and his faithful companion, waiting patiently in line at a boulangerie. Wonder what a day is like for them and does one season melt into the next? Does their year begin after the Summer Soldes?

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When does your year begin? September is often a marker for many of us. The first day of school: new clothes, new supplies, new friends and new experiences. January is a logical starting point as well. My August birthday has always been my “beginning.” And while celebrating my birthday always brings up many emotions, mostly positive (I’m starting another trip around the sun!) and a few negative (my dad, Merrill May died four days before my 11th birthday (quite some time ago – obviously – but still the memory is bittersweet), I use this yearly marker to assess where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Art wise I’m becoming more confident in my processes and mediums – encaustics are more or less turning out as I envision them – working with hot wax, while still challenging, is more predictable.

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Cold wax, not so much. Learning to mix oil paints and create abstract interpretations of my inner visions is still a struggle. Work is often put aside until I can figure out where it needs to go, as in the piece below, “In the Distance.” Can’t begin to tell you how many variations this work went through (or how many layers of wax and paint exist under the topmost one). It’s like an archeological dig – scrape the surface and surprises await!

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When not in the studio, the rest of my life continues on a pretty even keel. I travel, eat great meals and share good times with family and friends. At a recent event I took many photographs of these lovely koi – gracefully swimming under and around lily pads. I love how they shared their beauty and were unaware of what was above them or where their lives were going. Totally blissful.

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This wall exists here in Portland and I love textures and peeling paint. It’s old and still hanging in there. Nuff said.

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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

 

Trying to wash away the dust…

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picassofullsizeoutput_3138Today everything is HARD. Focusing on tasks that need to be completed–HARD. Anticipating tasks that need to be started–HARD. Tearing myself away from daily news about our nation’s upended political climate–EXTREMELY HARD. fullsizeoutput_3129Right now all that’s keeping me somewhat sane is making art. It isn’t required to be good, it doesn’t need to be finished – it just needs to be made. fullsizeoutput_313bEmbracing a new medium – cold wax and oil paint – has been a lifesaver. When I’m immersed in the process  “the dust of everyday life” settles and all that matters is the board, the paint, the palette knife, the color, the lines, the smell…the silence of the studio. I can breathe–anger and fear are momentarily replaced with happiness and wonder. fullsizeoutput_313d It’s only temporary, but it’s enough – a brief pause to recharge my soul before I’m once again covered and ready to deal with life’s dust. img_1583Engaging in my life-long practice of embroidery, by creating original samplers is soothing and joyful as well.