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It’s almost show time, Folks!

It’s hard to believe that a month from today I’ll be exhibiting at the Wells Street Art Festival in Old Town, Chicago. The weather has felt more like Winter than Spring, it’s one of the biggest factors that contribute to the success or failure of a show.

My newest work is focused on organic patterns and brilliant color. Alcohol inks combined with encaustic medium have been an exciting addition. I have also been creating collages using alcohol ink on yupo or card stock, mounted on foam core then glued to the surface and sprayed with an assortment of Krylon products in order to best protect and preserve the work.

“Playful Garden” is the largest collage to date. I had to mount Yupo paper onto a cradled birch panel using heavy gel medium before I started the painting. After completion, I sprayed with Krylon Kamar, Krylon UV, and Krylon Crystal Clear. I am still going to have to watch out for inclement weather because this piece is delicate and quite large!

Playful Garden
alcohol ink collage on yupo
48” x 36”

 

A bit smaller, “Black Leaf” is painted with encaustic medium layered with alcohol ink, then collaged with painted foil paper.

Black Leaf
mixed media on board
12” x 12”

 

Other new mixed media works combine encaustic medium layered between alcohol inks on claybord, each panel is 6″x24″x2″ and can hang alone or combined horizontally.

Black Water, diptych
alcohol ink & encaustic on panel
12” x 24”

 

Zen Sunrise, diptych
alcohol ink & encaustic on panel
12” x 24”

 

Zen Place, diptych
alcohol ink & encaustic on panel
12” x 24”

 

At this point I am finishing up loose ends… wiring and painting cradled panel edges and soon I will have to narrow down what to bring to each show. I have PLENTY of choices!

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Revival; before and after

Springtime is when I have to start planning my exhibition space for the upcoming summer festival season. It forces me to review art inventory, and re-assess what paintings are “show worthy”, and those that need to be re-worked. Ever since I started incorporating alcohol inks into encaustic medium, I have found a new way to create visual energy on a two dimensional surface.

Beach Memories, 16″x20″ final version
Beach Memories, before the addition of inks

 

I have taken a handful of older paintings and made them new again by fusing the inks into the wax base. The two mediums compliment each other and the translucent layering captures motion and depth.

Goldenrod, 12″x12″ final version
Goldenrod, before the addition of inks

 

I worked with an encaustic monotype as the base layer for the first time (seen below), then added layers of wax medium combined with alcohol inks. I love the way the inks loosen and free up the composition.

Mountain View, 8″x8″ final version
Mountain View, monotype before the addition of wax and ink

 

I am also working with cradled panels as a ground (rather than papers), adding the inks first, then combining wax medium with additional layers of ink to create greater depth, movement, and life on a flat surface. I’ll be anxious to share this new combination of encaustic and inks in person rather than on the internet and am looking forward to the summer art season.

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Alcohol Inks

I’m having the greatest time, playing around and learning about alcohol inks! The fun started by incorporating the inks and fusing layers of color into encaustic medium. The translucent qualities of the inks mesh beautifully with the similar translucency of wax medium. After an initial introduction to inks by combining them with encaustic medium, I decided to become a “purist” and focus on using the inks alone, working on papers, (so far, different weight Yupo papers as well as black card stock).

Tulips 16″x20″ ink collage on medium Yupo
Shadowbox frame with UV glass

I have needed to better educate myself, reading about different ink techniques on social media and other informative websites (the world wide web really does offer unlimited knowledge at your fingertips).

Favorite web source – Alcohol Ink Art Community

Right now I am learning about the archival qualities (or lack of them) and how to protect finished paintings. I use several layers of Krylon spray varnish followed by several layers of Krylon UV protection. I decided to also frame the Tulip collage above along with the Peonies painting below under UV glass even after using both protective sprays. I will watch and see if there is any fading over time.

Peonies 12″x9″ ink on card stock
Shadowbox frame with UV glass

The element of collage, adding literal depth to the visual depth, is a good fit with many of my recent works. It brings me back and reminds me of watercolor painting, the way I would add heavy spatter to create texture and translucent layers.

Full Harvest Moon from the Full Moon Series 30″x22″ watercolor on Arches

Creating collage, I cut up ink paintings that weren’t successful, mount pieces on foam core, and incorporate them until it feels like a good fit and composition.

Still Life 12″x12″ ink collage on card stock
Orchids 12″x12″ ink collage on card stock

I hope to attend an ink workshop taught by local artist Helen Dannelly next month, and will continue to pursue as many ways to learn more about this fascinating medium.

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New Year = New Bold Color

Kabuki, 3.5″x2.5″ mixed media

2019 began for me with an Award of Merit for my “Kabuki” painting in the Copley Society of Art small works show. This miniature painting was created by transferring the image of one of my 24″x18″ watercolor paintings fused into encaustic medium, then highlighted with pigmented wax and oil pastels. The translucent layers of wax allow for light to travel and keep the colors brilliant. You can visit the entire show online here – Copley Society of Art

I also have been focused on alcohol inks and discovering multiple ways this paint can be combined (safely) with encaustic medium, as well as painted directly on Yupo and other papers. The movement and layered color has been very liberating as I have taken my private studio practice in the direction of abstraction.

Nest 1, 12″x12″ alcohol ink and encaustic on panel
Nest 2, 12″x12″ alcohol ink and encaustic on panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These paintings are successful when combined together as a diptych or as individual works. I’ve also started painting on larger sheets of Yupo paper, and will be playing/learning with different types of inks from various companies going forward.

So far, I have used Piñata and Ranger combined with extenders and 91% alcohol. I’ve been reading “Pigments of Your Imagination” by Cathy Taylor which made clear a connection for my love of watercolor wash techniques to a similar love for alcohol ink painting.

Living a creative life has always been my happy place. It feels good to be learning something new and unfamiliar… being vulnerable to trial and error opens the door to alternative thinking and creativity… after all, what else is there?

Polar Blast, 26″x20″ alcohol ink on Yupo
Underwater Cave, 20’x26″ alcohol ink on Yupo
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New-Old Direction & Holiday Shows

This past weekend, I taught an encaustic “sampler” workshop at the Evanston Art Center. We used various mixed media materials that combine effortlessly with wax. In the demo painting below, mulberry paper creates a translucent linear wave pattern, I then added white shellac and oil pastel to highlight the setting sun over the ocean waves. There is something very beautiful in simplicity and I hope to continue exploring the “less is more” concept.

One of my older watercolors below, and most likely the subconscious inspiration for the above encaustic painting.

Another new direction: Pea Pods

I built an armature base, coated the wire with plaster, then shaped the plaster and added encaustic medium to the assemblage.

Wax is poured into the cradled panel in order to secure various parts. Building armature for encaustic is a new addition to the weekly techniques we cover in classes. I resume teaching after the new year at both the Evanston Art Center and the North Shore Art League.

Class info available here:

Evanston Art Center

North Shore Art League

Holiday Shows:

Next week, show opening and artist reception will be featuring students who attend my classes at the North Shore Art League.

Currently, I am also exhibiting at the Evanston Art Center in their annual holiday art expo. Below is a photograph of some of my miniature paintings being featured all month.

 

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Geisha

New Geisha paintings

Geisha Okichi san
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”
Moonbeams
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”
Geisha in Red
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definition from Wikipedia:
Japanese name
Kanji 芸者
“Geisha (芸者) or geigi (芸妓) are traditional female Japanese entertainers. They are skilled at different Japanese arts, like playing classical Japanese music, dancing and poetry. Some people believe that geisha are prostitutes, this however is false. The term “geisha” is made of two Japanese words, 芸 (gei) meaning “art” and 者 (sha) meaning “person who does” or “to be employed in”. The most literal translation of geisha to English is “artist”. Geisha are very respected and it is hard to become one.”

There are many more in depth definitions of the geisha but my inspiration is based on their extensive training and specialized skills pertaining to various art forms.

Years ago I did a series of paintings in watercolor and I decided to revisit the same subject using a miniature format with encaustic and oil pastel. I love the translucent depth created with wax medium.

Geisha in this series is my way of portraying simplicity, serenity, the vibrant color of life, with a strong sense of female independence and knowledge.

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Summer Inspiration

Garden Vows
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”
Garden Walk
mixed media on board
2.5” x 3.5”
Red Roses
mixed media on board
3.5” x 2.5”

I recently visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens knowing I would find visual inspiration. The colors of gorgeous velvety red roses in the Rose Garden, to the perfectly manicured bonsai and pine trees in the Japanese Garden, were a gift. In the English Walled Garden, I watched as wedding vows were exchanged, the scene felt like a chapter out of a fairy tale. I knew this would become the subject for a new painting.

Seeing the vibrant colors of lotus and lilies, wildflowers and roses, were a wake-up call. My eyes had been resting for too long this summer, and the newest series of miniature paintings (above) remind me of what we often take for granted… the purity of nature’s beauty and gifts.

Next weekend I’ll be exhibiting at the Evanston Art and Big Fork festival. If you are local and interested in seeing great art from 130 exhibitors, live music combined with loads of food and beverages, definitely make the time to visit. I’ll be in booth #133.

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3 down … 2 to go!

I am in the midst of summer art festival season and now have a three week break before my next exhibition in Evanston. I already started work on new miniature paintings, (they were a big hit at my last show on Michigan Avenue). I also plan on painting more Buddhas in order to completely fill one wall in my tent. The Buddhas have become an installation wall and more often than not I sell multiple pieces, allowing patrons to create the same installation effect in their homes.

Buddha Wall

The most stressful part of participating in outdoor festivals, for me, is always the weather… it’s the one thing out of my control! Last weekend, it was humid and rainy for all three days, although I was grateful there was minimal attendance despite the dreary weather. My tent began leaking in several different areas, I’ve already replaced it and thanks to Amazon Prime it was delivered today. Now I need to practice setting it up in order to guarantee I’ll know what to do at the next show.

I’m convinced if I wasn’t passionate about meeting people, summer weather, and encaustic painting, I’d find an easier way to share my work with the world. Professional artists are always talking about the various ways to exhibit, from high end galleries, in local and national art shows, to walls in restaurants and coffee houses, and everything in between, but I choose to be my own gallery at these festivals. Galleries usually earn 50% commission (well worth it if they do a good job bringing in patrons you wouldn’t otherwise have access to), but if you are willing to do the work, it feels good to keep 100% of a sale.

My next exhibition will be Evanston Art and Big Fork festival beginning August 17 through August 19.

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Meditations & PR

“Meditations” poster featuring 130 mixed media paintings

May is the month when I finalize my plans for upcoming summer festival season. I confirm I have enough work to fill my 10″x10″ tent space, and I usually try to create new marketing materials to promote the shows. This year I created a poster featuring the Face of Buddha in addition to my usual postcard announcement. I know when I display this series on the walls in my booth space the small 10″x8″ paintings make a striking impact as a group installation rather than as individual paintings and that is the theme I used for this years PR materials.

I also had to re-design my announcement card after I received word I was taken off the waiting list and accepted into the Port Clinton show. I’m scheduled to exhibit in five festivals this summer and will need to make sure my Buddha installation doesn’t dwindle by August. I will happily welcome (and be prepared to create new work all summer) if I have the problem of running low inventory because of too many sales!

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Summer Festival Season

March is the month most summer festivals send notification of acceptances. It’s actually quite competitive and I usually apply to one or two shows as backups in case I don’t get into my first choices. I’m pleased to share that I have been accepted and will be participating in the shows that were at the top of my list!

During the course of the year I am always thinking about two distinct bodies of work… the paintings that challenge personal goals and force me to push boundaries, (these are often larger works) and the paintings that I know will make for a stronger presentation in my summer exhibition space (smaller works, competitively priced, and more salable); sometimes there is overlap but presenting a cohesive body of work is the priority.

The Miniatures:

These paintings are all 2.5″ x 3.5″, floated, signed, and mounted on watercolor paper, presented in 10″ x 10″ shadowbox frames. Most recent works share a common theme inspired by travels in Ireland.

Miniatures, collage of new work

Face of Buddha:

The Face of Buddha has been a series of encaustic paintings that I present as an installation in my exhibition space rather than as singular works. All of these paintings are 10″ x 8″, and most patrons prefer to purchase multiple pieces allowing for a stronger statement. Painting the Buddha is a form of meditation and a way that allows me to be uninhibited in my use of encaustic mixed media techniques. To date I have created over 130 Buddhas and the series continues to grow.

Buddha installation
Buddha, collage of new work

My first show is not until mid June but now is the time to be building, refining, and improving  presentation. The only loose end to all of the summer festivals will be the weather, but that is out of my control.