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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Definition from Wikipedia:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I continue to be inspired by my visit to the Burren in County Clare, Ireland last September. A new body of work is slowly starting to emerge in my studio, and I am in the midst of it all.
One of the challenges for this series has been my desire to incorporate a variety of mediums. To date: encaustic, oils, mixed media, even encaustic collagraphs, all depicting the Irish landscape, have started to take form.
The newest additions to the series are posted above. Working with oil paints has been an education in itself! I used photos I had taken and after establishing the general composition reached a point where I stopped looking at the photos and focused on re-creating a feeling rather than being exact to the actual photo. Color mixing has been a challenge as the oils beg to be combined; using a limited palette has forced me to learn color theory at it’s core. Most important to these landscape paintings has been to create wide open space, big sky, along with a purple tinge in the rolling limestone hills and mountains reflected by sun (or lack of it).
My next painting will feature the incredible stone walls seen during a visit to the Aran Islands. How can I have a series inspired by the Irish landscape without incorporating a stone wall or two?
Finally, after at least a decade (or two) of apprehension, I decided to take a workshop to learn how to paint portraits. Lora Murphy is an Irish artist I met a few years ago, and in September I attended the “Art and Soul Journey”, a 10 day trip to Ireland to learn about the people, places, and culture. The trip included art workshops offered by her and Kathryn Bevier at the Burren College of Art. I put what I learned from Lora on the back burner of my brain until most recently when I had to force myself to finally practice what she taught! It’s intimidating, trying to capture the essence of a personality, combined with accurate physical features. After several failed attempts I overcame insecurities and felt pretty good about this most recent self portrait attempt.
I used Lora’s color palette (her paints combine microcrystalline with encaustic) along with a strong contrast between lights, darks, shadows, and mid tones. Using her paints reminded me of watercolor – maintaining a focus on translucent layers and washes of color, always striving toward keeping the colors crisp and clean.
The portrait of Haley was challenging because there were very few shadows in the photo I used for reference. I tried to keep the skin tones pure and focused on facial planes more than the contrasting shadows.
Hopefully I will continue to practice painting portraits, I have my adult children I can use as models. It makes a difference to me that I am familiar (intimately) with the subject matter.
My self-portrait is currently included in “It Figures, 2017” at ARC Gallery