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.
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.
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.
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!
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
All three of my submitted paintings (below) were accepted into “Imagine Denmark”, November 10 – 25, 2017, Kunstvaerket Galleri, Vitapark, Odder, Denmark. This is Denmark’s first International Encaustic show!
“Night Shadows” (below) is on display in Denver at the Knoll Gallery “Wax Stories II”, November 3 – January 6, 2018.
The Copley Society of Art annual Small Works Holiday Show opens November 9 – December 24, 2017 and will include the following five paintings, all inspired by my recent trip to Ireland.