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Survival…

Booth at Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival

Survival of the fittest!

It is always a physical and mental challenge when I participate in summer outdoor festivals, from the packing and loading of work to exhibit, the loading of tent and panels required in order to hang and display work, to the unpacking and setup at the actual festival, and then the re-packing and re-loading (and unloading back at home) on Sunday night after the festival weekend is over. The one thing I can never control is the weather, and I have many sleepless nights right before a festival weekend when the weather is not looking festival-friendly. What a huge relief to survive torrential downpours this past weekend!

I have always tried to stay physically fit in order to do what is required, and after having just completed another exhibition two days ago, I admit I am physically and mentally drained. Several factors that feed into sustaining required energy levels throughout a show weekend are a combination of art sales, meeting new patrons and potential students, with the added bonus of winning an award juried by the show promoter… I just won an “outstanding achievement” award at this last show from Amy Amdur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t exhibit again until weekend of September 14 and fortunately the Lakeview Festival of Arts is right in my neighborhood, no commuting makes everything a little easier. Lots of time to rest, organize new work, and gear up for my last festival of the outdoor summer season.

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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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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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New Oil Paintings

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.

Green Valley
oil on canvas
24” x 18”

 

Light in the Burren
oil on canvas
12” x 24”

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?

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The Forces of Nature

Mt. Etna
oil stick and encaustic on board
40” x 30”

It’s the holiday season and last month I received a commission gift request, to paint Mt Etna erupting! The couple met while studying abroad at the University of Catania in Sicily. I have never been to Sicily, but have been to Italy several times, and had to relate to the landscape of this Italian island without a first hand visual experience.

I sketched a composition capturing the shoreline, the rough terrain, along with the active volcano. I had to combine several of their photographs to create this custom landscape.

By sketching different versions of the landscape I could get familiar with the lay of the land, and I was able to flow right into the larger final version.

It will take several weeks for the oil sticks to dry completely before the painting can be shipped. I may end up making a few minor adjustments, adding touches of color using pan pastels or oil pastels, time will tell.

I rarely accept commission requests, it causes me great amounts of anxiety! I always tell myself worst case scenario, the client hates the painting and doesn’t have to take it. Sharing the development of the painting via emails and text images has alleviated much of the anxiety but still, it is always my top priority to make sure clients fall in love with their painting. When that happens, it is a perfect match.

The other two sketches are shown below, all are 10″ x 8″ –