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?
This winter I decided to take an oil painting class with Nina Weiss at the Evanston Art Center. Oil paints are a medium I have avoided for my entire adult creative life! The reason I want to learn now is to be able to incorporate them with the encaustic medium. I also hope to combine oil paint with cold wax medium… either way, I want to learn and improve my overall painting knowledge and skills by taking this class.
It’s always interesting to see how other teachers lead, and it’s unavoidable that I compare their teaching style to mine. I think being a student with a new medium is a clear reminder of how new students might feel in my class the first time they experience working with the encaustic medium.
So far, I’ve only been to two classes. A still life was setup (I dislike still life immensely!) and the goal was to learn about ground color, underpainting, and mixing color. The class is also color theory; if I had chosen to work with gouache or acrylic things would be going much quicker but neither of those mediums combines with encaustic or cold wax.
I have probably spent more time working at home than I have in the two classes but I know for me the best way to learn is by doing it… over and over and over!
First painting from class:
I decided to start a small landscape study at home in order to better prepare for a larger version during class. It is the opposite way of thinking… applying layers of oil paint, as opposed to applying layers of watercolor. My background as a watercolorist goes back 30+ years. Painting with encaustic is also a different mind set from how I am learning with oils. I lean toward being self-taught but the color theory does not always sit well with my brain and I need guidance. I know all of this is a good lesson not just with the creative process but also with discipline, humility, and patience. It’s hard not being the expert!