At the Bellagio

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

We're spending the weekend in Las Vegas and staying at the beautiful
Bellagio hotel. At the bustiling entance, the ceiling is covered with
Dale Chihuly's organicly shaped blown glass in every color of the

Letterpress Workshop with Amos Kennedy

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I had an intense two day workshop with letterpress artist Amos Kennedy! Such FUN!! He also gave a great Q & A after the showing of his documentary called "Proceed and Be Bold"

See more PHOTOS.

Pick of the Week

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Broken Spaces", Charcoal, chalk, and spray paint on paper, 24" x 17", 2000. This original work of art can be yours for only....$150. And it's framed.

Parkeharrison Lecture

Friday, January 23, 2009

Last night I went to a talk by artists Robert and Shana Parkeharrison. Very cool images. Not too long ago, I saw a book of their work from a series called Architect's Brother and was amazed. I was even more amazed to hear about their laborious processes and collaborative efforts in making their work. What a duo.

The constant stream of lectures, talks, workshops, gallery exhibitions, and visiting artists is one of the most wonderful things about being in grad school at ECU. So inspiring!

image above: After the Feast by Robert and Shana Parkeharrison

Familiar Ground

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ahhh....nothing beats painting in oils. It feels like slipping into
my favorite pair of jeans, especially after struggling so much trying
to do encaustics. With this I decided to do a mixed media piece but
start it all in oils first. More to come...

Snow Day

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I got to my studio this morning by 7:30, only to find out that my 8 am class was cancelled because of the weather. I grew up in Missouri and my husband braved the winters in Chicago, so this little flurry is pretty comical to us. It's a ghost town on campus, so I'm taking advantage of the quiet time to work and get my thoughts in order...considering adding some photographic and collage elements to my encaustic paintings. The way I've been working - trying to build up the layers, will eventually break me in the pocket book, so maybe switching gears earlier than later isn't a bad idea.
This is the view from my studio on campus.

Underground: Root Systems #1

Monday, January 19, 2009

This 24" x 17" encaustic piece was based off the sketch I posted yesterday. I wanted it to look like some kind of root system going deep into the earth. I worked on this for about 5 hours straight, so I'm beat. Today I worked from my apartment so I was able to keep the door wide open and a fan on full blast. I could tell a noticeable difference in the way I feel, even though when I stepped outside for a few minutes and walked back in, there was a heavy, beeswax smell in the air. I tried to wear my face mask but didn't like it so I took it off and opted for just covering my mouth and nose with my shirt when I bent down close to the painting. I'm happy with this piece. I'm learning something every day. I love the way the blue underpainting came out when I scraped off the top layers. The cool blues and a nice contrast to all the warm earth tones. The photos I've been taking are just quick snap shots from my iphone, so it doesn't show all the details, but nevertheless, it's a good representation of how it looks overall. Here's a close up of the blues:

Since this piece is fairly large for an encaustic, I added a little oil paint to my wax medium. This allowed me to cover a larger area without burning through the pigmented wax that I just got in the mail. It's so expensive and it goes soooo fast! I'll probably start doing more painting in oils first to build up the base color and then layer up the textures where I need it in wax. Jasper Johns first started using wax because he couldn't get his oil paintings to dry fast enough. Well, by adding it to the wax, it sets up instantly when the wax drys. Now, it does blend a lot more when it's reheated. Again, all part of the learning process.

On another note, I just sold three paintings. Spiraling #2, Alphabet in Reverse, and Owning the Sky. Now I can buy more wax!!

Transverse Crack

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I worked on this new encaustic painting today. It's about 17"x 22". I built up several layers of pigmented wax, carved out the line across the surface and then filled it in with a mix of blue and burnt umber wax. Then I scraped it all back down with a razor to reveal the layers underneath. My overall feeling is so-so. It took about three hours of pretty fast work. With a piece that large, there's a lot of brush work and fusing. I do love the way the surface can get glassy and smooth to the touch, yet there's so much visual texture. Unfortunately, working in this medium can get expensive. And, I tend to start feeling a little sick after a few hours. I'll need to start making sure I keep a fan on and maybe wear my face mask indoors.

Overall, it was a good day of practicing. The painting was inspired by the cracks I see everyday in the sidewalk on my way to class. I've been making an extra effort to really observe the everyday things I see in my natural surroundings. The concrete sidewalk cracks as the earth beneath it shifts over time. Sometimes the lines are very beautiful. As I looked at this painting, I could see my next painting in my mind. My sketch below shows that it will be more of a mix between my Needles Substructure pieces and this one. I'll probably go with the same coloring and see what happens.

Needles Substructure - Pulse, Day 2

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I feel pretty good about this piece. I'm going to leave it alone for a few days to see if it's finished. I built up a lot of layers around the outer areas and then I used a razor to scrap it back off and I loved the look. It was like an orange peel's texture only completely smooth.

Needles Substructure #1

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today was my first day of school. I met my three studio mates and they are all really nice and creative people. I can't wait to get to know them better. My studio is cozy and comfortable. It has a feminine feel to it. I think that's why I picked it out of the two choices I had. They are all textile majors, I'm sure my work will be influenced by what they are working on throughout the year.

Since my recent attempts to paint with encaustics, I realize that I don't have the control over the medium in the same way I do with oil or acrylic paints. The more I paint, the more I discover, and the more I understand its nature. I guess my favorite aspect of the medium is it's textural properties. It builds up with every pass of the brush. The beeswax itself is a beautiful deep yellow that I almost don't want to hide with the other pigmented wax that I have.

I'm planning on incorporating other natural elements into the paintings I create. Today on my way to class I picked up a bag full of the many, many, many, pine needles that are so abundant in North Carolina. I added them into my first piece. The pine needles were a great substructure for more layers of wax. I like the end result and have more ideas in mind.

Pick of the Week

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"The Anguish", Oil and acrylic paint, sand, and gessoed paper on panel, 21" x 36", 2005

This original piece of artwork can be yours for only $400. Be the first to email me.

Who Am I, Where Am I Going

I started thinking about my family history when my grandma died, about a year ago. I went through a big box of old family photos and considered doing a series of paintings along that theme. With my new interest in encaustics, I decided to revisit the idea and use some of the imagery from the photos to start with. The nice thing about encaustic painting is the opportunity to incorporate collage elements and create textural layers. I worked on this portrait of my mother this afternoon. Not exactly the look I was going for. I'm still experimenting with what I get when I do this or that. I did a quick sketch on tissue paper, did another pass at it using diluted acrylic paint (probably won't dilute the acrylic next time if I'm working with tissue, it just bleeds). Then I put down a layer of beeswax onto a panel surface and "painted on" my drawing with another layer of wax medium (beeswax and damar resin crystals). I really liked the texture I got with the tissue paper and the way the line drawing didn't disappear under the wax coating. Then I started adding pigmented wax (mainly to correct some errors in my drawing) and then started noticing the areas where the tissue was building up more than the other areas. I ironed it and then decided to just go with it. I kept adding color (I'm working with a limited color palette. Just the basics now. So, in the end it turned out a little brighter than I wanted and maybe a little to random in the textured areas (some thicker in areas I didn't want it). Since I'm here at school, I don't have my hands on some other collage pieces that I'll be able to get next weekend. I have my grandmas cookbooks, and hand written recipes, things like that. Old stamps, etc. We'll see how this goes but I think this might be a good focus, at least to learn a few things while I'm getting the feel for encaustics.

Morning Cuppa

This morning I got an email from my hubby..."we're up are you?"
I called him back and after I gave my rant about the noisy party that went on right outside my bedroom window all night, I made a pot of coffee and we both jumped on ichat. I love technology. We were about to see each other, and basically have a semi-normal morning together...apart. We even had our breakfast in front of our screens. ha ha.
I took some screen shots of my little guys too:

Lonely Bird

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This afternoon Justin took the pups and went back to Wilmington. I was hit with a sudden sense of loneliness. A new place, a new routine to get used to, etc. I'm so used to having the little guys under foot, and they're always eager to be loved on. There's never a dull moment. The quiet in my apartment was a unexpectedly weird. I miss them so bad. I decided to get out all my encaustic supplies and start a new painting.

Wax is very easy to layer up, and get neat textures. In the end, I added some twigs from the trees near my apartment. I like the added depth. From the photos, it looks like a pretty simple concept but actually, I worked on it for several hours. The wax begins to dry as soon as it leaves the hot plate. Everything has to be fused before more layers can be added. It will probably take me all year just to get the hang of it.

ECU Studio Space

Graduate school. What an adventure I'm starting!! Justin and I have spent the last few days moving some of my things into an apartment in Greenville, NC. I'll be staying here during the week and driving back to Wilmington on the weekends. My new place is only a mile walking or biking distance to the School of Art and Design. Thursday I got the official tour of the building and was completely inspired by the great art that the students were creating. There's an overall feeling of "the sky's the limit" to what you can create here. I picked out my studio space and got a key that will allow me 24 hour access. The studio is quartered off so I'll be sharing with three other people. I liked the cabinet, work table and yes, the couch, so I'm keeping all of that in there. It's a really spacious room but I'll also be able to work in my apartment, which will be more of a live in studio space. No need to worry with entertaining...just working and smiling.

Here are a few photos of my new space and a peek at the work my studio mates are up to.

Encaustics with MJ

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I spent the afternoon hanging out in the studio my good friend MJ Cunningham. MJ is an artist who works in encaustics (painting into hot wax), and was willing to give me a tutorial. She showed me the basics of which supplies to buy and how to use them and even had some little projects for me to do. I learned how to get a bumpy textured surface by building up layer after layer of wax, then how to incorporate collage elements, and even how to make my own medium by combining the right proportions of beeswax and damar resin crystals. We were like mad scientists as we stirred and took temperature readings, and dropped more chucks of wax into our pot. It was so inspiring to see the endless possibilities of encaustic. I can't wait to dive in head first.