I’m teaching a two-day Encaustic Collage workshop this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch where I am the Resident Artist. This class is one I’ve taught many times, so I have a good idea of how to organize the space and materials for success. One thing that I think makes everybody happy is to have things arranged and ready to get creative. While the creative process itself can sometimes feel magical and loose, for me at least, the magic comes from having everything in order, so my mind is free to be inspired. I try hard to give that balance to my students too, I want everything to be at their fingertips with stimulating materials and careful demos to guide them to finding their genuine, creative voice in a new medium. Wish me and my 12 art adventurers luck!
In the busy mix of the weekend I’ll try to take some action shots of my students at work to share at the end of the weekend. Hope you make some time for your creative self too!
I just wrapped up a great weekend with 16 adventurous creative women, who in two days learned a bunch of new techniques and made a vast array of interesting, personal, playful and insightful art. It is always rewarding to share what I know and then see the different directions that one medium can go. In just 2 days I could see each student find their voice and unique style. I always learn something along the way too, a new twist on something I’ve been doing for ages or in answering a question I never thought to ask before. So I give thanks to these women who trusted me with their creative hearts and dared to go on a creative adventure with me!
Raise your hand if you love Pinterest….(my hand is up by the way) . If you don’t know what Pinterest is, it is like the idea folder and recipes binder and pattern box you have tried to keep up with all these years- it’s the pages cut out of Sunset magazine and Bon Appetite that you tried to organize but never can keep track of. Pinterest is an idea box without the box, folders and binders all your good ideas are in one place and you can see everyone else’s good ideas too. Usually on Sundays I give myself a little weekend treat and troll through Pinterest for ideas. I find it particularly useful for elementary art teaching ideas. Last Sunday I came across an old art teacher chestnut that I almost dismissed. The idea is to glue down yarn to card board and when it’s dry wrap it in foil then paint with india ink and buff it with steel wool so it looks like tin tooling. I’m going to guess this was published in Sunset magazine in the 70’s because it was all the rage when I was a kid. But the truth is it’s hard to get good results. First it’s hard for anyone least of all young children to make the yarn and glue behave, second the foil rips when buffing and then the whole thing is a mess. But for some reason the idea stuck with me and I decided to try it in a slightly different way. I spray glued leaves to matt board then spray glued the foil over that and rubbed it down. Then instead of using india ink I used my new best friend Design Master spray paint (I swear they are not paying me to mention them- and don’t think I haven’t tried- but I just love this stuff for everything!) any how and then buffed it off with steel wool. Voila! Fantastic results, then I decided to try vinyl letters also to great effect.
Ok so you get why Pinterest is in the title but Miracles and the Meaning of Life, where does that come in you say?? Well this one little Sunday Pinterest moment led me to excitedly experiment with a new idea, and once I had my new foil pieces I needed some reason to use them. So I was motivated to work on some collages to incorporate them. And wanting to add meaning to my images I searched for some thoughtful quotes. When I had gathered some of the worlds accumulated wisdoms I spent a meditative afternoon laboriously rubberstamping them on graph paper. In the end I made twelve new mixed media encaustic pieces that I love, made new an old technique and got acquainted with some deep and pithy thoughts from some of the worlds great thinkers, if that isn’t a miracle born of a relaxing Sunday morning drinking coffee and perusing the internet then I don’t know what is! Find yourself a miracle… go on get out there and find one – if you can’t find one then make your own!
ART SALE: I know most of you live far away but I’m having a Studio Sale to sell these works and others you have seen in this blog on Thursday and Friday November 19-20th from 3-7pm, if you are in the Sonoma County area please come! Directions
ART CLASS: Want to learn some of the techniques I share in this blog? Come to my December 5-6 Winter Creative Retreat and do just that! Register Now
Life is a complicated thing – when some things are revealed others are hidden. We are never in a place where we can see, feel, know, understand it all. I am no exception, the future is unclear, the past is up for interpretation, and NOW, well now can seem like so much fog – tangible and real but not meant to be held or contained. In an effort to be more in the now I’ve taken on a few personal challenges. These are tidbits of advice gleaned from a facebook posts here and podcast there – no guru formula – just my own way of sorting my priorities – my own daily check list of things to make my life more grounded in today, to keep my body, mind and soul healthy. Last fall my husband and I started an early morning exercise regime that I have been mostly faithful to along with some diet changes. Those have been good for my body and now I’m ready to take my daily commitment to the next layer- mind and soul. I’m trying to make a meditation practice happen, a friend was visiting recently and asked if I walked that labyrinth here at the Ranch regularly- the answer was no but then I thought why not? So last week after exercising I walked over and took my shoes off and slowly walked to the center and out again- aware of the path on my bare feet, the breeze, the birds it was lovely, a simple passage to NOW. My other new daily resolution is to commit a random act of kindness at least once a day. These are simple things, holding a door, offering to take someones shopping cart to the holding pen in the parking lot, holding a women’s bike while she wrestles her child into the baby seat …. what ever it might be it forces me to be aware of the moment to be enough in the now to respond to what is around me and to offer the simple kindness of noticing, helping.
Here is my little list that I am trying to do most days:
- Eat right (you know what I mean)
- Get enough sleep
- Commit at least one random act of kindness a day
That’s it- seems simple enough right? Let me know what’s working for you!
I taught and encaustic collage workshop this weekend and because it was a small group I was able to set up a work station and do some creating also! And because it was a small group I decided to share with them an encaustic technique that I’ve been exploring that combines paper collage and the encaustic wax with the spray paint techniques I’ve been using with fabric. It was a lot of techniques for them to wade through but they had the time and space of the whole weekend and the lovely, supportive hospitality of the Ranch to allow them to create and explore. One of my students has worked extensively with encaustic but not so much with collage and she shared some techniques and tools she has picked up along the way, including using silk in her pieces. I was inspired by what she had done and got out some silk organza I had stenciled a few weeks ago. It acts a bit like tissue paper would be gives a different texture that is lovely.
Combining the collage techniques with the stencils spray paint on the encaustic creates an amazing effect. Each thin application of wax is a distinct layer. In these examples I have both spray painted and glued papers to the base wood, then applied a layer of encaustic wax – stenciled pattern with spray paint on that then add tissue paper or silk organza that had stenciled patterns and images. All these thin layers of pattern and color creates a piece full of depth and intrigue.
I hope to play around with all these mediums more this summer, combining and sharing what I know and gathering new ideas from others willing to share.
I will share more from the workshop later in the week – I have put these little beauties up for sale on my Etsy shop for under $50- hope you’ll check them out! NEW WORK
Today I had a rare day to go to my studio and just experiment. I’ve taught quite a few encaustic collage classes over the past couple of years but I have just played with the medium for a while. Today I pulled out some materials I haven’t used with encaustic before; alcohol ink, tint spray, stamp ink, charcoal, and tissue paper. On the first one I played with 4 panels using charcoal to make some marks then dripped and brushed alcohol ink and layered the encaustic wax with tissue paper and topped with a word transfer. The second piece I tried out a new spray paint called Tint It. It’s says it’s a dye spray good for wood, fabric, paper I thought I’d try it with encaustic wax. I laid down some stencil spray patterns the put a layer of encaustic wax. Then I painted on some alcohol inks, wax then more spray, I stamped letters with solvent inks and a final layer of wax.
I really love how these turned out and it has inspired me to include these techniques and materials in my next Encaustic Exploration Weekend this June. It’s always good to shake things up a bit and break out of the tried and true. Maybe you can join me – June 20-21 follow this link to find out more – registration and information
For about a month I’ve been working on a commission or really mostly not working on a commission. A woman who has bought some of my small encaustic collage pieces over the years asked me to do a piece using her family photos. I accepted the commission and we talked a bit about what she likes about my work and size and price etc. For about 2 weeks I just had the photos propped up on my studio desk. These happy pony-riding faces stared back at me, but I struggled to get started. I use old photos in my collages all the time, usually I don’t know the people, they are just found photos, lost photos, abandoned photos, photos that I am drawn to, photos that are asking me to give them life and put them into my art. But now I had photos that had their own story and a client that held these people in her heart, this made me shy to impose my story on them. Of course the person who commissioned the piece wanted me to do something like the pieces she admired, that’s why she had me doing this…..well you can see why I was spinning and procrastinating. But last week I got down to business pulled out my portfolio of papers and box of ephemera and started laying things out stitching, gluing and waxing. When I was done I was pleased and of course I need to be pleased but really she needs to be pleased. So as I waited for her to arrive I paced my studio. This is a tricky situation, what if she doesn’t like it? What about getting paid for my time? all this is has me spinning again, but as soon as she saw the piece she let out an excited gasp, I knew the story I had woven through her real life story worked….and once again I was reminded to trust myself, do what I do best, take the puzzle and make art, tell a story.
Here are three small pieces I did while I wasn’t doing the commission.