Welcome to my world...

"Every good painter paints what he is."--Jackson Pollock

Sunday, September 2, 2012

EncaustiCamp 2012: Lasting Influences

My final class at EncaustiCamp this year proved to be the one that really spoke to my inner artist. Sue Stover's techniques using encaustics on watercolor paper has spilled over into my work in a really big way. Sue showed us how to work with the wax in very thin layers, use of the torch to fuse, then how to scrape and incise to add texture and depth to our work. As I dabbled with her techniques that Saturday, I grew more and more comfortable with the thought that encaustic doesn't necessarily need a rigid surface. I also fell in love with the Iwatani torch, and have not gone back to the heat gun at all since coming home from Oregon.

 While my workshop pieces have a definite "Sue Stover" look to them, the work I've completed since return ing home truly takes what I learned and adds another layer to my own style. "Second Chance" is a 6"x9" mixed media piece that includes a vintage paper silhouette of a greyhound---one of my favorite dog rescue organizations was in mind when I created this painting. With all of my animal artwork, the sale of this painting will benefit animal rescue efforts.
 "There and Back Again" was inspired by a recent trip through Atlanta's ATL. I am amazed at the organized chaos that is ever-present at the busiest airport in the United States. In addition to the techniques I learned from Sue, I also incorporated India ink into this painting. I brought my newest book resource, Daniella Woolf's The Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed Media for reading on the plane and took note of her India ink suggestions. To my delight, I got to play with it in Bridgette Guerzon Mills' workshop on Day 2. India ink has become a staple of my encaustic supplies!

August was a really tricky month for me. I was on vacation, Up North with my family for 10 days. This kept me out of the studio for a good two weeks. I managed to do a bit of art journaling while I traveled, and had a stint at CREATE in Chicago before the month ended. I finally made it back into my studio on the final day of the month! Despite more than 20 phone calls from work that day (long story), I did manage to complete one piece, which remains untitled since it ended up going home with a dear friend, literally hours after it's completion.

With it, I see subtle influences of all the new techniques I picked up in the past several weeks, including the addition of alcohol ink to my encaustic work. This would be Cathy Taylor's contribution to my toolbox! I'm looking forward to see what comes of all my new tools and techniques in the coming weeks. My brain is still not full, though----looking forward to EncaustiCon. Hope to see you there!

Live the dream:)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Creating, Teaching, Sharing and Controversy

Flowers in alcohol inks on Yumo paper
I am coming to the end of nearly a week at CREATE in Chicago---a learning experience for me, in more ways than one. My friend, Debbie and I chose CREATE as our annual art retreat together because Donna Downey is no longer hosting Inspired as an annual retreat, and the dates for CREATE worked for both of us. As I perused the class selections, I chose carefully, registering for classes that I  thought would offer me new techniques that I could incorporate into my encaustic work in some way.

I learned everything from painting with alcohol inks, to soldering with torches, to new journal-making techniques and even worked with leather and metal stamping. I walked away from nearly every class with a new idea I could apply to my work at Encaustication. I was feeling really good about my experience right up until one of my instructors decided to get up on a soapbox at the end of one of my classes and make a very self-centered speech about stealing from other artists. It seems that this artist is perfectly happy teaching new techniques to fellow artists (and getting paid to do so), but is not okay with these  techniques being used in others' work, or being taught by anyone else. Now, why in the world would I pay top dollar to learn techniques that I can't use or incorporate into my own work? If I were to master a particular technique, why would it be unacceptable for me to teach it, simply because someone else taught it to me? Haven't we all learned from our teachers, mentors, and fellow artists in one way or another? Very few ideas are novel ones---but if we do take one of our "ah-ha" moments and go out and share it with others AND profit from sharing it, why in the world would we accuse someone of theft when they began to use or share the very idea they had paid us to learn? Food for thought....if you feel you have something "special", then go out and trademark it, or patent it----don't TEACH it, earn money from teaching it, and expect your students to simply Ooooo and ahhhh over it, without actually using it!

On the flip side, I had a wonderful experience with a different instructor who took the time at the end of class to encourage everyone to sell their work as artists. This instructor was the polar opposite of the previously mentioned instructor. This teacher was inspiring, encouraging, and shared ideas and resources that were above and beyond the class description. That's the very definition of a mentor, and I'm proud to call myself her colleague.

Monday, July 16, 2012

EncaustiCamp Day 1: A Smashing Success

My first day at EncaustiCamp 2012 was a full day with Jess Greene and her new class "Bare Soul in Wax: Exploring 2-1/2 D". I read the course description and thought to myself...."can I really find it in myself to smash into a painting, midstream?"....I don't know about this!

Jess started the morning off with a discussion about her research into methods of art therapy. She made it very clear that she has no training as an art therapist, but finds the topic very interesting. We then spent a few minutes working through a guided writing exercise, which helped clear our minds for the coming project.

Working on 10"x10" cradled birch panels, we spent the remainder of the morning working with the wax: painting and building layers, adding collage elements, working with stencils, etc. Then, just before lunch Jess took us all outside with hammers and chisels and directed us to find a spot on our painting and smash into it! WOW!....that felt g-o-o-d! Gluing small jewelry boxes on the back of the birch panels, we left our paintings out to dry in the shade.

After lunch, we worked on filling our caverns with paper, wax and other found objects. I had spent the previous two days traveling down the Oregon coast and had collected some objects from nature (lichen, dried moss, and pine cones). I used these objects to tie the painting all together, incorporating them into the trauma site. The result was a wonderful release of emotions, and a reflection on the journey I had just taken....one of solitude in nature.

Sharing our paintings, in an informal circle bared our souls a little more. More than once, I was brought to tears by the stories shared by my fellow artists. Jess: thank you for a unique and wonderful experience, and for pushing my boundaries!

Live the dream:) Brenda