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"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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

EncaustiCamp 2012 Begins!

It's Wednesday morning in Salem and I'm the first "off-campus" camper to arrive.....on purpose. I wanted to enjoy the campus before it started bustling with encaustic artists ready to throw themselves into the wax. It's 55 degrees now, but set to blossom to 90 by mid-afternoon. I got lucky with the air-conditioned classroom today (Jess Greene's class).

The drive is a winding, somewhat confusing drive through Salem, but well worth the effort. Driving through the Willamette Valley on the way to create art....wo could ask for more? Trish just tried to sneak upon me, but her footsteps through the lush green grass gave her away. She's beaming with excitement for the day to begin!

As we gathered last night to get our class schedules and get to know one another, we had a swarm of bees develop over our heads in one of the nearby trees.....did they sense our love for the beeswax? Coming to join the party, perhaps:)

Live the dream:) Brenda

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More Cats and Dogs, Plus a New Product Line

Firestorm (12"x12"), encaustic and mixed media painting
The cats and dogs continue to leap onto my encaustic boards! I found a vintage ledger book on Etsy, which replenished my source for creating these silhouettes indefinitely (there are more than 100 pages in this wonderful oversized book of handwritten pages!).

My managers have been admiring the new paintings that found their way to our doctors' office walls and have been dropping hints about their bare office. Monday morning, they will come in to work to find a pair of dogs to liven up their office. "The Offering" is a 9"x12" encaustic and mixed media piece that just begs someone to throw the ball. "Let's Play" is 16"x16" and invites anyone and everyone to take a break and have a little bit of fun.

"The Offering" (9"x12"), encaustic and mixed media painting
 With the abundance of cats and dogs, I decided to create a line of blank greeting cards. The Vintage Pet cards are 4"x6" and come in sets of 5. The envelopes include a sealing label that matches the image on each card. In addition to Vintage Pets, I also created Vintage SoMe Blank Greeting Cards. Whether you love or hate social media, you'll love the irony of these images, created with vintage papers and produced with the intent of communicating with friends and family the old-fashioned way----with a stamp! You can check the first two sets of greeting cards out on my website.

An added benefit of purchasing my pet encaustic artwork and greeting cards? Two percent of these sales are donated to pet rescue organizations! My next creation?.....stay tuned for Encaustic Angels!

Live the dream:)
"Let's Play" (16"x16"), encaustic and mixed media painting

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's Raining Cats and Dogs

A Window Seat for Princess (12"x12")
It was only a matter of time before my two lives intersected in my artwork! This month, I have been creating a new office space for the veterinarians at my office. We had three really nice Stephen Huneck prints that celebrate the veterinarian. I chose the wall color paint from these prints and they look great. I then decided a few new pieces were in order to complement the new space.

This weekend, I finished three encaustic and mixed media paintings to hang in their new office. All three are encaustic paintings that have silhouette images of either a cat or a dog, which are cut from vintage ledger paper and embedded in the layers of encaustic medium. "A Window Seat for Princess" was inspired by our clinic cat, Princess. She arrived on our doorstep approximately eight years ago, in a white castle box, and gave birth to kittens within a week of her arrival. Homes for the kittens were easy enough to find, but Princess turned out to be a "special case"....she's not too crazy about people, but she took a real liking to the doctors' office---where she has lived ever since. The new office will give her a "real home", outside the walls of the animal hospital. She will now have her choice of window seats in the new space next door.

Vintage Greyhound (12"x12")
The second painting I created for their new office is "Vintage Greyhound". This is probably my favorite and is significant in that we work closely with Greyhounds Pets of America, caring for greyhounds who are retired from their racing lives to find their forever homes. We screen these gorgeous animals for parasites, vaccinate them, neuter or spay them, and clean their teeth so they have a clean bill of health before they begin their lives with a new family. Our medical director, Dr. Bill Neumann is a past board member of the Indianapolis branch of GPOA, and greyhounds have a special place in his heart.

The third painting, "Vintage Noel" was inspired by none other than Noel Brunner herself. Noel is an eleven-year-old labrador who is a celebrity at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic. She has been coming "to work" nearly every day since she turned 2, and was judged as being well-enough-behaved to keep herself out of trouble.

Vintage Noel (12"x12")
Despite her multiple knee surgeries and arthritis, this dog's entire body wiggles with joy when she greets you---no matter who you are! Strangely timid around little dogs, Noel is known by just about every client who comes to BRAC on a regular basis. Always looking for a hand-out, the staff is quick to warn visitors that she is on a strict diet (but she still manages to get her share of treats from soft-hearted dog lovers when we aren't watching).

After running out of larger sheets of ledger paper, I started working in a smaller size and created a few 5"x5" paintings in a similar style. The results were two new cat paintings titled, "Leap of Faith" and "Daydreamer". I think I'm going to have to find a regular source for more vintage papers...at least until the cats and dogs are all captured in wax:)

Leap of Faith (5"x5")

Live the dream:)

Daydreamer (5"x5")

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saying "No" to Get to "Yes"

I've been "grounded" for the past five weeks, while my husband was skiing in Colorado for his 50th birthday. This means I didn't fly anywhere, or leave the city of Indianapolis for anything. I had several phone calls from people wanting me to come do a presentation or consult with their practice, but I stuck to my self-imposed "grounding" for my family's sake, and it turns out----for my art's sake.

In the past five weeks, I was able to spend at least 8 hours each week in the studio, starting new pieces and finishing others. I believe I have produced more finished work in the past five weeks, than I have in the previous two years. Right now, I have six or seven pieces in progress! I find myself looking for time each week to get to the studio. I am now planning it into each week, once I have completed other projects and commitments. With April upon me, I am worried that I won't find that time for quite a while. I am overbooked with travel and outside consulting work.

Moving forward, I now know I need to incorporate a new word into my vocabulary----the word "no". Without it, I will lose my precious studio time which can only lead to imbalance of my inner well-being. At the end of 2011, one of my goals for 2012 was to limit my travels to one trip or week each month. I seriously blew that for January/February and April. September is looking equally out-of-balance already, so my new mantra is "say no to get to yes"!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Workshop Inspirations for 2012

Eight is Enough workshops will be launched at Encaustication beginning this Friday, January 6th with an Artist Trading Card workshop (as of right now, there are only 3 seats left, so be sure to look for Encaustication events on http://eventbrite.com to register). Here are some workshop ideas I've been tossing around. Let me know your thoughts!

  • Spirit Boxes: A Personal Mixed Media Journey Many people find ways to express their feelings through journaling, art, music, or a combination of methods of self-expression. Sometimes, you need something more symbolic to really get a memory or feeling out of your system. I have found that through Spirit Boxes, you can create a receptacle for the memories you'd like to treasure, or conversely a place to "lock up" feelings or memories you'd like to move past. In this 3-hour workshop, we will explore therapeutic journaling and the creation of your own mixed media spirit box.
  • Encaustics for Novices For the complete beginner, an introduction to encaustic medium! A 3-hour workshop that will walk you through the basics of working with encaustic wax. You will leave feeling confident that you too can create a palette at home for working in wax:) We'll not only play with wax, but we'll discuss the most affordable ways of setting up your own station at home without laying out a huge investment.
  • Beeswax Collage What do you get when you combine paper, ephemera, and beeswax? A relaxing good time with your art buddies! Spend three quality hours with friends playing with beeswax (not encaustic medium) and creating beautiful collage pieces for your home.
  • Art Journaling: An Introduction to the Creative Process If you've always loved looking through scrumptious art journals but have been afraid to take the leap on your own, this is a great place to start. In thhis 3-hour workshop, you will learn there are no rules when it comes to art journaling, which means there are no mistakes! We'll learn several techniques to get your creative juices flowing and you'll go home with your first art journal, with several pages already started:)
Live the dream:)