Today is MLK day. It’s dreary out, intermittently raining with cold sunshine.

This is a motel sign you can create yourself.

Paperless, portable art!

His & Hers

Here are my first encaustic painting results I’m willing to share.

I titled these “His and Hers.” They’re made from leftover wax scrapings I received in class last week. I especially like the pink which is a mixture I probably could not have come up with on my own, and it is a color I’m really attracted to working with.

The set up with the new griddle and sardine cans worked great. I didn’t blow any fuses or catch anything on fire. (Note to self: get a fire extinguisher for the kitchen and garage. My house has a fire alarm and sprinkler system, but I’d hate to see it go off with all the water damage that would ensue.)

These pieces are 9×9 on cradled gesso board. I used the Holy Grail as a primer, then 2 coats of clear beeswax (without damar; that hasn’t arrived yet). A tracing paper drawing of gears went on top of those 2 coats of wax, after a good fusing. I was able to get a very nice smooth and milky surface, which I ended up covering up, but fun to practice with the heat gun to get rid of all the bubbles.

The stripe is a combination of wax pastel overlaid with the wax paint. When I went to fuse these areas, the wax pastel broke up underneath. The detail is gorgeous – very ephemeral – but hard to capture in this photo. (Tip: click on the photo and it will pop up in a new window, enlarged. I can see the speckly details on my iMac; can you?)

Now on to a couple of little pieces on the press.

So Many Choices

Today is a day off work for me, so I have big plans to get lots of art done. But, that can overwhelm me with pressure. So instead of tormenting myself about which way to go next (small drawings for the encaustic layers, and if so, which ones?; finish the art piece for someone I am having lunch with tomorrow; browse through books trying to find my artistic voice; try the wax on a plate on the print press….) I washed my car, even though rain is predicted for tonight or tomorrow. I just know I will feel better if my car is shiny and washing it pretty much guarantees some more much needed rain.

Then, I ran some errands, including buying some tuna and sardines so I will have the empty metal cans to mix my wax paints and a griddle for warming them up. I tried going on-line to find a less expensive/used griddle, but I couldn’t find anything. Luckily, the hardware store in my little 6-horse town is handy – they always have what I need. While in the hardware store, a friend called about prices to make signs for a conference coming up. I was right there in the poster board aisle, so I gave her some real-time quotes. I’m doing the layouts for the conference committee to approve, having made the logo for this big convention too.

I took a little walk along the beach because I’m trying to ease back into exercising. Last year, I was up to 12 miles a week. Now I feel pressed to walk 12 feet! I had my headphones on and did some arm-swinging walk dancing to Sheryl Crow. I’m hoping that puts me back in the mood I was last year – Best of Sheryl Crow was what I did all my walking and running to. I felt really in shape and totally capable of the 3 miles up and 3 miles back walk/run I was doing with her in my ear.

Now, I’m going to warm up some beeswax and paint it onto plexiglass and do some press runs.

That’s some art for the day. I’ll post the results later tonight of the wax + press.

Finally, I Take an Encaustic Class

Last week, I finally realized a quest to take an encaustic painting class. (Encaustic is a painting process that uses hot beeswax and pigment to paint on a rigid surface. Think: painting with melted crayons, sort of.)

The yearning came after I saw an encaustic painting at the International Art Exhibition at Ft Mason five years ago. The encaustic process lent a quality to the landscape, which was of a view out over the ocean, that was ethereal. Like nothing I had ever seen before.

I tried the usual “self-taught” method. I bought a couple of very good books (which turned out to be the bibles), and the materials. But there is something about encaustic that you need to see it being done to “get it.” Turned out I had all the right materials, but was doing one or two critical things wrong. I was using a hair dryer instead of a heat gun to fuse the wax. I should know there is a difference, being an engineer! The hair dryer wasn’t getting the wax hot enough, and in the meantime, was blowing it all over the place.

I somehow also missed the requirement to add damar resin to the beeswax, at 20%. The damar makes the wax harden nicely.

So, thanks to Eileen Goldenberg for teaching wonderful classes in San Francisco. I took her full-day course, where we learned all about the basic techniques in the morning: making the medium, pigments and how to use them, and basic set up for tools and layering the wax. Eileen’s Tea House paintings using wax are amazing – check them out on her website.

In the afternoon, after a lovely lunch in her verdant back yard, we practiced collaging, which was the juicy part I really wanted to learn. In my self-taught pieces, my images were getting lost in the layers. With Eileen’s expert instruction, I was instantly able to correct my errors in technique and achieve the look I was after. I feel so much more confident now, and able to move ahead to experiment with colors and textures.

I am planning to attend the International Encaustic Artist’s annual meeting in Carmel in April, which will be a real treat. And, I plan to marry the encaustic technique up with my new press to make monotypes built from a waxed and inked plate.

Collage Day 2008

A group of us girls got together today – 6 old, 2 young – to do our annual collages. We started with a meditation, led by Andrea. Relaxed and in possession of our higher power’s wisdom, we sat down to pull images. The little ones were probably cursing our meditation in my daughter’s room. She told me flat out before we started to “cut it with the airy-fairy crap.”

Here a picture of my 2008 Collage. I did a round box to receive images throughout the year. I’m not exactly sure what this year will bring – I actually never am. And, I wasn’t particularly attracted to too many images from magazines during the “pulling” period of today’s event.

So, I collaged some broken dollar bills that my son left in his pants that ended up taking out my washing machine pump a couple of weeks ago. I put some fish around the outside of the box with the money, after covering the box with a coat of gesso. As far as I got with my manifesting for 2008 was that I want to be swimming in money by year-end.

I also cut out some hearts and a couple of other images and put them inside the box. I’ll keep doing that all year. It’s interesting this year to be working in a disconnected medium (images to be put into the box) as opposed to laying them all together on a flat surface, connecting them through geometry and color.

And, it is always such a mystery what the year will bring.