I want to share with you Dear Readers my art process. How do I start an encaustic painting? What do I do in the middle and how do I know it done?
1. The first thing that happens is that I have an idea, I then break out one of my sketch books. I always have one around me; whether I am at home or riding to work or in my studio. I typically have 3-4 sketch books going at one time. I keep them all around my house, in my purse, in my studio and next to my bed because I never know when I might have an idea and for me – “if it’s not written down it doesn’t exist”.
2. The second step in my process is to draw and sketch my idea. I typically will go through 2-10 pages of my sketch book. It is how I can bring my ideas come to life. If I am on my way to work or in bed I will keep the sketch book handy and then bring it to my studio to redraw it in my bigger sketch book that I keep there. I will use colour pencils or pens to highlight certain areas, spots that I want to concentrate on. Usually I am using a black, blue or burgundy pen for the basic part of my drawing.
3. The next step for me is to pull out all my papers, ephemera and any other goodies I have laying around that I think will go well with what I am trying to put out there. This part is typically with out colour because colour is so important to me and so important to my work. I don’t the colour to distract me from the objects I using for the painting. I want the pieces to work on their own and to look good/balanced within the whole. I will take a picture of what I have laid out and then look at it very critically away from the studio. Then I will bring the picture to my sketch book and make any changes or alterations that I feel are needed.
4. Once I am happy with the layout, I will bring in the colour for the painting. I will bring out my colour pencils or pens and do some sketching while trying to find the balance between the colours and the items I will be using for this painting. It will be very simple with large blocks of colour to give me a feeling of what I want to bring to the piece.
5. After I have added colour to my sketch book I set up my station with all the things I have laid out; but I will have more items there too because I want to leave my self open to change. Once I begin painting sometimes things look different and I’ll need to add or subtract items or change the colours. I usually stop a lot in the beginning and use all my pictures/ drawings and colors as reference. Once I am about 1/2 way through I can see what it will look like and visualize what needs to go where and what else I need to do to complete the painting.
6. After I feel the painting is completed, I will step away for a while and then come back to it make sure I feel it’s complete. During the process, I will take a lot of notes next to the painting; I have brown craft paper down underneath the painting which works great for keeping a clean surface as well as a perfect place to write down notes. I really like writing and taking a lot of notes about my paintings. Writing helps me see my work from another perspective; the teacher in me never leaves and this is the best way for me to critique my work. I try to see my work from all different angles. I know when my work/painting is finished because I look at it and FEEL JOY! I hope you like this as much as I do.
I have been thinking about the fact that Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I don’t know what to get my Moms (yes, that’s right – plural). I have a birth mother and an adopted mother both with which whom I love. I wanted to get them something heartfelt but don’t have a lot of money. I know my birth mother’s favorite colors are purple and orange and my adopted Mom loves blue and green. I decided that I would make some small encaustic paintings in their honor.
I sat down in my studio with the idea that I was going to make 2 paintings for both of my Moms. What happened was that I ended up being super productive and completed 10 paintings in one day (ONE DAY), which is so amazing for me. I was in the Zone! I am happy with how some of them turned out and not so happy with others but I have had some compliments from people I don’t even know so whose to say what moves people and what things people connect with.
When it comes to me and my Mothers; it doesn’t matter that I am almost 50 years old, I still feel like a kid when it comes to my Mothers. I want to do the best, be the best I can be for them.
Here are 6 sweet mother’s day encaustic paintings that I did and am listing them on Esty right now. http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavensNestArt
Here are the “non” mother’s day paintings:
I have been dreaming of art this past week and am really excited about my new series that I will be working on. I wanted to make sure I could do what I imagined; so this past week I spent a lot of time sketching and painting. The paintings I am posting this week are sketches for a larger project. I am so excited I can barely contain myself. Every time I think about it or talk about it I want to jump out of my skin; go home and start painting. This is the most inspired I have really felt since I started my journey of encaustic painting.
I am going to bring the things I love all together – teaching – french and painting encaustic. I love more than these 3 things but these are the 3 things I am bringing together for this series. I will be painting the entire alphabet – one board at a time. A-Z in French and with lovely articles in French. I will be using an old fashioned writing tool, the writing paper I used when I was a child. The kind that’s really large, it has a solid line at the top and the bottom and the dotted line in the middle. I will be writing in French each word and will be bringing the pictures to life with old fashioned drawings and painting of each item.
In this blog post I am using things I cherish for my sketches; as you may remember from a few blogs previous I talked about how I love keys and so this week I focused on my technique using keys (the French word for key is Clé). I used keys and mirrors in these 5 paintings, they are just sketches to help me with how I want the final pieces to come out. It was a really great exercise, it helped me see what worked and what didn’t. What I needed to do to make sure the viewer saw the old fashioned writing paper. In some of the sketches the paper is easier to see than others. I want to make sure before I begin my actual painting that I understand what the wax will do to my pictures and to my writing and what is the best way to keep the integrity of the wax and the images while still bringing to life my dreams.
Here is a sneak preview.
In a previous post “Encaustic Paintings and My Life”, I spoke of my Art that I had done as a child and that I was very inspired by it. I decided to post the art and talk about my feelings about it; why is was so great to have the physical art work and why it is so inspiring to me. I chose one painting to start with. My very FIRST painting that I did as a child. I was 3 years old when this painting was done. (circa 1966) I am very proud of it. I can’t believe it has survived and it is 46 years old.
Having all my childhood pictures is very bittersweet for me. I love having them but I feel sad that it took me so long to come back to my passion. I am grateful that I have this in my life now and I know I don’t ever have to put this part of me aside. I can keep this part of me alive and thriving. I always wondered why it’s good and appropriate for young children to create art in school but the older they get the more frivolous it becomes? Why do schools always cut the creative part of the schooling before anything else? It seems like art and music are always getting the ax. Well, that was how it was in my family too when I was growing up. “Do something that is worthwhile and that will make you money”, my Mother would say to me. It was always a power struggle when I was growing up, I wanted to do what made me feel good (art) and my parents wanted me to take math and science classes. Even though I was very good at math and science, I was driven to create, I hounded them so much in high school that they allowed me to take 2 classes in high school. I had 2 free periods, so instead of leaving school early like the rest of my peers; I stayed in school and took art classes. I took a painting and a ceramics class; I adored them both and wished I could continue after high school but I was told that if they were going to pay for my education I had to take the classes they wanted me to. Needless to say I didn’t continue with my art classes.
I love art, I love the process of it and the outcome whether people think it is worthy of showing or not. I love it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. When I was older and much wiser I decided to go back to school and guess what classes I took??? ART – that’s right my friends – ART! I tried everything. Painting, ceramics, sculpture, mono-printing, intaglio, figure drawing and anything else I could cram into my 18 units. I even went to summer school. I loved both of the schools that I went to and feel that I got an outstanding education. I began taking art classes at San Francisco City College and then went on to finish my education at Parsons School of Design in Paris, France where I graduated with a BFA and began living my dream life.
A few years went by and life happened; I stopped painting and began working for a company that was “art based” but I wasn’t painting anymore. I was doing graphic design and creating invitations. It was fun and creative for me; making invitations from the inception to completion. I was making a lot of money and was extremely unhappy. I worked at this company for 15 years and then decided I needed a change so I quit. I went through a bunch of different jobs until the job I have now. I am happy, content and excited about art again. I am creating AND making money. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I don’t think doing art is frivolous, I think it necessary and important in every child’s development to be able to express themselves in different ways. I would love it if government and families would see the necessity of art being included in the curriculum to have a well rounded education.
I am taking my original childhood art and using them as inspiration for new encaustic paintings. This will be the first of many to come!