Bees are Life

It’s been nagging at me, the fact that there are so many bees dying. I am sure that it is all the pesticides that are being sprayed for the produce and other food we eat. I understand that it’s a much bigger picture than just that but it’s been weighing heavy the last few weeks. I decided to create a piece of art to commemorate how much bees are needed for the survival of the human race. I started with a test bee on the counter of my tables where I work and then graduated to my art journal, finally landing on a small 18×20 canvas.

This isn’t the end of this conversation for sure but at least it’s a start.

This is my practice bee…

Here are pictures from my art journal….

This is my final canvas painting

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I Love My Studio!

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I feel so grateful to have a studio space in the back yard of my home. I know so many artists who work in their small studios, bedrooms, kitchens and apartments. For me to be able to come home from work and fix myself a drink and walk out to my back yard and into my studio is truly a blessing.  It’s all there for me, all the things I need to be creative. I have been really forcing my self to focus and spend more time in my studio, I have a goal of 50 paintings in 6 months. This week it really paid off. I felt so good; the creative juices were flowing I completed 9 encaustic paintings and 1 acrylic painting. It felt so great to complete so much work, something I had been trying to do.

I wanted to really focus this week and try a bunch of new things. I wanted to get more texture into my work as well as keeping areas really smooth. One of the things I really love about Encaustic Paintings are how they look like glass from the side when they are really smooth. I wanted to try to incorporate smoothness and texture together so I did a lot of little paintings to see what worked and what didn’t – and yes, I did count those into my 9 finished pieces.

I also found that I really like the way my paintings look with frames. I have some painting that I covered with wax on the top and the sides which is cool also but having a frame on a picture is something else altogether.

All in all I had a really wonderful week. I feel that I really accomplished a lot, I completed work that I had previously started. I started and finished a few paintings and I got back into the swing of painting with acrylic paint. Next stop, finish a painting I started a while ago that is an oil painting.

I love my life, my home, my work and most of all my partner! LIFE IS GOOD!

Check out my work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavensNestArt

 

Encaustic Painting outside The Box

I have been doing a lot of sketching and thinking these past few weeks. Thinking of new ways to paint, new images that mean something to me. I was sitting outside one nice spring evening and watching all the birds in our back yard. I began sketching like crazy with some fun ideas.

I have been wanting to paint with encaustic for a long time and recently I have been wanting to include the sides too. I did some research and couldn’t find anything so I headed out on my own. I figured that the sides would need to be gessoed and so I bought some R&F Gesso and Golden Gesso for hardboard to see what would work the best. They both work well but the Golden lasts a lot longer; I think it’s a better value for your money. So I began painting the edges and then covering them with the wax.

The result of cover the sides was really exciting for me, I loved the way it looked. I love the way the boards look before I do any alterations to them. I typically cover my boards with 5 layers of medium mixed with damar crystals because of the amount of incising that I end up doing during the painting, I want to have a lot of wax to work with so this is what works for me. I kept wanting to touch the pieces and hold them in my hands. It felt great!

My ideas that spring evening came to fruition this past weekend when I started with covering the sides of my boards and painting with a few birds that we have visiting our yard and one bird that I saw on a walk in Muir Woods last year. I am very excited about this new series and will have a few more coming next week so stay tuned! If you would like to see what else I have going on you can check out my etsy site at : http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavensNestArt

Thinking about Mother’s Day

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

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Here are the “non” mother’s day paintings:

Rêve d’art or dreaming of art

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.

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My Childhood Art Then and Now

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!

Encaustic Triptych – Surrealist Landscape

Last week I talked about learning from my mistakes and this week I feel that last weeks mistakes paid off. I started with the one cradled board that was a mess last week. I cleaned it off to start over and decided that I would use all three I had for a triptych I had been sketching about all week. My sketching is all about free flow and what ever comes to my mind I will draw and color in, whether it’s from my memories or what I see outside or just a bunch of doodles. Last week someone gave me 25 copic markers and so I spent all week drawing with them. They were not my color choice so I decided to think and draw outside the “color box”. To draw and sketch with just the sketching in mind and not the colors so much. It was quite difficult because I am very drawn to certain colors and definitely have my favorites. It was really good for me to go outside my color comfort zone and doodle, draw and sketch with colors I don’t normally use. It really made me sketch from feelings and from my memories instead of just sketching with color. I strive to do things artistically and with my life that take me outside my comfort zone, not all the time mind you but quite often. It’s there where I really and truly learn what I am made of. Last week was one of those experiences for me, trying new tools and new techniques.  I could have gotten mad; I could have pretended like it didn’t happen at all but my nature is to learn and I sure did learn a lot from all I did last week. This week I am very happy with the results of my work and my experiences from the past weeks of trial and error. This week was a success for me. Using colors I don’t normally use and doodling with copic markers not of my choosing. The encaustic painting was a success not only because it turned out compositionally and with the colors I used but because I chose to go outside my comfort zone last week and this week and take what I learned and put it into my painting. It felt really good to accomplish something really good this week.

triptych in blue

Above is a picture of before the painting began but after I put on the base layers of my medium.I first put 6 layers of clear medium onto each of the three boards. I put equal parts of damar resin crystals and wax medium into my pots to melt. While the wax was melting I went through my other wax colors and brought out the ones I felt would be the best for the this landscape. I really like the wax pots I have; I found them at Daniel Smith on-line. They are empty printers ink cans and they hold a really good amount of wax. The first color I added to the boards along the bottom was Celedon Green; I put about 30% damar resin, 20% pigment and 50% medium. I like how this color is pretty opaque. The next color I used along the top of the boards was turquoise blue and again it was about the same percentage of pigment, damar resin and wax medium. I put a small strip about 2/3 of the way down the board with a green gold pigment but with this color I used 40% damar resin, 50% wax medium and only 10% pigment. I wanted this color to be more transparent than the rest because I wanted a lot of contrast between the green gold and the thick heavy line below in Cadmium Orange. I painted layer upon layer of the Cad Orange to get it so raised up off the board. I made this color with 40% wax medium, and 50% damar resin and 10% Cadmium Orange Pigment; this pigment is so strong that one only needs a small amount to get the opacity you see in the picture below.

triptych in blue triptych in blue

The next thing I did was incise through the wax with a ceramic tool. The one I used has a wooden handle and a metal tip on the end, it’s used for trimming the tops of pots while throwing on a wheel. I had decided to do a type of landscape based on my sketches and the encaustic painting that I had started last week. I filled the lines with R&F Titanium White Pigment Sticks and let it sit for an hour or so. One of the problems I had last week was my impatience to complete a piece, so this week I decided to take my time and slow down. I really was getting excited about this piece and didn’t want my impatience to ruin it. While I was waiting for the oil paint to settle, I cleaned off the sides of my boards. I typically use my heat gun to warm the wax that has dripped over the sides and a metal ceramic rib to scrape off the excess wax. They work really good and get the boards really clean. I have included pictures of all the ceramic and sculpture tools that I like to use with my encaustic painting.

After cleaning the sides of my boards of wax, I put a thin coat of clear medium over the whole board. Enough to cover the white pigment I had pushed into the the incised areas of the painting. I then put 3 more layers of cadmium orange to heighten the layers between the depth of the white and the height of the orange because I wanted more dimension between all the layers of wax. My next step was to add the balls of red (Alizarin Crimson); last week I heated up a sculpture tool and melted holes into the wax and filled them in and then scraped back to get it smooth. That really didn’t work out very well,  so this week I painted with the wax to make balls on top instead. I used the same percentage of wax, damar and medium as the Cadmium Orange and really liked how it turned out. I did some different tests to see what I like best and what was best suited for what I was doing and I like having the red high up off the boards along with the orange stripes. I am very pleased with the result of all my hard work, I really do love working with wax and the fluidity of it all. When it is all said and done; life is ever changing and fluid. Being open to what life has to offer is the best part of living.

Willingness to learn & know when to stop

Today was a great day for me, despite the fact that the encaustic painting I was working on was a failure. I decided in my first post that I would not only share the pieces that worked but the ones that didn’t. This piece was a little bit of both for me. I was trying out a bunch of new tools today and even though my painting started out good….it didn’t end that way. In the image below I am about 1/2 way through my piece. I had fused sage, green gold and turquoise wax for the background and was really happy with the way it was coming along. I carved out the lines and filled it will Prussian blue oil paint, and covered the lines with clear medium and fused again and still things were going along great. In my next step I heated up the end of this sculpture tool I had and melted these holes into the painting and intended to fill them with Alizarin Crimson wax. I had this whole thing planned out……

I started filling up the holes with the red and scraping back the extra so the piece was flat but somewhere along the line I accidentally overheated the wax and it all went down the drain from there. I was using a new heating tool and it was getting really hot. I thought if I tried putting more medium over the whole piece and scraping back where I wanted it to be all would be well. That didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to either so I decided that I would keep scraping the piece while heating up the wax and without heating up the wax to see what would happen. It just got worse and worse so I stopped.

When my painting stopped working I decided to use this piece as a learning experience. I thought about how this project did and didn’t work for me. I learned a lot today; what my new tools will and won’t do, what my new heat gun does when I am not paying attention and most importantly when to stop. I am going to scrape down the rest of this piece and start over, and I am more than okay with that.  Life and Art is good. Life and/or Art doesn’t turn out the way you think it’s going to so I guess life does imitate art, at least mine does.

Collaboration – Spray Painting & Friends

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This is My Blog; I am going to be posting my art, my process, my struggles and triumphs. I am looking forward to sharing my life, my art and my experiences with the world. Come along and see what happens. In my experience we are who we are because of our family and friends and so it’s fitting that my first post would be about a friend and I working together to create a fantastic piece of artwork.

Yesterday my friend Modupe and I collaborated on a painting. We began with a large 60″x 72″ canvas and a couple of rum and cokes (well, I was having a rum and coke – she was having rum on the rocks). We sat on lawn chairs outside in my back yard and looked at this big empty canvas. There was a large box of Montana Spray Paint and a cup full of different caps and we talked about what we were going to do.

Half way through our drinks she picked up a can of shock red and put a dot of red at the bottom corner and we were off and spraying.

It was a really sunny afternoon and we laughed, sprayed and drank for 3 1/2 hours and ended with the most amazing collaborative painting. Take a look and tell me what you think.