A few weeks ago I blogged about how I wanted to try to complete 50 paintings in 6 months. Well, I have been a busy beaver here in NorCal.
I have been preparing for Open Studio in October and wanted to have at least 50 paintings by then. I am coming along pretty well; I have been doing between 2 and 5 per week. When I posted my blog a few weeks ago I had completed 32 encaustic paintings. Some of those were small 2.5″ x 3.5″ but paintings non the less and worth counting in my opinion. Since my post a few weeks ago I have begun and completed 15 new paintings.
On a sad note, I was trying to get into Fort Mason’s Open Studio and was contacted by them with their pricing and I feel very depressed because I have been priced out of Fort Mason’s Open Studio. They want $23 an hour for 12 hours MINIMUM on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday. That is $506 dollars plus $175 cleaning fee and a $10 sign fee. So it will cost $700 for the whole weekend. I just feel like crying – with NO guarantee. I know my paintings are good but I can’t afford to put out that kind of money. I could share the space with someone but all the artist’s I know don’t even have $350 dollars to spare. I am not sure what kind of artist’s can afford that kind of money. If they have it, they probably have their own studio; I know it’s a great space but seriously….$700!
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.
I love keys, painting and Paris; you could say I am a Franco-file. Since living there and going to school there, Paris has held a special place in my heart. I love the key to my old French Apartment, it was one of those old skeleton keys and it was hard to open my heavy wooden door but I loved it none the less. This encaustic painting is from my heart, from my memories of France and with all the love I have for my life right now, my past life and my future. I have decided not to be afraid anymore; I am not going to be afraid of doing new things, afraid of what people will think, afraid of becoming popular, afraid of people liking or loving my work. I want to live in my life without fear!
Encaustic painting is living without fear for me! I am going for it and really enjoying myself, I am scared out of my mind but I am still doing it. When I first moved to France I didn’t speak ONE word of French but I still went and I learned French. I was scared out of my mind then and it was a hard road for me but one that was worth walking down. I would never change that experience for anything. This feels the same to me, I am learning as I go down this path and even though it’s hard it’s worth it!
The keys to love for me is living the life I have always dreamed and that included painting, writing and sharing my joy with all who will listen.
LISTEN – LOOK – LOVE and ENJOY THE KEYS TO MY LOVE!
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.
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.
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.
I recently went through some old boxes of mine and found art work that I did when I was 3 years old. My Mom was so great to think ahead and date each and every piece of my art work. I was amazed at what a little kid can do; in fact what I did between the ages of 3 and 10. Apparently that is when I stopped doing any art work which make me a tad bit sad but I think I feel lucky to still have these paintings. One of the most vivid childhood memories I have is me finger painting outside with one of my Dad’s old shirts on and how full my heart-felt. It was such a strong memory that I went back to that same preschool as an adult and even though it was smaller it looked exactly same and it made me smile. I can still smell the paint, my Dad’s cologne and the way the newsprint felt under my little 3-year-old fingers.
Jumping ahead to about 2 months ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to paint with wax. I had gone to art school and wanted to learn while in school but they didn’t allow that type of painting due to its toxicity and the fact that you have to heat wax. I have been reading numerous books and watching YouTube videos and trying learn all I needed to be able to paint with wax. Two weeks ago I felt I was ready to start encaustic painting. I had purchased all the wax, a few boards and paint brushes and set out to become an encaustic painter. It was a disaster; the first 2 paintings I did were a big mess, they reminded me of what my painting first looked like when I began oil painting. I put down my brushes and reread a book that I have on the subject. The next day I was back out in my studio at it again; I am nothing if not driven to succeed. I wasn’t going to let the WAX win! My third painting wasn’t bad, It wasn’t great either. It helped me to have my childhood paintings around hanging up in my studio. I could feel my enthusiasm building like when I was three and tried again and lo and behold my 4th painting was great.
The reason I decided to try encaustic painting stemmed from a love of 3 dimensional painting, a love of paper and found objects. It is the perfect medium to express myself. The first painting I completed that I was happy with is called 3 squared and I painted it for my brother-in-law as a thank you. I found some really cool paper and these old bingo wooden numbers that I incorporated into the piece. I cut out the letter J and put it on the bottom left hand corner of the triptych. The boards were glued together after I painted them. There is the number 3 in all the pieces, along with 3 pieces of 5×5″ clay boards. I have done 4 more paintings in the past few weeks and it’s beginning to feel like it’s becoming a part of me as an artist. I carve into the paintings & do a lot of rubbing of oil paint into the work which feels similar to how it felt when I was 3 years old connecting my art through the paint with my hands. Painting with encaustic feels like coming home; now all I need is an old shirt of my Father’s, some Old Spice and I will be 3 years old again.