I had a friend of mine tell me the other day that she is starting to think like an artist. WOW! What a great feeling to be able to connect what you are doing in your life to how you are feeling on the inside. I have decided that all my free time is going to be dedicated to making my insides and my outsides match!
I spent a few weekends working on my artist statement and my CV. It took a lot of revisions and reworking but and a very patient friend (the same friend as previously mentioned) helped me with the editing. I am very thankful to her and her help. I feel really good about my artist statement and think it’s time. It’s time to let the world see what I have been up to and show them that I am indeed an artist and they would do well to pay attention to me. I feel so much happiness and joy when I am creating my work that I have a hard time staying inside my body. I move around like a little kid who has to go to the bathroom. I get all wiggly and can hardly sit still. I am going back to my meditation classes this week which should help ground me. The Saraha Kadampa Buddhist Temple really brings peace to my life, my mind and my world. I am very excited to be able to find a place nearby that I can get to once a week. The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”.
Bringing kindness to myself and others is one of the ways that I help bring the balance in my life. The balance of myself (inside and outside), balance of life vs. work vs. art vs. friends.
I am going to do it, I am going to start thinking like an artist and put my art out there in the world. I just sent an application in to be in a book. It’s called Embracing Encaustic, by Linda Womack. I think it is very fitting that as I am embracing my life as an artist I am embracing a book that is embracing encaustic art.
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!
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.