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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Encaustic Painting Diptychs

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I have always loved painting with multiple panels. Whether it is with oil or encaustic. I love being able to bring the viewer from one side to the other with my painting. It feels more complete to me; maybe it’s because I have had 2 families –  growing up with an adopted family and as an adult meeting my birth family. I think in twos….two mothers, two fathers, two families etc.

I also love layers; when I was growing up I would always look into other homes, through windows to see if that was my birth family. I think being able to see through to another world is one of the reasons I love encaustic painting so much.  The wax is the window and even though it may be distorted; if you look close enough you can see what lays beneath. You don’t always see everything but you usually get the feeling of what is there. If you look closely to my work you will see what lays beneath. Have a look!

You can also see what else I have been up to at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavensNestArt

 

Getting ready for the World

I feel like I have been at this for a long time and yet I still get freaked out when thinking about preparing for a show. My head plays all kinds of games: is anyone going to come? Are they going to like it? Will anyone buy my paintings? Will they think they are original and will they get it?

The list goes on and on, but I have to stop and listen to my heart. I am doing this because I love to paint. I want to share what I love with the rest of the world. Yes, I want people to come to my shows. Yes, I want people to buy my work (they already have). Yes, they are original and people so get it. I have to keep remembering that people like my work; they have actually said so – to my face.

Working with Encaustic is very difficult for me, coming from an oil painting background and having control over the paint to using wax, heating it up and feeling totally out of control really has been a learning experience for me. Sometimes I love the outcome and sometimes I think – what the hell just happened? Is is good? Do I like what happened? Should I just leave it? Should I throw it away? I have done both in the past and feel fine about the decisions I made about each one.

While trying to get ready for the last show, I was frantically trying to make sure everything was perfect. Well, being that I am human I forgot that I needed to put signs up for the titles and the prices but what happened was in the last minute I came up with a great idea and people like it.

I have to remember that I may not always be prepared, I may not please everyone but as long as my work makes me happy and brings me joy all the other stuff will come. People who matter will eventually see my work, I will start to remember all the things I need to have a successful show, I will sell my work and my life will be great! If I can stay positive and keep putting out into the world my work, great things will happen. I had 7 pieces in the last show and I would like to share them with you.

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New Paintings – 50 in 6 months for Open Studio

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!

If you would like to see what else I have been up to you can go to my Etsy Store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavensNestArt

I am going to have to come up with another plan for Open Studio. I will find another place AND I will have at least 50 paintings. I have to think positive, I know things are going to happen for me.

Here are the new paintings I have completed in the past 2 weeks! 14 new ones – yeah I said it right – 14! Check ’em out!

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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

My Art Process from Beginning to End or my Finished Joy

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.

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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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.