Taking Realism to Abstraction

My studio sits beside a beautiful lake and the sunsets and sunrises on the lake are amazing.  Every day I feel blessed when I see the sky constantly changing, the reflections in the lake go from bright oranges to midnight blues, and the leaves in the fall pop to reds and oranges.  I can understand why artists in the Group of Seven were drawn to the landscapes around Algonquin Park.   I, on the other hand, have a love – hate relationship with painting landscapes.   I have tried painting realistically.  Six years ago I did a few paintings of water plants by the shores of the lake.  Below are examples.

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Shore Plants. acrylic, 30″ X 30″
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Shore Plants, 30″ X 30″, acrylic on canvas
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Shore Plants, 24″ X 48″, acrylic on canvas
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Shore Plants, 30″ X 30″, acrylic on canvas

I had positive reviews but did not see my future as a realistic landscape painter.  I have always been drawn to the non-representational and have predominately painted in that style. Yet, every now and then, when I need a break from the Interlaced series, I try to paint realistic lake views.   And, every time the landscape is finished I disrupt the pretty realism by painting my woven structure over it.  I can’t leave that painting as a realisitc landscape.

Incubation Period

While staying in Florida, for the month of January (2017), I went to an art store to buy myself a few tubes of watercolour paint, paper, some sewing needles and yarn.  Utilizing the idea of barriers, since I was so against Trump’s idea of building a wall along the Mexican and USA border, I created these small watercolour paintings and used my needle and thread and wove a weaving on top of the landscape.  When I got home I put them away.

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Water colour, yarn on paper, 9″ X 12″
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Watercolour on paper with yarn, 9″ X 12″

Experimental Days

Every month I take a few days off from the series that I am working on and shift my thoughts to experimenting on other ideas. On one of those days I decided to take a photograph from the edge of our lake and then, in the studio, paint those reflections on the lake with the horizon line and distant hills.   When it was finished I saw another pretty landscape which I just could not relate to. The image of my weaving materialized and I added a woven overlay on top of the blue water and fused it.  This time, by accident, I over  fused the lines so the wax melted and created lacy lines over the water.  It felt like I had added a warm woven blanket onto the surface and then it sank in some parts and raised to the surface in other areas.   I just loved the affect.  Then, I remembered the watercolour painting that I did of the barrier in Florida and began adding a fence on the horizon line.  As I was painting the fence it reminded me of a lines of trees so I shifted the fence to trees with spaces in between.   I included colours of reds and yellows peaking through those trees.     It became a tree fence blocking the views beyond the horizon line.

I was so excited with that landscape because it was still realistic yet it was also an abstraction – it had a twist when I fused the water and added the running tree fence.  Below is the first painting in the series.

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Standing at the Edge, encaustic on panel, 24″ X 24″

My intent of using barriers or coverings was still in that first painting and became the catalyst for the next series.  I continued to paint three more variations focusing on lake views from the water’s edge and included a running tree fence blocking the views.

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At the Edge #2, Encaustic on panel, 24″ X 24″
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At the Edge #3, encaustic on panel, 24″ X 24″
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At the Edge #4, encaustic on panel, 24″ X 24″ 

 

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Setting Small but Attainable Goals

In 2013 I retired from the art department at California State University in Sacramento.  During the 13 years that I worked in California I made art, had two solo exhibitions and exhibited in gallery group shows but teaching was my priority.  When I retired in 2013 I moved back to Canada and set up a studio and now work full-time as a painter.  I gave up sculpture to embrace Encaustic.   I am new to this small community in Northern Ontario.    There are very few  galleries and most focus on exhibiting artists who paint realistically.  So, in order to survive here as an artist,  I decided to set goals for myself.  In this blog I share those goals

Goal #1  Just practice the craft of using molten wax as a painting medium as well as focus on one theme.  Over that last four years I have been practicing this medium almost everyday.   My goal is to perfect my technique of painting woven lines.   I have always been fascinated by artists using textiles and did create art quilts for a few year, so instead of using a loom to weave textiles, I began using the painted line to weave intricate woven coverings over background abstracted landscapes.  In  “Darning Memories” I took inspiration from contemporary artists working with textiles.   Instead of using a loom, fabric, needle and thread  I use the painted lines to mimic threads so weave  hundreds of intersecting lines into contemporary woven structures.   While immersing myself  in painting I think about whether barriers act to protect or keep us isolated? Do coverings keep us warm, safe, hidden or become suffocating?   The goal for my paintings evolved into a complex dialogue surrounding identity in relation to physical and psychological barriers.

Goal #2  build a website and show my paintings on social media platforms.  I designed my Weebly website (www.annawagnerott.com) and published it, started this blog (Encaustic Adventures), opened up a Facebook page, joined Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

Goal #3 apply to group and juried shows.  In 2016 and 2017 I participated in the Art Fair at the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown. At the Art Fair I met Adam and Mariam Peck. www.adampeck.com  They invited me to participate in the Black Tie (Optional) group show at their Adam Peck Gallery,  June of 2017.

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Ties that Bind, encaustic on panel, 12″ X 12″

During that same time one of my paintings was accepted into a juried show at the Kobalt Gallery in Provincetown, June, 2017,

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“Barriers that go on Forever, encaustic on panel, 12″ X 12”

and at the Juried exhibition at the Morpho Gallery in Chicago.   The following painting was accepted.

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Burning Embers, encaustic on panel, 6″ X 24″

Goal #4  participate in the local Madawaska Valley Studio Tour as well as apply to the Juried exhibition in the Trinity Gallery at the Shenkman Centre in Ottawa.   I wanted to open my studio to the public so that I could meet individuals and share my work and processes.  I great way to get feedback and also sell a few paintings.     My painting was accepted into the AOE arts council members’ show and I was delighted to receive the Juror’s Choice Award.

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The Glow from Within, encaustic on panel, 24″ X 24″
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Ready for the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour

Goal #4, Apply to the AOE Arts Council gallery for a Solo Exhibition.  I have submitted all of the materials requested and am waiting for the results.

Goals are so important.  My suggestion is to start with small goals, like applying for a group show or participating in a juried show.   Join local arts groups to meet with other artists doing similar works.  Participate in local art fairs and studio tour events.  This is a great way to get feedback and to sell your work.  Then begin writing up solo exhibition proposals.   I have found that your work has to be consistent, have a theme and only focus on that theme when you are applying for a solo exhibition.  The curators do not want to see a variety of different styles but want to see a focus.  It takes time to develop a body of work and to accomplish your goals, but don’t give up because you will succeed if you are persistent and have a strong  and consistent body of work.

Can you share your goals?  What worked for  you and what were  your blocks in succeeding?

 

Should Wax be our Driving Force?

Many artists having exhibitions use the word Encaustic in their title such as “Encaustic Show”, “Show of Encaustic Paintings,” “Wax Art”, “Encaustic Works,”  “Encaustic: Rebirth of an Ancient Medium,”  “Encaustic Juried Show, 2017”, etc   All of these titles focus on techniques, medium and processes used by the artists.    Where are the interesting  titles or themes for these  shows that focus on the content of the works?    In Facebook groups I see a painting posted by an artist and the title is “Encaustic on Panel?  Does the painting have no title?  Or I hear  Encaustic Artist or Wax Artist as descriptors.   Are  we not artists who  have something to say through our works and not just technicians using molten pigmented wax as a painting medium?

Then I hear such confusions over using Encaustic in our written and verbal conversations.  Shouldn’t I say I am a painter using Encaustic as a process because I paint with pigmented beeswax and use a heat source to burn the top layer to the one below.  As Ralph Mayer explains in his Artist’s Handbook in the section on Encaustic “The word encaustic comes from Greek and means to burn in, which refers to the process of fusing the paint.”    Is there such a thing as Encaustic Paint?   If Encaustic is a process then can it also be encaustic paint?   Aren’t we using pigmented beeswax as paint on panel in the same way as an oil painter would use oil paint?     And what about using encaustic(s) plural?  Do artists use many encaustics?  When I hear an artist say that he or she uses encaustic on panel, I assume that the painter is using a specific process such as a heat source to liquify the wax and a heat gun or torch to burn in each layer of wax.  When I hear  a photographer using beeswax over their photographs and calling their work Encaustic I question whether they are  layering coloured beeswax and fusing  with a heat source.  Can they call their works encaustic if they are adding a final layer of beeswax as a covering to alter the photograph?

Encaustic as a process has been around since the 5th century B.C. In the 1st-2nd century  A.D the Greeks and then the Egyptians used Encaustic to paint their Fayum funeral portraits.  In the 20th century  Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, Martin Kline, Linda Benglis, Michael David, and Joanne Mattera have painted or are still painting with pigmented wax.  When they talk or write about their work they did/do not focus on the medium.   They talk about the intent for their works in relation to the ways they use the elements and principles of design.  When I went to Michael David’s talk at the International Encaustic Conference I left knowing more about the artists’ ideas and why they used Encaustic as their process.  But I was not given a talk on techniques and processes or ways to use wax.  As a community of artists, painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, etc. shouldn’t we first focus on  the intent of the work and then the techniques and materials and not be driven only by wax?

I would love to hear your views so please leave comments.

Procreate: Step by Step Instructions for Revising a Painting

I have used PhotoShop Elements together with Procreate and they are very easy to use. I am particularly fond of Procreate because the application is more intuitive for artists, whereas PhotoShop Elements has a steeper learning curve.  I use Procreate when I am working on a painting and get stuck not knowing which direction to take.  I paint with molten wax and, when the surface hardens, it is difficult to make changes.  Trying a variety of ideas out on Procreate and not on the surface of my painting is much easier.   In this blog I take you through the basic steps of using  Procreate and then in future blogs show how to shift between PhotoShop Elements and Procreate.  I also will create some videos lessons on how to use Procreate and you can also follow those as well.

Beginning with an Art Work STEP 1

The first thing I do is take a photo of my artwork with my iPhone, camera or iPad.

Ok, here is the photo of the artwork that I took with my iPad.  I did this small painting in oil and cold wax and wanted to use it as a idea for a painting in encaustic.  Making  revisions in Procreate before creating a larger painting in Encaustic is so simple to do.

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First step is to import my photo into Procreate.  Open Procreate first. (NOTE: you will have a blank black page with no images.)  When you look at the screen of Procreate you will see a small Cross in the upper right side

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Small Cross up at the top on the right side – click on that cross.  As you can see, I have other painting examples saved in Procreate.

Click on that small cross.  Another small screen will open up below that white small cross on the top right side which has Create at the top.

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On your screen you will only see Screen Size, New Canvas and Import.  Go to Import and click on it.  Your photo file folder will appear so I just click All Photos and then all of my Photos will appear, like on the top right image below.   Then click on the photo that you want to work on, I clicked on the one I wanted (bottom right) and then that photo automatically came into Procreate.

So Now I have my photo on my screen in Procreate.

Editing Tools: Sketching and Brushes Step 2

Click on your painting that you want to revise.  The painting will fill the screen. (Note: you can pinch the painting on the screen with your fingers to make the image smaller or larger.)   Now, in the top right side you see a row of tools that you can work with.  I will go through each one.  From the left to right, the first tool is the sketching/painting tools, the figure tool is the smudging tool, the eraser icon erases, and the double paper is the layering tool, and the green dot selects colours.  On the right side, down the side of the painting, are two small white squares and sliding each square up and down will change your brush sizes and the transparencies.  So, if you push the top square slider up you will get wider brushes and sketching marks and if you push it down you will get narrower marks.  The bottom small square is the transparency slider so up is more opaque and down is more transparent.

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Above is a close-up of the slider bar to make your marks wider or narrower by pushing up or pushing down the top bar.  Transparencies are achieved by pushing the bottom bar up for opaque and down for transparencies,

Now we can begin with the basic painting and smudging techniques.  Now let me start by clicking on the small brush and an icon will pop up below the tool bar area.

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Tool bar with the drawing and painting tool, then the smudge tool, the eraser, the layering tool and then the colour picker.

In the following photographs from 1 – 6 starting from the top left to the bottom right are the different types of brushes you can use.  So, I can pick the first one which is the sketching tool, then the inking, painting, airbrushing, textures and abstract mark making.  Just click on the tool that you want and then use that tool on your painting.

In the above photo from top right, brush picker tabs from top left – right are sketching tool, then the inking, painting, airbrushing, textures and abstract mark making.

Painting with Colours: Step 3

Once you select the tool you will be using ,  the next step is to select the color that you want to paint or sketch with.  So, go to the top right small coloured circle, in my picture it is green and click on that.   You will get the first green selection of colours in the drop down menu. Take your finger or stylus and touch the area of the larger square and you can change the colour.  So, I can pick a lighter green and a darker green.  Below the large green square you have a color slider bar and I can change my color selection.  So, I changed it to blue,  or to turquoise.  I can pick any color just by moving the first slider bar to the left and right.  The second slider bar is for lighter and darker colours and then the black and white one is for different tonal values.  On the bottom in the small coloured square are other choices of colors.  Then you have the background color in the white square on the bottom which is white.

 

Smudging and Eraser Tool: Step 4  

You have the icon on the top tool bar that is a finger pointing to the left. It is beside the brush icon and this is your smudging tool.  You can use this tool to smudge and blend colours together.  The icon next to the smudge tool is the eraser.  This is for erasing areas on your painting.  You have to determine what the background color is so if your background is white then make sure the eraser shows white when you click on it.  Also, the eraser will erase in any type of brush that  you have selected.  For example, if you have clicked on the sketching tool then the eraser will act like a stitching tool when you erase  a section.  If it is a brush, it will erase like the brush.  So, make sure you have the eraser at the width, transparency or opaque style when using that tool.  I will demonstrate this smudge and eraser tool on my painting after I have finished this section.

Remember, the sliding bar on the right side that is for your brush width or length, or for transparencies or opaque considerations when revising the painting.  Below is a look at the bar to change your brushes when you need wide, narrow, transparent or opaque brush stokes.

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OK so let’s do some revisions.  I will just make some alterations on my painting using the basic tools and then you can see how it works.

NOTE:  When I hold my finger or stylus anywhere on the surface of my painting I will be able to select the exact color.  So, if I want the darker crimson I just touch that area with my finger and hold it there for a few seconds and that colour will pop up in my little color circle on the top right side.  Then I can click on the color circle and the color swatches come up so I can choose to make the maroon  darker or lighter by selecting another maroon colour.   The painting below is the original.

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Also, if I pinch the painting with my fingers, I can make the painting smaller or larger.  So, can zoom into an area to work in that section.  The following is one revision using the colors in the painting and making revisions onto the surface.  I cleaned up some of the lines with the paint brush, I used the smudging tool to blend some areas.  Very small changes.

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Also, if I don’t like a mark that I drew I can undo every mark from the most recent mark to the first mark.  I just click the undo arrow icon on the bottom of the slider shown below. I can undo the history of all of my sketching and drawing marks.

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The bottom of the bar, on the right, is the undo arrow icon.

In the next few images I make more radical changes to three artworks.  I have the background of my painting in the first example that I imported to Procreate. I used the painting and smudging tools, and the wide and narrow slider tool to change the width of the lines as well as used the transparency bar to add different opaque and transparent colours.

 

The following painting on the left I felt was too stiff so I wanted to play around with it in Procreate.  Seeing what I could do by changing colors and getting rid of areas, adding lines etc. was exciting.

And finally, this is new painting that I did in Procreate.  I started with a new canvas in Procreate and then just played around with brushes, smudging, transparencies, and adding different line elements to this computer image.

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An original design

In the next post I will explore how to do paint a new design using the New Canvas tool/section and then show more options like changing colours to the whole painting, cutting and cropping, etc.

 

Final Day at the International Encaustic Conference and a Post Conference Workshop with Karen Freedman:

The Art Fair 

Every year many participants bring works to exhibit and hopefully sell.  Each artist can set up his or her art display, either in the lobby or in his or her room. We begin the art tour on one side of the hotel,  then after 1 1/2 hours move into the lobby and then to the other side of the hotel and continued looking for another 1 1/2 hours.  It really is a way to see other works in encaustic and to discuss and share ideas.  I had my display in my room and many participants droped in and commented on my work.  I did get many visitors asking how I did the woven lines because my woven covering does look like I embed gauze into the wax. I assured them that I paint each and every line with a brush.   The art fair is a time to sell paintings and sculptures, but, more importantly, get feedback and ideas for future works.  Below is a view from the entryway.

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After lunch I signed up for the talk Curatorial Thinking.  Joanne Mattera gave a powerpoint presentation on the exhibitions that she had curated.  She went over specific points on what to focus on when planning and hanging a juried show.  The first focus she pointed out was to come up with a theme for the show and then how to select the artworks based on that theme.  Joanne talked about not over placing the works on the walls but managing the show so that one piece can complement another work.  That there is a  conversation between the paintings and with the viewer.  Joanne showed us examples from her own curated exhibitions such as focusing on the theme of “Colour” in a variety of mediums for the exhibition at the DM Contemporary in New York City in 2015.  Then another show called Textility, co-curated with Mary Birmingham.  The paintings were selected based on ideas and influences from textiles.  That show was in the Visual Art Centre of New Jersey in 2013.

After showing us other examples of her curated exhibitions, Joanne discussed the pros and cons of being a curator.   I was left thinking that curating is no an easy task.  So many considerations have to be made from thinking of the venue, visiting artists’ studios or doing a lot of web surfing and deciding on the theme. When you have a venue for the exhibition, the curator has to think of the logistics of hanging the artworks, invitations, catalogues, etc. Exhausting!!!  I think curating can be an amazing experience but I am not sure that I will follow the direction of becoming a curator any time soon.

The final Demo: Working on Soft Supports: Sherrie Posternak
Sherrie gave a demo on how to use soft supports like cotton quilt batting, canvas and a variety of other fabrics. These soft materials could be used as a base and the one can  stitch elements onto that surface.  The other method was to mount the finished fabric design onto a panel and then fuse your design onto that surface.  The quilt batting has an interesting surface when wax was applied.   Sherrie worked directly onto a thin plastic heat resistant baking sheet directly on the surface of the hotbox. She showed us how she layered tissue paper elements onto the surface of the waxed batting.  The waxed fabric surface became the background for the layering of collaged materials.  Then she discussed how to display the finished fabric mixed-media painting by using magnets, or adding grommets, sewing hangers onto the back etc.  This was a fascinating demonstration.

Post Conference Workshop: Two days with Karen Freedman 

I had been in love with  Karen Freedman’s work for a long time.  I had a stint of being a quilter for about 7 years and then found encaustic so I was drawn to Karen’s colourful designs that looked like quilt blocks.  I wondered how she did those designs and kept such a sharp edge. She also had this pristine surface and amazing layering of layers over each other.  I knew that I did not want to become another Karen Freedman, but I was wondering how to integrate some of her techniques into my own works.  I registered for her workshop and here is my diary of the 2-days in the class.

First of all, I was so impressed with Karen sharing all her secrets, she is not afraid of having anyone appropriating her design.  There can only be one Karen Freedman in the art world who does those exquisite paintings.  On the first day Karen gave us step by step instructions and started showing us how she did the first layer.  Well, one has to know how to build up a smooth coating of medium and then do a lot of scraping of the surface to get that smoothest layer.   I made my stencil design of narrow and thin lines.  Karen  does very intricate designs but I kept to the simple ones.  Once the first few layers of the wax medium looked like a smooth glass surface, I placed the stencils and filled each segment with pigmented wax, then scraped these down and applied another layer of medium over the whole surface.  Then the fun began, scraping and scraping and then more scraping.   This process of filling in a stencil, adding medium over the filled in stencils, scraping down again was repeated 4 times.  I guess one has to travel in a person’s shoes to appreciated what they are going through and I traveled in Karen shoes for two days.

The workshop was amazing.  Each artist taking the course did their own thing.  I did not see one painting looking like a Karen Freedman’s.  It was not easy.  I think this painting technique is one of the hardest that I have tried, but once you get it, the rewards come forth.  I did attempt to do two works and one I liked better than the other.  I will take the ideas to my studio and try to integrate the background layering of shapes into my own works.  Have an idea that I am dying to try.  Thank you Karen, you are a shining light.

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Scraping and then more scraping
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Fusing lightly.  Love that attachment for the heat gun
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Talking about the pros and cons of using a heat gun or the torch. Yes, Karen knows how to use that heat gun.  

The following are pictures of the works in progress by the participants in the class.

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Works in Progress by Kay Hartung
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AJ looking at Marie-Claude Allen’s paintings
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Paintings in Progress by Julia Dzikiewicz
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Nancy Natalie discussing her works in progress
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Susan Paladino’s works in progress
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Anna Wagner-Ott’s works 

The conference is over and I am back in Canada.  I have met new friends and hung out with friends that I met at the 9th conference.  We had such good conversations and the sea food was delicious.   I look forward to attending the 12th International Encaustic Conference in June of 2018.  Cheers and have a great year working in Encaustic.

 

 

 

Workshops, Demonstrations, Talks at the International Encaustic Conference: Day 2

Keynote Address

This morning, at 9:30, I attended the Keynote address.  Sharon Louden  focused on the topic “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life.”  Sharon is a vibrant speaker and so generous in sharing her knowledge about her creative community  and how she has sustained her artistic life.  Then she shared other artists’ stories such as Julie Blackmon who lives in a small community and takes photographs of her surroundings. In Julie’s artist statement she talks about investigating the struggles she encounters between her role as a mother in relation to her passion for taking photographs of human cultural interactions in the community where she lives.

In her talk Sharon explored  how each artist pushed boundaries by creating their own community of like minded individuals and how this notion of “community”  helped sustain their creative voices.  Sharon stressed that an artist has to make the best art that he or she can, be consistent and never give up, do the research of what it is you need to sustain your practice, and never give up when one gets a rejection.  “Rejection is just a difference of opinions.”  And finally, be generous with your ideas, techniques, support, etc.  Artists need to establish a community of like-minded individuals that you support and then they will support you.   Such an inspirational talk and thank you Sharon Louden.

Canadian Gathering 

After this talk I arranged a Canadian gathering at lunch time.  Met fabulous Canadians who love working in encaustic.  A great time for networking and creating a community of liked minded artists.  Thanks to all that came to our luncheon meeting,

Michael David: Encaustic Theories and Practices

The first talk that I attended after lunch was led by artist Michael David.  His talk on Encaustic Theories and Practices: History of Contemporary was a passionate dialogue explaining how famous artists used encaustic because no other process could push their voices.  Yes, Jasper Johns famous American flag paintings was shown along with Brice Marden, Linda Benglis, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Cornell, and Joanne Mattera.  Michael David also included images of his own works.

Brice Marden, D'après la Marquise de la Solana, 1969. Oil and wax on canvas, three panels, 77 5/8 x 117 3/8 inches (197.2 x 298.1cm) overall    Brice Marden,  1969, oil and wax on canvas.

Lynda Benglis, Embryo II 1967, encaustic on panel

Detail of a Jasper Johns’ painting of the 3 Flags, 1958, encaustic and mixed media on canvas.
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Joanne Mattera, Uttar 29 (Bask), 2006, encaustic on panel, 48″ X 50″

Michael David discussed why he chose encaustic.  He stated that he could not build up the surface in the same way with any other medium.  Pushing the limit of the liquid wax is his passion.  Burying the painting, burning it, adding found elements and then embedding these elements into the wax is a process that calls him.

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“Cluster of Blessings” by Michael David, Photo by Mike Jensen. Courtesy of Bill Lowe Gallery

Michael David is passionate and a powerful speaker.  I did not want his talk to end.    In my notes I wrote these questions:   “What am I doing with encaustic and why use this particular process?” “How do I manipulate the medium of wax in an unusual way to make it my own technique?”   “Do I go deeply into me and to no-one else?  “And how does my work reflect my life?”  I have a lot to ponder over the next few months.

In the Next Post I share Sunday’s events and Monday and Tuesday’s workshop experience with Karen Freedman.

 

 

An Amazing International Encaustic Conference: Post 1

Joanne Mattera,  had a vision to “raise the bar” in the area of painting in encaustic and to bring professional artists using encaustic together, first in Beverly, Massachusetts where the first International Encaustic Conference was held, and then to Provincetown, Massachusetts.  For 10 years Joanne has invited artists to share their encaustic processes through demonstrations in printmaking and encaustic techniques.   The history of artists using encaustic has been shown and the curatorial considerations in galleries have been discussed.  These artists, who have been leaders in the area of encaustic,  have pushed their paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and art prints out of studios and into galleries all around the world.  They have become mentors and teachers to many newbies joining the encaustic communities.     Joanne Mattera retired from her position in 2016 and gave the stewardship of the 11th International Encaustic Conference over to Cherie Mittenthal who is the Executive Director at the Truro Centre for the Arts at Castle Hill. She is also an artist who paints in encaustic. She will be the director of future International Encaustic conferences.

The 11th International Encaustic was fabulous.  I arrived on Wednesday and dropped off  one of my paintings at the Adam Peck Gallery  and the other painting at the Kobalt Gallery. Then I checked into my room at the Provincetown Inn.    Provincetown is beautiful.  Walking on the beach and taking a stroll down through the centre of town felt like I was in a lakeside village in Europe.  Beautiful architecture and stunning views of the ocean.

On the drive down to Provincetown I took a detour to the Cape Cod Museum of Art.  Joanne Mattera and Cherie Mittenthal co-curated an exhibition called “Depth Perception.”  They selected 18 artists and each focused on spatial layering of the design elements – from the very flat surface treatment with limited depth to building amazing textural surface treatment in a painting or in a sculpture. Then another artist used receding lines to get a sense of depth in the works and another artist used colors as a perceptual element.

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On the back wall from left to right are paintings by Joanne Mattera, Lisa Pressman and Steven Cabral

Thursday

On Thursday I attended Lisa Pressman‘s workshop and explored  painting with oil paint and cold wax. Additionally, we used pigment sticks with the cold wax.  This was an experience since I have never used pigment sticks or combined oil paint with cold wax.  I did find it very messy and  thank goodness I had baby wipes to clean my hands and my painting tools.  Painting with oil and cold wax does give a different effect.  I loved the class but my passion is with encaustic because I can achieve a quality of transparency by building up many thin layers and/or get sculptural painted lines which I can’t get with any other medium.  I enjoyed the gestural qualities of the oil/coldwax medium and working on canvas paper.  I hope to incorporate some of the ideas into my paintings.

 

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These are the works that I did in Lisa Pressman’s class in oil and cold wax

In the evening there was an Art Swap.  Each artist came with one artwork to donate and wrapped it in brown paper and put the package on a table.  Each artist would then get a number and the coordinator Sherrie Posternak would call the number and the winner would then pick an artwork.  This was my first time at the art swap and I won a wonderful piece of work by Deborah Winiarski and the winner of my piece was thrilled as you can see in her expression in the photograph below.

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Deborah Winiarski

 

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Friday

Early on Friday morning I registered for my demos and workshops.  This is a three-day event and packed full of events, such as gallery openings, pre and post conference workshops, demonstrations, art history talks, talks on marketing and ways to promote oneself, how to plan and organize curatorial exhibitions, etc.  The quality of workshops are amazing and the beginner as well as the advanced artist can take many ideas back home to their studios.

On Friday the conference began.  At 9AM the vendor room opened.   Of course I had to make a visit the vendor room.  I felt like I was in a candy store where the smells, colors and tools were so intoxicating.  I did purchase my wax medium pellets and some coloured pigmented wax.  I had made an order from Kama Pigments because they live in Montreal and I do buy from them during the year.  They really do have good products and great prices.   I also bought wax from the other USA vendors because their products are exceptional and the shipping to Canada is prohibitive.

After visiting the Vendor room, I attended the first talk by Patricia Miranda who shared her knowledge about “Professional Practice: Strategic Planning for Artists”  Patricia began her talk by explaining how each artist has so many jobs in their lives from being a “mini-corporation, entrepreneur, researcher, studio manager, creator, etc.”  Time is demanding, she explains, and if an artist does some planning and scheduling of his or her time, then one can achieve personal goals.  Patricia talked about creating 5 year plans.  Set a goal, research how to get to that goal and then plan to take tiny steps towards achieving your goal.

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After Patricia Miranda’s talk I attended a demonstration led by Laura Moriarty called “Making, Building, Monotype Prints.   She showed us how to make encaustic monotype prints using her discarded sculptural encaustic pieces.  She melts these works down by building up her layered design onto a hot plate.  Different Asian papers are used for the surface of her designs.   The final image looks like a blown-up cross-section of one of her thinly sliced piece of sculptures.

After lunch I attended Christine Aaron‘s talk called “Thinking Through Space.”  This was an art history session where Christine featured artworks that primarily considered space when exhibiting or installing installations within a gallery.  These artists planed the work in relation to where the work would be placed and how scale and lighting impacted their work.

Then the last session of the day was with Michelle Belto.    This was not a session where we looked at art for inspiration but participated in an exercise to find inspiration from our own history and experiences.  As an interactive presentation, we engaged in a meditative drawing exercise and, when the drawings were done, focused on answering Michelle’s questions about our doodles. The questions helped each of us find authenticity and personal meanings.   Finally, Michelle explained how that meditative drawing exercise could sustain us in our own studio practice and inform our artworks.

Gallery Openings

In the evening I visited the openings in the galleries.  I first attended the opening at the Castle Hill Gallery called “A Sense of Place.”  This was a juried exhibition and the juror was Patricia Miranda. She also was the keynote speaker at the conference.   I am posting artworks I felt stood out in the show.

The paintings from the top left is Steven Cabral, the top right  Diana Gonzalez Gandolfi, below is Nancy Natalie, continuing down the second row from the left is Julia Dzikiewicz, second left is Melissa Lackman, and then Dietland Vander Schaaf.  The third row from the left is Susan Delgalvis, next along that third row is Stephanie Roberts-Camello (Stephanie won the best in show),  then Christine Aaron and Patricia Dunsman.  The last line from left to right is Michelle Robinson and Marina Thompson.

 

After Castle Hill’s opening, I dropped into the Adam Peck gallery.  Their show was called “Black Tie, (optional).  I did have a piece in that show called “Ties that Bind”

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Adam Peck Gallery (My work is on the top left)

After the Adam Peck gallery opening, I visited the Kobalt Gallery.  On the lower level of the gallery Cherie Mittenthral exhibited amazing artworks. That was the first time I had seen so many of Cherie’s works.  She has an affinity with the ocean, sky, plant life, and architectural structures.  Her Provincetown environment seems to influence her works.

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Cherie Mittenthral’s artworks at the Kobalt Gallery

The upper level held the juried exhibition called  “Alternative Wax – Layers of Facts.”  It was interesting seeing so many different paintings interpret the same theme.   I also had a painting in that exhibition.

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The top left painting is mine and called “Barriers go on Forever”

I was exhausted at the end of the day.  Came down with a bad cold and got laryngitis. But, that did not stop me from enjoying my day and looking forward to Saturday’s events.

In the Next post I will share the second day of the conference and talk about my experiences and the ideas I took home with me.