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.

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


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.


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.

Deborah Winiarski





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.


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.

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.

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.

International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

At the end of May I will be travelling to Provincetown, MA, and participating in 2 workshops and attending the International Encaustic Conference on June 2-4th.    Looking forward to renewing friendships, hearing professional talks by international artists.    I will be taking Lisa Pressman’s class called “Finding your Mark”.  This class focuses on using cold wax and oil paint.  The other two day workshop with Karen Freedman is called “Maintaining your Edge, The Art of Stencilling”.  I hope to learn a lot of new techniques and explore some new ideas.   Additionally, I plan on attending exciting talks and demonstrations so have registered for the talks that focus on curatorial considerations, thinking through space, and expressing meaning through materials, as well as viewing demonstrations on encaustic processes and techniques.  

The other exciting part of the conference is the hotel art fair; an event that takes place on the last day of the conference.  Participants display their artworks in the lobby or in their rooms.  It is a time to sell paintings, but more importantly, get feedback from the conference participants.  For the past three years, I have created new works just for this event.  The following paintings will be for sale at the conference. 

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Encaustic on Panel, 8″ X 8″
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Encaustic on Panel, 8″ X 8″
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Encaustic on Panel, 12″ X 12″
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Encaustic on Panel, 10″ X 10″

There also will be many gallery exhibitions in different locations in Provincetown.  I have been invited to participate in two gallery exhibitions.  The first one, the “Black Tie (optional)” is at the the Adam Peck Gallery.  The other exhibition is called   “Alternative Wax: Layers of Facts” at the Kobalt Gallery.  

“Barriers that go on Forever, encaustic on panel, 12″ X 12”, will be shown at the Kobalt Gallery
“Ties that Bind”, encaustic on panel, 12 ” X 12″, will be shown at the Adam Peck Gallery


A New Series

In a previous blog I talked about not being able to paint with pigmented wax because I live in a condo over the winter months.  Painting with molten wax is safe unless the molten wax starts to get too hot and start to smoke.  The smoke can then become toxic when inhaled.  Because of the dangers of the toxic smoke one needs to vent the smoke fumes out of the area that you are working in.    Since I can not vent the fumes, I have switched to acrylic paint over the winter months.  When I get back to my studio in April I will use the acrylic paintings as inspiration for my encaustic paintings. 

I challenged myself to create a series of paintings based on revisiting the grid of intersecting lines.   So, I began painting backgrounds and then added another complementary woven structure over the top of the bottom layer.    The first painting  became the inspiration for the other paintings.  In this blog I post the first 6 paintings showing the bottom background grid system layer.  

Background Painting for #1
Painting completed #1

In the next painting I became a bit more careful when painting the background because I wanted to create these interlocking  and intersecting lines and they  suggested views through windows.  So, the next six backgrounds  focused on developing the window idea.







Once the backgrounds were finished I began the foregrounds.  It was important to add another layer to create an illusion of depth and also to integrate the interlaced patterning effect on the surface.    I did the sketch of each patterned surface treatment in ProCreate on my iPad.  The completed 9 paintings are shown below.

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Evolution of a Painting

When a painting is completed I stand back and analyze it.   When observing, I begin to see flaws.   My mind starts a conversation: “Add another line; Change the colour;  Take the white and block out that section;  This is a crappy painting and not working, etc.”  Impulsively,  I take my brush and change a line, add another color, block out a specific section with white and then the finished work begins to shift and change – sometimes drastically.  The original painting which I thought was finished starts anew and I rework it until I think the second version is finished.  At this point the original intent of the painting usually gets buried in the revisions.   When getting into this state of going against the flow from my original intent, the painting usually torments me.   At this point I should throw it in the garbage but another voice tells me to continue because the painting could become successful.   In this post I share the evolution of a painting.  

Before I left my summer studio I took photos of tree barks and rock formations.  I wanted to shift from the lake, sky and trees as my backgrounds, to painting rocky crevices and bark-like formations that integrate the woven structures within their openings.   I drew an abstracted rock formation on my iPad in Procreate.   This study became my muse. 

The image of a rock formation that I drew in Procreate

I began the painting by adding plaster strips onto the canvas and then painted natural earthy tones onto the plaster surface after it had dried.  

Adding the plaster strips and the foundation colors. 

Then, I blocked in the holes and painted the gauze-like painted weaving in the background.  My goal was to weave the black lines within the fissures.  I wanted the audience to get a brief glimpse of the surrounding areas between the solid masses of rocks.       

Painting the open areas with the woven structure.  

After I blocked in the holes  and background colors, I decided it needed a light source going across the middle of the canvas.  

After the white was added, I saw the paint was too thickly applied, the white popping out too much, and the surface texture was not transparent so I calmed down the white.  I also removed some of the crevices.

Was I finished? I  did not like the white around the top middle area.  
My first finished version.  I liked the surface treatment and the copper woven lines.

I should have left the finished version alone and started another one.  At first I liked the painting and thought it was done but, after looking at it for a while, I started to have doubts.  The surface felt too flat, had no dimension and the woven area appeared not integrated.  Also, there was no spatial relationship between the solid mass and the background.  I liked the idea of a rocky crevice like surface but needed to expand that idea.    

Painted the surface again. 

The painting went through another revision.  The surface was painted again and I added black and brown diagonal lines because I felt the composition needed foreground elements.    I also took away some of the openings and added others.  What a mess at this point. 

Adding the tree branches across the surface to give it some movement and a foreground, middle ground and background.

 I felt the second version had more movement but it was too busy.  My eyes moved all over the place and the painting had no focus.  This painting just bothered me so I painted over it.   

Finished Painting #2

When I feel frustrated, I take white or black paint and squeeze it right onto the surface and then take a brush and paint the whole surface with white or black.  For my painting, I squeezed white paint right from the tube and included browns and blues.

Painted the surface again.  

 I continued defining the rock surfaces so that they had dimensionality, and blocked in the crevices.  The original intent was coming out from the painting.  Black woven lines were placed between the crevices.    This  version  I knew was finished.  It had a natural rocky surface treatment, the lines felt integrated.  I did not see anything that I wanted to fix.  It felt complete.  Now I just have to come up with a title.   

Final Painting:  Acrylic and Plaster on Canvas, 30″ X 30″



Museum of Encaustic Art?

I am a contemporary artist who predominately uses encaustic as my medium and yesterday I got a notice informing me that the Encaustic Art Institute changed its name to the “Museum of Encaustic Art.” I was surprised by this new title. The Encaustic Art Institute, founded by Douglas Mehrens and his wife Adrienne in 2005, began in a private studio space at their home and then they moved the institute to a permanent location in the Railyard Art District, Santa Fe.   The website states that they have an inventory of over 300 works of art. The mission of the “Museum of Encaustic Art” is “to grow the largest, most extensive, and best represented encaustic art collection in America. This includes at least four categories of encaustic art, such as encaustic painting, encaustic with paper and photography, encaustic with mixed media, and encaustic sculpture”. (

Shouldn’t artists who work in encaustic and artists who are members of this Encaustic Institution ask questions about the change in  title “Museum of Encaustic Art?

The following are questions that I raised after hearing museum in the title:

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art attain accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums?

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art obtain legal advice on starting and sustaining a museum?

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art establish a board of directors?

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art revise their standards and developed best practices in the best interests of the public and its members?

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art identify a solid vision, a clear purpose, adequate resources and request community engagement?

Did the Museum of Encaustic Art develop an art education program with curriculum standards?  

Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand what goes into caring for the institution’s art collection and are knowledgeable about the content and context of the art collection and cataloging of their collection? Where is the collection housed?  Is it in a temperature and humidity controlled environment?  

Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand its role in educating the public in relation to historical and contemporary artistic practices?

Does the Museum of Encaustic Art understand contemporary art standards and practices in relation to the word “encaustic.” (for example we are not a community of Encaustic Artists doing encaustic paintings, encaustic sculptures, encaustic photographs and encaustic mixed-media, we are contemporary artists working in Encaustic.) 

 Personally, I would like to see the title “Museum of Art,” that specializes in Encaustic.   I hope that the Museum will seek out professional artists using encaustic and invite them to speak, give workshops and talks about historical and contemporary art at the Museum.   Also, the director of the “Museum of Encaustic Art” could attend  the International Encaustic Conference and participate in the workshops, lectures, as well as give talks on the collection in the museum.   Outreach, partnership and education are so important for a museum and should be nurtured within the local community and globally.  

Note: some of these questions arose after reading “Starting a Museum”  on the American Alliance of Museum’s website. 

Experiments do Lead to Successes

In these 12″ X 12″ paintings in encaustic I planed on experimenting with printing textures of actual gauze onto the surface of the panel.  After the woven surface areas were dry, I pulled off the gauze from those areas.  Then after building up the the surfaces in specific areas would add painted woven gauze between those raised areas.  The following painting explores the actual gauze textures.  I really liked the look of the textures on the surface of the panel.  The first image shows a closer view and the next image shows the four that I completed.  


foursome-2.jpg  After doing a soul searching critique, I decided that they were too busy, too much texture and the surface was too rough for my painted woven structures so I fused down the surface.  What I learned from this technique is that I can pull printed textures from different open woven fabrics so will integrate this technique in the future.

After fusing down the surface and adding more glazes of color on specific areas, I added my woven structure onto the surface.  I liked the idea of creating a distant landscape with the painted lines coming forward in front of the viewer.  The following is the first one that I did and I liked that grey, charcoal look on the right side.  The surface reminds me of raku pottery.  


The second one that I post below appears to have a cloudy sky on the left side and a leaf foliage look on the right side.  It reminds be of looking down at the earth from above but the lines just gives me a glimpse of what lines beneath.  

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Using Acrylic Medium over the Winter

Winter is approaching and next week I will be closing my studio space for the next five months.  This time of year is depressing because I hate leaving.  I love the solitude, the stillness of the lake, the changing colors of the leaves, the sunrises and sunsets, etc.  Once the leaves are off the tress,  the snow arrives and the atmosphere at the lake is frigid.  So, it is time to move back to my warm condo.

In my condo I created a small  workspace in my utility room.  I added a piece of plywood on the top of my washing machine and dryer so now have an area to paint artworks.  Last year I tried painting in encaustic but had no way of diverting the fumes because that room has no windows.    Painting over the winter months with wax did not work so last week I decided to try my interlaced encaustic ideas in acrylic paint.

I decided to take a work that I did in encaustic and use that work as my starting point.  So, instead of using encaustic processes I would use acrylic paint.  I have not painted in acrylic for over three  years so it was a strange feeling going back to that medium.  I felt like a traitor leaving my wax for acrylic.  Using acrylic paint is so different.  The wax melts instantly and I can build up the surfaces to get a raised line.  I can take the surface down by scraping the surface or melting the wax with a heat gun.  Encaustic is so sculptural.  Using acrylic paint,  I discovered that I could paint wonderful flowing lines but then would accidentally smudge those lines so I need to be very careful when painting lines.  The surface is much flatter, not as translucent.  It is a different medium and not at all similar to using heated pigmented wax.

The following encaustic painting became my muse for the first acrylic painting on canvas.


The background sky was painted first.  I used very thin coats of acrylic paint and applied the paint in washes so that the layers became transparent.   Then I applied the lacing over the sky.



The gauze fabric did not have the movement that I was after so I decided to disrupt the bottom edge and add flowing lines.   I then  changed the colors from lighter to darker from the top to the bottom.  I really do like this acrylic version , 30″ X 30″, acrylic on canvas.