Long Silences Require Punctuation

Scott has uttered this phrase in the past and I don’t know if he was just brilliant or plagiarized someone else’s quote.  Well, of course he’s brilliant but neither one of us could determine if he’d heard or read this before or if it just came to him.  In any case, it’s been stuck in my head for the last couple of days and it’s compelled me to write.  So, yes, I’ve been silent.  Is the punctuation a “?” as in “What now?”, or an “!” as in “I’m ba-ack!”, or is it a “.” as in “I’m done with this.”?  It’s been 9 months or so since the last blog.  After the frenzy of my show at the gallery, I was then consumed with volunteer work at the gallery, and then we left for 4 months trailering around the southwest U.S.  Ever since returning at the end of March, I’ve struggled with getting back into the studio.  The rheumatoid arthritis returned after a blissful remission of over 2 years and leaning over the worktable is taking much more effort.  New work doesn’t come freely as it has in the past so I’ve been re-assessing.  What had started as a “raging infatuation” in my very first blog post has matured into a deep and enduring love.  I love this medium and I won’t stop until I have to.  So, I’ll bend over a worktable, take a little CBD, do small chunks of time, and then stretch out afterward with an ice cold beverage.  Sounds good to me.

In the meantime, several of my paintings have found good homes, plus about a dozen monotypes and 4×4 encaustic blocks and 6×6 tiles.

These are a few from my endangered species series.  My snow leopard and elephant are also with their new families.  My latest elephant is still in the gallery:

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As originally expressed, I’ve donated half of my proceeds to the likes of Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund for programs to help conserve these animals and their environments.

Wood, water, and wildlife – my 3 Ws – will sustain me.  I may even delve into abstraction a bit more.  The punctuation for me is a comma – pauses here and there with the ultimate intention of continuing on.  There may be more silences but that’s not to say I’m not painting.  Silence IS golden and I know for a fact that Scott didn’t coin THAT phrase.

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Long Silences Require Punctuation

Good Reception

Last Saturday was my featured artist reception at Valley Art and my work was received warmly, particularly my little elephant.  That affirmation from several folks has me thinking about more work along those lines.  I found another elephant image I can possibly use, so I’ve been working on my background, and I really like using monotyped teabags to create that ethnic feel.

The left shows just the teabags sunk into the base wax on the board.  To the right is where I am today.  I’ve added strips of actual bark to simulate dead trees, standing and fallen.  I’ve also added some paint.  I’m liking it and am thinking I’ll add my proud elephant in the lower left quadrant.

Today’s addition of a polar bear bounding over icemelt:

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It requires more work but it’s getting there.

Good Reception

A Strange Thing Happened Today

With temperatures going up again after a few blessed days in the 70s, I pondered this morning about climate change and what animal I would feature in my next painting.  I immediately thought of polar bears and recall seeing a picture of a bear on an ice floe with the caption exclaiming that polar bear habitat was quickly diminishing due to warming temperatures.  I looked at pictures on the World Wildlife website and saw many compelling images that I could make my own.  So, I went into my studio to see what I could come up with.

Back in June, I had attended a workshop put on by my buddy, Jodi, in which we played with metallic paints and applied solutions that created patinas on each of the paints.  I had four panels that I had packed specifically for this workshop.  I had no ideas at the time of what I would paint so I just slopped on wax and paint and patina solution.  I ended up with four panels that made no sense whatsoever, so I figured they would serve as backgrounds someday.

One of those panels was slathered in a beautiful turquoise wax AND I had submerged a dryer sheet in there just for the hell of it.  Around the turquoise I had painted some copper upon which I put a solution to give that beautiful green patina.  Then I stashed it away when I got home…until today.

I’d imagined ice around turquoise waters and a polar bear jumping from one floe to another.  Here’s where the strange part comes in:

On the left is my base painting this morning and on the right is the Nature Conservancy mag that showed up in the mail this afternoon.  I COULD NOT believe what I was seeing – MY idea!!!!  I was planning to paint my jumping bear on the right side of the painting, here:

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One cool thing about the dryer sheet that I applied last June is that it rather looks like sheer ice where I’ve scraped away at it.  In addition, the copper around the edges and the green patina are showing up “under the ice” as land and the promise of vegetation when all the ice has melted.

It’s a sobering thought – that loss of habitat and the resultant rising water table, and perhaps the loss of this beautiful animal.

Looking forward to learning more about polar bears and how climate change impacts them.  I hope I can capture their plight in my painting as well as Nature Conservancy did in its photo.  Even though it really was my idea.

 

 

A Strange Thing Happened Today

New work

I hung my work yesterday.  Here’s the result:

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The other featured artists didn’t meet their deadline.  Naughty naughty!  Ha!  The monotypes are off to the left and I actually lowered the large framed print so it’s more level with the rest of the work.  Received many wonderful, affirming remarks from my fellow Valley Art volunteers.

On the left are the little 4×4″ encaustic blocks that I started in March.  In the center is 12×6″ “Palm Bark in Abstraction”.  I took several pictures when I was at Washington D.C.’s National Botanic Garden in the palm conservatory.  Gorgeous place to be, by the way, on a cold day.  Palm bark is amazingly graphic, particularly when you can zoom in on a small section and capture the interesting marks and colors.  On the right are some 6×6″ abstractions.  All of these are abstractions so it’ll become clear to me if I can sell abstractions at VA.  If not, somewhere else maybe.

Also displayed, leaning against the wall under the hung work, are 6×6″ encaustic tiles, nothing fancy – just simple abstractions.  I only did 6 of them so will gauge the interest level before making any more.

May work more on the larger monotypes today as I’ve only made two of them so far for the show.  Always work to be done, right?

New work

The Latest

Wow!  Where to start?  Many months have passed and I’ve completed a lot of work since I’ve got an upcoming show at Valley Art beginning TOMORROW!  I will be one of three featured artists for the next two months.  Elina Zeberg is another artist well-versed in encaustic and I’m really happy to be featured with her.  Christine Hurayt is a potter and will be showing her great work on the shelves below Elina’s and my work.  I was hoping for another encaustic artist with whom we could share the wall space but it’s just Elina and me this go ’round, so I’m having to hang some work that’s already been shown along with my new work.

Of the new work, I’m featuring monotypes and will be demonstrating how-to on September 8 for a couple of hours.  As I’ve confessed to Lynn, I’m a bit nervous since I don’t consider myself a teacher nor do I consider myself a printer.  I’m thinking I’ll just be what I am…an enthusiastic learner.  It’s a fun medium and a fun technique so I’ll try not to be anxious about it and just enjoy.

Also new are the 1st three pieces in my ongoing wildlife series.  I mentioned early on in this blog that I was considering painting wildlife species, those endangered and not, and I’m finally doing it.  I like all three of them very much – they’re all different.  My favorite, though, is the African elephant because that’s my favorite wild animal, AND because this painting began as one of my very first.  It didn’t start as an elephant but it became one when Scott said my tree looked like an elephant.

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This guy, with his golden tusks, emerges from the forest and is about to cross the red lines of extinction.  This painting started as several printed monotypes on tea bags surrounding a tree.  After several layers of wax and varying iterations, this is the result. I like the batik-y, ethnic look of it.  I used the brass paint brush from Enkaustikos affixed to my hot tool – THAT was a new experience.  Wish I had a picture of it to show.  I’d like to try it on portraits of human beings…or maybe my pups.

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Here’s my snow leopard on a 6×6 panel.  Technically, no longer considered “endangered” since last year, its numbers are still declining due to poaching its beautiful fur and also due to its loss of habitat, all human-caused.  I still consider it endangered though it is now labeled “vulnerable”.  I drew the leopard on tissue paper from an old pattern, a ’70s cowboy shirt (not making those anymore!!), and fused it onto a board that already had several layers of wax and was visually interesting.  The drawing blended into the background, as the leopard does in real life, and may even serve as a metaphor for its disappearance from our planet.  I wanted to highlight its piercing blue eyes – absolutely magnificent creature.

‘Water’s Edge’ has been a work in progress for a really, really, really long time.  I’d worked on it for a while, then stopped because I was unhappy with it, then start up again months later, and stop again.  I’ve FINALLY finished it…AND I learned a valuable lesson.  Never ever put shellac on an area that’s been sprayed with fixative.  Perhaps another “duh” moment but I just didn’t know.  The shellac, being a solvent, dissolved the fixative and just created goo balls that I had to scrape off.  Ultimately, I had to just let it all dry and scraped it all off down to the wax and re-shellaced it.  ‘Tis beautiful now, but I don’t have a picture of it finished.  Will try to take one tomorrow.

What’s been up for the summer has been water.

Beach scenes.  Sea scapes.  It’s ok.  Some pieces I like way more than others…and some I just hate.  Like ‘Headland’ (above right).  This started out looking like a banana and then it became a penis and then it had rocks in it and then it didn’t.  Oh my, I kept laughing because it just became more and more awful.  Then my talented friend, April, said it looked like Florida and I knew I had to redo it.  So tomorrow it comes back home.  A couple of these pieces will stay for the show but most will come down.

So, now begins my work on San Miguel doors.  This will be my new work for the Annual Artist Event in early November.  San Miguel de Allende, MX has gorgeous old doors with gorgeous old hardware.  So, my focus for the next two months is capturing that beauty in wax and iron (I bought hardware there in March) and do a few more wildlife images.

Now, time to drink wine.  Cheers!

The Latest

Downsizing

Scott made several 4″X4″ blocks out of 1″ stock fir a couple of months ago so I could play with those.  I primed a few of them and started painting but then became disinterested, until today.  I found some puckered absorbent packing paper in my stash and started messing around with it.

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I threw some paint onto the skillet and then essentially made monotypes with this paper, and then I used it on these little blocks.

Obviously abstractions and I have names for them already so I must like them.  The one on the left is “Autumn at the Lake”, upper right is “Stormy Seas” (ought to send that one to Trump), and the lower right is “Reeds on the Ice”.  More to come I think.

Then I took 3 of my 6″ quickies that I didn’t like and painted over them – more seascapes.

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Very preliminary work on these but I’m liking the direction.  I may work on a few more small guys but then I want to work big again.

Downsizing

No Motivation to Work – So I Play

Being away from the studio as I was for two months was tough.  Not only did I miss painting, but then was astounded that I was totally unmotivated to work when I returned home.  What up wit dat?  I thought that spending two months in the desert southwest with daily sunshine and bountiful beauty would practically propel me back to my work table.  But I arrived home, did the laundry, cleaned out the trailer, and found a myriad other things to do instead of paint.  I think I was overwhelmed – overwhelmed with ideas and prospective projects and experiments and a work table burgeoning with works in progress.  Where to start?

First, I had to organize my worktable, which was strewn with treasures from the trip – multi-hued rocks, green-colored pigment that I dug up in the Barstow area, cactus skeletons and spines, metal and stone beads from Bisbee, AZ, some beautiful encaustic paint from Miles Conrad Encaustics in Tucson, a pad of Sumi paper that I picked up outside of Twenty-Nine Palms, CA.  Next, I had to write down all the different things I wanted to try.  I took a bunch of photos so those need to be reviewed, cropped, and printed, or deleted.

Finally, just sitting there at my worktable, I started messing around.  I removed six of the 6″ quickies from the gallery (because they suck) and started re-working them, first by doing a really hard scrape on them to remove a lot of the India ink.

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Already more interesting than they were but more of something is needed.  I subjected them to the blowtorch which broke up the ink some more and mingled the colors as well.  The two works in the center bottom are dryer sheets that were placed on some wood grain and rubbed with a chunk of graphite, then laid on the hot palette in some wax paint.  I then laid them each on a primed substrate with a couple layers of medium already fused, and then hit it again with the heat gun to get the painted dryer sheet to sink into the medium.  Lots of texture, the graphite is now fixed.  Interesting trial.  At the top center is that tree cookie (my scooter pie experiment) that I hit with heat again to kind of mess up the surface.  There’s other work there too that I may just paint over with titanium white and start over.  But it got me working…

This piece, “Smolder”, hung at the Tillamook Forest Center but I never REALLY liked it.  I took the torch to it and I dislike it less, and might even like it a little.

The first image I took off to the side because the bloody thing was so shiny and the “charcoal” squares were a little too uniform.  After taking the torch to it, it’s not so shiny and the flame broke up some of that uniformity and makes the charcoal look a bit more authentic.

I found out yesterday that I have the big gold wall at the gallery so need more work to hang.  Maybe I’ll take ‘Smolder’ in along with some others that have hung there previously.

Before I left for the desert, I painted something for my beloved Australian besties:

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Entitled ‘Unity in Diversity’, I painted the bark of a rainbow gum using dryer sheet for texture, added metallic gold leaf for some preciousness, and bordered the work with yet another tree with colored hands on the leaves.  It’s all symbolic of the strength and tolerance and acceptance of differences that this family exhibits every day.  I gifted this to them during our get-together in Twenty-Nine Palms last month.  Love them dearly.

No Motivation to Work – So I Play