Friday, October 25, 2013

Totem Poles, Animals and Skinny Spaces

Woodland Totem

Woodland Totem detail

Woodland Totem
encaustic 6 x 24
 I needed a long skinny painting.  I have just the space.  But, what does one paint in a long skinny format?  Actually, this painting has been tossing around in my mind for some time.  I'm a bit interested in the idea of animal totems and the wisdom they hold.  So many of our cultures hold beliefs of the animals and their stories and meanings. 
Living in the pacific northwest, we have a very rich Native American culture here.  There are many totem poles around our area.  The belief is abundant about the concept of animal spirit meanings.  Stories have been passed through generations that decipher the meanings of these animals.  Each animal has its unique message that it carries.
It was a pretty joyful experience for me to put together this painting with my furry and feathered friends in totem pole style.  Have a happy Friday, everyone!

Woodland Totem detail

Woodland Totem detail

Woodland Totem detail

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sylvester the Cat, Boston Terriers, and Encaustic Painting

People often ask me how I came to do encaustic painting.  Its kind of an unusual story - it includes a dog, a doll and an architect.  A couple of years ago, my Mom and I went on an open studio tour on nearby Whidbey Island.  We took the ferry across to the island and spent the day driving around following signs to artist's open studios. 
We had stopped for a nice lunch and had left the restaurant and started wandering along the sidewalk window shopping. 
This dog caught my eye.  Mind you I am a huge dog lover and rarely do I miss a furry face as I pass by.  But this particular dog really caught my attention.  I think it was because of the Sylvester doll he carried.  Not only were they both black and white, but the fact the dog was carrying the cat doll was one of those "notice this" kind of moments I get sometimes.  Well, needless to say, I could not just walk by.  I had to stop, pet the dog and talk to the owner. 

When we were ready to part, the owner handed me a postcard.  It was an advertisement for an open studio that was very close by but off the track.  She directed us and said that her friend wasn't getting many to his studio because of its location and would we mind taking a look.  The painting on the front of the card was an acrylic figurative of some kind.  Mom and I being adventurers decided to go have a look.  We climbed up a long staircase to the office of a local architect.  He had all of his acrylic paintings on display.  There were several figurative paintings of jazz club and restaurant scenes with colorful figures enjoying their environments.  But, there was also a couple others that seemed very different and interesting in the way they reflected the light.   They were simple atmospheric paintings of vistas - a horizon line and that's about it.  They were magical.  The textures were awesome, layering, color - really beautiful.  They were so totally different than the acrylic works propped and hanging around the room.  I asked him about them.  He could tell that I was very intrigued by his wax beauties.  He invited us to follow him into another part of his office where he had a studio.  There he had an encaustic palette set up and he was demoing - I fell in love - immediately - no questions asked... I just knew I had to try it and so I did.  That's the story of how I found encaustics and the rest has just fallen into place since that day. 

Peeps II
encaustic 6 x 12
Happy Friday!

Monday, September 30, 2013

29 Faces - Complete

29 Faces
A Face a Day for the Month of September

I began to wonder where September went.  All I have to do is look at the mosaic above to realize how I spent the month.  A painting a day is a challenge - a painting of a face a day is even more of a challenge.  I'm pretty proud of where 29 Faces took me.  I do admit that I worked ahead of the game.  I had to - otherwise I know I would never have made it to the end.  I know that my art made an exponential leap over the month of September, which without this challenge would have never happened.  Without the thoughtful comments and support of all of you - I wouldn't have made it either.  So here I say thank you to all of you who followed along and spent your September with me.  I appreciate every one of you, every comment and every thumbs up on Face Book.  Your inspiration is what fuels me to keep going.  Thank you again.  Also, a very special and heartfelt thank you to Martha at Ayala Art for hosting the challenge.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

29 Faces: 28 & 29 - Complete

Twenty- Nine
encaustic 8 x 8
encaustic 6 x 9


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tenacity, Rewards and 29 Faces: 26 & 27

Twenty- Seven
encaustic 8 x 8

Most people will tell you that tenacity is a great quality to have, especially if you're trying something challenging that takes a while to complete.
Odds are, the people you admire have shown real tenacity in achieving their goals. Anything really worth doing takes persistence, perseverance, and stubborn determination. Being a great baseball player requires real gifts, no doubt, but even the most gifted player won't make it to the big leagues without the tenacity required to make the long, hard journey up from the minors. Tenacity is the quality displayed by someone who just won't quit — who keeps trying until they reach their goal.

One of the perks of being tenacious is the reward after the long haul.  I look at where I started this journey and the paintings I was creating on September 1 - and I now look at the paintings I am creating on September 27 and to me - the transformation is remarkable and I'm pretty hard to please.  I'm faster, stronger and more confident.  I'm starting to "get it" - the subtleties of the face, the curves, the colors - but its taken 29 to get there and not to mention the ones that didn't make the cut.  So, my advice?  Grab on, be tenacious - the rewards can be grand - but it takes time and work and stubborn determination - go for it!
encaustic 8 x 8

29 faces

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

29 Faces: 24 & 25

encaustic 8 x8
I'm on the home stretch - only 4 more to go.  


Monday, September 23, 2013

29 Faces: 21 - 23

encaustic 8 x 8

encaustic 3 x 5

encaustic 8 x 8

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Painting 29 Faces Big and Small - 19 & 20


encaustic 16 x 16
The bigger the better.   I've been experimenting with size.  Painting faces in wax is hard - I'm not going to say it any differently.  Bigger is easier because it allows for detail.  Smaller is harder, because all the detail melts.  Smaller is easier because detail is tougher, so things stay looser and fresher.  Bigger is harder because it requires more detail because its bigger. 
I haven't painted really small faces for a long time because in my estimation, they are much more difficult.  However, I've been trying the little ones again - like Ice below.  Really its been in an effort to keep up with this challenge.  The bigger - the longer they take.  The smaller - they go a little quicker.  I'm learning to paint a little faster which is good because I'm not dwelling on things so long.  I'll be interested to see in the end where the painting of 29 faces leads me.  Yesterday - I kinda hit the wall and had to take a break today from painting.  But, I'll be back at it again tomorrow - just a few more to go :)

encaustic 5x5

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

29 Faces: 17 & 18

So Far
encaustic 8 x 10

I'm painting like crazy to try and keep up with the challenge.  So far, I'm really pleased with how things are looking.  In fact, I'm pretty excited to keep at it.  Eleven more to go - wish me luck :)
encaustic 9x12

Monday, September 16, 2013

29 Faces: 14-16

encaustic and paper 6 x 6
Beauty is Skin Deep
encaustic 6 x 6

Who's That Girl
acrylic on canvas board 6x8
 Half way - more than half way to 29.  Its fun this time.  The faces are definitely getting better.  I find learning with acrylic then taking what I learn back to encaustic is really helping.  Blending, color and honestly - just starting with a good drawing is really helpful.  The more I paint, the better I get - love that!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peacock, 29 Faces and Moving Forward


encaustic 16 x16
I'm really excited about this painting for so many reasons.  It may or may not be a great painting, but so many things came together.  I've been injured and sidelined.  Really stupid stuff and no glamour to it at all.  The first injury was thought provoking - but the second - I honestly believe was a message to me to just stop - stop all extraneous things and pull into simplicity.  For about a week, I did nothing but paint.  It was about the only thing that I could do, so just sitting in the studio and painting, and focusing has been really wonderful and some really wonderful things have come from it.  This painting and the acrylic paintings have taught me so much.  I'm actually really excited again, excited to be painting and discovering and yes... moving forward.  Love that!

acrylic 5x7

29 faces

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

29 Faces: Ten and Eleven


The Guardian
encaustic 12 x 18

We all find inspiration in different places.  This painting, The Guardian, was inspired by Mama.  If you follow this blog, you may remember that Mama was part of our lives in the spring of this year.  Unfortunately, her little family met with an unexpected tragedy.  So, I painted Mama a Guardian for her next nest.
acrylic 5 x 7

I came across a story about a mother and a daughter that do collaborative art.  The artwork they are creating as a team is really fun - which is what art is meant to be - FUN.  I found this story to be a really interesting read because it highlights some of the fears that weigh artists down.  Yet, as an artist and a Mom, she had to overcome.
She realized that together, they were creating something that was unique and beautiful and together the end product was way more than the parts alone.  Here's the story

Monday, September 9, 2013

29 Faces - Eight and Nine


The Boyfriend
acrylic on mat board 10 x 10

The girl, Three,  needed a boy friend - so here he is - another run at acrylics.  I actually kinda like the acrylics.  I'm getting used to them a bit.  Like any kind of painting for me - I need to use more paint.  There is some weird thing in me that I can't seem to get enough paint on the brush.  I actually believe it would be easier to paint with more paint because you can move it around the surface and blend it and stuff.  So, I'll try again - more paint, more paint.
In wax - thin layers are the trick.  But, I have to say... that I notice a difference in my wax faces after I've painted a few acrylic faces.  So, back and forth, I go - pondering my learnings a little more.

encaustic on birch 4 x 6

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Red, Being a Winner and 29 Faces: 5-7


Polo Man
encaustic on birch 6 x 6
In keeping with trying new things - I did just that.  Polo Man here is inspired by the lovely work of Christine Striemer.  She is also participating in 29 Faces.  She uses a red tinted background to do her portraits - so thought I'd give it a try because I love the results she gets and her portraits are fabulous.

He came out super textured which I'm still debating if I like for portraits in wax - but seems to be what I'm getting lately.  I also tried a new encaustic painting technique that encaustic artist Willow Bader uses.  She actually squeezes oil paint onto her hot palette and mixes the colors with wax.  I'm not sure yet - but I have my palette set up that way at the moment.  He's also the by product of working in acrylics for faces.  I can actually see a difference in this guy after I've done a few with paint.  Lots to learn.

Six and Seven

The Ladies
encaustic on masonite 10 x 10

More new things: 
I also was the lucky winner of Martha's giveaway on her blog - Ayala Art.  I was the winner of her Basic Face Workshop.  I've learned so much.  Thank you Martha - and I can't say enough, that if you want to learn the basic face - sign up for Martha's workshop!!  The Ladies above are a result of the class and its been fun to play around with what all can be done and the many styles for the face.  I'm coming to realize that my faces look the same - I can move eyes wider, make noses longer, what ever, but they all sort of come back to what they are... so there I have it - a style :)

Happy Friday.   Hit the buttons below and go see some fabulous art.

29 faces

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

29 Faces: Three and Four


acrylic on mat board - 10 x 10
Acrylics - hmmmm.
Recently, I picked up some of my very old art stuff that had been in storage away from our home.  Nine big bins of mostly jewelry making supplies.  Yet, there was one bin that was labeled - paint box, books, art supplies, palette....  I knew I had a paint box with acrylic paints - but I had forgotten that they were hardly used and had all the colors a girl would need to get started - including brushes.  They come from - dare I say - 30 years ago from an art class elective I had taken.  They seem OK and in good shape.  I needed them for the bird house project and well, since they were still out and available on the worktable - why not work with them a little more? 
I have a thing for faces - for pop art faces.  I've been trying for quite a while to make these work in wax and its hard.  I'm thinking that if I learn to do it in acrylic, maybe I can translate it to wax.  This is probably my best attempt so far and I still have 26 faces to go to complete the 29 Faces project. 
This lovely lady has a girlfriend AND a boyfriend that are started and will make their way here soon - but I also can't forget about the wax :) - so here's a quickie for number


encaustic on board
4 x 6

Sunday, September 1, 2013

29 Faces Challenge: 1 & 2

1 and 2
acrylic on Masonite 12 x 12
Its time - time for 29 Faces for September.  A face a day for the month of September with one day for wiggle room.  Its a challenge to paint a face a day from a time stand point.  The idea here is to make a commitment, but also to try some new things.  So, to kick off... I decided to try acrylics.   Follow along and see how it goes - here we go... one and two.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Painted Bird Houses, Painting with Acrylics, and Painting for Charity

Bird House Finch
acrylic on bird house
I raised my hand - back in June actually.  I said I would and it was delivered bright and white to my door step mid July.  A friend is on the committee to raise support for the Olympic Ballet at this fundraising event.  20+ bird houses were created and delivered to those interested in painting and decorating them to help raise money for the Ballet.  I like to donate when I can.  But, art is a little hard sometimes to donate as it is so personal.

Its been sitting on my work table for over a month waiting patiently for inspiration to be mustered up and some idea to blossom and grow.  The house was already primed and ready to be painted - but the prime coat immediately nixed any idea of it having a waxy coating.  It had to be painted.... in acrylic.
As you all know, I paint with wax.  Acrylic is not my "thing", nor do I really know how to use them.  But, I do have them - hand me downs from my Dad.  So, this little bird house sat.. waiting.
I Googled painted bird houses to see if I could find some inspiration.  Nope.  So, I pondered and the bird house sat.  My stress level was going up and I'd wake up at night wondering what in the world I was going to do with the bird house.  The deadline is beginning to draw closer and my stress level kept increasing.

Lucky for me, a good friend suggested that I steer clear of trying anything decorative which is not my thing and focus on what is my thing - birds.  Birds on a bird house - great idea!  Why didn't I think of that!?  But birds need flowers, and I love flowers - so that's how the body of the house came about.  I also Googled what kinds of birds live in bird houses.  Seemed silly to paint birds that don't actually live in them.  There was a list, but surprisingly enough, there really aren't that many.  Even fewer of them live in my area - so the list was easy to diminish to just a handful - and then, easy for me to pick the one to be part of this artistic adventure - my favorite little red headed bird - the House Finch.

photo by Chuck Starr

 I'm pretty pleased with my acrylic attempt.  I learned a lot and found a few similarities to painting with wax - but I have to say... I really don't care much for cleaning brushes and palettes and paint that dries on my palette, .. brushes that harden when left out of water and having to varnish.  But, with that said - there were things about the acrylics that I did like which will bring me around to playing with them a little more :)

Happy Friday - Paint On!

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