Monday, April 29, 2013

Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap 2013

I've been getting mail in my mailbox - real mail.  Beautiful mail.  Artful mail.  I participated for the third year in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art postcard swap.  And these are the beauties that I received this year:

G'Day from Australia from
Jo Murray

Friendship from
Lisa Wright

Gorgeousness from

A beautiful girl from
Suzee Ramirez

Stunning photography and beautiful words from
Heather Black
(no website with her card)
Creative Genius from
Kat Sloma

Thank you all for participating in the swap.  It is so much fun to see the beautiful art from around the world being liberated and shared.  Thank you also, to Kat Sloma and all of her hard work in putting this together for all of us to enjoy. 
It's a blog hop!!!  Be sure to visit the others who participated by using the link tool below to take you to more beautiful liberated art!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pander, Seth Godin and Quirky Passionate Art

encaustic and paper 18 x 24
Do you pander?  Do you indulge your audience and create for them rather than for yourself?  Do you stay true to yourself and your creative voice?  I'm defining pandering as using your perception of your customer's wishes as an excuse to do work you're not proud of.   I think this is a trap that many artists, bloggers, and creatives fall in to.  In my creative life before painting, I know that I fell in - big time.  I know I fell in when I was a small business owner too.  It can actually be a bit hard to avoid, especially if you have a taste of success.  Its easy to be average and to produce for what you think people will like rather than stay true and authentic.  I'm borrowing Seth Godin's words here - I get his blog posts in my email.  Sometimes I don't bother to read them and sometimes I do.  But this one... for some reason really struck a cord with me.  Its a little body check, just to make sure that THIS time - I stay true to quirky heart filled art.
The reason you don't have to pander is that you're not in a hurry and you don't need everyone to embrace you and your work. When you focus on the weird, passionate, interesting segment of the audience, you can do extraordinary work for a few (and watch it spread) instead of starting from a place of average.
Go ahead and make something for the elites. Not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste. Every great thing ever created was created by and for this group.                                                •••  Read the entire blog post HERE

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nature Inspires, Cuteness and Chickadees

encaustic and oil on birch 6 x 6
encaustic and oil on birch 6 x 6
I have this sweet little chickadee couple that are flitting around my house - Sweetie and Mr.   Chickadees are one of my favorite birds that come in the spring.  They are such happy little things.  They come and sit on the railing of my deck in the morning to catch the early sun. They are so incredibly cute. They chirp and fly from here to there in a flash. They don't stay too long in one place - back and forth in a flurry, seldom resting always moving.  Yet, there is a time they stop.  Its when the sun comes up over the hill and shines its first light onto our deck and into the windows.  Its then, at that point - they take a break.  They sit for just a little longer, taking in the sunrise.  They fluff up their feathers and rest.   We'll watch the sun come up, they together, their sweet little birdie cuteness on the railing and me with my coffee at the kitchen window.  I think its my favorite time of the day too.   
They have a nest they are building.  I can see where it is from my window. So intent on making it right - back and forth, in and out, here and there. They make me smile this cute little couple.
Taken from my window
Happy Friday to my PPF friends.  Thank you for your support and kind comments.  Can't even begin to tell you how much it means to me :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making an Encaustic Palette - Anodized Aluminum

Its been two years, and I'm ready for a palette upgrade.  Pancake griddles have been the workhorses in my studio. They are a great entry level palette into the encaustic world.  I have two brands - Presto and Procter-Silex.  By far the Presto is a better griddle with a more dependable thermostat and reliable heating elements.  The Proctor-Silex, on the other hand, had a mind of its own when it comes to regulating heat.  Now, mind you, these are purchased at Fred Meyer.. on sale and were less than $20 each.   The Presto is square and slightly textured which is not good for mono prints.  The other is the traditional rectangle with a smooth Teflon coating.  The square one was like a ready rack - it held many colors of wax and just kept them at a constant temp.  The other held my favorite colors and was also where I mixed colors in what seemed like a teeny tiny space.  Yet it worked and was working fine.  In fact, I would probably still have them except for the fact that when I went to Wax Works West for a class in March - they had beautiful anodized aluminum palettes for us.  I got spoiled - fast.   
The light colored, smooth. large surface for mixing color was heavenly.  Mixing color on black is challenging and hard to get a real feel for what exactly the colors are - and how they will look once they are on a painting. 
I really wanted to buy one there - at the class, and bring it home.  But, too heavy, too big and wouldn't fit in the overhead bin on my flight.  So, I left it thinking I would order one.  They're heavy - several pounds (like 30+) and that equates to a lot of additional shipping costs.. and mind you, I had nooooo interest in the small version - only the big Mama - 22 x 36.  I can fit a full sheet of paper on it for mono printing (which I don't do - but... maybe I will) - or... all of my favorite colors and STILL have lots of room for mixing colors.  I had to think about it - really... its an investment and after two years of this, I think I'm in - all in.  So, it was definitely worth it.
But.... its in my DNA that I have to do it myself - so I made some calls.

 First, the aluminum palette MUST be anodized - why?  Because aluminum can have some funky reactions with pigments and can cause sludge - black sludge.  Don't want that. 
So, its not just a matter of finding someone to cut a piece of aluminum to size - 22 x 36 x 3/8, I had to find someone to anodize it.  Anodizing is a special coating in which the aluminum is dipped.  
I didn't pursue anyone to do any special tooling, drilling or addition of a brush rack or anything fancy.  I'm going for total plain Jane here - aluminum slab on top of a heat source. 
I ordered two matching double burner hot plates from Amazon (here).  I went with the coil burners - I think either burner types are OK.  I wanted ones with dimensions that worked for the size of the palette, the controls were located towards the ends where I could adjust them easily, and one that had two burners that were the same output wattage and size.  So far, I am very pleased with the burners that I chose.
What I did discover is that this is a very large piece of metal.  It takes longer to heat up and there is a cooler spot in the middle where there is no burner elements. So, I added a single hot plate burner in the middle which keeps the entire surface where I am working to the temperature I need.  I love the new palette.  It has its quirks as did the griddles, but overall well worth the time and effort to put this together.  I actually found it quite easy once I located the sources.  Total cost was less than $270 and it was ready in a week.
Some things I would consider if I was doing this all over again - I have rough edges and scratches on the aluminum because I did not have it finished before taking it for coating.  I went straight from buying it at the metal fabrication place to the coating place.  In hind sight, I would have considered having it finished around the edges to remove the burr that you get in the shearing process and any deep scratches (coating does not hide any of this).  The palettes you can purchase here or here are Cadillacs compared to what I made.  They have adjustable legs (for leveling) and brush holders and are a really nice piece of gear.  I highly recommend those options if you prefer no hassle and a nicer look and finish. 

Its worth making phone calls. I found the prices varied on the metal and the plating substantially from place to place. The plating company did have a minimum. My job was quite small, but they were willing to do it. 

If you live in the Seattle area - here are the sources I used:
metal::  Everett Steel, 3126 Hill Ave, Everett, WA 98201• (425) 258-4505
Anodizing:  Production Plating, 4412 Russell Rd Mukilteo, WA 98275 • (425) 347-4635

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Taurus, Starry Nights and Painting Animals

encaustic and paper on birch 16 x 16
There are 19 of them in the night's sky.  19 animals play in the stars.  Of course we all know Taurus and Leo and Cancer and Scorpio - but did you know there are dogs and bears and fish and birds?  A lion, a dragon and a whale? -  and Pegasus too.  Which means there really are more than 19 - but the point being - there are enough animals to keep me busy painting for a while.  I'm liking the thought of painting them all and using these amazing celestial creatures as inspiration.  I got this great book to teach me about the Zoo in the Sky. 

My Taurus is a Brahma Bull, not really a fierce Bull terrorizing the Twins in the night sky.  He looks a bit tame actually.  He's on a recycled panel, one that has held many paintings that are now within the layers.  I also used one of the charts that I found this time last year.  Knew they would come in handy at some point.  I think Cancer will look pretty at home on a chart as well as Volans, Cetus and Dorado.  Seems that all of the sea animals live in the Southern Hemisphere - so my friends in OZ might be familiar with them. 

So, the next starry night you have - look up and see the animals dancing about in the sky.  I know I'll need to have a chart of some kind to identify them.  But, it will be fun to see how many I can find.    Happy Friday! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coming Together, Finishing Up and the Encaustic Rhino

encaustic 30 x 30

 Its an exciting day when things come together.  I've been really perplexed on a couple of paintings and how to finish them - to bring them to completion.  My Rhino friend here has been one of them.  She has been hanging around the studio for months - shifting from one place to another... waiting.  I really love her - and I wanted to finish her, but the background was really not working.  She is one of the paintings that came from Flora Bowley's class back in the fall.  Her texture and colors are really perfect for a Rhino and I just couldn't get myself to paint over her and have her become just another layer for something new.  There were some close calls - when I felt that maybe those two peaks on her back would make a good start to a landscape - like some sort of mountains in the background.  Yet, I couldn't do it - I couldn't paint over her.  So she sat... and sat.
Until Friday last week... finally, the background came together after a few tries.  I guess it goes to show that the paintings sometimes need to come together on their own.. at their own pace - when they are ready. 

Also, I couldn't resist sharing some photos from my show - I was so worried about having enough work and really... there is plenty.   I've already sold two - YAY!  
Show at Coldwell Banker Bain
Edmonds, WA
April 1-30, 2013
Show at Coldwell Banker Bain
Edmonds, WA
April 1-30, 2013
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