Thursday, January 29, 2015

Alchemy of Process, Workshop with Elise Wagner and Lisa Pressman, and the New World of Cold Wax

Workshop studies
cold wax, oil on paper
Just last week, I spent three game changing days in the Portland, OR studio of Elise Wagner.  Elise teamed up with Lisa Pressman for "The Alchemy of Process" workshop.  Two amazing artists sharing their processes and how they intertwine between their two styles to create something really magical.  Elise Wagner finds her roots in printmaking and Lisa Pressman is fluent in cold wax medium, together they share a love and common ground of working in encaustic painting.  While their artwork and methods are different, there are wonderful similarities that make this teaching duo a perfect pair.  Over the course of four days, a new door into the world of art was opened for me and I walked away with the keys. 

Elise Wagner and Lisa Pressman
Wagner is the winner of Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award for 2015
Pressman is featured in the Huffington Post article "Ten Memorable Paintings from 2014"
This is a four day workshop with our first day kicking off in the beautiful Butters Gallery where the works of both Elise and Lisa hung in the show "The Spaces Between".  The workshop is so popular that a second session was added this year.  The sessions ran back to back with an overlapping day ending the first and kicking off the second.  For day one, we talked - inspirations, shared artwork, and lots of questions around websites, artist statements, approaching galleries and any and all art profession questions we could dream up.  Elise and Lisa were genuine, helpful, and direct with their answers making us all feel at home in a nurturing and educational environment.  The next three days we rolled up our sleeves, parked all expectations at the curb and dove in to the alchemy of process. 

Lisa Pressman and Elise Wagner working together in encaustic
We worked with Elise making encaustic collograph prints on the first day.  The anticipation of seeing the first print after rolling it through the press has the same level of excitement as opening the envelope of 4x6 prints from a roll of film that has just been processed.  There was a lot of thought that went into the preparation and then the crowning moment of the reveal and seeing how you did.  Its pretty uplifting. 
Day two was about learning to use cold wax medium with Lisa.  She warmed us up with some drawing and mark making exercises that got us loosened up and then introduced us the world of working in cold wax.   I'm overboard in love with this stuff and the world of abstract painting.  Totally different than where I dwell in my little corner of the encaustic world.  Thought provoking, playful but not without a new set of frustrations that come with learning any new medium - like mud. 
Day three - encaustic and then whatever we wanted to work more on.  On this day, Elise and Lisa worked side by side at the hot wax palettes.  So interesting to see the differences in how they work the same medium so proficiently.  Different styles, different approaches, same language. 
Each day we learned to see more, to edit, to add and subtract.  We learned new mediums, new ways and magical insights.  Great meaningful discussions, questions answered, sharing and all of this in a comfortable and nurturing way.  Great teachers, great workshop.  I told them both that when I came on the first day I felt like for quite a while I had been searching for something in my art that I could not define, but felt like whatever it was I couldn't find it.  When I left, I felt like I could rest my search and stay in this spot for a while with all of the information that came in - there are answers for me.  But, I have to work it and experiment and play a lot for it to take shape in a tangible way.   Got a lot of discovery ahead of me which sounds like fun.  Many thanks to Elise and Lisa for an enlightening four days and giving me new tools of inspiration.
Happy Students
Melissa Lackman and Mary Lee and a whole lotta art created in 3 days

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making Chocolate, Reduction Linocut and For the Love of Dogs

reduction linocut 6x6
Chocolate is brain food.  It improves the blood flow to the brain and feeds us to keep us smarter for longer.  At least that's what the scientists say.  I bet if those folk have ever done a reduction lino cut they would totally agree with its ability as brain food. 
I have a very special friend in my life and she is a huge chocolate fan and has two lovely chocolate labs.  Four years ago, I made her a chocolate themed gift.  We both are Christmas time babies - just one day apart, so we share a special bond of holiday babies.  This year, it was time to share more chocolate love with her for her birthday. 
Step one - yellow
Step Two - cut away and print in brown

A reduction linocut is a method where a multi color print is made from one block.  Through progressive carving, inking an printing the image emerges as the block is slowly destroyed.  In the end, there is only the one edition of the printing and the image can never be reprinted. 

Step Two - Printed in Brown
Step Three - cut some more and print in dark brown
Thinking backwards and in terms of layers really got the cobwebs out of my brain.  I printed 10 in hopes that I would get one good one.  Its amazing how different they all are even though they are from the same block.  The amount of ink, the registration and the color mixing made them all unique.  In the end, there were four good enough to call an edition. 

Want to see how the pros handle reduction linocut?  Check out this video about the work of Dave Lefner . 

Happy Friday everyone!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Words, Finding Fit and Linocut Teapots

Yellow Teapot
reduction lino cut 4 x 6

2015 in a word.

Each year, I pick a word to be my north star for the upcoming year.  I let it be a reminder of what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months.  Its a bit like a safe harbor.  If I lose my way or get a little wobbly, I have a place to return to, reset and strike out again.  I like having a word.  In a year, I find I can get a bit scattered,  and having a word, reins me back in and gives me direction.  A word is very personal, yet I feel it needs to be shared and spoken out loud.  Because once it is out there in the world, its much easier to live by. 

A word to live by can be strong and forceful, like my word from 2012.  Or it can be action oriented, like my word from 2013.  2011's word was Knowledge, and my word last year, was about direction.

So after much pondering and nixing great words like hone, balance, and swing - for 2015, I decided upon the word:

Its a year for getting fit, keeping fit and finding fit.
I've passed the halfway mark of life.  I'm finding that my stamina is less, my strength is less and it takes way longer to heal from an injury than it used to.  This year is dedicated to trying to stay level and not lose ground and maybe if I'm lucky, I'll make up some lost ground. 
About finding fit - I need this especially.  I'm living a double life spreading myself between two cities, two homes, two studios.  This year is about finding a rhythm and a way that feels equally good in both places. 
Its also
F - flexibility.  I need not only in the form kindness to my body and fitting yoga into the mix this year, but also more about going with the flow and flexing and bending in ways that keeps life in balance
I - intention.   Setting it and moving forward in ways to make it happen.  Finding a way to release the patterns that hold me in place and keep me from getting where I want and need to be.
T - Time.  I have time and space for everything I want to do.   I need to stop struggling with it and accept that things are happening at the pace in which they are meant to happen - no more and no less.
Its kind of amazing actually how much I managed to fit into one three letter word. Its a big word for a little word.  I'm looking forward to living up to it in 2015.
If you have a word for 2015, I hope you share it here.  Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December Reflections: Week 3

The photo project, December Reflections has been helping to re-sharpen my eye.  I forget how wonderful it is to be tuned in and watching for those perfect photo opportunities during the day.  Each day has a theme, so in a way it makes it a bit harder to find the perfect photo.  I wanted to try not to stage things too much, but just to enjoy whatever the day brings.  Below is week 3 of the project.

12/19: Delicious

12/20: This Year Was...
transitional and good
12/21: Friendship
12/22: Fragrant
12/23: Sparkle

12/25: Today is..
Pretty perfect!

12/26:  Sweet

12/27: Silence
12/28: Love is..

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