Tag Archives: encaustic

Teaching – and Learning

In the past four days, I have either taught or taken a class!  That might be a record for me.  It’s going to take me a while to actually process all that happened, so why not move it along with a blog post?  😀

Last Friday, I had the pure joy of leading a one-day artist residency at Brandon Middle School for the Art Club kids.  They have to “earn” this day by attending a certain number of meetings during the year, and they either get a field trip or a visiting artist.  This year was the artist year, and their teacher Barb Bellmer asked me if I would be their guest.  Would I?!?  I love residencies!  I had the kids (6-8th graders) do a large-ish collage in the morning, and then use encaustic in the afternoon.  Here are some photos of their great work!  😀

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On Saturday, I was lucky enough to take Megan Woodard Johnson‘s “Intuitive Collage” class in Grafton.  It was a wonderful class, and also fun to play with paper not from my own stash!  (It totally makes a difference, because Megan’s collection, while very similar, is much more “curated” than my own and her color palette is far more discerning than mine.) It was really fun to just PLAY, with no thought about anything except the process. It was much-needed fun, and lots of my friends were in the class, too!  😀 Here are the collages I made during the class!  😀

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On Sunday, I had two dear people over to my house for an Individual Art class – my friend Monica and her daughter Ivy wanted to do encaustic collages.  HOLY SMOKES! I am still in awe of the pieces they made – they couldn’t be any different, but they’re both amazing!!

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Yesterday, I FINALLY was able to take a class with the fantastic Heidi Parkes – I’ve been wanting to take her class for literally the past year, but it just never worked out.  So I decided to just take a private lesson yesterday instead! She is a fiber artist who lives in Milwaukee and is a champion of the Slow Fashion movement.  She believes that mending our clothes is not only thrifty, but also employs the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the imperfect.  It was a relaxing and contemplative (and totally fun!) way to spend a rainy Monday afternoon.  And I’m also going to be able to wear my fave jeans and t-shirts again! 😀

 

In writing this post, I am reminded once again how incredibly lucky I am to be living this kind of life.  Am I insanely busy?  Yes.  But I love both teaching AND the fact that I am able to learn new things as well!  And as every teacher knows, you always learn something new from the people who take your classes.  I know I do, EVERY time.  All of these processes and collaborations; the ability to learn more about and spend more time with wonderful people; the act of living one’s life in and about art – this is what it’s about for me.  I hope to live this life for as long as I am able to enjoy it.  🙂

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Best/Worst

Life is funny.  In the times where it’s even-keeled, we just sort of chug along, don’t we, not really thinking about much of anything except our own plans.  Whether it’s work, the weekend, what to have for dinner – it’s just so easy to be complacent.  I think this is where most of us spend a majority of our time, and honestly?  I think it’s a great place to be.

But then Life comes along and kicks your ass.  It could be the death of a beloved pet, something awful happening with your career; your partner or kids becoming ill; your parents’ aging and myriad issues that brings; or maybe it’s a combination of crises. Whatever the “thing” is, you’re all of a sudden thrust into Survival Mode, where you can’t even see past the day or hour at hand.  Sure, Life is still happening, but it’s all kind of a blur now.

Life can also come along and bestow upon you some of the most amazing experiences you can imagine.  It might be the best year you’ve ever had at your job; it might be that you’re marrying your best friend; it might be that you’re finally going to have a kid that you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Whenver “things” like this happen, Life seems to fly by in a whirlwind of activity – stressful in its own way, as most of Life is still happening, too.  Laundry still has to be done.  🙂

This has been my year so far.

Let’s get the crud out of the way first.  Our beloved Pommie, Dudley, left us on February 25.  He’d been my constant companion for the last 5 years and 9 months. He very rarely left my side, and his absence created a loss I wasn’t quite ready for. ——————————                            During this time, we were also adjusting to having my mom here in Fond du Lac – she moved up here in January, as it was clear she couldn’t live by herself anymore.  So we set her up at a lovely apartment in an assisted living space.  She was chugging along until the middle of February, when she passed out after having what turned out to be her last cigarette – her oxygen level was at 60% and the docs discovered her COPD was now advanced emphysema.  She was in the hospital for 5 days and afterward, needed more services.  All seemed to be going okay until this past Thursday, when we were at the grocery store and she took a terrifying fall, which crushed her shoulder bones and two vertebrae, plus part of her tailbone.  She will be in a rehab facility for 8-10 weeks, and is in a great deal of pain. All of this is compounded by her worsening dementia. —————— Lastly – this may sound like absolutely nothing compared to the two other “things” I’ve mentioned, but we also said good-bye to Carol, my beloved 1997 Toyota Corolla, on February 21.  She had been my trusty (VERY trusty!) sidekick since May of 1998.  That car saw me through the birth of my second niece (and some very smooshy memories of my first niece’s experiences with her new sister); my divorce; my dad’s death/funeral; and served as our “second” car when Brian and I got our van.  She did manage to reach 200,000 miles before we parted ways, and her final act was a donation to our local public radio station (via the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program). I’ll be honest – I cried.  I had so many amazing adventures with this car and for a while, it seemed like I’d have her with me forever.

BUT!!  BUT!!  YOU GUYS!!

Holy smokes – it has been the most amazing year EVER for my art.  EVER.  Since January 1, this is what I’ve done:

  • I created 30 pieces (one per day, January 1-30) for the 30x30x30 show at Var Gallery (which hangs this week!).  This was my first-ever real “collection” of works. I created pieces that I rust-dyed and then stitched, followed by a layer of beeswax.  Here’s one of them, for a sneak peek:
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Painted Desert IV, rust-dyed muslin, machine embroidery, encaustic wax
  • I finished/installed my two shows at UW-Fond du Lac that I created specifically for this site: The Collograph in Minature/Pervasive Plastic.  This opportunity, which was so generously given to me by art lecturer Wendi Turchan, was a dream come true – to be able to show on a university level was something I never imagined I’d be able to do.  I also created pieces that were site-specific, and I’m so proud of them.  Here’s one of my collographs and a piece from the Plastic show:

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    Prairie (monoprint and collograph) and The Whole World is Plastic (tree branch, plastic bag strips, plastic bag)
  • On my third attempt, I was finally accepted into the Small Print Show at UW-Parkside!  My piece, A Canopy of Branches, was chosen to be one of the prints. Unfortunately, the weather and my health were both icky the night of the reception and I was unable to drive to Kenosha to see the awesome show.  But here is my piece!!  I’m so happy I got in on this one, because it’s a reduction linocut I’m really proud of.

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    A Canopy of Branches, reduction linocut
  • I am currently in The Humor Show at Riverwalk Art Center with my friends Nicci Martin and Susan Fiebig!  I am so happy to be one of the three chosen for this exhibit by curator/owner Kathryn Dreifuerst.  I can guarantee that this is going to be not only hilarious, but just a fabulous show. My portion of the show is called Bad Hair Daze, which is comprised of eight different embroidered collages featuring horrible ’80s hairstyles (here’s one of them!).  Our reception is this Friday night from 5-8 p.m. – hope to see you there!  😀fullsizeoutput_3a92The “She’s so Unusual”, from the Bad Hair Daze collection (embroidery, collage)

Lastly – I have to thank everyone who’s made this year, as trying as it’s been, so great.  Firstly – my family.  They’ve really rallied and helped so much with my mom.  Everyone has her back and it’s been so wonderful having their awesome support. I rely so much on my sister, Jenn, because no one knows me better and of course, we have the same mom.  🙂 Our “sister days” have been a life-saver.  Also, my art friends – what a wonderful group of people I know in Fond du Lac and the Fox Cities.  I know the best people in the world and I’m so proud and honored to call them my friends.  🙂 They have been so understanding when I’ve had to cancel things due to illness this year or last minute things that have come up with my mom.  I can only hope to be half as understanding as these great people.  I could name names, but you know who you are.  ❤

And lastly – my amazing husband, Brian.  To say that I couldn’t do any of this without him is the Understatement of the Year.  He has been my rock and I am so grateful and honored to be his wife, and astounded by his unflinching generosity in everything he does.  He’s truly the best.  ♥

A Week of Encaustic Collage

WOW!  The fall got away from me.  It’s been a really busy September, October and November, with many classes and exhibits.  December’s been a great month so far, with even more classes and notifications of being accepted into some wonderful shows!  More about those in later posts!  😀

So last Saturday, I taught at the Plymouth Art Center for the first time!  It was a fantastic class, one that I had never taught before for a group – Encaustic Collage.

I love encaustic collage!  It takes collages and adds so much versatility and so many more possibilities for layering.  I had stations set up – one for the colored encaustics…

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…one for collage materials…

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…and one for the initial encaustic process – taking encaustic medium “beads” and melting them on to the collage with a crafting iron.

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The class-goers were fantastic, and made amazing collages!  I am always inspired when I teach, because I always know I’ll learn something as well.  But in this class, the inspiration was over and above what I expected!  Check out these gorgeous collages!

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When I teach, I take my supplies with me in big bins.  (I always include all supplies when I teach.)  I had created two encaustic collages as samples:

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But since the bin was still not put away, I thought I’d do some ATCs (artist trading cards) for our upcoming live trade in Milwaukee!  I spent wonderful hours making these little guys, and I can’t wait to trade them in January!

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Incidentally, if you’re interested in taking the Encaustic Collage class at Plymouth Art Center, I’ll be teaching this class again on March 25, 2017!  You can see the classes here sign up here!  😀  Thanks so much to Flossie McKeown and the Plymouth Art Center for having me teach!

Still in the groove….

Whoa.  Here we are at Friday!  Yesterday was another fantastically productive day.  Now, a little insight as to how my (and I know many other artists’) brain works – I started to feel the “I’m out of ideas” feeling yesterday morning.  It’s weird – I have this abundance of supplies before me, yet my first thought is, “I can’t make anything with this.”  I think it’s because we get into this routine of what we’re SUPPOSED to create, and if we can’t see that idea in front of us, we default into surrender mode.

NOPE.  I wasn’t going to let that happen, not when I’m at this amazing place and I have the entire day stretched out ahead of me.  So I grabbed one of the paper pulp pieces I made on Monday and started applying some encaustic medium, and then a teensy bit of Shiva paint stick.

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To me, it looks like waves crashing against rocks.  At least three people told me it looked like cake!  I’ll admit – I was a bit deflated after those remarks, because I didn’t convey what I wanted to.  But I still love it!  Onward!

After this project I still wanted to experiment with my encaustic supplies, but because of something I saw Ricki (the other artist-in-residence this week) doing, I wanted to try that – using my Lutradur as a stabilizer for my emboidery, especially on the very thin muslin that I used to rust-dye.  So I put some behind a square of that fabric and just started mimicking the markings in the fabric with some dark blue thread.  Afterward I just used encaustic medium over the top.  I was REALLY pleased with how this turned out!  😀

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At this point I needed a break, so I went down the hall and visited Claire at Fox Valley Found + Collected, which is the super-cool shop attached to Standard Projects’ workshop.  It’s got SUCH a great vibe in there – it’s instantly calming.  She’s curated it so beautifully, with her own fantastic leather accessories and other makers’ work as well!  And she’s also got this amazing, tiny “gallerette” right in her shop called The Vault, because, well, it’s in an old vault.  😀  I LOVE it in there!  😀  She’s open Thursdays and Fridays from 1-6 and Saturdays from 10-3.

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So after my break, I tried yet another project that I’d actually been wanting to try for over a year but never did – a weaving on this tiny loom pendant!  The pendant itself is so adorable, isn’t it?  So I searched through my box of fibers that I’d brought with me and got going.

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I LOVE how it turned out!  I think I’m going to add tassels on the bottom when I get back up to the studio this morning.  😀

Speaking of pendants – here are the other seven that I completed on Wednesday!  The one on the far right is already sold (YAY!) but the rest are now available at Found + Collected for $15.  🙂

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I’m off to enjoy my final (WHAAA!) day of creating at Standard Projects, and I’m also REALLY looking forward to the Deconstructed Collage workshop tomorrow!!  I can’t wait!  😀

 

Looking ahead to 2016

I love the week in between Christmas and New Year’s!  Maybe not as much as when I was a kid, when I would gleefully spend my mornings playing with my new toys and then watching the Paddington cartoons on PBS, but there’s still so much fun and promise in this week.

On January 2, I will be celebrating SIX years as a full-time artist!  It’s the longest that I’ve ever held a “job” in my life.  (You can’t really call what I do a “job”, or even a “career”; it’s more like a “pursuit”.)  😀  And every year, I like to reflect on the past year and think about what lies ahead.  New ideas/opportunities/techniques always pop up, and it’s exciting to me to think about what may happen, even though one can never fully “plan” as an artist.

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Last year, I made a goal for myself to carve a lino block a week and print it, and wound up creating a print exchange for myself and about 6 other people.  Well, we got about halfway through before other things took over – mainly, I got super busy with my own Individual Art classes and other art-related activities.  And while I’m sort of bummed that I didn’t finish, I still made 23 new little carvings that got me interested in other ways of utilizing my press and my prints.

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This year, I am going to try something new – a watercolor a week.  🙂  That was something else that I tried (and LOVED!) in 2015 – working with watercolors.  My friend Nicci and I made a trek to Jack Richeson back in February, and to my surprise I wound up purchasing a beautiful set of watercolors that were on sale.  (It helps to be good-quality paints right off the bat.)  I was also VERY surprised how much I loved making these little paintings and I would also like to explore this further.

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As I was cleaning my studio yesterday, I was inspired about 20 times by the monoprints and offset prints that were cluttering my desk.  I want to make more with these prints, too, as I did with this piece, called “Limbs” (which SOLD at my solo exhibit at the Langdon Divers Gallery this month! YAY!).  It’s just a matter of working with different collage pieces, much like a puzzle – something I learned from my friend Suze, who is extremely good at composition.

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And speaking of composition, here’s a piece I created during one of the Individual Art classes I was holding (I can’t say “teaching”, because I really don’t “teach” my “students” anything – I guide them and let them play with my toys, essentially).  It’s an encaustic collage, which is something else I learned this past year. I had done encaustic pieces like this before, but after I took a class led by Matt Luther, everything fell into place.  I love how this piece turned out and want to do more of these!

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Probably MOST surprising to me this year?  That I actually created some honest-to-god paintings!!  And it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. 😀   One of them actually was accepted into the Contemporary Views show at my alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, this past fall!  It was surely a highlight of my year.  This piece is half of a diptych called “Lead-out Scrawl” (acrylic, 18″ X 24″), and it’s a representation of a film frame in the leader film that’s sometimes shown before a countdown in a movie (here’s a great example of some of these little bits).  It essentially captures 1/24 of a second in time (film runs at 24 frames per second, or 1440 frames per minute).  I want to try more of this particular type of painting, because it combines three of my favorite things – film, ephemera, and making art.

Here’s to a new year of making more art, entering more shows, holding more classes, contributing to more books, curating more shows, and having even MORE fun!

 

Encaustic Fun!

As an artist, there are a couple of scents that fuel my desire to create art – block printing ink, glue, old paper – and beeswax.

Oh, that delicious, warm, inviting smell!! I LOVE that natural scent.  And right now, I’m in the thick of it, because I’m taking an encaustic class at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield!  🙂

I have my second of four class sessions tomorrow.  I can’t wait!  Last week was my first and it was fantastic from the first minute I got there.  The instructor, Matt Luther, is one of those instructors who immediately put you at ease.  He has an easygoing style that’s just so conducive to creating!  I strive to be that way when I teach and I hope I succeed.  He’s one to emulate, for sure.

Here are the two pieces that I made during our first session!  I haven’t felt this free during a class in a LONG time.  It was 100% enjoyable!  I’m so looking forward to tomorrow – we’re doing portraits and landscapes!  😀

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