Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
If you’ve read many of my posts or been to my place, you’ll see that my garden is an extension of my studio, and a huge source of inspiration and reprieve for me. The studio structure is a converted two-car garage, and when we moved in, there was no garden to speak of. So when we designed the interior space and added a window, the view wasn’t as big of a concern as it should have been. (Hindsight). Fortunately, the garage also had a screened-in porch attached, and that has become one of my favorite places to think.
This weekend, my hubby helped me out by making a little writing desk out of an old wooden palette. It works perfectly in the space, allowing me to overlook the garden and stay mosquito-free at the same time (a huge task around here). He lovingly named it “The Raven” a testament to his sense of humor, and a nod to his inner Mad Hatter.
For some, rainy days and Mondays are big downers, but I happen to love both (However, I currently don’t report to “work” on most Mondays, so that most likely determines my affection). This morning brought spring rains, and I was able to clear my head while enjoying the vibrant beauty of the garden. The birds sang happily. I even made a quirky little poem to memorialize the moment:
And as I’m wrapping up this post, guess who perched outside my back door?
The raven’s unglamorous Texas cousin, the grackle (as seen through the screen, from my new desk).
Seems spring only lasts a couple of weeks here in north Texas. Soon the heat will be sweltering and the humidity high. So on perfect spring days like today, I have the windows and doors open, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the paint is flowing.
“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity… You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
I set a challenge for myself this month to post on my blog daily, and this, my friends, is the final post for the month of April 2014. I did it!
There were days that were a lot more inspiring than others, some very exciting with good news to share, and others that I just didn’t feel so motivated about. But I’ve found that this has been a really good exercise for me — it has kept me focused each day, because I knew I would need to share something interesting each day with you.
Just like my journals, my blog posts are a good resource for me to see what was going on in my life at a particular time.
An overview of this month’s posts:
I have gotten to share some of my visual journals with you, which until this month I hadn’t published online. Posting on my blog daily has encouraged me to finish some of those journal pages that I had started but had been dragging my feet on finishing. See awesome april posts # 1822, 23, 25 and 27 for new journal entries, and I have a new visual journals page that I’ve been adding to all month.
I shared things that inspire me along the way(days # 5, 6, 7, 14, 20, 28) and the advice I would give to my artist self 20 years ago (#16).
My trip to Europe is officially on the books, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s been 10 years since I traveled overseas, so I’m happy to have something fantastic to look forward to next year.
You got a few glimpses into my studio (day # 10, 15, 26, 28), and the studio of my friend Jennifer Cowley (day #2). I also shared a few of my art friends (day #11 and # 24), as well as some of my students’ work in progress (day #3).
I’ve had a great month getting my work out there. I revealed the news that I was selected to complete a public art mural for McKinney this spring. ( I’m still waiting on a start date, and I’ll keep you all posted on the latest developments with that project). Meanwhile, I’ve also sold a few paintings this month, and been selected for a juried show.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog this month, and to my new ‘followers.’ As always, I’d love to have comments from you on any of the posts.
I have been layering found images into my paintings for the last several years, but sometimes I wanted the paint to have more surface texture. There are many additives you can put into acrylic paint, but most of them either take a lot of layers to build up a thick surface, or they are opaque. I wanted the texture, but still with transparency. Enter encaustics!
I have admired encaustic work for some time – it has a very deep, luminous quality — but wasn’t quite sure how the process worked. So, I took a couple of classes over at The Encaustic Center in Richardson and immediately knew this was a medium that I could continue to experiment with.
What is encaustic? It is painting with heated beeswax! It’s an old method that has been around at least 2500 years, and was used by the Greeks and Egyptians for painting everything from boats to portraits. Find out more about the history of encaustic painting HERE.
Probably one of the most notable artists from the past 50 years that employed encaustic painting in his work is Jasper Johns, famous for his paintings of maps and the American flag.
I make my encaustic medium (beeswax + damar resin) in a large electric skillet. I then use oil paints to add the color (pigment) to the clear medium. I have a separate griddle for this, with 16 oz. ink tins lined up with the colors I want to use. This is the same setup used at the Encaustic Center, and in most books and articles I’ve read on encaustic painting. Some artists buy their encaustic paint already made (R & F has some really good paints), but they are very expensive.
What I love about encaustic is it’s a very fast, spontaneous medium. It dries quickly (think of how fast candle wax hardens), and can be used for both additive and subtractive techniques. You can also layer paper into your work easily — including drawings, photographs, collage, ephemera, etc. Imagine how exciting this was for me, as I love to glue all kinds of things into my paintings! To have a true “encaustic” painting, you have to fuse each layer together, slightly re-melting each layer to make sure it adheres to the one below it. I use a heat gun most of the time, but have just started enjoying using a torch as well. (However, when I add paper, I try to keep the torch far away).
In my newest series, I drew with charcoal or pastel onto tissue paper, then layered those drawings into my paintings using clear encaustic medium (clear paint, with no pigment added). The tissue paper became so transparent, that you can hardly detect the edges in the painting. It allowed me to “float” my drawings on top of previous layers of collage and paint. And the drips are now in 3D!
I just added a few more encaustic pieces to my web site, which you can find HERE.
And I’m happy to announce that two of my larger encaustic paintings were accepted into the 125 Juried Art Show, which opened yesterday. The show is at The ARTS Gallery at Collin College, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75074. The show runs April 28 – May 17, with a reception on Thursday, May 8 from 5:30 – 7:30pm.
There’s nothing like new art materials to make me excited. I just got some new paint sticks last week, and have been looking forward to this week – lots of studio time. Tomorrow is the day!
I’ve been using these a lot with my encaustic work, but also love to draw with them in my oil and acrylic paintings.
I also use oil sticks for many of my drawings on paper.
I finally made some new cradled panels this weekend, too. Thanks to my hubby for his help with these (or for letting me help him — he’s so much better at mitred corners than I am).
I made these underpaintings a few months ago, but now that I have the cradles on the back, they are ready for me to layer paint and color. Who knows how much of my original painting will even be visible when I’m done (probably not much). I can’t wait!
I’ve never really considered myself a gardener. My mom had a nice vegetable garden and pretty plants around the house, but I didn’t ever want to help out with that growing up (teenagers). On my own, I can’t seem to keep house plants alive. I tried a vegetable garden a couple of years ago, and was very unsuccessful. Last year I limited my vegetable gardening to three tomato plants, which yielded two tomatoes total all summer. Although that was a 100% increase from the prior year – if I kept it up, I might have enough for a couple of nice salads in a few years — I think I’ll just stick to the farmer’s market.
I have a lovely location between my house and my studio that was calling for vegetation, so I decided to try a perennial garden last year. I tried to plant a lot of things that were hardy for this weird north Texas weather, using my friends at Shades of Green as an expert resource. The area is shady at high noon, but gets good morning sun, and the north end gets afternoon sun as well.
After a particularly cold, harsh winter, the garden is growing back!
I’ve also added a few new friends.
Fall used to be my favorite season, with the cool breezes coming after a harsh Texas summer. But now, I think Spring has taken the top spot. I love going through the garden each day, seeing what is sprouting or blooming. It’s usually the first thing I do in the morning. I also use the garden as a place to reflect, notice the details and colors of nature, listen to the birds, and give my mind a rest if I’ve been working on a difficult project.
I also think it makes a nice entrance to my studio.
“Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I’m given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one’s own vision.”
Today I took a quick trip across town to visit my friend Jennifer Cowley’s studio. I met Jennifer last year, when she joined the ArtSeen Studio tour here in Frisco. She came by and visited with me in the fall and I instantly felt like this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Her studio is in the front of her home, and is a work of art in itself. She has the best furniture in there! I wish I’d taken more photos, but I’ll share some of the highlights.
Here’s the infamous pink stove that she uses for storage. When she moved here from Oak Cliff, she couldn’t bear to part with some of her vintage fixtures, so she just brought them with her and has found creative uses for them. I wish I’d gotten a pic of her awesome orange metal sink!
She has a great desktop that is also a light box, which was a hand-me-down from a fellow artist. We had a fun conversation about how most things we have were not purchased new, and many of them were free. It’s all about seeing the beauty in uncommon objects and using things for alternate purposes (and knowing others who have really cool junk they’re willing to give away).
And then there are beautiful vignettes like this, that honestly I don’t even know what to say. Perfection.
Most artists I know have really interesting stories about how they got to where they are now, and she’s no exception. I enjoyed getting to know her backstory a bit, how she began her college education in the dental field, went into architecture, and then truly found herself in art. Out of college, she worked in an art gallery for a while, then a serendipitous encounter with the very successful artist Frank Frazier changed her path entirely. She got to travel and work with Frank for a couple of years, and he has become her mentor as an artist. I can see his influence in her work, although she definitely has a strong aesthetic of her own. See her online portfolio at www.jenmonet.com.
One of the best things about having other artists as friends is that they “get” you in a way that most other people don’t. There’s a drive in you that’s both a blessing and a curse, and it makes you quite different than a lot of your other friends and acquaintances. You see and experience the world differently. Your ideals are different. And as an artist in a suburban town, it’s even harder to find others that think like you. Glad I’ve found a few.
It’s Monday night, and I’m sitting in my studio, thinking about how much cleaning up I need to do before the weekend! (The pic above is of last year’s tour — I guarantee it’s not that clean….yet!) But I’m very excited to open the studio again, and I hope you’ll take a minute to stop by this Saturday or Sunday. The tour hours are 10am -5pm on Saturday, and 1-5pm on Sunday.
I’m really excited that two of my artist friends are joining me in the studio this year. Carolyn M. Nelson will be working live – she does terrific portraits and figurative work. You’ll have to congratulate her while you’re here – she just got married a couple of days ago! Find her work at www.carolynmnelson.com (That’s Mrs. Funk to you.)
And you don’t want to miss a HUGE art sale by T. Scott Stromberg. He has 85 paintings for sale — with them all priced at $199 and under! There are some really large paintings, too. I have been a fan of his work for about 7 years, and I am trying to figure out which of these will fit in my house the best. You will want to get here early to get first dibs. You can see his work at www.tscottstromberg.com.
The fun starts Friday night with a Kickoff Party at thegallery8680 from 7-9pm. The folks at Swanky Couch (www.swankycouch.com) are setting up a bohemian-style lounge, and Robyn always treats visitors to a buffet of tasty foods. There will be a free screening of the movie “Moonrise Kingdom,” so bring a friend and enjoy an artsy evening. Located at 8680 W. Main Street in the Crestview Professional Center.
Of course, there are lots of other artists featured in other studios on the tour. You’ll be so impressed with the amazing talent Frisco has! Print out a tour map and visit any and all of them at your own pace. You can find a printable map and details about the tour at www.artseentour.com.
In honor of the studio tour this weekend, I thought it would be fun to post a few photos of my studio as it has progressed over the past several months. Originally, I thought I’d post as we went, but life had other ideas. So, better late than never….
We moved in November of last year, but it was after Christmas before we got to start working on the studio. It was so cold!
In the spring, I received some reclaimed cabinets from the house I grew up in from age 12. They’re great oak cabinets that were custom built for that house, but somehow my hubby did his magic to make them fit just right into the studio.
So, now, to make a very long story short, here’s the “after.” Our secret: lots of paint and elbow grease.
Come by this weekend and see it in person, if you’re near Frisco. Details at www.artseenhere.com
Up next: insulating the roof and adding a ceiling. I’m hoping to avoid freezing fingers this winter!
I’m thrilled to announce that the wait is over, and I finally have a new art studio! I’ve had my sights set on this space for the last six months, and we were finally able to seal the deal this past week, purchasing our new home and studio-to-be.
The studio is still a diamond in the rough, but it has so much potential to be a wonderful work space. Formerly used as a detached 2-car garage, it also has a screened-in porch and a 10×10′ storage area. As you can see from the photo, there are lots of mature trees on the property, and a meandering path to the studio from our kitchen. The interior needs quite a lot of TLC to become a functioning studio, but it does have electricity and running water, so that’s a great start.
Keep checking back — I will post my studio renovation progress here on the Fresh Paint blog.
So if you’ve found me here, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already heard about the artseen studio tour, coming in October to Frisco. Just in case you haven’t, let me fill you in.
Earlier in the year, I began collaborating with other artists and art lovers to come up with a way to connect our working artists with the community. Many of us are involved with local arts groups, such as Frisco Arts and the Visual Arts Guild of Frisco, and we participate in many shows here in the area, including the great shows at thegallery8680. But we wanted to make a more personal connection with other artists, collectors and admirers that we’ve met (and hopefully, some that we haven’t yet). We decided to organize a studio tour, opening our creative spaces to the public. And, thus, the artseen studio tour was born!
We’ve gathered a group of fifteen talented and diverse artists who wanted to show the community what they make and how they make it. Some will be at their home studios, and others have paired with merchants in downtown Frisco to bring their ‘studio’ to the streets. As a result, most of our artists are geographically close together, making the tour easy for our guests. In addition to the artists, thegallery8680 is a part of the tour, featuring their new show “Black&White.” The Visual Arts Guild of Frisco will host their Fall Member Show, “Beautiful” at The Art Gallery at Frisco Discovery Center during the tour as well.
We are delighted to have two unique art collections open to the public during the tour. Frisco residents Rex & Betsy Lowe are opening their home for guests to view their amazing private art collection in their Starwood home, and Marla Fields has gathered a small collection of works by Texas artist Frank Reaugh to be on display at her historic home in downtown Frisco. We are so privileged to have these collections on the tour, and we are grateful to the Lowes and Ms. Fields for joining us.
I hope you can make it to my studio on October 15 or 16. I will be showing a lot of work that I haven’t shown before — drawings, prints, and mixed media works, as well as paintings that you love. I’m looking forward to getting to share my sacred studio space with you.