Monday, January 30, 2012

Encaustics Workshop with Daniella Woolf

I am just back from a five-day encaustics workshop.  What an experience!  If you do not know what encaustics is, go here or here.  The workshop was given by Daniella Woolf through North Country Studio Workshops at Bennington College.  Unbelievable group - the students AND the teacher were all accomplished artists with a lot of inspiration to offer.

One very cool thing with encaustic is doing collage on paper.  We did a group collage in which every student made one horizontal collage piece, and then we assembled them as a hanging scroll. Here is Daniella Woolf and Wen Redmond (do check her out!!) assembling the scroll:

 And the finished scroll hanging in the window overlooking the back field.

Here is the first stage of a self-portrait I did, as I am in the midst of my online class "Exploring the Self-Portrait".  I drew directly onto the wax (encaustic medium over paper laminated to a plywood panel) with china marker:

 I was not too thrilled with the mouth, so after scraping it off, I applied a coat of white encaustic paint mixed with a lot of medium over the whole thing.  then I cut out another mouth from one of my sketchbook drawings, and applied it with medium.  I added a few more details in graphite, and built up color and a bit of collage on either side of the face.

Here are a couple other photos from the workshop:

Another 8"x8" panel, "Ink and O's"

This untitled piece is on a panel coated with plaster.

This piece has many layers of wax as well as encaustic collage:

Shino is a kind of traditional Japanese ceramic glaze, some beautiful examples of which I found here.  The Alizarin Orange coming through the white wax reminded me of this glaze:

"Cruciform with Rust"

"Red Square 2"

"Red Square 1"

My work space

R&F Paints provided a vast array of encaustic paints and medium.

  I am so grateful to North Country Studio Workshops for granting me a scholarship to take this fabulous, life-changing workshop!!  I know it will enrich my work, and I hope it will enrich my teaching.  I am also grateful to Daniella Woolf for being so generous with her knowledge and resources.  She has two fabulous instructional DVD's available, which you can purchase here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sketchbook Practice Online

I've been having a ball with my Sketchbook Practice workshop here in Vermont, and enough of you expressed interest in an online version that I am now offering that as well, starting on April 4.  We will do some drawing practice, collage doodles, ink doodles, self-portraits, and generally give our ideas room to percolate and play.

Give your art practice a boost this spring and join The Sketchbook Practice Workshop online. Or just get out your sketchbook, make a pot of tea, and draw something, play with paint, collage, or explore the media of your choice.  See my tutorials or The Sketchbook Challenge Tutorials, or just go to the Sketchbook Challenge blog for some inspiration.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fabulous Work from Students

As you may know, I am teaching my online class "Exploring the Self-Portrait" now, and I'm thrilled with some of the work the students are doing! We've got a really talented and lively group, so I wanted to share some of the images.

We've worked with ink on the end of a pipe cleaner:

Drawing and collage:

Drawing, painting and collage:

One-liner drawings:

Watercolor wet in wet:
In our sketchbooks:
And we are not half done yet! Every morning I wake up looking forward to seeing the new posts and comments. This was not meant to be an Inner Self kind of workshop, but inevitably one makes self-discoveries when doing self-portraits. I will be offering this online workshop again starting June 6. Meanwhile, enjoy the eye candy, and try a few self-portraits just for fun!

I am also offering The Sketchbook Practice Workshop online, starting April 4. More about that in another post.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ink Doodles

This month's theme on the Sketchbook Challenge is Doodling, so I've been challenging my own thoughts on the topic. You may have seen my post on Collage Doodles on the Sketchbook Challenge.

I particularly liked Lyric Kinard's post in which she raises the question: is it a doodle or a sketch? I question the value of doodling when you know where you are going with it. If your goal is to fill in a particular shape with a particular repeated mark, then where is the effort? Where is the challenge that brings you someplace new? I wouldn't claim that this is not valuable at all - it may be soothing, calming, and relaxing, and thus have therapeutic value - but you get a lot more bang for your creative buck when you don't know where you are going, and you "doodle" to find out.

Off my soap box now, here is a video on how I did a couple of ink doodles:

Here is the ink doodle over collage in the first example:

And then I wrecked it with some paint. I mean, I like the original one better, but this is my sketchbook and I am trying new stuff. At some point I will add more to this page, but that's not important now.

And here is the second example from the video:

This ink doodle was done over a long forgotten page in my sketchbook. Looks like and abandoned random collage.

And after playing around with a bit of paint:

Go to The Sketchbook Challenge to see more examples of my ink doodles, and check out the other posts about doodling.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working Large

Even though I get a real charge out of large pieces (large for me is anything over 11"x15"), and I promise myself I will try some, I never seem to really do it. Why? I'm a professional, after all, and pretty good at meeting self-imposed goals. So what is stopping me?

I had the opportunity to consult with a creativity coach, Marianne Mullen at Awaken Creativity, so I thought I'd see what light she could shed on this issue. I must admit to a tiny bit of skepticism going in to the phone conversation. I mean, I've been doing art a LONG time, and what could a creativity coach see that I am missing? Asking for help is not always easy.

Now coaching is not therapy, so I don't know what deeper issues are connected to my seeming inability to work large. But Marianne absolutely NAILED the practical problems, and before the day was out I'd begun reorganizing a piece of my studio in order to work larger. I have a second-floor studio under a gable roof, so there isn't much vertical wall space. What there is is covered with my book cases.

So first I moved my book cases, which were between these two windows:

In this photo you can see the book cases at the near end of my work table, and the sheet of homasote I am priming (I will attach it to the wall).

And here is the homasote attached to the wall (drywall screws into the studs framing the window). I primed the homasote on both sides, attached it to the wall, and then applied a coat of white latex paint.
OK. Now I have one area to work on a vertical surface, which I think is what I need to work large. I need to be able to step back from a large piece to view it, which isn't really practical on a table surface. But I also want a vertical wall on which to hang works in progress, or as an additional work surface so I can work on at least two pieces at once. So I thought I'd build a little wall perpendicular to this front gable wall. Here is the space, just to the right of the right window:

So I built a wall, leaving a little space at the top and bottom so that the space behind it isn't completely cut off from daylight. This is minimal framing, as the wall doesn't need to carry much weight. Again, I used homasote (primed) for the wall surface.

Now I can hang works in progress and really SEE them:

And here is the very beginning of my first large piece, 22"x30". I may not finish this one, but I am using it as a playground to figure out other logistics of working large. I can see already that I need a little more table space in the work area, and I've ordered some larger brushes, brayers, and palettes. I will keep you posted.

Just to be clear, I did not do this all in a day. I had my coaching session early in December and just built the wall yesterday. In between I did just a little bit at a time - got the homasote (cut the the desired sizes), primed it, got the 2x4 studs and cut those... holidays intervened, as did work... and so forth. One little step at a time (and there are many more ahead!), and I feel now that I have the tools to work large. We'll see what happens!

Marianne asked a lot of questions and quickly narrowed down my problem to something tangible and practical that I could start on TODAY. This coaching session was SO valuable, and I will definitely make use of what Awaken Creativity has to offer next time I hit a road block.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Paper on Wood Panel

When I posted about my show at Gallery 47, some of you asked if I could do a demonstration on how to mount works-on-paper, like my collages, on wood panel, like these pieces below:

So now that my Dick Blick order has arrived, including a bunch of birch wood cradled panels, I did a little video to show you how simple this mounting technique is. It is a lot cheaper than framing, too, and gives your piece the kind of heft and object-quality of a piece on panel or canvas. So here is that video:

And here is the panel weighted by a stack of heavy books:

You can, of course, work directly on the birch panels, but I like working on paper and then selectively mounting pieces as there is a demand for showing them. They are easier to store on paper, and I feel more free to play and make a mess. I hope you find this useful!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Sketchbook Challenge

I'm sure that many of you are aware of The Sketchbook Challenge, a blog that I co-host with a fabulous group of artists, and the brain child of Sue Bleiweiss. Well, we're in for another year of monthly themes, tutorials, artist profiles, and creative inspiration.

We've heard from a few of our 2011 readers that they have compiled their sketches from the challenge. Take a look at Alarmcat Studio, who spread out all her work from the Sketchbook Challenge 2011 themes:

And Linda Kittmer's Sketchbook Challenge Journal:

We have two new hosts for The Sketchbook Challenge this year: Pam Carriker and Susan Brubaker Knapp. I look forward to seeing more of their work!

January's Sketchbook Challenge theme is Doodling, by Diana Trout. What a fun way to ease into your 2012 sketchbook practice!

We also have an updated Tutorials page with loads of free instructions on drawing, textile arts, book arts, and way way more.

So check it out, and participate if you like, or just ogle the eye candy on our flickr site.

Happy new year!