Monday, August 18, 2008

Encaustic Demo/Show and Using It All

The Onda show is down and I'm preparing for First Thursday at Poster Garden. I'll be showing encaustic work along with Linda Womack and Kimberly Kent. The three of us will also be demonstrating encaustic technique at the show. I've gotten permission from Poster Garden curator Julie Landau to use my new creme brulee torch for the demo, so I'm ready to wax!

The opening is September 4 from 6-9 PM. There will be other artists showing and live music.The address is 630 NW 14th Avenue
Portland. This is a great chance to see five gallery artists and the many artists showing fine art and craft in the showroom. If you're out and about, please stop by and watch us wielding our irons and torches in this ancient, endlessly fascinating dance of wax and paint!

New Discovery!

I was at Collage on Alberta the other day and came across a product I'd never seen before. I'm not even sure how to describe it. For 1.25 I got a package of about ten thin panels--I mean really thin. They aren't wood and they aren't paper. Don't know what they are. These are made by the Lyra company from Germany and are made to be supports for encaustic work. I got several packages of 4 x 6" panels and started experimenting. What a great way to create inexpensive work, trading cards, or to experiment without regard to cost of materials! If I do some I really, really like, I'll mount them on a heavier panel.

These are some early experiments:


Always in Motion

Little Edward

he gessoed panel used below started out as the base for a torn paper collage. I just wasn't in the mood for that, apparently, as I ended up removing the original work in progress. I glued printed newsprint down over the area, so the wax could adhere. I then used images of my photo and drawing printed out on tissue paper and sealed with tinted beeswax.

The Promise

Some more experiments--these are "refurbished" samples I made for an encaustic class I taught a few months ago. I mounted the flat pieces of clayboard on thicker supports. On some of the pieces I put text from a letter I found in a Chinese grammar book that my partner got at Powells for use in collage.

The letter is from a woman imploring a former friend to meet and talk with her and try to resolve their differences. The letter seemed too poignant to throw away and the name of the writer is unknown. I tore very small fragments from the letter to use in art. I wonder if the friends ever made up and how the letter got in the book--was it ever given to the intended recipient? Any way, the good thoughts have now become part of something new.


Strong Bond

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Portals, Peppers, Journals, and More

I started a new journal this week which always seems to go hand in hand with other beginnings and endings. I did the first two pages while sitting with The Art of Life weekly women's art group. I still have wabi-sabi on my mind. I think I'm doing kind of a clearing out after the intense build-up to my Onda Gallery show. It goes along with my cleared out and cleaned up house--I couldn't have done it without you, Sally and Julia!

Journal Page 1
I haven't written anything here yet and maybe I won't. I used tissue paper, magazine pages, acrylic paint, and a tiny bit of faux gold leaf. I painted in the jar at the bottom right. Jars, cups, and other containers keep coming up for me right now.

Journal Page 2
Acrylic paint, text from a French magazine, joss paper transfer, colored pencil
and ink.
I drew the cup of tea and left the page simple. I think the text, "Economy Measures," refers to sense of economy of design and a sense of peace, rather than to a sense
of lack.

While I started my new journal, Emma and Cindy painted without plan and without fear. Here's what emerged:

Peppers by Emma
When I first saw this at the end of group I was surprised that it didn't look like anything else I have ever seen. I almost couldn't see it at first. The more I looked at it the more I liked it and the more it spoke to me. There's a lot of movement here and the painting makes me feel optimistic.

Portals by Cindy
I'm sure Cindy will make some alterations to this painting because that is how she works, but I'm amazed at how much she does at one sitting, and how magical her work is. Without planning it, she is creating a series of paintings of possibility.

Mirror by Emma

When I first noticed Emma starting this piece she was using cool blues. When I glanced over later, I saw she'd added an intense red. The piece seems to move
and breathe.

I wish I had pictures to show you of the work done by my weekend class students. Last weekend I taught "Living to Paint/Painting to Live" through PSU. This group of students had fascinating responses and insights into the lives and works of Artemisia Gentileschi and Sofonisba Anguissola. Despite their very short time to work they came up with drawings, paintings, poetry and collages. I had taken pictures with my cell phone, but then my phone broke on the end where you put in the charger. Luckily we had an old phone of the same make and model so I had my phone # transferred to that phone. Unfortunately the pictures were lost in the process. My apologies to the students and my appreciation to them for their hard work and keen interest in last weekend's class!

It is the bittersweet end of Summer Term at PSU. My students in "Women, Creativity, and Healing" have started their final presentations. Tomorrow is the last day of class and I will miss this group of students and the excitement of creativity that they share. We had four excellent presentations Tuesday:

Jenny told us about Elena Tonetti Vladmirova, a fascinating Russian-born woman who is doing ground-breaking work on facilitating healthy, non-traumatic births. Elena started out in theater, worked as a political activist, and then became fascinated with the need to improve birthing conditions in developed countries (yes, you read that right!) I hadn't heard of Elena before but I was delighted to know that the healthy birth movement I remember from the 70's is alive and well, even as hospital births have in general become more assembly line. Jenny created two wonderful pastel pieces representing her feelings about these magical births.

Elena Tonetti-Vladmirova

Mother and child just after a water birth

Cindy did an inspirational presentation on Frida Kahlo. She also did an amazing creative activity that she invented. She had two volunteers go out to the hall while she gave instructions to three more volunteers. The two who went out of the room came back in one at a time. Cindy had the student sit in a chair with eyes closed. She gave her a breathing and relaxation visualization and then the three other volunteers whispered to her in succession over and over. We in the "audience" couldn't always hear what they said, but the whispers sounded gentle and loving. The whisperers were giving messages such as, "You are courageous. You are a wonderful friend. I appreciate you." The women who received the messages said they felt great afterwards. We were all very moved by this. The three "whisperers" gently circling around the woman in the chair seemed like an ancient chorus from a womens' ritual.

Frida Kahlo, who overcame incredible injury and pain through her art.

Lisa gave an enthusiastic and fascinating portrayal of the life and work of costume and fashion designer Edith Head. I was aware that Edith had designed costumes for many Hollywood stars, but as Lisa showed pictures of Edith's "greatest hits" I felt like I was taking a happy and nostalgic journey through the crushes of my childhood: Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and a host of other women, and men, were made glamorous by Edith's clothes. I wasn't aware of the unhappy childhood Edith Head endured, nor of the courage and chutzpah it took her to move up to the head of costume design for major studios. We all delighted in this presentation and agreed that even Hollywood can provide feminist role models. And feminists can wear glamorous girly clothes, should they be so inclined!

Edith Head poses with many of her designs

Though it appears last here, Teressa's presentation was the first. She is fascinated by the life and work of writer Daphne du Maurier. Du Maurier is best known for Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. Ever since Teressa mentioned she was going to do her project on Daphne, I've gotten re-fascinated with Daphne myself. I read one of her books that I hadn't read before and couldn't put it down. I also read a brand new novel based on Daphne and her obsession with Branwell Bronte, brother of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. I couldn't put down this novel either. Justine Picardie is a Daphne du Maurier expert and can create an atmosphere worthy of her subject.

Teressa told an intriguing story of Daphne's life and novels. For the creative part of her presentation she wrote her own story in the style of du Maurier. She did a great job of using description of place and emotion to create a moving story.

The Young Daphne du Maurier.

I learn so much from my students! I'm looking forward to tomorrow's presentations!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Tonight I went to a memorial service for a long time friend, Anna, who died unexpectedly last week. I can't really take it in yet that she isn't here anymore. I feel bad because it has been too long since we got together--we used to hang out a lot. I feel glad that I knew her and that so many friends were together tonight to remember and honor her.

Anna was a brilliant therapist, an artist, a writer of prose and poetry, an inspired gardener, a political activist and a loving and supportive friend. Once again I am reminded of the impermanence of all things and beings and the importance of not putting things off, thinking I always have time...later.

I dedicate the following to Anna, with gratitude for her being here for a time.


I have been reading and thinking about the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi. One definition I've come up with is:

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature; of accepting natural cycles. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered and reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is a philosophy, an aesthetic, a way of seeing, and a way of life. Both objects in nature and those created by humans gain interest as they corrode, age, fade, and exist in a state of imperfection and impermanence.

This is a brief definition, and I don't claim to be an expert in wabi-sabi--it defies being pinned down; wabi-sabi honors ambiguity and incompletion.

This morning I took my camera and went around the house and porch to see if I could use my eyes, and the camera to find elements that embodied wabi-sabi to me.

Here is what I found:

Pottery shards in a broken bowl on a table stained with paint

A peeling fragment of my 103 year old house's original wallpaper

My partner made this raku (pit-fired) bowl

This vase belonged to my mother and has been cracked since I can remember

My great-grandmother's teapot, now stained and dented

This bamboo grows its own way

This book is just like one I had in the 60's. It describes the wabi-sabi of the tea ceremony. I chose the oldest and most faded of the copies available at the bookstore. Also the most interesting and evocative to me.

A chipped and stained flowerpot in the grass and dirt

Clematis drapes over a broken section of the concrete porch railing

My father's brush bottle with his brushes and my stained scissors