Art Retreat

day 1I went to Madrid, NM last month for a self-designed artist’s retreat.  I registered for Ellen Koment’s “Beyond Beginning, Going Large” 5 day workshop. Yes, I already know and do paint on larger panels. But I have been missing my Alaska encaustic painters’ camaraderie, and I’ve wanted to get to know Ellen, so committing to a workshop seemed a great way to get to paint with other encaustic enthusiasts and spend a week immersed in painting without day to day distractions of the home studio.

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My casita in the desert.

I reserved an AirBnb about 10 miles north of Ellen’s Madrid studio.  Alone time. New  Mexico style skies and vistas.

What I learned from my week with Ellen:

Paint with bigger brushes. I always say I can do anything with my one inch chip brushes, and it’s true, but boy did I knock out the 24 x 30 panels when I used three inch brushes!

Which leads directly to lesson two: A painting CAN be made in a day (or two). Which leads to lesson three: Painting regular long hours every day makes a HUGE difference in the resulting work.

What I learned from myself:

Alone time is a wise use of one’s time. No tv or radio for a week is healthy.

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Sunset from my casita.

I also learned I wouldn’t care to live in the New Mexico desert land. My casa was adorable, modern, clean. But if you hear scuffling noises in the kitchen in the middle of the night…it’s a mouse.  And if you don’t hear scuffling noises in the middle of the night, it’s microscopic (and I do mean tiny!) ants crawling across the counters. Again. It is desert. Those critters live there and it is apparently an ongoing challenge for human residents to co-habituate.

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My neighbors down the road from the casita.

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The workshop attendees and teacher…girls just wanta paint!

From my new painting friends, I also learned things unexpected in a painting workshop: How to make gazpacho. How to use a wine app “vivino.”

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A yummy cheap white wine from Trader Joe’s, suitable for the 100 degree temps we had that week.

I made some work I’m really happy with, too…a few samples:

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“Curvature,” 24 x 30.

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Red painting….title suggestions? 24 x 32.

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“Crevice,” 24 x 24.

Lots of journal time, lots of walking time. Even the drive by myself, strange, since Nard and I are usually sharing the driving, but “the change is gonna do you good!” Try it!

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“Brilliant” Project – Complete!

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“Brilliant,” Encaustic & Mixed Media, 90 x 20

I added a little more black line calligraphy to the center panels since Day 8’s post.
I feel I met my objective of creating a piece that works vertical or horizontal:

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“Brilliant,” Encaustic & Mixed Media, 20 x 90

Here it is displayed with 1/2″ space between the five sections:2016_0705_42G16_Brilliant_with_space_small_72dpi.jpg

Fun observation….this painting could also be separated into two or multiple groupings.
Thanks for following along. Comments welcome!

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Breaking Surface

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Paint selection….do ya think Ireland greenery has affected me???

Still on hold with “Brilliant,” deciding if it’s done.  Meanwhile,  here are images showing the way I work, painting over paintings… transforming between layers. Here is a 24 x 24″ painting that has been hanging around the studio for at least a year. As Brenda Roper has stated, I always fall in love with the under-painting. Yet, the piece is too thin, not yet complex, so I just kept looking at it. Finally decided, yes, it’s not enough and decided the panel would be an ideal start for the next piece in my new “Breaking Surface” series.

“Three Eights” working title, but say goodbye to this painting….

Next, I applied with abandon, copious amounts of paint…was so in the “zone” that I forgot to take a picture before the next stage, which was an application of R&F neutral white pigment stick across all the brush stroke texture. Next was copious amounts of removing the paint I’d just applied…here is the stack of scraped off paint, which will be sorted and re-melted, strained, and poured into muffin pan for re-use.

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Next, of course….more paint! I know, where did the original painting go??? :) Once again, I was so in the zone, I forgot to take a pic of post-scraping, pre-applying more paint. Here is the piece with some Kings Blue on top of the scraped painting, sorry bit out of focus.

Next, more paint to start to pull the composition together. Then more scraping to reveal colors underneath.

Next, looking at the piece from different ways….do you prefer the orientation with the blue or the green at top? The painting is now “percolating” in the studio, alongside “Brilliant,” while I decide what’s next.

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“Brilliant” Project – Day 8

After applying india ink calligraphy  with fun abandon, it’s time to get the panels off the table and onto the wall…time for some critical evaluation.

Standing back from the 11 panels,  90″ tall. ..I’m pleasantly surprised how much closer the painting feels to being done than I expected. Also,  I’m feeling the painting is meeting my objective of hanging either horizontal and vertical. I painted looking on horizontal….. this is the first time I’ve been able to really view it vertically without distortion.

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However, today’s arrival of new panels, and upcoming show deadlines, provide the perfect interlude for “Brilliant” to chill for a while. I know it needs a bit more integration. Here is an image of just the painting for a bit closer look. Sorry, bit out of focus with cropping. Feedback welcome!20160617_145400-1

 

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“Brilliant” Project – Day 7

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All eleven panels are now scraped and carved!

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I scrape off half of what I put on!

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Still a ways to go to achieve  integration, and pretty sure will add darks yet, but loving the depth and mystery the painting is achieving. Sample close ups:

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And a couple of long shots:

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“Brilliant” Project – Day 6

“One thing I sought, another answered me.”  Dante, Paradise – Canto XXXI

Last night we attended the opening of the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center’s amazing summer exhibition, “99 Days To Be Amazed.” Includes contemporary painter Stephen Batura (Denver…how did he transport such huge panels down I-25???) and classics such as John Singer Sargent, Marc Chagall (I love, love, love..his story-telling way of painting has always inspired me), and Salvador Dali.  Not a huge fan of the latter, but this exhibition, “INFERNO, PURGATORIO, PARADISO,” features delicate woodblock prints depicting chapters from Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

The above quote adjacent to one of the chapters jumped out at me, as it describes simply the way my painting process often goes.

Yesterday, after a week or more of being otherwise occupied, I spent the entire day, at last, in the studio working on “Brilliant.” Reveled in finally applying color to the underpainting.

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Encaustikos Cobalt Green Light

 

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R&F Manganese Violet, Cad Orange, Malachite Green and Encaustikos Cerulean Blue. R&F Titanium White made into a glaze with large quantities of my home-cooked medium.

 

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R&F Titanium White

Next, I select and rub in an assortment of R&F pigment stick colors, BEFORE I fuse, so that brush stroke texture can grab the paint. 

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You can see Mars Yellow Light Pigment stick on top of the titanium white encaustic, and also Provence blue pigment stick on top of titanium white in foreground.


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After fusing all eleven panels, I apply a thick layer of a white glaze, fuse again.


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Reintroducing mid-tones, adding some darker values with R&F Green Earth.


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More R&F Manganese Violet and Encaustikos Cerelean Blue


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Finally, enough layers that I can begin scraping back.


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Detail showing excavating the layers, carving some line work.

 

Ended the long studio day before I finished scraping all eleven panels.  That’s okay, it’s a good practice to stop when you know what comes next, so Day 7 will begin with continuing the scraping, and shaping with glazes.  The painting is a creative mess, but the complexity I’m after with layering is making me happy. The painting is in its chaotic “ugly duckling” stage, very busy and without cohesion, but these intuitive layers are critical in establishing the painting’s energy and movement.

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“Brilliant” Project – Day 5

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Still no color….indigo blue pigment stick glazing.

I promised myself this would be a long-term relationship.  But I admit, this week, I gave thought to breaking up.  The painting, that is. Thoughts of dividing the painting into several. Patience worn thin with “going slow” and building up.  I want COLOR!

Here is the culprit that turned my eye away from “Brilliant.” Here is the panel I cheated on “Brilliant” with:

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“Breaking Surface I,” encaustic and pigment stick, 12 x 16.

It started with a poem by Mark Nepo titled “Breaking Surface.”  I have been playing with the word “Surfacing,” for some time, but was still searching for the right phrasing. Really, searching a lot for what is next with my work. Have been on an encaustic plateau…jump off, or fly? But when I saw that title, I knew with the deepest “aha” that this was the phrase I was searching for to describe both the process of digging back into the wax layers, as well as a psychological state of being, that I want my new work to express.

And then there was a dream. I saw myself applying bright pink fingernail polish (gag).  But the important point was the paint flowing on in a state of perfection.  I woke with my total being craving nothing else but to apply paint. Done with stenciling, oil sticking, going slow.

I stacked the eleven “Brilliant” panels aside. I pulled out a freshly gessoed 12 x 16 panel, and…… sacrilege… didn’t even start with layers of medium! Went directly to applying paint on panel with great abandon and joy, no thinking, pure intuition. No pictures of the process to share with you, I couldn’t stop. It was a break-through synthesis of techniques I “discovered” in Ireland, combined with a new, thin layering of paint and scraping (also sacrilege for me…my work is known for complexity achieved with thick layers and carved shapes).  Another blog, I’ll detail this new process, as I feel strongly, this will be my next series.

Cruising on the elation of my breakthrough with “Breaking Surface,” I did rally and returned to “Brilliant,” keeping my promise of commitment to the project.   Finished the pigment sticking of the rest of the panels and the next layers of medium….knowing that I’ll likely bury all of it.  Take a look and say good-bye to these early surfacing layers:

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“Brilliant,” Day 5.

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