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I love a good art blog and Nancy Natale has got one. Nancy is a visual artist who works in several types of media including encaustic. We only see each other once a year or so at the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, but we keep up with each other through email, blogs and FaceBook. Last year she even bought one of my paintings at the conference.
Recently Nancy put out a call for an online exhibit called Art & Music, looking for art influenced by music and I’m happy to have my work included in the show. While choosing which piece to submit I started looking at my art in a new light which I think is a good indication of a strong curatorial theme. The show turned into a fascinating look at several artists work I hadn’t seen before, as well as a new view of my own work.
Here’s how Nancy introduced the show: “Listening to music while making art is a common practice in the studio. All that silence of solitude needs breaking up with melody and rhythm. It keeps us company, gets us singing and dancing, influences our moods and creeps into our art.”
I hope you’ll view the show and then take a look at your work in a new light. Does music influence your art?
I’ve just returned from yet another amazing trip to the Encaustic Conference, this time at a new location in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Conference Founder and Director Joanne Mattera outdid herself once again in terms of an exciting array of demos, lectures and events over the three days of the conference and the workshops immediately following.
This event attracts artists all over the world and this year there were 35 states in the US represented as well as artists traveling from Canada, England, Mexico, Brazil, Spain New Zealand. The conference was held in Provincetown this year which allowed for some changes to the format and new venues for post conference workshops. I think Joanne found an excellent partner in working with Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill and its Executive Director, Cherie Mittenthal, who was wonderful to work with.
Our first night in P-town was spent at the Lobster Pot with my very happy husband Bill, Mike and Kathryn from Enkaustikos, Kimberly and Judy, my buddies from Portland. This was a great restaurant, not to be missed! They even had a nice steak for me (I’m allergic to seafood). Other restaurants we really enjoyed were The Squealing Pig, Bubalas, and the Portuguese Bakery which had real Malasadas like I get in Hawaii! Our best find was a place called Moby Dick’s in Wellfleet, where Bill said he had the best smoked oysters ever.
We managed to fit is several outings to the surrounding areas and I’m so glad we took the time to do it. Provincetown has so much to offer!
This is the view from the top of the 252 foot tall Pilgrim Monument in the middle of town. The web site refers to the climb as a “heart-healthy walk to the top on 116 steps and 60 ramps,” which by the way is totally worth it.
We booked a dune tour which took us by the famous “dune shacks,” the simple beach cabins of numerous artists and writers during the past century. You can see one here in the upper left area of the photo. Below are cranberry bogs surrounded by sand dunes. It’s gorgeous out there!
Bill and I also treated ourselves to a sunset cruise on our last night, relaxing in the warm breeze. The Pilgrim Monument is way off in the distance.
On Friday night we made our way to the several openings at galleries that were showing encaustic work in conjunction with the conference. We visited the Kobalt Gallery (above), Ernden Fine Art, Bowersock Gallery and my favorite show, Surface Attraction curated by Joanne Mattera and Marla Rice of Rice/Polak Gallery (below).
Later we discovered the wonderful Galeria Cubana, which didn’t have encaustic work but did have some fine paintings we enjoyed very much. Nancy Natale has a nice wrap up of the gallery shows with lots of photos on her blog, so I won’t duplicate her excellent efforts.
The conference itself was excellent again this year, with so many wonderful events going by almost in a blur. I’m including some photos below to give you a flavor of the event, but you really have to attend to understand the importance of this conference to those of us who work in wax. I hope you’ll be able to go sometime.
This year I was on a panel called Mastering Media, a discussion about marketing the art we’re all working so hard to make. I spoke about getting my book, Embracing Encaustic, from and idea into reality and many of the successes and bumps along the way. The audience seemed to really like hearing about all the craziness that went on behind the scenes. My fellow panelists were (from left) Jeff Schaller, Nancy Natale, me, Cherie Mittenthal and moderator Joanne Mattera. Thanks to Corina Alvarezdelugo for allowing me to use her photo here.
Jackie Battenfield, author of the excellent book, The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What you Love, was our keynote speaker. She got the crowd all revved up and organized in thinking about what we should be thinking about next in our careers.
Here’s part of my work in the hotel fair, a new addition to the conference line up. I’ll bring more next time, now that I see how much we all love to shop!
David A. Clark went all out with new work just for the hotel fair and a true installation style. Brilliant! Lisa Pressman has more photos of her room, which includes a piece I bought from Marybeth Rothman. Can you guess which one it is? It will be included in my next post along with my other purchases.
POST CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS
There so much to do before, during and after a class, especially one that you travel to teach. Because of that many teachers will offer to assist a colleague on a pay it forward type of arrangement as I did this year.
I was the assistant for Charly Weissbach’s Mainly Metals class at Castle Hill during the post-conference workshops. Charyl taught her students how to work with most things metallic, from paint to powder, pigment sticks and even metal leaf. Charyl was the assistant for my friend Kimberly’s class last year (see below).
Kimberly Kent had an adventurous class again this year with plein air painting in encaustic. See the little camp stoves and torches they are using? It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for traveling with your wax it will allow you to paint directly from nature. And who is that little rascal in the cap? Yup, our own Joanne Mattera trying something new.
And that’s a wrap for this post on the 5th International Encaustic Conference. Nancy Natale and Lynette Haggard surprised Joanne with two huge cakes and a card signed by all to thank her for her efforts in making each conference so special. Nancy is pictured here with Cherie and Joanne on the right, wearing special hats for the occasion. Indeed, thank you Joanne!
Hang on folks, I’m almost done blogging about the conference. Can you believe all of this was really packed into one week? Me neither. As they say on TV: “Don’t miss the last 5 minutes!” of this blog post. There’s a surprise at the end. (Aw, now you went and ruined it…)
So this time we made it into Boston on a day that made sense (meaning NOT Monday when everything is closed). It was a beautiful day and we took the ferry from Salem to Boston. It’s the easiest way to get there even though we had a car, and it was much more fun than fighting traffic and looking for parking.
We started out on Newbury Street in the gallery district because there were several shows we wanted to see. Kim Bernard has a show at the excellent Arden Gallery and it was as exciting as I’d hoped. Her sculptures are the perfect compliment to her encaustic paintings and as usual the show was beautifully presented.
Fawn with work by Melody Postma and a beautiful painting by June Stratton
Over at Lanoue Fine Art we enjoyed the current show, but asked for a special showing of Lissa Rankin’s new encaustic paintings. Fawn was completely charming and full of insightful information about all of the work.
Next we headed over to the Copley Society to see the solo show by Donna Hamil Talman who also had work showing at the conference. We had a heck of a time finding it but saw lots of other fun galleries on the way. Donna pairs digital photography with encaustic and collage techniques in much the same way I do, but with drastically different results. I find her work quite mysterious.
The exterior of the museum with interior mural by John Singer Sargent
With our feet failing we hopped on the “T” and were quickly deposited in front of the Museum of Fine Arts. This is a beautiful building filled with a stunning array of art and we could easily have filed our day with this one stop.
After roaming the halls for an hour or so it occurred to me that there was a good chance we might find some ancient encaustic work so we set out on a scavenger hunt. We were getting tired and were just about to give up when I saw the unmistakable image of a funerary portrait reflected in the glass case in front of me. I turned again and again looking for it — I’ve never seen one in person before — but it was like a fun house mirror. Finally I spotted it and ran to the case. You’d think I had struck pure gold by my reaction, and I was glad Bill and I were alone in the room. I can’t fully describe the sense of history I felt in looking at these delicate pieces. These artists struggled then just as i do today to express themselves through their work and that shared experience in powerful. It was such an honor to finally see this work in person.
Portrait mummy of a man
Egyptian, Greco-Roman Period, A.D. 150–175
Findspot: Hawara, Egypt
Height x width: 167 x 35 cm (65 3/4 x 13 3/4 in.)
Encaustic (colored wax) on wood over linen and human remains
Body of man with diagonally crossed wrappings forming a rhomboidal pattern. Panel portrait, rounded at the top, with portrait in encaustic depicting a young man with his face turned slightly to the left. He had dark, curly hair, thick brows, and a full, curly beard, and wears a white chiton and mantle.
Portrait mummy of a youth
Egyptian, Greco-Roman Period, about A.D. 50
Findspot: Hawara, Egypt
Height: 113 cm (44 1/2 in.)
Encaustic (colored wax) on wood; linen; and human remains
Mummy of a child with diagonal cross bandaging; decorated with gilded buttons. The encaustic panel portrait shows an adolescent with dark curly hair, large eyes, and pudgy cheeks. His lips may have been gilded to ensure the power of speech in the afterlife.
I’ll save you some time if you go: these are in the Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery. This was really one of the highlights of our wonderful, waxy vacation!
OK, I just stopped crying i was laughing so hard. My husband Bill joined me for the fun of the National Encaustic Conference and posted his take on the lobster dinner that I wrote about in my last post. Check it out on his blog, Words For Writers, and you’ll see why he’s the writer in the family. Here’s a taste to get you started:
“Last week about this time, I set out in a rented car packed full of strangers in search of a seafood shack that someone had heard about. “It’s where the locals eat,” was the whispered rumor. Ooh. If there’s anything I like better than wearing a bib and cracking open an exoskeleton, it’s doing it local style. This particular locality was Essex, Massachusetts. My car was full of conference-dazed painters looking for booze and a good time after the close of their shindig.” Read the rest here…
I’ve spent every waking moment since returning form the encaustic conference getting ready for this day, and I’m thrilled to announce that Embracing Encaustic is now available to purchase online! I am completely blown away by the response already. Thank you so very much for all of your enthusiasm!
Joanne Mattera presents a copy of Embracing Encaustic as a prize for On The Edge
Our encaustic community is one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever been a part of, and that has never been more clear to me than this past week. At the encaustic conference I was teaching two demos, attending classes and trying to (wo)man my vendor table at the same time. At times it was chaos. I wasn’t always there when people wanted to purchase books so sometimes they helped themselves, leaving the appropriate money in exchange. Of course the inventory worked out perfectly in the end, with not one book going astray. How many people would expect that? It’s an amazing community and we are better artists for it. Thank you!
I’ll admit it, I was a little hesitant about applying for the Kay WalkingStick Critical Feedback Workshop. I hoped if I could get in I would get valuable information from her that I would not likely have a chance at again. I was right. Kay accepted only 10 people from the pool of applicants and I was honored to be one of them.
On Monday we gathered in the assigned room, all feeling a little nervous with our art and souls laid out for her to review. She had asked each of us to bring a CD of our work, but also at least one actual piece, explaining that you just can’t have a substitute for seeing, smelling and feeling the work.
Each of us went in turn talking a bit about our work and answering Kay’s questions about our intent, our process or our symbolism. I won’t discuss any specifics of what was said in the class because it was all so personal, but I can share some of the questions Kay asked of us so you can ask them of yourselves:
1. Do you spend at least a couple of hours in the studio every day? (about half of the people in the room were able to say yes, but Kay said that was better than she thought it would be.)
2. What is your goal for your art career? (Have your work shown in a museum, pay your bills and feed your family or somewhere in between — it’s all valid)
3. What are you looking for when you go to look at art? Does your work fulfill that need?
4. Who is your favorite artist and what do you expect their art to do for you?
5. What subject do you want to investigate?
6. How to do conceptualize your work? How do you begin (through color, image, idea)?
7. How are your pieces related to one another, if at all?
8. What symbolism are you trying to convey?
9. Who is your audience? What do you want your audience to see?
Later in the day Kay met with each of us individually and I was thrilled (and relieved!) to hear that she heartily encouraged my plans for a new series (based on the work above) and helped me focus the path I’ve laid out for the next several months. When asked if I should try to work some of my ideas out on paper versus complete paintings she said, “Don’t just work the ideas out any way you can, work them out EVERY way you can.” Excellent advice. I feel like I now have new tools for evaluating my own art and how to become more focused in my work.
Days 2 & 3 of the conference were no less hectic than the first but just as much fun! I am a vendor here and also presenting two demonstrations, so I’m always late for something. I don’t know what I was thinking. My husband Bill helped me out on the first day but after that I’m on my own. That was out deal, he needs a vacation too! BTW, he’s taking full advantage of his time alone and went exploring yesterday only to find himself in Maine around lunchtime. Must be time for lobster rolls!
These two days were filled with hands on demos, slide lectures, panel discussions, show openings and more stuff to buy! (Pictured here are Piper and Hylla Evans of Evans Encaustic.)
When we registered we were able to choose 3 events a day to attend in small groups, then there were larger gatherings where everyone was in the same room. Here are some highlights:
As you might imagine Mary’s demo was all about incorporating text into your work. She went over a variety of collage methods and how to scribe directly into the wax both freehand and using stencils. I was already familiar with these techniques but it’s always nice to see how another artists does the same things I do because I often learn some thing new. Mary uses oil paint directly through a stencil onto the wax, adding Liquin to her oil paints so they will dry faster. She also likes printing to Mulberrry paper using her inkjet printer and says if you sut it to size for your machine you won’t need to attach it to a backing paper to run it through the rollers. I’ll have to try that one soon.
I’ve seen encaustic monotypes demonstrated before, but never by the master, Paula Roland. She has been responsible some really exciting work in this area. I’ve known Paula for a while but we are often teaching at the same time at these events so it was a pleasure to finally see her teaching this in person. Paula works on a “hot box” set to 160 degrees and paints directly onto the surface of the palette, then presses down art paper to make the print. Sometimes she prints multiple times on the same piece of paper, layering her wax into it. They are quite beautiful! I’ve tried this and it’s much harder than it looks.
My Masks and Stencils Demo
Aside from attending demos and begin a vendor, I was also a teacher at this conference, offering my Working with Stencils and Masks demo twice during the conference. Both sessions sold out within weeks of registration so there were a lot of people who couldn’t get in. Hopefully I’ll be doing a similar demo again next year!
We have seen some wonderful art shows already this conference, but we were treated to two more on Sunday night. We were treated to a show of original work by the author of The Art of Encaustic Painting and Conference Director, Joanne Mattera. In my opinion her breathtaking Silk Road series can only be truly appreciated in person. I did my best with these photographs, but if you ever get a chance to see the real thing don’t miss it.
The Diptych Project
I was also able to see the second half of The Diptych Project: A Collaboration in Wax, which matched 36 artists into pairs to work collaboratively on 2 encaustic paintings. The objective was for each pair of artists to make two diptychs (a diptych is work made up of two panels). I had previously seen only the work that showed in Oregon, but this was the rest of the show. There were many fine pieces to see, but if you missed either show you are still in luck. Nancy Natale has complied a book in either softcover or hardcover.
Wow, what a day! The number of images I have from this day alone is a testament to all how many events were happening one after another. Welcome to the Second National Encaustic Conference (virtual edition)!
Bill and I went on duty as vendors as soon as registration opened at 11:00 am. We were at one of several tables in the room where vendors were selling paint, panels, books and services. Many companies are offering terrific show specials so I found time to do a little shopping. The energy in the room was amazing and by the end of the day we had already sold 2/3 of the books we brought for the whole conference!
Julie Shaw Lutts – 3D Assemblage
Julie Shaw Lutts offered the first demo of the conference, so conference founder Joanne Mattera took a few minutes at the beginning of her talk to thank everyone and make a few announcements, but then it was time to play.
Julie showed us how she makes her thought provoking assemblages with images and found objects. She often glues inkjet prints to flat wood bases then uses a jigsaw to cut them into the desired shape, then uses epoxy or wood glue to attach them to her boxes. One thing I found interesting is that she has three hot plates going at once, one each for heating paint, warming tools, and for warming the boxes and objects before waxing them.
Julie prints images onto mulberry paper instead of the tissue paper I use because it gives her the same effect of the paper disappearing into the wax leaving just the image visible, but she can feed the paper right through her inkjet printer without attaching it to another backing before hand. Gotta try it!
Eileen Goldenberg – The Tea House Project
I have been familiar with Eileen Goldenberg’s Tea House Project since she described to to me over a very cheap bottle of wine at last year’s IEA Retreat, but I was really looking forward to getting more information on how the project progressed and better yet, how Eileen secured grant money to make many of the paintings. First she told us a little about grant writing in general then offered a few specifics on how she obtained her funding. It was a grant from the San Fransisco Arts Commission based on her proposal to create work inspired by a book by Ellis Avery called The Tea House Fire. Her proposal included teaching under served populations about the history of encaustic painting and several other outreach activities.
Eileen then showed slides of distinctive points in the progression of this series, which ultimately ended with 255 variations on her theme. Seeing her progression through all the stages of these paintings made me very aware of the fact that I don’t investigate my images very deeply, often trying one thing then flitting on to another. Recently I’ve been feeling the need to take one general thought or theme and try many variations before moving on, allowing my brain and body to fully investigate what it might naturally evolve into. I guarantee you I will NOT make it to 255!
On the Edge – Show Opening
Next we headed over to the Montserrat 301 gallery for the opening of “On The Edge” curated by Laura Moriarty who oversees the R&F Gallery in New York. Honestly, the show was so packed that we could barely see the art, as you’ll see from my photos. I hope to go back later in the week to give this fine work my full attention. Joanne Mattera gave out several awards, and prizes included copies of my book Embracing Encaustic.
Norman LaLiberte – Show Opening
I know, it’s hard to believe there’s more, but we’re not even close to done (and my feet were screaming by now).
Last year I had work in the Hot Stuff show at the conference and it was purchased the night of the opening by Norman LaLiberte. I hate to admit it, but at the time I had no idea what an honor it was to have my work in his collection. Since then Norman and I have corresponded a few times and he was generous enough to share his work with me through several posters and museum catalogs he sent me, along with wonderful hand typed letters. Tonight I got to see it all in person at his solo show in one of the galleries on the Montsertat school grounds. It is a beautiful show and I was pleased to be able to congratulate Norman in person. He’s quite a character and drew loads of adoring fans.
Kay WalkingStick – Keynote Address
Last but nowhere near least, was the excellent keynote address by Kay WalkingStick. Kay has had over 30 solo shows, nine of them in museums. The first was in 1969; the most recent was in 2007 at the June Kelly Gallery in New York City. She has been an active part of the renaissance of Native American fine art in the US.
Tonight she shared with us a retrospective of her work from the 1970′s forward, talking in detail about her interest in symbology and her Native American roots. She emphasized that the medium needs to serve the message and not the other way around, which is why she work with wax, oil, acrylic or gouache depending on what’s appropriate to the piece. She was also adamant that everything in your paintings should be there for a reason.
I’ll be taking a full day workshop with her on Monday so I’ll have a lot more to share then. Let me just say that after her talk it’s clear to me that I’m very lucky to have been accepted into her workshop where I expect her to challenge me in just the way I need right now. I’m very excited to talk with her one-on-one about my work. Oh yeah, and a bit nervous!
We’re Still Dancing/Taos Variation, 2006, oil/panel, 32″ x 64″
Road Trip – My Show Opening in Oregon
Why can’t I ever seem to be in Oregon during one of my own openings lately? Tonight is the opening for a show in Newberg featuring several members of the Oregon Chapter of the International Encaustic Artists. I’ll have to get down there to see it when I return!
Encaustic Group Show: Road Trip
Newberg Gallery, Newberg, OR
June 6 – 29, 2008
Bill and Judy winging their way to Boston
Here I am, FINALLY, in Beverly, MA for the National Encaustic Conference! I flew over with my husband Bill, Judy Wise and Sheary Clough Suiter. Judy and Sheary are staying in the Montserrat dorms, but we hosted Jhina Alvarado in our hotel room and we stayed up too late but had fun talking wax.
Dinner with Bill, me, Judy, Sheary at Beer Works in Salem
We had dinner at Beer Works in Salem where I tried their excellent watermelon beer. We went for an after dinner walk in Salem and found an amazing bookstore with floor to ceiling tomes.
50% off everything, but how to choose?
We hosted Jhina Alvarado in our hotel room because she got in too late to check in to the dorms and we stayed up too late but had fun talking wax. The conference starts promtly at 11:00 am tomorrow and I’m very excited! More photos soon.
My friend Brenda Boyd was nice enough to send me a great link I’d like to share. I purchased the September/October issue of Fiber Arts Magazine when it first came out because my friend Daniella Woolf was profiled in it along with several other encaustic artists. What I didn’t realize is that you can sneak a peek into it online (or order this terrific issue for just $7): http://www.fiberarts.com/back_issues/09_07/sampling.asp
The artist profiled online, Lorraine Glessner, does stunning work as shown above. She was part of the Hot Stuff exhibit I was in at the National Encaustic Conference last year and I can attest that her work is even more beautiful in person.
This year’s conference takes place in early June and I was honored that Joanne Mattera asked me to do a demonstration on painting with masks and hold a book signing. I’ll post more on that later. Maybe I’ll see you there!