I’m here and the Third Annual Encaustic Conference in Beverly, Massachusetts has begun! I promised you all that I would blog on each evening of the conference, but in order to keep that promise AND my sanity it will have to be far more photos than words. Here’s a sampling of the events I attended.

Strategies for Showing and Teaching in a Difficult Economy, Cherie Mittenthal
Cherie is the Director of the Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro, Mass., she talked about how non-profits continue their mission to work with artists and the community even when times are tough. It was an intimate chat where photography didn’t seem very appropriate, so you’ll have to trust me, she was there! What struck me was when she asked how many people in the room were at the conference for the first time and at least half the group turned out to be. It seems in the tougher economy everyone is looking for new ways to generate income, but one clear message from the discussion was that you have to EARN your credibility as a teacher before you can expect someone to pay for your expertise. This often comes in the form of teaching free classes or doing demos at art stores until it is second nature. I’d like to add that teaching is extremely hard work and takes much more time in preparation than actually teaching the class, so it would be a costly mistake to think of it as an easy way to generate more money.

Sue Katz

Sue Katz

What’s the Big Idea? Meaning in Our Own Art, Sue Katz
in talking about art, our own art–what does it mean? What ideas, process to concept, generate the start of a work? How do our thoughts change along the way? How do materials help or hinder our intentions?  How/when do we choose a title? These questions were asked but not quite answered in the short time we had to meet, but attendees gave it a good try. There was some agreement that the best place to look for meaning in your art is in your personal history. Someone else suggested keeping a book of art that affects you and to try to figure out why it speaks to you. I think the most important point was that you don’t need to know what you are painting about in order to paint. Just get in there and do it even if you have to figure it out later.

Barbara O'Brien

Barbara O’Brien

Keynote Talk : “In Defense of Ambiguity: The Poetics of Encaustic”
Barbara O’Brien was here as a panelist at the 2007 Conference, and made a deep impression on the attendees who overwhelmingly requested her back. Her talk discussed how the major art movements and theories of the second half of the 20th century created an unsympathetic arena for a critical reading of encaustic works of art, and how she overcame her own prejudices about reviewing encaustic works. She declared that she is a true convert in love!

And of course, the vendor room where I spent money like a drunken, waxy sailor!


Andrea from Wax Works in Canada

EC09-enk1 EC09-enk2Hot-cakes

Mike from Enkaustikos showing their new paint that comes in tins, Hot Cakes.


Darin From R&F Paints. Check out their new web site!

If you are/were at the conference, please add your impressions by making comments! More tomorrow…