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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. These two days were filled with hands on demos, slide lectures, panel discussions, show openings and more stuff to buy! 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:

Mary HartMary Hart – Text Into Wax

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.

Paula Roland

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!

Linda Womack demo Linda Womack demo

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.

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)!

Vendor Room

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).

Norman LaLiberte signing a poster for Kimberly Kent

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

Kay WalkingStickLast 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″


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.

View all of my posts about the National Encaustic Conference here

Conference DemoThe Second National Encaustic Painting Conference will take place at Montserrat College of Art, June 6-8, 2008. Montserrat is in Beverly, Massachusetts, a coastal town north of Boston.

Last year there were 140 of us from around the country (and beyond!) who attended panels, demonstrations, talks, an art opening (Hot Stuff, juried by Zola Solamente of Arden Gallery in Boston), informal gallery discussions, and plenty of networking. My blog posts provide a good overview of the event. This year they expect the conference numbers to double, so if you are interested in attending you should make your decision as soon as possible.

National Encaustic Conference postcard

I’m also pleased to announce that Joanne Mattera (author of The Art of Encaustic Painting) has asked me to participate in the conference by doing 2 demonstrations and a book signing for Embracing Encaustic: Learning to paint with beeswax.
Altering the Path, 12″ x 15″, encaustic on panelMy demonstration will be on Painting with Masks and Stencils to Develop the Image where I will reveal some of my favorite stenciling and masking techniques for protecting one part of the canvas while working on another. I use ordinary household materials to make marks and textures with my wax to form lines, shapes and imagery. For example, in the work shown here the shape of the bird was cut out of cheesecloth which was then used to mask the layers below as the white wax was applied, giving the piece much more depth than if I simply painted a bird. Using masks offers a simple way to develop striking forms using nothing but wax. I’ll also have a binder with images from many other artists that will also include notes on how they use masks and stencils in interesting ways. It’s my low-tech answer to not being able to do a slide show AND a demo in the same hour. My demo will be offered twice, in both the Saturday and Sunday conference roster. I hope to see you there!

While I get my images together for more notes on the conference, enjoy these posts by other bloggers who are writing about it too. I’ll add more as I find them. Don’t miss my previous post on the Keynote speech by Joanne Mattera and the Opening party for Hot Stuff!

Deanna Wood:

International Encaustic Artists:

Daniella Woolf:

Roxanne Vise:

Joanne Mattera:

I recently returned from the First National Encaustic Conference in Beverly, MA, and what an event it was! There were 140 artists from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. I met so many new and wonderful people that I’ll need weeks to visit all of their web sites, but that will be a fun “chore.”

Joanne matteraThe conference ran for 3 days at the beautiful Montserrat College of Art and began Friday evening with a keynote speech by Joanne Mattera. She treated us to a slide show of her recent trip to the MET where they house several of the Fayum portraits and an ancient Greek krater depicting an artist painting statues using encaustic techniques. (That will have to be my next trip!)

Joanne’s talk sparked those big, philosophical questions I never seem to have time for when she moved to the topic of artists defining their work through the enacustic medium. I am guilty of this and I didn’t even realize it. Here’s an excerpt from a discussion Joanne started on the topic in the R& F Forum:

“Here’s what concerns me: Some artists who work in the medium have been defining themselves by the medium. Not, “I am a figurative painter,” or “I work in geometric abstraction,” or even, “I’m an abstract painter who works primarily in wax.” No. Typically I hear, “I paint in encaustic.” I love encaustic. But what kind of art do you make? ”

This is a fair question and one which as artists should consider. I sometimes get frustrated when people want only to talk about the technique and not the work itself, but then I hear myself asking the same question of other artists. I think it’s important for me personally to try to remove myself a bit from this love affair with wax and focus on what I’m trying to communicate. Please take a moment to read the complete post, appropriately titled “I am not an encaustic artist,” on Joanne’s insightful blog.

That same night we had a wonderful opening party for the “Hot Stuff”show, juried by Zola Solamete from the Arden Gallery. I’ll leave you with a few photos of that night, but I promise to all more images of the art soon!

Hot Stuff


Hot Stuff show opening


Hot Stuff show opening


Hot Stuff show opening

Hot Stuff show opening


Hot Stuff show opening

My work was damaged in shipping, but they found the chip so a quick hit with the heat gun and it was fixed. What you can’t see here is that I had to repair it with a crowd of people asking me questions, and yes, I’m working on the gallery floor. Let’s call it performance art and move on, shall we?

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There are now two books under the Embracing Encaustic title, Learning to Paint with Beeswax and the new title Advanced Techniques for Mixing Media, each focusing on specific encaustic techniques. Between the two books there are a total of 70 artists who share their work, reveal their personal painting methods and explain why they are compelled to make the work they do.Find out more and purchase them online here.

Embracing Encaustic: Learning to Paint with Beeswax
By Linda Robertson


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