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Who knew? Who knew that making so many little pieces of art would be so interesting, frustrating, rewarding and tiring? Oh, yes, that should have been me who knew that since I’ve participated in these shows before, but I always forget. I had to get lots of little work ready for the holiday sales last week and man, it was a lot of work! I made 15 pieces for two shows: Holiday Lites at Lauryn Taylor Fine Arts (Carmel, CA) and Little Things at Guardino Gallery (Portland, OR). In the end I’m glad I did it because these shows force me to work quickly and keep me from over thinking my work which can be a problem for me.

Those of you who came to my Portland Open Studios weekend saw some of these in progress. Remember those painting demonstrations I was doing? Those were my backgrounds for the Little Things show. Sneaky, right? Anyway, here are both groups together, with the Little Things on the right:

Little Things Group

One thing I always try to stress in my classes is that you can “save” just about anything when working with wax because it is so forgiving. If a piece isn’t working you can scrape off, melt down or cover up whatever is making you crazy. One of my favorite pieces of this series, Thrive, came out of one of the biggest failures. I had to carefully heat up and pull off the flower without disturbing the wax at the bottom, which I liked and wanted to spare. Then I covered the top half with the light blue and started the collage again in order to finish with the piece on the right. It’s like playing the game Operation!

Thrive, before being fixed Thrive fixed

Here are some photos of the progression of the Holiday Lites pieces as I paired backgrounds with imagery, and decided which image transfers to use. The final pieces are below.

Holiday Lites Teaser

Choosing images

Click on each image below to see a larger version

A Watchful Place Chasing Shadows Destiny Awaits

L to R: A Watchful Place, Chasing Shadows, Destiny Awaits


Stars Shall Fade Strength Comes Wind of Joy

L to R: Stars Shall Fade, Strength Comes, The Wind of Joy

I won’t be able to attend the opening in Carmel this year, but there will be two for the Portland show. View the details on the events page of my web site. If you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter with workshops schedules and encaustic events you can sign up online, or view my most recent newsletter.

This weekend I was the teaching assistant for my friend, Elise Wagner, who taught an encaustic class at Oregon College of Art & Craft. We had a great group of all women (surprised?). Why don’t more men take encaustic classes I wonder? In any case we had a wonderful time and everyone traded techniques and learned from one another. I spent a lot of the first day running down electrical problems, but I was still able to finish 3 little pieces. After all, I got an hour back this weekend so why not use it for art?

OCAC - light and dark

I decided to try starting one painting with a black background and one with white. It was an interesting exercise as I had to think backward on the dark piece. If I decide to do it on a regular basis it will take some more practice!

OCAC pull lace

In the dark piece above I used a technique where you use lace as a stencil. Just put the lace on your smooth wax surface and paint right through it. After painting, scrape off the extra wax, lightly fuse and pull the lace up before it gets too cool. Beautiful!


This is my third piece, made with the scrap wax shavings on my table toward the end of the day, then enhanced with R&F pigment sticks and soft pastels. The texture at the top of the cloud is from that same lace I had been working with above. There was still wax on it so I used an iron to release it onto my board for a sort of ghost print of the original impression.

OCAC scrape Marty

I couldn’t resist this one. My new friend Mardy discovered the joy of scraping! This turned out to be just the beginning. The finished piece is on the right. Yes, that is the same piece! (Click on the images to see more detail.)


Libby went in a totally different direction, using pigment sticks on top of her wax to create a softer look.


Erin took her work in yet another direction layering image transfers one atop another to create a spectacular effect.

OCAC critique

We had a quick critique at the end of the day. Everyone left happy and ready to wax on!

OCAC critique

I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at what you’ll be seeing in the next 2 weeks as I get ready for the holiday shows that all want little work. I’ll be showing in Portland and Carmel through Christmas…

Holiday Lites Teaser

To view the whole sketches category, go here.

Wow, I’ve been so busy that I’m really behind in my blogging! I’ll keep the words short and the images plentiful to try to tell the story visually. Since I just took my first ever visual journaling class with Juliana Coles that seems appropriate…

Journal 1a

Journal 1b

Journal 1c

This was my first ever try at visual journaling! I wish I’d thought to start taking photos earlier in the process, but I’m really happy with how this page turned out.

Journal 2a

Journal 2b

Journal 2c

This attempt wasn’t as successful visually but the writing underneath was a big breakthrough for me even if you can’t read it anymore. I learned a lot from it so it was still a good exercise.

Journal 3a

Journal 3b

Journal 3c

Now this is where I’m really digging it! I think I’m officially hooked now. I plan to do more journaling to get ideas for my encaustic paintings and work out ideas in acrylic first before heating up the wax.

Journal sisters

Here are my journal sisters sharing their stories amid the ruins of our work table.

I also took an amazing plaster architecture class with Stephanie Lee, but the camera ate all of my images! Here’s two of my finished products:

bird house


This second one will have something hanging from the middle of it when it’s done. I hope to do more of this too, especially the casting. I’ll post more if I can ever retrieve the photos!

Then of course there was the always juicy and inviting vendor night. I didn’t get to shop much but I met a ton of new friends and got to see all of their purchases. It was a great night for me, especially the book sales, but also in making new connections with people from all over. Thanks for stopping by!

Art & Soul Vendor Night 2007

As soon as I finished this piece I knew my work had taken a new path. This might even be the beginning of a new series! Time will tell. It’s usually obvious when I start a new series, but sometimes it creeps up on me. My mind is telling my body what to do but not always WHY I should do it. I’m really glad I thought to photograph this one in different stages because it really illustrates how much the work changes from beginning to end, and how you have to build up the layers of information as you go along in order to create complexity in the final work.

So here’s how my new work, Always in Season, came to be.

Always in Season Progression 1

I was trying a new red, Alizarin Crimson, which my husband appropriately nicknamed I-just-killed-my-roommate red. I had to agree that it was a bit much. That launched me into a quest on how to tone it down, which led to a fantastically layered area. I’m learning to embrace the mistakes as opportunities (though sometimes painful!) to try something new.

Always in Season Progression 2

At this point I was getting concerned about how dark the background was getting. I know some artists start with a layer of black and build up from there, but I’d never tried it before and I was afraid I’d get nothing but mud. A layer of clear medium on top of the black prevented the problem and I was very happy with the results.

Always in Season, 16″ x 16″,  Encaustic and mixed media

Always in Season, 16″ x16″

Encaustic, joint compound, and silver leaf on wood

To view more sketches look here.

Here are some more images from the International Encaustic Artist’s retreat from last weekend! I learned several techniques from my new friends who were extremely generous with their time and knowledge. I ended up combining two techniques to create the works pictured here. I’m so happy that I had the presence of mind to take photos of the progression. I think it’s exciting to share all of the layers that go into making art in this medium and how different they look in various stages.

The first piece below is a good example of a technique shared by Lissa Rankin, where she impresses fresh plant matter into the wax while it’s still warm. Lissa makes it look so easy but I managed to get wax all over my hands and burn myself a bit in the process. I love the way it came out so I’ll obviously need to do a little more practice!

Leaf impression a

Leaf impression b

Leaf impression c

Emerging, 12″ x 12″, Encaustic, mixed media

The piece below shows the second part of my technique combination, taught to me by Gail Steinberg. Gail uses a coat of joint compound on her support first to create texture, then covers it with wax. I combined this technique with the one Lissa taught and am very happy with the results!

Art sun a

Art sun b

Art sun c

Bloom, 12″ x 12″, Encaustic, mixed media

Bloom, 12″ x 12″, Encaustic, mixed media

To view more sketches look here.

Remember the sketch i posted last week? Well, it’s finally done. I thought it would be fun to see the sketch and the final piece side by side. I’d love to hear your comments. This is a very new style for me.

Here’s the initial sketch:

House sketch

And the finished art:

Altering the Path

Altering the Path
12” x 15”, 2007
Encaustic wax painting:
wax, resin, pigment, handmade paper, Japanese receipt book from 1903, oil pastel

With the first sketch, with just the house and water, it came to me in a dream. I dreamed of it several times actually, but there was always a bird there too. The bird isn’t in the first sketch because there was something about it I still didn’t understand. I knew the bird was supposed to be doing something – some sort of action – but I knew it wasn’t just flying.

Later that week a friend who had been sick for a long time passed away. When I started working on this piece again I saw the bird as a representation of my friend, moving from one plane to another. It’s hard to see in this photograph, but the bird turns into a breeze of gold and blue in the darker plane. I don’t know that I’ve ever made a painting based on a dream before. It doesn’t look like anything else I’ve made, but it seems like this was the only way it could be completed. I feel like I got it right.

To view more sketches look here.

I’m taking an encaustic painting class at PNCA with Jef Gunn and am really enjoying it! I’ve been working in this medium for a few years now and teach encaustic workshops myself, so I already know most of the techniques he teaches, but every time I work with another artist, in any medium, I learn something new. That’s why I don’t think I’ll ever stop taking classes.

I’ll post my sketches from class here, so you can see how things evolve. The first piece is the beginning of a sketch for another painting. I posted it unfinished because I think you’ll be shocked at what it looks like when it’s finally done. You’ll still be able to make out many of the forms but it will be very different. Stay tuned!

House sketch

The second piece below is from an exercise we did using texture, and as you can see from the detail below, I really got into it. I love to scrape that wax!

Texture exercise

Texture exercise, detail house detail

Click either image above for a larger detail. In the detail of the house you’ll be able to see that its made up of material, wax, pigment and paper. The paper is a Japanese receipt book from 1903!

To view more sketches look here.

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