Category Archives: encaustic

Dreaming the Between into being

A painting of the heart; beeswax, paint and love

Last Night As I Was Sleeping

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

                                                                 ~Antonio Machado
Perhaps it is the bright face of the full moon which pours into my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning.  Or maybe it’s that I have traveled far and wide just recently, with more journeys awaiting me in the wings of weeks to come.  I do not know.  But I have been doing a fair amount of vivid dreaming while visiting the landscape of my sleep-time each night.
Generally a deep and dark sleeper, I seldom remember my dreams, but occasionally I get a conscious-time glimpse into  that other-world beyond and it’s tremendously exciting and inviting and I do not want it to end.  Thankfully, this has been occurring more and more and more.
Once, much like in the poem above from Antonio Machado, I dreamed that bees had crafted a hive in the walls of my home.  This dream-time home was different than my home here in waking-time. Yet it was my home none-the-less, as it often goes in dream-translation.  It was a quaint little house, nestled in quiet country.
Painted blue, it had lace curtains which blew gently in the breezes. Outside there was washing on the line, bleach-drying in the golden sunshine.  Inside, the bees had been so busy in the inner walls of this sweet home of mine that honey –rich, golden honey – began to seep from the very walls themselves.  And from the ceilings.  Drip, drip, dripping from every corner.  Oozing a golden coating on to all.  My waking self has a bit of an aversion to being sticky.  Give me the mess-making of mud-pies and the following-flowing of dust-bunnies, but stickiness can set my teeth on edge.  But my dream self saw and felt this honey coating everything as a great gift from the bees.  A sign of the richness in my day to day.  Seeping out of the very walls.
I come back often to this dream and the sensations it delivers upon the heart of my remembering, as I am “abeefrnd” after all.  I love all things bees. The wax, the honey, the magic of their pollination which in essence keeps us alive as well as surrounded by beauty.  Just the other day I was captivated by a podcast featuring a Bee Priestess called Ariella Daly and was once again reminded of the honeyed home awaiting me in my dreamscape.
This morning I awoke from another powerful dream which I took to paper and pen first thing (well, after I’d given the dogs a chance to wee and poured myself the requisite first cup of coffee).
“Intense, wee-hours-of-the-morning dream.  Skyscape and seascape were one.  I could swim-fly underwater, beneath floating purple and darkened-green continents of mosses. Under-over there, all was turned around – up was down and sideways and back again.
Some feared if I swam-flew in this place, I might never return to above the mosses.
Before this swim-fly time, I was on a beach, with a public beach-house.  It was winter and access to the sea was limited.  The life-guard then said it was time and everyone cheered and pulled their pick-up trucks on to the beach to sell their market wares.
It was crowded.
This is when I began to swim-fly.  This place was not crowded. It was wild and lonesome.  I dove in and once under came the turning around of the world.  As I dove down, I also flew up.  Direction didn’t seem to matter.  I could easily breathe this air-water.  I was of two worlds.  Maybe more.  The worlds of Up, Down,  Over, Under, Back and Forth.
The masses of mosses had watery, puddled areas in them, like bog-land. Puddled portals of a sort. These puddles led to below-above where anything is possible.”
                                                                  ~Amy Bogard
I could go on an on about the venturing I’ve been up to amidst the murky depths of my own dreaming, but we all know how difficult these images and sensations can be to convey in conscious conversation.  So I will simply share with you a few endeavors from waking-time, and in-between times which seem to be contributing to these dreamscapations.  (That may be a new word of my own making, though I am not sure.)
The rough little drawings dotting this post are from a small book I keep at my bedside nowadays, along with a pencil.  Most evenings, just before sleeping, I scribble a bit into this book.   Nothing in front of my eyes to capture.   Merely the musings of my own mind and my own imaginings.  Occasionally I am surprised at the results.  Often, they are simple and rather mundane.  But still I doodle.
I began this practice a few weeks ago, inspired by my friend, fellow illustrator,  and fab yoga instructor, Stacey Maney who has been doing the same practice herself a good while now and has amassed a number of bedtime drawings.  Though we each approach this practice in our own way, we both find it helps to feed the inner muse.  This muse is our bread and butter after all and needs to be coaxed and tempted with attentions and praise from our daily habits.
This all differs greatly from my usual sketching practice of the world around me, about which I write here often and much.  The deep mind-full-ness my sketchbook work brings has been a richly rewarding gift over the years, a gift I now offer to others through my classes and workshops.  And yet, I still want to go deeper.  Sketching is not enough.  Writing is not enough.  In the attempt to bring my own practice to a deeper, soul-entrenched level, I’ve been seeking a nameless thing.  I haven’t been sure if that thing is in the form of yet another book or a deeper yoga practice to delve into, or a new teacher, or new habits and pathways of my own intention.  In the past I have even been known to run toward (and away from) this Nameless Longing by training for and running marathons.  I did 7 of them before deciding they were finally through with what they had to teach me.
In the end, I’ve come to find it is all of these things along the way and always more, ever changing. And so recently, I have been following this nameless need for something, down it’s soft, darkened path.  I can almost smell this path, blanketed as it is by pine needles and leaf litter.
It feels so good to be able to smell the earth once more as spring has come upon us.  To celebrate this awakening, I have signed up for a class via One Willow Apothecaries called Intuitive Plant Medicine.  The ideas promised in this class are exactly what I have been looking for as pathways to enrich my own personal practice as an artist, a writer, a teacher.  I firmly believe that to be a good teacher, one must always be learning right alongside our students.  Maintaining an openness and the vulnerability of a learner, a beginner, is crucial to meeting students who find their way to us right where they need us to be.  And so I am always digging.  Always searching for ways to stretch.
I have no intention of becoming an herbalist or plant shaman really, except to suit my own curiosities and affinity for the magical world of plants.  But I know in my gut that this seemingly un-related study of the soul-life of plants, and how they can enrich our own lives at soul-level, is exactly the spirit-food I need to stay grounded and growing in my own work in the world.
And so it goes.  The seasons are shifting into sunshine and growth.  Workshops are happening in the coming weeks and I am busily tending to the earthly details which make them run smoothly.  My offspring are both jumping headlong into their adult working lives.  Madeleine off to Africa to work with a linguist and some medical doctors to collect health-care stories (a pricess called Verbal Autopsies).  Jack, gearing up for next week’s senior recital over at CCM.  How the time is flying.  And like between season lettuces tucked in under the other vegetables and flowers, I plant idea seeds in every fertile corner I can find.  Hoping something grows and blooms amidst all of this rich life-compost.
note:  I haven’t a clue what any of these drawings mean.  but they seem to have a feel to them that reaches one into the next.  I am interested to get to know the little faces peering out at me from the pages of my little bedtime book and perhaps learn their story.  

Discoveries at the wrack line

It began years ago.  A gravitational pull to the coast that some folks feel at times.  And an introduction to a creature-self whom has captured my imagination ever since.  Fortunate to have lived along the coast for a time, and further still, blessed to visit again each summer in spite of being land-locked the rest of the year, I have pursued knowledge of this being, though I did not know what it was I was after.  Perhaps I still don’t.  But evidence of her existence has built up.  And I am introducing the results of my research as part of an art show opening next week.

“My most recent body of work explores a duplicity of place through the lens of traditional narrative and meditation upon liminal frontiers found in natural places.  For this series, North Atlantic legends of “Selkie” creatures (part seal, part human) are the basis for a collection of images and artifacts depicting the life of a being that exists on both land and water, while not a true part of either world.  Many years of walking the wrack line on both sides of the North Atlantic have fed my obsession with imagery, material and lore of the coast.   These works form an exploratory self portrait of object and image that speak of an inner dialogue between myself and the world at large.”  

Among my sketchbooks are years of drawings that have led to the discoveries present in this body of work.  Some of these drawings will be on display, along with items found along the salted wrack line of the North Atlantic…

…permitted to grow salt crystals from the sea…

Other things were crafted by me, prior to gathering their crystals…. (The shells below were crafted from bronze.)

This creature, the legendary Selkie of the North Atlantic tends to take cover amongst a variety of seaweed species. Often these can be found washed upon the shores….

(Seaweeds; knitted, felted wool, found fish bones, salt crystals, 2013)

(more Seaweed, below.  Also knitted, felted wool, salt crystals, 2013)

Occasionally, messages would wash up onto the shore…. “When lightning strikes water, it purifies it.”

Sea faring vessels know of Selkie and her mysterious ways….

Sometimes sea captains communicate with her with a knotted language only those of the sea can interpret….

Selkie can be found in the shadows of the deep, at play among schools of colorful fishes flitting about….

At the center of her lies a tender heart, easily bruised.  As I have discovered more about her ways, I have learned to walk silently along the shores.  Only then might I learn more from her.

Selkie is filled with a depth that will garner more observation and of course paintings.  I do not think I have seen the last of her in my studio….

She has taught me much about paint and patience.  About Other-Worlds, both Inner and Outer.  And I timidly introduce her here for those of you out of town and unable to visit her in person….

If you are in town and can make it to the show, my work is only a small part of a larger show and I am in such great company with other artists who allow Nature to mushroom amidst their imaginations and in their studios.

Do join us if you can, and as always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.  Peace.

Dream Nest

Years ago, before I went to art school, I made stuff.  Being naturally artistic, this stuff was well crafted and made with a tremendous sense of play. I made mobiles with broken stained glass that was wrapped with wire – like jewels.  I made painted paper flowers which I still see here and there at the houses of friends and family members who delighted in these whimsical things.  My husband happened upon a junk yard whose owner/operator wound up teaching me to cut and weld steel.  I painted metal cutouts and gave them as gifts and sold a few too.  I had a few years of decent sales making these things and even paid for a workshop in Colorado, where I decided to Go Back To School for an Art Degree.

While in school, and since then to a certain degree, I have been creating large scale projects that are not necessarily fit for sale to the average buyer.  Smaller things were now laying around more as ‘studies’ for larger work, but not for sale.  Friends and family began to ask how they could acquire smallish work of mine.  “When’s your next show?” they would ask.  I signed up for – and backed out of – numerous coffee shop gallery shows over recent years, hemming and hawing at the simple act of making things to sell.  I am not entirely sure why this is.  I like making money when I can, especially now that I have lost most of my paying jobs.  (that will be changing in the coming weeks… more on that soon…)  But for some reason, I was stalled in the sales department.

Anyway, instead of worrying too much about it, I decided that it’s a new year and time for some new challenges.  Plenty of people, varied in skill, style and wares, have thrown their hat into the virtual sales ring of Etsy and maybe it’s high time I gave it a shot.  I am still applying to higher level art shows and opportunities where I can, but along the way, if someone likes something I am making, they can now buy it on Etsy.  Working on small works of art keeps me primed for the larger scale projects.  Etsy is a place for these small works and exercises to realize new life with a buyer. This is an exciting prospect.

In the spirit of starting small, I listed 3 new paintings today, all of them encaustic, 5″x5″, heart themed in time for Valentine’s Day.  Please stop by the new Micromovements, Dream Nest Etsy shop today to check out these new works.  Just for good measure, I’ll share images below as well.  It is my plan to update as often as new jobs and travels allow.  So stay tuned…. as always, I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, let me know what you think of the new work!!

In Situ

Greetings from an unusually snowy day here in Southwestern Ohio.  This weather has the kids off of school and the pace slowed down to a more artful clip and I am relishing it.  Last weekend I hung my recent encaustic paintings at Pleasant Perk Coffee Shop in Pleasant Ridge and I am happy with the results.  As much as I enjoy making the art and playing around with materials and researching the concepts, my least favorite part of being an artist is the whole business of showing it off.  To put it mildly, it makes my skin crawl.

One would think that I would have gotten over this in art school, and to a certain extent I guess I did while I was there.  But it has been quite awhile since I have made a point of showing what I might consider a “body of work” and this coffee shop show is a baby step in that direction.  I am approaching this show as more of a works-in-progress kind of thing versus anything epic.  And I am comfortable with this.  You may recognize some of the works in these snapshots, while others have never been photographed.  If you are in the area, I encourage you to stop by the shop and see these paintings in situ. There will be a small opening this friday from 5-7 pm.  I hope to see you there!

With this show up, I have the studio cleaned and ready for its next burst of activity.  The next few months are likely to be extremely busy as many projects and labors of love come to fruition.  One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to be a little more frequent with the blogging so that when I sit down to catch up on it, it doesn’t seem so daunting a task.  So stay tuned and keep an eye out for news on new work, new classes, benefit concerts, drawing for the corporate set, and large scale commission work. It should be pretty exciting!

In the meantime, Happy 2010 to all.  I’m going to go play in the snow and make some art.

Stillpoint

Today is the Winter Solstice, a day when the pendulum of time comes to a still point.  When the days which have gradually grown darker and darker make the switch, ever so quietly, to become lighter and lighter.  It is a time of hope, and renewal.  And only weeks away from the quickening of the earth which will indicate the coming of spring.

Last week saw the culmination of weeks of work by everyone in our household.  The kids finished up final exams at school, my husband left town for the week to meet with others in his company in order to get everyone on a similar page at work, and I hosted a pilot workshop for Drawing Down the Vision.  The week before, Adam and I had attempted a dry run, the results of which were a bit of a train wreck.  But we needed to learn the lessons from the dry run in order to be prepared for the actual pilot, which was, thankfully, a complete success.  We had 5 participants at the pilot, all of which were prepared to give us critical feedback at the end of the workshop.  Everyone involved seemed to get a lot out of the class and gave us some things to tweak as we develop the next pilot…. all leading us to eventually offer the class to the business sphere.  It’s been so much work and research but worth every minute.  I am looking forward to honing this process into something that people in all realms of work can utilize to enhance their creativity. Stay tuned in 2010!

With DDtV successfully piloted, and our schedules a little more fluid for the next couple of weeks, I am back in the studio, bundled up against the cold working on the last few pieces slated for showing at Pleasant Perk Coffee Shop in the month of January.  I am excited to show the work outside my usual comfort zone and see what makes people take notice.  One of the paintings from this show (not quite sure yet which) will go into a silent auction, part of a benefit concert being put together for the Esme Kenney Memorial Sculpture Project.  This concert is scheduled for January 30 and will showcase an incredible array of musical talent… plus some art!  I will keep you posted as things progress on this project.

For now, here are a few “works in progress” snap shots to whet your whistle before January’s show.  I hope this post finds you surrounded by loved ones and able to find some warmth in this the coldest time of year.  I for one am intensely grateful for the opportunity to update this blog now and then and to be doing the work I love.  Peace to you this holiday….

I’ve been doing some drawing here and there prior to the wax application…..

… and some print making as well!

A month of hard work

It’s been about a month since my last post as there has been a lot happening around here, not allowing too many blocks of time to sit down and update.  So I’ll catch things up here now, as best I can.  Early in November, my son Jack was in the pit orchestra for the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ performance of the musical Fame. (pardon the pixelated photo).  In this production there is a wonderful song, done in a series of rounds that talks about what “hard work” the arts are, each discipline convinced that theirs is the “hardest profession in the world”.  Our lives have been a lot like this song recently with music, dance and in our case, the visual arts, occupying much of our time and energy.  It’s been wonderful!  Jack’s weeks leading up to Fame meant long hours after school and tons of make up work for the days missed at school for tech-week.  But being part of the major musical at school has been something he’s wanted to do since he began school there.  I think it was worth the wait for him.

Another big event that came to fruition this month is the Mid-America Irish Dance Championships, the Oireachtas, (pron. or-rock-tus).  My daughter Maddie and her teammates at McGing Irish Dancers have worked for months to get to this and they were met with success.  One of her ceili teams (somewhat like Irish square dancing yet judged on precision of the steps of the team) placed third in the Midwest out of over 30 teams!  The girls were overjoyed at how months of hard work and time and effort paid off.  As a parent it was heartwarming to witness.

The kids’ activities have had us running around town quite a bit and it’s important to take a step back now and then and steal away for some quietude just the two of us.  So on Tony’s birthday, we did just that and played hookie for the day to head out for a paddle up the Licking River, one of the Ohio River tributaries.  It was a pretty cold day but once we were bundled into our boats it wasn’t bad.  Luckily we did not get wet, though we were prepared if necessary of course.  It was a wonderful day…

On Thanksgiving, on top of a house full for dinner, my 7 year old nephew decided that it would be fun to make a movie.  And he had it all worked out in his head as to how he wanted it to go.  And so, Indianapolis Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Turkey was born via the group artistic effort of most everyone available.  This might look like goofy non-sense to most folks, but when we showed the movie over pie that evening, we all laughed so hard we cried.  Even Tony tapped into his inner actor and played the evil “Mobile Commander” who was attempting to steal the crystal turkey (foam, packing tape, and rhinestones from the craft box).  I think it’s pretty cool that we can make a movie in a day nowadays.

These are just a few of the things keeping me in “busy” mode.  Often when I get in that mode, artfulness is more fleeting and I let the “busy-ness” take over.  But lately, that is not so much the case.  In spite of a hectic month, work is getting done (ok, so I didn’t blog for a month…but…).  Drawing Down the Vision, the visual communication class I have co-developed with my former student Adam will be unveiled at a home based pilot here on December 17.  We have asked a few friends of Adam’s and Tony’s from the corporate set, and my friend, fellow artist, writer and workshop facilitator Diane Debevec to join us so we can get used to presenting what we have gathered and in turn get some critical feedback before we attempt to offer this workshop in the real world.  It is tremendously exciting to be at this point.  Nerve-racking, but exciting.

My fall semester at the Art Academy of Cincinnati has come to an end.  I taught my six week sketchjournaling course to 10 students.  Among them were non-artists, artists and art teachers.  As usual, I learned so much from them and am already looking forward to next time.  Next semester will be a bit different.  I will be co-teaching with a book-maker named Cody Calhoun.  Together we’ll be offering a class where students will make a blank journal, and then learn how to fill it.  Details about our Make The Book/ Fill the Book class are available in the new Community Education 2010 course catalog which you can download via the link above.  You might recognize the featured faculty member on the cover as well as inside.  My sketchjournaling process is featured in this issue!

Work at the wax table has seen some growth spurts in the month of November, with new layers and processes developing.  I plan to spend the month of December preparing more work for a show at Pleasant Perk in January.  One exciting aspect of the upcoming show is that 20% of the sale proceeds will be donated to the Esme Kenney Sculpture Project.  This is an exciting project that I am involved in and it deserves it’s own post with photos and details to come soon, but I wanted to mention it here and give folks a chance to check it out. I will certainly keep you posted, most likely later this week…. but for now, a sneak peak at some new work.


dodging raindrops

This evening I emailed my sketchbook class encouraging them to get their sketchbooks out in the rain and experiment with what would happen if they tinted a page with some graphite and let a few rain drops fall.  This was just a whim of an idea, nothing I had ever tried myself….. so i tried it!

Here’s the tinted page indoors…

some rain drops, but not much is happening… the graphite is acting a bit like a resist.  Maybe I should have known this from art school?  Oh well, back indoors….

I add some Golden Absorbent Ground (a magical medium that makes cool things happen) to the right side of the page along with a few streaks of watercolor and go back out into the rain.  It’s beginning to get dark out but I like what happens….

Here is the book indoors.

Here… is what a raindrop is capable of given the right opportunity on the page.  I am inspired by this because it reminds me of what attracts me most to the medium of encaustic.

Below are a few new-ish pieces of work that have recently come off the wax table.  Any feedback or comments are always welcome.  I continue to be in experimentation mode with this medium….

I have been thinking a bunch lately about rivers, hearts and veins.

Meanwhile there is a lot happening in the sketchbook world… Drawing Down the Vision is near ready for launch and I am putting together a travel sketching workshop to my beloved soul home, Taos, NM which will happen in the spring if there is enough interest in it.  I am inspired by my new students at the Art Academy as I get to know them. Teaching is one of my greatest sources of creativity.

Wishing you fun in the rain…. as always, I will keep you posted as things progress.


Navigating

There has been a lot on the proverbial plate here lately which is mildly stressful.  But mostly, excitement reigns as I navigate an increasingly busy schedule.  Our kids are back in school now and we have settled into something of a schedule with new bus routes and school hours.  Having them take the bus to and from school most days has opened up some more time for me in the studio and I have been taking full advantage.  The wax table has seen some activity and I am enjoying creating new works involving stones and pebbles.

For years (as long as I can remember actually) I have collected small stones from everywhere I go as minute physical reminders of a place.  Once at home, these pebbles are usually to be found lying around here and there as decoration and inspiration.  Sometimes I just like to carry one in my pocket.  I like to think I am borrowing them for a time until someday when I am done with them and they will go back outside.  I know other artists who use pebbles as not only inspiration, but as material.  Jennifer Neilsen of Solstice Designs creates beautiful jewelry out of stones she finds on the Maine coast and I am a proud owner of one of her pieces.

In recent encaustic work, as well as in the sketchbook, I have been meditating on how lovely each and every stone is and how no one is like any other.  They are a good bit like people.  I don’t use actual pebbles in these paintings but rather create simulacra of stones and pebbles that look as much like the real thing as possible.  I like the effect and the pebbles are convincing, even in person.  But why re-create pebbles?  I don’t really know the answer to that at this point.  I just know that I enjoy making them, which for me is half the battle in the studio.  If I am not engaged with my subject, I get easily sidetracked.  So for now, I am sculpting little stones and considering the notion of landscape from a top-down perspective.  Years of beach combing are finally paying off perhaps.  Here are some samples of what’s cookin’ at the wax table…

Kayaking continues to be my new love as I learn more about being comfortable in my boat.  We have had numerous opportunities to be out on the water recently which allows me to gather stones, take photographs and draw.

One of the unexpected things about kayaking that I find particularly enjoyable is the solitude and quiet to be found when out on the water, at least in mild weather and calm waters.  I get time and quiet to think about things, which is something I don’t allow enough of in my daily life.  Even when paddling with a group of people, there is enough space and time to do my own thing here and there and I love that.  Here’s a sketch I did the other day while out on the Ohio River at Manchester Islands.  Instead of swimming, I sat and drew.

Drawing is the other thing that has me busy in the studio right now.  Funny thing is, it’s not so much the act of drawing, but rather research and writing about drawing and its inherent value as a quintessential right brained activity.  For the past few months, a former student, now friend, Adam Siemiginowski and I have been developing a new course in drawing and visual communication in general which we intend to pilot locally to large scale businesses.  We call this project Drawing Down the Vision.  It all started when Adam, a systems analyst, data sort a guy from P&G took my class at the Art Academy.  He was looking for a way to synthesize disparate ideas into one concise place as a way to monitor trends in his own thinking and idea gathering.  By the end of the course, it was clear to both of us that my relatively simple process of keeping a visual diary (i.e. sketchbook) could potentially be a powerful tool in knowledge management in the corporate sphere.

So we began working together.  I have a fairly steep learning curve when it comes to business lingo and navigating the corporate way of doing things.  But I am learning.  The more we research what boils down to a discussion of creativity in the work place, the more there is to discover.  Everyday there is more and more evidence that the old models of generating creative solutions to problems (be they business-esque “bottom line” solutions, or an outside of the box new medical breakthrough) are outdated.  Dan Pink’s recent TED talk speaks to the power of this changing landscape of problem solving.  He is one of many who believe that inspiring creativity in the work place may involve a new approach involving mixing the boundaries between professions such as business, art and science.

All of this is tremendously exciting, and scary, and I write about it here because writing helps me organize my thoughts in a way that simply thinking or list-making can’t.  In the end that is why I blog.  I sometimes discover a way of viewing my own work or thought process that I hadn’t considered.  So I’ll certainly be writing more about DDtV and its progress, as well as keeping you posted on the more day to day simple things that keep me not only occupied but in awe.  Thanks for reading.