Monday, July 21, 2014


I'll be working on a very large triptych piece for the next few months. I have the basic ideas in mind, and one of the main concepts it will involve is layers- large amounts of my paper pieces beneath and surrounded by other elements, like fabric or paper.  As I'm working on rolling all my paper pieces for this massive project, I'm also working on layering techniques... what elements I want to be involved, what will look best, and what could potentially work best in a large format.  I experimented with wax-dipped fabric a couple months ago- this time I was inspired to use rice paper.  
I begin with a 6*12 inch piece of wood and painted it white.  I painted it with clear and white wax, and then used brown wax to paint some curved sections.  I used some green rolled paper pieces to create a 3D effect by embedding them in the brown sections of the wax, like portions of dirt and grass visible from under melting snow.  The tricky part was adding the layers of rice paper to enhance the idea of new life growing beneath the surface of a retreating winter.  

I tore and burned the edges of the paper to create the right size and shape for certain areas of the painting, and then I adhered them under layers of clear wax.  The transparency of the paper allows the color of the paper elements and the wax to come through from underneath, making this piece fascinating to see from any angle.  
I wish I had better photos to show you guys... this is definitely a piece that looks better in person.  

I love this technique, and I'm sure I'll be using it in my larger triptych.  Since the paper is so delicate, It may only be feasible in small amounts over small areas of my piece, but the transparency of the rice paper and the added interest it brings will be hard to pass up.  I'll be doing this again, soon.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Collage Magic

Usually when I work on a collage, I spend most of my time agonizing over the elements I need- would this paper work?  How big should it be?  Does this cover too much?  Do I want to leave some negative space?  Should I add any embellishments?  And the list of questions goes on.... sometimes it takes me days to complete a small collage because I'll feel stuck and have to let it sit for awhile so I can come back to it fresh.  

With this collage, I promised myself I was going to work with whatever I grabbed first, no matter what.  Because of that, I finished this collage pretty fast- the only waiting I did was for the gel medium I used to adhere everything to dry.  

I have to say, I'm going to have to try this approach more often with my collages- forcing myself to not over think things seems to have paid off.  :)

Oh, and don't you just love what google did to this photo of mine?  Their Auto Awesome photos that are made automatically can be a little annoying and weird at times, but I absolutely fell in love with this one.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Steampunk Mini's

I don't know why, but the more I work with watch gears, compasses, and maps, the more I fall in love with all things steampunk.  There's just something about the mix of vintage victorian and industrial that fascinates me, and of course the perfect way to keep being inspired and try new ways of incorporating steampunk elements is to work on a few mini's.  

I got a new batch of watch gears this week, and I decided to use more of the odd shaped pieces in my work, instead of just the gears.  I layered some gears on top, and tried putting groups of them close together so give the impression of working cogs that can actually rotate.  (Maybe someday I'll figure out how to actually have rotating cogs in my pieces.)  Of course, practicing my collage work is always a consideration for creating more mini's.  For some reason, collages intimidate me, even though I love the result when an artist manages to balance all the elements involved and keep the piece interesting.  Finding that balance is hard for me to achieve, and so I turn to my mini's.  I'm pretty happy with how these ones turned out.  Maybe I'm getting better.  

These were way too much fun.  I can definitely see more of these being created in the future, whether I need the practice or not.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Organic Growth

I've been reflecting on my use of point of view in my artwork lately- many, if not most of my pieces really take shape outward from the surface of the canvas, utilizing the 3D nature of the elements that I use.  It's only when I don't use them that the picture forms from the bottom of the canvas to the top, rather than outward.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but the pieces that form outward from the surface, rather than up and down, offer to the viewer such interesting vantage points.  

This piece has so much movement- the different heights of the paper rolls, and the fact that they are so close together, make it seem as if more will appear from beneath the surface of the canvas as the others continue to grow.  It's as if I've captured the growth of this organism, city, landmass- whatever you want to call it- in the midst of a growth spurt.  

The combination of deliberately rolled and place paper pieces and the randomness of the wax and rust splatters show organization growing out of chaos.  It is in the middle of a transformation- from a collection of random elements to something complete and fully formed.  

Monday, June 30, 2014


I named this piece "Unravel" because of the loose strips of muslin arranged to appear random and loose, as though they had once been used to bind something, and over time the binding has come undone and is just hanging limply, not accomplishing it's purpose.  The gears add to the idea of passing time and movement, and the feeling of neglect.   The whole piece gives the impression of being untouched for a long time.  
Once I finished this piece, I was surprised to realize I hadn't used any paint.  Walnut ink is what makes up the brown background.  I used strips of unbleached muslin dipped in wax to create the 3D wave-like effect, and used an oil pastel stick to add a little texture to the fabric.  The gears and compass were the last addition. 

 I'm finding the possibilities of encaustic art even more limitless than I imagined.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stenciled Encaustics

Stencils!  Don't you just love being an art junkie and collecting all kinds of things you've never used before but are certain at some point you will?  I have boxes and boxes of embellishments and tools that have rarely, if ever, been used.  But one of the great things about being a mixed media artist is being able to find new uses for things you'd given up on or forgot you had.  Encaustic painting seems an especially perfect medium to find new ways of using old things.  
I added a little color to each of these using oil pastels, which work pretty well with the wax through the heating process.  Since encaustic medium is so expensive, finding other ways to add color are essential for me, and using oil pastels has some definite possibilities.  I also used walnut ink on the top piece- I love the random effect it creates, and it work so well with the yellow.  

I do need to keep working with this technique, because there were some unfortunate effects that happened on both pieces.  Since I had painted a layer of wax on each piece before putting the stencil down, there was some wax that peeled off with the stencil.  I tried letting it cool for awhile before I lifted the stencil, but that didn't seem to do anything.  My next step will be to try using just a little bit of oil on the back to prevent the stencil from sticking to the wax- we'll see if that works.  I was able to work around the little pieces that came off fortunately, but figuring out a way to keep it from happening is my next step.  

Now I just need to find names for these pieces... I don't know why, that always seems to be the hardest part...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


My husband and I spent an amazing weekend visiting Charleston, SC last weekend.  It didn't take long for me to completely fall in love with this city.  The history, the beauty, the Southern charm and wonderful atmosphere were inspiring.  The best part was the few hours we spent on Saturday morning doing a walking tour around the city.  Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about even tiny details around town, and the rest of our trip was even more amazing because of the things we learned and the significance we understood afterwards.  
My favorite part were the buildings.  I have photo after photo of streets and homes, wrought iron gates, churches, and even cemeteries.  

When we came home, I thought of how I could convey some of the beauty I saw in a painting.  I decided an abstract representation in wax would be a fun way to try putting something on canvas, especially since I've been wanting to experiment with encaustic wax and oil paint for a while.  I added a layer or two of wax to the canvas surface, then I used oil paints, in between layers of wax, to represent the colorful homes of downtown Charleston.  As I fused the wax with the oil, the paint began to run and separate a little, which was actually perfect; so many historic homes are beaten and weathered by the sea breeze, the humidity, and the changes in temperature there.  The east coast can be quite brutal on wooden buildings.  

I used oil pastel to add the black separation between the buildings, and rubbed it into the wax to blend it with the colored oil blocks.  
Certainly this piece is a fun reminder of a beautiful place.