Monday, August 11, 2014

Nautical Encaustic

I've been focused on a lot of things lately- looking for houses, visits with family and trips out of town, etc. There's a lot going on, and it's funny how those things can inspire in random and unexpected ways.  For example, I've been scouring pinterest, looking for nautical color schemes and decor I can use when we finally make a decision and move in to a new home.  It's been really fun to find things I like and could use in our new home to make it beautiful and unique.  Those ideas have spilled over into my newest encaustic piece.

I'm not sure what it is about compasses and maps that is so fascinating to me, but making an abstract compass with wax, some tissue paper and of course, my signature quilled paper pieces was a pretty easy jump after seeing all the amazing nautical themed art and decor.

I used thin layers of oil paint to add the blue color, and fused it with the wax.  I love the swirls of blue and white.  Encaustic really is a medium unlike any other.  Perhaps I'll do a series of these for an art wall in my new house.  :)  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3D pop Mini's

I thought of a new idea a few days ago, and of course started experimenting with some mini canvases to see how I could get it to work.  I have some sheets of clear acetate that have various images printed on them, and my idea was to use a small square piece and adhere it, not straight onto the canvas, but by the corners in such a way that it would float just above the canvas.  As the acetate is clear, I couldn't use foam dots or other things I've used in past to add dimension to my scrapbook pages- I had to get a little creative.  

You can see the small silver nubs in the corners- I used some jewelry fastenings I had collected, cut them much shorter, and put them through the holes I had made in the corners of the acetate and through the canvas.  To get the acetate to "float" away from the surface, I used tiny eyelets between the acetate and the canvas, kind of like a washer, so that all the corners would be evenly spaced and secure. 

The trickiest part was securing the back.  At first I tried to leave the jewelry fastenings long and simply twist the end.  Yeah, that was an epic failure.  Not secure at all- I couldn't twist the wire without putting too much pressure on the canvas and making it warp.  So, I cut tiny squares of felt, and used gel medium to adhere them to the back of the canvas, over the holes I had made.  Once it dried, I went over the holes again and punched through the felt, and then I was able to put the fastenings through the back of the canvas and use more gel medium to secure everything together.  It was a lot easier and far more secure once I added the felt, giving the fastenings more surface area to adhere to.  

I got pretty frustrated working on these, but once I figured out what worked it made the effort worth it. Now I can do something similar on larger canvases without wanting to pull my hair out.  Time to start shopping for some more acetate!  

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.