Monday, December 29, 2008

Do you know Spenser Wells?

i should probably just call this blog "the process page" as those who read it know it is not just about encaustics. what is process anyway- "a system of operations in the production of something". ok. my process in the production of a painting  is: an idea, do research, collect materials, glue paper on to a panel, stencil letters, paint a layer of medium, begin to add imagery and layers-on and on. Spenser Wells follows the first three steps of my process but to collect his materials-samples of DNA-he travels around the world from australia to outer mongolia and beyond. maybe you saw his documentary or read his book titled The Journey of Man. he wants to trace our journey out of africa, to create a map that represents the range of human diversity, to learn where we came from and how we are all related. you too can be apart of this process by going to that gives you all the information to get your own kit and have your DNA tested. i am waiting for my results as i write this and plan to have my results added to the 100,000 samples they are trying to map.
a new year is almost here. what an amazing time we live in. whatever your process keep creating. happy new year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More art/Less smoke

you probably don't know this but november is national lung cancer awareness month. most people don't & that's a problem. i happen to know a little about this as my husband died from lung cancer. so do on average 400 people a day in the U.S.  women are twice as likely to die from lung cancer as from breast cancer. smoking is a primary cause but the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer who have never smoked is also on the rise. if you smoke-please try to quit. or if someone you care about smokes, encourage & help them to stop. it is the single best thing that you can do for your health- so you'll have more time to create more art.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


i was recently in nyc to receive an award from Lilly Oncology on Canvas. i was honored to be chosen and the prize money went to the charity of my choice. to see all the artwork and narratives by cancer caregivers, supporters and survivors was very moving. the exhibition will tour the u.s for the next two years and there will be a book available. thank you Lilly.
while in nyc i visited MAD-the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle. Mad is the recreation of the former American Craft Museum that was across from MOMA. the museum has a fantastic exhibition on display (besides the perm. collection) called Second Lives. it includes 3-D work by contemporary artists using a wide range of materials not commonly associated with art-plastic spoons, combs, old records, paper bags, etc. that have been  made into the most unique creations. try to see it-worth the $15.00 admission. before i concentrated on painting i was a craft artist. over time the term craft  seems to have acquired a somewhat negative connotation- the directors of MAD did not use it because of this, craft being "handi-craft", a hobby, cute stuff. i'm not sure how this happened. any thoughts?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Painting Pain

The studio is almost done and i have been doing a lot of painting (not the kind i prefer to do) so that at least for a short time everything is white on white but it is killing my hands. those of you with carpal tunnel know the feeling. my workshops will be starting on oct. 4-the listing is on the silvermine guild web site. information is also now available for the third annual encaustic conference to be held the first week of june in beverly ma and there are benefits to signing up early. and keep an eye out for the prospectus for the R&F juried show which will be exhibited in 2009 at the castle gallery in new rochelle, ny.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


 i am learning so much about all the different aspects of light but for sure, the light in my studio is now so much better. many of my artist friends are telling me that my work should now be getting bigger and better-at least the better is always a goal. the crew who has been working here is just great and has made the process much more sane. somehow there are still so many more decisions to be made than one would think possible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Making Progress

things are moving along. i even taught a private workshop in my garage studio! thank you kari for being adventurous, interesting, fun and creative. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Progress report

well here's what my studio now looks like. what a mess. and here's my new working space in my garage. it is taking me a while to get adjusted but i am very fortunate to have a studio of my own and one at home. artists like to see other studios-if you have any shots send them along. 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Projects

Besides the usual fun  summer activities i am cleaning out my studio so renovation can start this monday. what a project! how do we artists accumulate so many tools, materials, and maybes? i've had some maybes for ten years. you know- maybe i will use this for...... the project is estimated to take a month but hopefully it won't be that long. meanwhile i am going to work in my garage on some large paintings and when possible use the sun to fuse them. and throw out some of those maybes.
my other project has just been completed-my website is finally up! special thanks to miggs, roger, jennifer, tertuliano and gail. if you'd like to see more of my work and a look at my "before" studio just go to my

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Do you know Chihuly?

in college my main interest was in jewelry design but i also had the opportunity to try glass blowing. talk about process. i was just thinking about this as i viewed the Dale Chilhuly four dvd set which if you haven't seen-you should-especially the one filmed in Venice. why should an encaustic painter be interested in Chilhuly? he's a master artist (kind of the mario batali of glass) that has gone beyond the difficulties of the process and his own physical limitations to pure creation. in Venice he works with two very different master glass blowers to create the most amazing work. the process of blowing glass is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult to master in part because of the heat, the weight of the glass and the speed needed while working. there are similarities between glass and wax-they both become liquid with heat, solid when cool, the way they capture light, how translucent, how transformative. Chihuly has a lot to say about the creative process that applies to all artists. he often tells his students " are making something no one has ever seen before". what are you making?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Second National Encaustic Painting Conference

despite the weather attempting to melt us & our wax, the conference held this past weekend in Beverly, MA was experienced & enjoyed by over 200 participants. bravo, Joanne. & if you missed this one, next years is already planned for the same weekend in june. my advice-sign up early to make sure you get the talks/demos that you're most interested in. this year we also had Linda Womack do a  signing of her just published "embracing encaustic" book which i will write about as soon as i get time to read it (we need more books on this historic medium that is being used more & more by contemporary artists). many of the demos were taped & i will pass along that info when available. i hope that those who attended my demo-warp, weft & wax are inspired to try some of the techniques i showed & as always, comments, questions or additions are welcome.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Art History

process and materials. that's what much of what encaustic painting is about. Robert Rauschenberg certainly used materials-metal leaf, dirt, newspapers, fabrics, tires, all kinds of found objects, what some people would call junk. i imagine him in the '50's, Jasper Johns working downstairs, walking around his block in NYC and creating one of his "combines" from whatever he happened to find. Most art historians credit these combines for his place in art history. but in the 1960's when other artists started using the same materials Rauschenberg moved on creatively and began his series of silk screens, at first on canvas and combined with paint. did he and Andy Warhol talk about the process they were both using albeit with different results? Rauschenberg once said that his goal was "to make a surface which invited a constant change of focus and an examination of detail." certainly he achieved that. his  was one of the largest retrospectives by a living artist ever exhibited at the Guggenheim in 1997. i am so glad i was able to experience it and have the exhibition catalogue signed by the artist. now might be a good time to take another look at his work.
Robert Rauschenberg passed away on the 13th of May. he was 82. he will be missed.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The right tools enable  you to make the process of painting more subservient to your creativety and content. many encaustic tools have been adopted/adapted from other fields and i am always on the lookout for new tools.  many encaustic painters use heat guns but there are those that swear by torches. a variety of palettes are also now available. sinopia who now owns kremer has two tools listed for the encaustic painter- a small iron and a metal, heated brush. i have just started working with these and so far, for my process, like the iron. not exactly a tool but necessary is the surface thermometer. the high  tech version of this- the laser thermometer- is fun to use and really works well (thank you bb & pr). correct plus or minus 2 degrees. instantly. it won't enhance your creativety  but will tell you how hot your painting is.

ps-upcoming workshops at silvermine guild arts center-
may 10, may 31 and june 21

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

catch up/process/changing times

it's great that many of the paintings in the jasper johns show now at the Met are not behind glass. it allows the viewers to really see his encaustic techniques. i am wondering what, if anything, will be the influence of this serene show? a majority of the work is encaustic-will more people learn about this medium, will more artists explore it, will we see more interiors done in gray?
also currently at the Guggenheim is "i want to believe" by the chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. see this show. talk about a process using heat. Cai uses gunpowder and fuses on large sheets of paper to create his large drawings. destruction, transformation, matter, energy, politics, history and science are all expressed in this work of various media. he is also one of the creative people planning the open and closing ceremonies of the coming summer olympics. can't wait to see what that will look and sound like.
a polaroid just isn't fast enough any more...the polaroid company-which really isn't the company since the company went bankrupt and another company bought them for their name-has announced that they will stop making polaroid film next year. many artists use their film but don't know about this. the film should be saved. each photo is  unique, a quality as far as i am concerned and if you don't know about polaroid transfers onto water color paper it is a great process that can also be taken further with hand coloring or by using encaustic on top. for further information just google save polaroid film.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heated Palettes

nowadays there are a variety of palettes to chose from for the encaustic painter. still many artists just starting to work with this medium would like other, less expensive options. one choice is to make your own palette-i often talk about this in my workshops as this is how i started and many of my students seem interested in also starting this way. in its most basic form-
purchase an electric hot plate (hardware stores or the large chains with kitchen depts.).
find a metal shop in your area and ask them to cut you a square of anodized aluminum sheet 1/4" thick ( i started with 12" square, kind of small and it wasn't even anodized which prevents a black film from forming on the heated metal surface). also have them drill a 1/4" hole in each corner.
get a 1"diameter wood dowel. measure the height of the hot plate and add 1/4"-this is the measurement to use to cut the dowel for the legs.
use screws from the top to attach the legs.
set over the hotplate and you are ready to start. 
it is also handy to have a small level to check  your palette-if it is not level the wax will run over the side and burn on the hotplate.
one more thing-you should use a surface thermometer to monitor the temp. of the palette-very important for safety and health reasons.
i used this palette for about five years and did many large paintings during that time although now i do use the r&f palette. every artist has different needs and i would suggest looking into the other palettes that are now available.

Monday, February 18, 2008

coming events

so many artists working with other media are investigating encaustics to add to their process and work. i will be having a one day workshop on encaustics with photography on 3/15 at silvermine guild arts center. if you have not seen the two combined take a look at the recent work of the Starn twins.
microcosms, a show of my encaustic work and that of friend and fellow artist Roger Mudre who works primarily with acrylics (but he does have an encaustic set-up so one of these days...) will be at the Kershner Gallery in fairfield from 3/30-5/18. the opening will be on saturday, april 5 from 5-7. I will also be doing an encaustic "show and tell" sometime during april. my work in this show will be an expansion of my "elements" series-this time focusing on h2o.
another talk will be at the second encaustic conference in beverly, ma on june 7. more about that to come with images. the talk is titled "warp, weft and wax".
and finally i was selected to have a solo show next september at silvermine arts center. tentative title-"mapping the genome".
ps: at times encaustics seem to have a mind of their own. in regards to that i like this quote by Tanguy "i found that if i planned a picture beforehand, it never surprised me and surprises are my pleasure in painting". so let yourself be surprised.

Friday, January 25, 2008

bits & pieces-collage

collage comes from the french coller, to stick. a better description would be "glueing together bits and pieces of unrelated images including previously used commercial materials to create something unprecedented". it has a long history although Braque and Picasso and usually given credit for its "invention". between the two, Picasso used a wider range of materials-everything from sand, wallpaper, printed papers to dimensional objects. since the 1920's many artists have explored collage from Hannah Hoch, Kurt Schwitters to Rauschenberg and beyond. a collage artist whose work you might not be aware of is Fred Otnes. his book (of the same name) is available through amazon. his work may be considered somewhat traditional in subject matter but he has a wonderful sense of materials, imagery, composition, color and surface. so why bring up collage? encaustic is great for collage. the wax becomes the glue but with no waiting for drying and it is completely reversible. plus, by building up layers you can create depth and many types of surfaces. once again you might also want to refer back to the master-Jasper Johns-and revisit his interpretations of collage using encaustic.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Art and Science

if you are an artist interested in science (or vice versa) check out the magazine SEED (also online). Their 12/07 issue front cover asks "the future of science is art?". in this article the author, Jonah Lehrer, whose recent book is titled Proust was a Neuroscientist, quotes string theorist Brian Greene about the arts having the ability to "give a vigorous shake to our sense of what's real" thus jarring the scientific imagination into imagining new things.  i also like Lehrer's suggestion that all theoretical physics departments should have an artist-in -residence. there are numerous, thought provoking ideas expressed here that will hopefully increase the dialogue in this subject. read it and see what you think.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


from talking with many artists about encaustics there is still a lot of misinformation on this medium. with more access through workshops, books ("the art of encaustic painting" by joanne matera is a great start with more books coming out this year) hopefully that will change. i teach intro and other specific encaustic workshops at silvermine guild arts center in ct. we just had an open house and there were many questions along the lines of "will my finished painting melt"?
many artists love the look of encaustic but have no idea of the process.  that is why i like the intro class-it gives you a good idea if the process is something that you want to invest more time (and money) into. more on process later...

Friday, January 4, 2008

time to start

welcome to the encaustics process page. i have admired the many blogs created by artists and thought it's about time for me to do one too.  please send any comments and/or questions. for those of you who are new to this fascinating medium i recommend the R&F website and attending the Second National Encaustic Conference to be held June 6-8 in Beverly, MA. the first was informative and fun (i did a demo and will also be doing one this year) and gives you access to people involved with encaustics from all over america. also of interest will be the Jasper Johns show "Gray" coming soon to NYC. Johns has said, when asked if he used encaustic for its materiality and quick "drying"-"I enjoyed those qualities. But it may have helped that when I began to work with it, no other artists that I knew were using it. The events that happened with it seemed discoveries." Today there are many artists using encaustic-hope you are one and making discoveries too.