Thursday, May 31, 2012

Encaustic Effects with Acrylic Paints and Mediums

Using Acrylic paint and Gel Mediums to achieve an Encaustic look
Through my exploration of the wonderful world of mixed media, I have come across a mixed media medium that I had not heard of before. ENCAUSTIC. I'm in love with the effect of encaustic, or, hot wax painting. Painting in this way allows for a broad range of texture options, as tools and brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools. Also, other materials can be collaged, layered, and suspended into the surface, creating dimension and texture in an interesting way. Here are some examples of encaustic work:
"Like the Tar Baby"
Mary Black

Where Memory Resides
"Where Memory Resides"
Bridgette Guerzon Mills

I have never taken a class or workshop in Encaustic and currently, cannot afford to purchase all of the materials to get started but I crave the finished look and wondered if I could achieve it using the materials I already have. I explored some online tutorials and found this video about creating the encaustic look with acrylics.
So I watched this great video by Patti Brady and gave it a try. I used the Gel Medium that I have which is a soft gel  but I'm thinking I will invest in some other Gel Mediums, the High Solid Gel being one that I am particularly interested in trying.

Here is my first attempt at this:

I primed the canvas with light body modeling paste and embedded the pieces of string in the paste ( I can't take credit for the string idea, it is an idea I saw done by an  encaustic artist whose style I admire). Then I did some underpainting in a gray acrylic. I let that dry and painted over that with a yellow acrylic paint, applying it heavier in some areas and wiping and scraping paint away in other areas to create depth and dimension and allowing the underpainting to show through. Then I tinted my Gel Medium with a little bit of yellow paint to ensure the next layer would be somewhat transparent. I applied this layer and then scratched texture into it with the end of a paint brush and created the circles with a wine cork.

The next thing I am going to do is rub some color into the textured areas to see what happens. Not sure what medium I should use to do this, though. The gel medium I have is glossy (I think I'd like to try the matte next time) so I'm not sure what will adhere to this. I suppose using acrylic would be the best bet but something wants me to to try rubbing chalk pastels into the grooves. We shall see....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


acrylic, pastel, liquid graphite on canvas

I'm reluctant to describe this piece in terms of specific symbolisms because I wasn't thinking about putting things here or there for any symbolic reasons when I painted it. What does amaze me, is that when I stepped back, I realized that is very much a reflection of my emotions and inner world. Sometimes we can't explain how we are feeling or why.  The more desperate we feel, the harder it is to articulate our feelings.

That's why I make art.

As I try to look at this piece with a subjective eye, I think to myself, if anyone ever asked me why I chose "("trees", "sun", "white background", or "just what the heck is that blob running down the right side?") for this piece, I could probably come up with the requisite answers that would satisfy inquiring artistic minds.
And although I know academically I am supposed to employ a certain thought process to beginning a piece, I didn't do that here.

 Maybe no one in a million years  would ever ask me about this piece.
Maybe it isn't worth it. Maybe it isn't even a "piece". Maybe it is a "cliche"

Maybe some will react to it and relate to it.

I believe art is a response to life and it's experiences. That's how it is for me and that's why I've been driven to attend to it in my life now.
 As an artist, however, the emotions I choose to express, should contain a universal thread. 
 I hope I've accomplished that here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dogs Du Jour

"If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them." ~Phil Pastoret

An absolutely beautiful morning!


Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend. ~Corey Ford

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mixed Media Monday

The weekend began on a much needed creative note with the Grand Opening of Re-Invent, a gallery, studio, and innovative retail store openend by 2 young women with a great vision in Lake Forest.  Kristin Mikrut and Cecilia Lanyon met in art class when they were 11 and have been best friends for 13 years. Re-invent is a rotating gallery, innovative retail store, and working studio. I wish them every success!
The McMahonFamily (Mark, Carolyn, Elise, Meryl, and Drew McMahon and the late Franklin McMahon)  had their work on exhibit for the opening and will have their work on display through June.

Here is a link the the McMahon Art Gallery:

and here is a link to Re-Invent Gallery Facebook page:

In the meantime, I got to some painting finally after a dry spell that had me all wound up. Seems to be a recurring theme!  Life and Art have definitely NOT balanced for the past 2 weeks (Here's the score: Life: 1.0, ART: 0.0) After the gallery opening, however, I got recharged which is what I was hoping for.  I also had a low-key weekend without a lot of obligations which is rare.
I couldn't afford canvas this weekend so I started cutting up a cardboard box into different size pieces and gessoed 12 pieces, 8 of which I plan to use to create a book. (Stay tuned for that.) Hopefully it will go well!
I enjoy painting on cardboard because it is free and readily available, unlike canvas which is expensive and I have to get in the car and drive to the store to get it. I'm not lazy, it's just that I also like cardboard because it is nice to me. It  doesn't have any expectations, therefore, I am not afraid to do whatever I want to it and see what happens. It is good to explore this freedom but at the same time it is important to me to work at achieving compositions and color combinations that work.

In process:
Gessoed cardboard, collage, acrylic paint, pastels.  UGH. Too RED. Looks like war. The song "Red Skies" by the Fixx snuck into my head and wouldn't go away until.........

I painted over it....added green and allowed the red to show through. Better, I think. But this is a background. What is the focal point going to be?  At this point I'm asking it to tell me what it wants to be. It did not answer.
 But, as with everything in life, it can't be forced. The answer will come.

Part of the answer came: As much as I enjoy working large, the folds in the cardboard were making it difficult for me to see this as one large piece. I kept seperating it into 3 sections with my eyes. So......
.......I cut the sides off. Long narrow compositions are interesting so I will find something to do with these. In the meantime, still waiting for the subject matter to reveal itself to me.....check back later this week to see the progress!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Art of Focus : 5 Ways to Free Yourself from Digital Dependency

"Serendipity"  Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.

I was browsing through my Google Reader today when I seredipitously (??!?) came across this fantabulous article from a fantabulous blog called Gwarlingo.  I'm always amazed when things present themselves at just the right time!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Social Media Marketing Presentation at the local library and ever since then, I have been furiously studying different platforms such as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I mean, like, obsessively.
I  set up accounts for the business I manage and for myself as an Artist, I've spent more time than I'd care to admit staring at my computer screen and trying to wrap my head around how to manage all of this online marketing media. I know it's important but I don't want it to hijack my life or my creative time.

It is too easy to lose the delicate balance between real life, organic relationships and creativity, and the Digital  World.

If you are feeling swallowed up by all of this Social Media Frenzy and need to get back to what matters most to you, it's not too late! This article will make a big difference in your life!

The Art of Focus : 5 Ways to Free Yourself from Digital Dependency

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dog Blog

In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog. ~Edward Hoagland
I don't know about you but from time to time life can be just too.....well, too much. Every day we go about our daily routine and some days it can be incredibly smooth while other days seem to present a challenge at every turn.
My week has been one of those challenging ones.

 It doesn't help that all day today I thought it was Friday.

Tired of trying to get technological things to work and not being successful, I looked out the window of my office at the doggy playgroup that was in full swing and decided to go hang out with the dogs for a bit.
It was a perfectly beautiful day and all of those happy swooshing tails were irresistable. 

"Dogs are Miracles with Paws"

Monday, May 7, 2012


" is always ahead of execution- and it should be. Vision, Uncertainty and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue"   Art and Fear  by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I read this quote on a blog that I follow called Contemplating the Moon.  Bridgette Guerzon Mills is a wonderful artist and teacher with a great blog (you should check it out). Her link is on my blog post from 4/12/12.
Anyway......I'm totally getting this book (Art and Fear)so thank you for sharing, Bridgette!

I think it is  a great quote to reflect on while you begin your creative week. Certainly helpful stuff for me to think about after a creatively unactive weekend (feeling guilty and unproductive! Oh no! Sound familiar?)

Actually, I don't feel guilty at all it because this weekend was my best friend's son's First Communion! It was a special weekend for him and turned out to be a special weekend for me reconnecting with friends that, as we talked about on Saturday, don't see each other often enough because life gets in the way. It revived and recharged me and sometimes I need to remember to simply sit and savor that for a minute.

The quote is particularly timely for me because last night, when I finally had a couple of hours to start a new piece, my vision, materials, and uncertainty waged a battle on my canvas and in my soul!  I put a time frame on my creative process because I felt I had to "catch up". I wanted to have a photo to post today but things weren't coming together. I went to bed frustrated but gently reminded myself to breathe and let it flow. Hopefully I can find my calm center and cultivate my vision before attacking my canvas with materials tonight. If not, it might be time to knock out a journal page to get the art flowing.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Letting Go

"By letting it go it all gets done"
Lao Tzu



I'm going to fix the left rim of the cup and then let this piece sit for a while.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Walking the Tightrope

We've been walkin' the tightrope tryin' to make it right
Walkin' the tightrope every day and every night
Walkin' the tightrope bring it all around
Walkin' the tightrope from the lost to found

I feel like I'm walking the tightrope with this piece. It began really free, got lost and found a couple of times, and now is reaching the point where I'm tenuously moving forward with it, doing little bits each day, standing back and studying it, and feeling undecided about how to bring it around. 
Stay tuned for the addition of a shadow under the cup, a wash over the pattern on the cup to soften it and.......well I'm still not sure about the upper right part.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inspiration Tuesday


Photo #1
I started with collaging a piece of cardboard with gesso, printed ephemera, modeling paste, acrylic paint, and charcoal

Photo #2
After I looked at the first photo next to this photo I realized I didn't like the dark under the cup, I felt the lighter colors and texture in the first photo blended and unified the composition in a better way. The black is too severe here.....

Photo #3
I added cardstock stained with ink and torn into pieces to create the window frame. I'm happy with the aged rustic look that emerged through doing this.
The scene in the window is a magazine photo torn, glued down, and worked into with pastels and charcoal. Still needs some work.
I added a torn scrap of sheet music to the foreground which I  also think balances the overall composition  and frames the cup in a more interesting way than the dark black in photo 2.
Still not liking the red section to the right. Also working out what to do with the cup.