Monday, August 16, 2010

Working with Wax

Orange Circles
Wax on cradled panel
24" x 20"


In the late 1990's I took a workshop at a local art college and learned about making encaustic paintings using collage elements. We worked on scrap wood with beeswax and damar resin. Although I've done a few small pieces over the years mostly my encaustic supplies have just taken up room on a shelf. After seeing an incredible exhibition of work by nationally known encaustic artists I decided it was time to see if I still like working with wax. 

Green and Purple Circles
Wax on cradked panel
24" x 20"

I set up my supplies on my pattern cabinet in front of a window in which I placed a window fan set to expel any toxic fumes to the outside and set to work.  I like the 2 pieces I made and I love the smell of the beeswax but I wasn't happy working with the medium. It's messy and splashes of hot wax aren't easy to remove from carpet and windowsill, though it's possible... just scrape off all the wax you can and then dissolve with vegetable oil, followed with 409 cleaner.

What I found was that I need a larger area to work unless I move to a smaller size panel.  What works in a studio that's devoted to working with wax doesn't do so well in a confined 4 foot wide space in my studio... and I'm not willing to give over more space to the work.

So after making these 2 paintings and finishing 3 smaller ones I decided that this is something that I can let go. I cleaned up the space (except for the wax that got on my boombox, boxed up the supplies, and carted the box down to basement storage. I'll find a good home for lots of wax and pigment one of these days.

This is a valuable lesson for me in what to keep and what to let go. I'll notice the irritants as I work with various art mediums and those that don't make my heart sing with joy as I work will be given the old heave-ho.

What do you struggle with? Is it time to give up and move on?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In praise of peaches...

      When we were packing up for our move from Oklahoma/Arkansas to Oregon, way back when, my aunt sang the praises of Oregon fruit, telling me that the peaches were so big that only 2 would fill a pint jar. I laughed. Everyone knows that peaches are knobby little things with worms in the middle.

Well, Aunt Ora was right. Oregon peaches are huge, mostly worm free and delicous, as are peaches from many other states, too, thanks to superior farm methods these days.

I thought about this as I picked peaches Wednesday afternoon, in a field of peach trees stretching as far as I could see, big peaches on short trees that were a joy to pick, so fun in fact that I filled 2 big boxes and only when I got them home did I realize that there's no way I wanted to can so many. Perhaps it isn't worth the effort. It took me 5 hours to can around 27 pounds of peaches, resulting in only 7 1/2 quarts of pickled peaches and a big cobbler.   And I have an equal amount of just-ripening peaches ready to go tomorrow, though I think I'll take the easy way out and freeze the rest for winter cobblers.

Arkansas Peach Cobbler

8 cups  ripe peaches, cut into chunks
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 T. flour
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. butter
Pastry for a 2-crust pie

Stir the sugar and flour together in a large saucepan. Add peaches, butter, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Cook until peaches are tender. Keep stirring.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Plop half the pastry on the parchment paper and roll out into a thin 9 x 13" rectangle. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Watch to be sure it doesn't burn.

Pour half of the hot peach mixture into a 9x12 casserole pan. Slide the baked pastry onto the peaches. Cover with the rest of the peaches, sandwiching the pastry between the peaches. Roll out the remaining pastry and put on top of the cobbler.  Return to the oven and continue baking until the peaches are bubbling and the top crust is dark golden brown.

Of course... add ice cream and serve it warm!

Now I know I'll hear from those of you who use a biscuit-like recipe for cobblers, but this is the way MY mother made it and now I follow her lead.  There's nothing worse than uncooked dough in a cobbler and this method insures that all the pastry is done and full of crispy goodness.

I suppose this could be called deep dish peach pie, couldn't it? Go ahead, argue with me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Subtle or Colorful

In her current post Donna Watson discusses how many artists have an affinity for creating subtle work, beautiful work that has a quietness to it that appeals to me, though I don't often create subtle work. Here are two more of my daily collages, one a bit subtle and the other one in-your-face bright.  Both were made in the same session, working out of my red box of bits and pieces.

I left a much loved unattributed quotation in her comments section:

"Work and work and work until what comes
out is pure and not influenced by
anything but what is in my heart."

I believe that only through doing a lot of work does ones' true voice emerge. If you are an artist, make lots of art using whatever tools and supplies you own. If you have a voice, sing. If you play an instrument, practice, practice, practice.  That's what it means to be an artist.  One has to BE.  That implicates daily practice. When one wants to improve as an artist, one must work at it... over and over and over.

Pardon me if I seem like I'm preaching to the choir. I've taught all my life and that's my teacher voice :) 

Monday, August 02, 2010

Circles and Valentine

Three Circles

I'm still working on my daily collage project, using whatever is in my red basket of scraps. The little guy peeking from behind the blue paper is from an old Hallmark calendar and the strip of circles is waste from punching out some circles.

Be My Valentine

This is a picture of me and my friend Cliff at a fraternity party taken on February 14, 1958. Yes, I used the actual picture; none of my offspring will want it when I have a picture of my DH and myself in the same pose. I went to the party with Gerald who is now my husband, but Cliff wanted a picture of us together. Don't we look young! We were both 19.

Make art with what you have. It need not cost much money; just make use of what you have. Mother was fond of saying "waste not; want not" and I try to remember that, especially in these difficult times.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Nothing is safe when the spray paint comes out of the closet

An oldish plastic table and 2 chairs sit on my studio balcony, giving me a window on my backyard world, but the table was double ugly with a worn white laminate top  and I want beauty around me, so I got the bright idea to paint it. I taped the edges, got out my larger stencils and set to work.

I gessoed the table top first and after that was dry I stenciled some geometric designs with black paint. Then I added green fern leaves, some blue letters here and there, and finished with red and yellow flowers, and sealed it all with several coats of spray polyurethane.

I like it! Do you? And the best thing is I don't have to live with the same design forever... I can re-do it any time with layers of gesso and spray paint.
Thanks to Mary Ann Moss and her Stencilry class last year.
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