Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Try This at Home!

Every now and then I'll be looking at my inventory of paintings and come across one that I don't really like any more. If this happens when I also happen to be out of blank boards, the painting will be "recycled."

When I teach my encaustic workshops, I usually talk a little about storage and shipping of encaustic paintings. One of the things I always say is, "Don't leave your paintings in the car." But secretly I've always wondered what would happen if someone did leave a painting in their car. So, for the sake of science, I did a little experiment with one of those soon-to-be-recycled paintings.

We actually had a fairly mild summer (by Texas standards) until the end of July, when it was in the upper 90's. So I took the opportunity to wrap the painting in bubble wrap and I put it in the back of my car. I left it in there for a couple of weeks and took it out to peek at it. It actually wasn't too bad. But then it got really hot and we had about a week of 105 degree temps, so I stuck it back in the car for a couple more weeks.

It cooled down a bit (back to the upper 90's), so I took it out the other day. As you can see in the photo above, it didn't look too promising. The archival paper that I use to protect the painting from the plastic on the bubble wrap had kind of soaked into the painting. This most likely happened because the wax was so warm that it seeped into the paper. I've never been able to find any Tyvek paper, but that (or glassine) might solve that problem... Also, not letting anything touch the surface of the painting is always a good idea, but it seems like that would involve some sort of crate where the painting is screwed in from the back...

I was surprised when I removed the paper - it's not so bad, really. You can see where the paper stuck to the wax, but I think it could be fixed with a little light fusing. I expected to see a big glob of wax...

But I think if the painting were in that melty stage (that allowed the paper to stick) and was somehow bumped or poked with something, the damage would be much worse.

So while I would never leave a painting in the car on purpose, this makes me feel better about shipping and transporting encaustic paintings, as long as they're packed well.

Other tips:
- ship overnight or second day
- never ship on a Thursday or Friday because the artwork might end up sitting in a warehouse over the weekend

More on packing and shipping here.

Now playing: Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Proposal

Today I'm working on getting out a couple of proposals for my "Beyond the Scrapbook" show. I'm happy that it was shown earlier this year, but I'd like to expand it and get it into a couple of more venues.

This time I included my resume, the proposal, 10 photos, an image list that corresponds to the photos, and a postcard from the previous show. This particular venue asked specifically for slides or photos. Otherwise I would have sent a CD.

I'm working on getting one out to another venue, but they want lots of really specific information like budgets for printing, shipping, catering, etc. It's stuff that I don't really want to think about, but I know it would be good practice to do.

As I mentioned above, I'm trying to expand the show since a couple of the original artists dropped out (one of them has even disappeared!). All of the artists are people that I know and went to school with, so I'd like to find some new people from different areas, especially from different cultural backgrounds.

So if you or anyone you know has some artist's books lying around that fit the definition of the show, please let me know. I don't actually need the book until we schedule a show, and then you can send the book directly to the venue.

Here's a brief summary of the show:
Beyond the Scrapbook features artists that remember, examine, and present family histories through the medium of book arts. The artists have each presented their family histories in very different ways. Some celebrate their past while others delve into the dark side of family memories. But each has used the medium of book arts to preserve the past and create a work of art that transcends the traditional scrapbook.

Now playing: Natalie Merchant - River
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I had a very productive day today. I worked on putting proposals together for the Waxy Buildup exhibit.
I made a few minor changes after I shot these images, but it's basically how it looks. I included our resumes, a CD, an image list that corresponds to the images on the CD, and a statement. This image shows a postcard, but I ended up not printing them because the prints off my computer scratch too easily. I want to get some professionally printed postcards to include in future proposals.

Each packet also includes a cover letter and a SASE.

There's one packet that I had to customize because the venue had really specific proposal guidelines. You have to do that sometimes, so it helps to be flexible.

I'm sending out 8 proposals tomorrow. Wish us luck!

I also entered my work in a couple of juried shows and put together a packet of my work to send to a curator.

I like days like this.

I've got some new stuff going on in my studio but I'll talk about that later. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with it.

Now playing: Building On Fire' - open on FoxyTunes Planet">Talking Heads - Love -> Building On Fire
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Body of Work

Deanna Wood - Poise, 12" x 12", collage, wax transfer, and encaustic

I finally completed the series of "Waxy Buildup" paintings that Trayc Claybrook and I collaborated on.

I'm working on a proposal now and we're going to send it out to art centers and galleries. Hopefully we'll get to show it somewhere.

Alyson Stanfield mentioned SlideShare on her blog the other day, so I thought I'd check it out. It's kind of like YouTube but for PowerPoint presentations. Normally, I try to avoid PowerPoint, but I did one for the proposal CD and thought I'd upload it. Check it out:

Despite my aversion to PowerPoint, I actually liked SlideShare. There are some examples of really well-designed presentations. You can also see some really atrocious ones, which is helpful in showing you what not to do. In fact, after looking at some presentations on the site, I redesigned mine to make it be more readable.

Now playing: Patty Griffin - Getting Ready
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Galleries Choose Artists to Show

Panel Discussion sponsored by the Greater Denton Arts Council. June 14, 2007

Nancy Whitenack from Conduit Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Marty Walker from Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Burt Finger from Photographs Do Not Bend, Dallas, Texas

The GDAC hosted an exhibition of emerging artists that are represented by galleries in Dallas (Denton is about 35 miles north of Dallas). They also hosted this panel and invited arts groups and art students from the area universities. I took notes and wanted to share them with you.

Nancy Whitenack:
Her gallery features two major spaces and a small "project room" where they show artists that they don't represent.
She sees the gallery/artist relationship as a journey.
She watches the artist change and brings the public around to the changes.
She picks artists instinctually.
She does studio visits and views juried shows.
She responds to work that she immediately resonates with and connects with - she has to love the work.
She tries not to overlap other types of work - not have two or more artists that do the same thing.
She likes work that examines a story in a different way.

Marty Walker:
Suggests that you take time to visit the gallery or website to see what the work looks like before you approach a gallery.
She sees several variables - she must like the work - the resume and exhibition history is important but not the final decision. She's willing to take a chance on an artist.

Burt Finger:
He looks for an artist that will add something to the gallery.
He thinks about his clients, not just what he loves.
Suggests that you do research on a gallery before you approach it.
He prefers artists who have work in major museums and who have a monograph.

What is the role of an alternative space?
Alternative spaces are important - Some recent grads are not necessarily ready for a commercial gallery. They're great for creating a community of artists and are important for experimental work (there were several artists present who are on the board of the 500X, a prominent alternative space in Dallas). But all of the gallery directors said that if they believe in an artist, they would be willing to show experimental work.

How should an artist approach a gallery?
If you're local, go to the openings and meet the gallery director.
Build up a relationship first.
Make a personal connection.
If you have work in a local show, ask them to visit to see your work.
Participate in major local juried shows (in this area it's the Contemporary, the MAC, Art House, Art in the Metroplex, TVAA, etc.)
Show work in non-art spaces to begin with - coffee shops, etc.

What makes you want to visit an artist's studio?
The artist has to be serious.
It helps to have built up a relationship.

What about exclusive contracts?
Marty Walker and Nancy Whitenack said that their contracts are usually just locally exclusive (if you show with them you don't show at another competing gallery in Dallas).
Burt Finger said that he prefers his artists to be exclusive to his gallery.

Other thoughts:
Most galleries will send out packets with info on their artists to museums and collections.
They all said that they didn't have any bias against self-taught artists.
If energy is happening in your studio then everything else will fall into place.
Don't expect to produce part-time effort and expect full time results.
Artist's recommendations are very important. They place a great deal of importance on recommendations from other artists.

Now playing: Red House Painters - Another Song For A Blue Guitar
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Annual Encaustic Conference, Part 5

Finally! The much-promised final chapter in the Encaustic Conference saga...

The final day of the conference (Sunday) featured some more demos in the morning. These are the ones that I chose to attend:

Encaustic Monotype by Paula Roland

Paula's work is featured in The Art of Encaustic Painting and a couple of my students have attended her workshop in Santa Fe, so she's a bit of a celebrity in the encaustic world.

She talked a bit about the teacher that she learned the monotype technique from, Dorothy Furlong Gardner, from New Orleans.

Paula has developed her own painting palette, seen here in the first photo on the right. The heat stays even all over and it's a light color to allow you to see the color of the paint.

The ideal temperature to have the palette set for monotypes is between 160 and 200 degrees. You'll get more detail at lower temperatures and more wax flow or saturation at higher temps.

Things to consider - temperature, type of paper, amount of wax, proportion and kind of pigment.

She uses 50% pigment and 50% medium for grittiness and texture and saturation.

It's easier to layer on thicker paper with thicker medium. Paper absorbency affects the outcome, too.

Often uses masa paper - a type of rice paper. Also uses kitakata paper, Rives BFK and other printmaking papers.

She will put dots of paint in the corners to indicate area to print. Apply paint to the palette and lay the paper down. Apply more paint and lay it down again to add more or to blend.

You can put the paper face up on the clean palette and blot with newsprint to take off some surface paint. You can use rice paper to blot and then use that to build up a print. While it's laying on the plate you can also draw into it with charcoal, pencil, add more encaustic... Graphite becomes fixed in the wax.

Silk flowers can be stamped into the paint on the palette and then stamped onto the paper when it gets saturated with paint.

Use wood block stamps.

You can block areas with newsprint on the palette.

Ghost image can be picked up with thin paper.

Create lines and shapes with dental floss, scrape with combs, rubber-tipped shaper tools, credit cards - anything that won't scratch the palette.

You can use a saturated print as a plate.

She showed some slides of other artist's work. One featured what she called "inlay" with a smaller piece of paper in a cut out hole of a larger piece. Scrolls - large rolls of rice paper printed with encaustic on both sides and worked back into with other media.

You can paint with watercolor on the un-waxed parts of the paper.

Recommends mounting a print to board with acrylic medium on the back (keep the back free of wax).

Way too much information for such a short demo! I'm sure she barely scratched the surface of what can be done with encaustic monotypes...

Encaustic Sculpture by Kim Bernard

I really like Kim's work and was hoping that she would talk about HER work, but she gave a presentation about several artists working 3-dimensionally with wax in some way.

I'll just list the artists that she talked about and a website if I can find one... You should look at their work. It's quite amazing.

Melissa Stern - NY

Sylvia Metzer - NY (her work is in the Mattera book but I can't find a website for her)

Lynda Benglis - NY/Santa Fe

Johannes Girardoni - NY/Austria

Nancy Azara - NY

Michelle Stuart - NY

Martin Kline

Wolfgang Laib - Germany

Text Pictures by Mary W. Hart

She showed various ways to incorporate text into encaustic, most of which involved collage.

Writing with ink on rice paper - when collaged into the encaustic the paper absorbs the wax and almost disappears.

She painted white gouache or chalk onto collage elements before adding the wax. The white will show up when it's waxed.

She used transfer letters (Letraset rub-on letters) and carbon paper.

Creates lines and rubs oil pastel or oil bars into the line. Wipes with walnut oil and fabric to remove excess.

Stencils - she creates stencils from transparency film.

Another interesting technique for collage materials - she painted words in white gouache on watercolor paper, let it dry and then covered it with waterproof in. Then she washed off the gouache and used it to collage into the encaustic.


That was it for the demos. There was a final closing session and some get-togethers but I had miss them because I had to rush to the airport.

One last travel story...
As I mentioned before, I was flying standby and all the flights were full for the next couple of days and I was worried that I would be stuck. As it turned out, I was able to get out of Manchester but I got stuck in Chicago. I considered spending the night in the airport but that's depressing and also way too much like camping, so I went to a nearby (probably over-priced) hotel. I got to the airport super early the next morning and finally made it to Houston and then finally to Dallas. Quite an ordeal! But hey, it was "free!"

So the conference was fun and very informative and definitely worth the trip. I'm hoping to make it again next year!

A request
If anyone else happened to attend any of the other sessions, I would love to read the notes that you took. I'm especially interested in the one by James Meyer (Jasper Johns' assistant), the panel discussion about Wax, Paints, Substrates and Grounds and the discussion about beekeeping - Wax in the Context of the Hive. I wish I'd had a couple of clones that I could have sent to all of the sessions!

Now playing: Whiskeytown - Everything I Do
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 4

OK, finally, more of the conference...

Note: I'm going from the notes that I took during the demos, so if you happened to be there and notice that I got something wrong, please let me know. Oh, and often there was more info, I just tended to write down the things that I didn't know already or that helped clarify some process...

It was really difficult to choose between the competing sessions, but here are the ones that I chose:

Textural Explorations by Lissa Rankin

Lissa's work is very textural with built-up areas of encaustic. She showed many different techniques for achieving these types of effects.

She began talking about her love of the blowtorch. She said that she only used a heat gun for a long time but then tried the blowtorch and has never gone back. She recommended the Iwatani CB-TC-PRO Butane Torch. It's a small creme brulle torch available from

Scumbling - to get built-up texture, she uses sort of a dry-brush effect, letting the brush strokes build up. She takes the encaustic paint off of the heat to cool a bit. She brushes a few layers before fusing since the fusing knocks down the texture a bit. She continues, sometimes working on a piece all day long.

Relief - using leaves, burlap, lace, etc. She heats the surface a bit and then flattens the material onto the surface. She paints medium on first and then paint. She then removes the material (you have to experiment to find the perfect time to remove it) and fuses to soften the edges. She uses a pigment stick on the edges to add color and dimension.

She makes her own medium with 80% beeswax and 20% damar resin.

Stencils - using mylar stencils or transparency film that she cuts her own stencils from. Preheat the surface a bit before applying the stencil. Brush on some medium and then the paint. She recommended using a heat gun because the blowtorch can sometimes melt the stencils. Fuse lightly then remove stencil (again, there's a perfect time to remove it). Fuse again to soften edges.

You can put the stencils in the freezer and the wax will break off and you can reuse the stencil.

She makes her own blending sticks with 4 parts linseed oil to 1 part beeswax.

She makes her own pigment sticks by mixing half of the blending stick with half powdered pigment and then pouring it into a muffin tin.

Elevated shapes - using masking tape (I believe she used the blue painter's tape), mask off an area and then brush on medium first. Brush on paint. Fuse lightly and remove. 1/4" thin making tape bends and makes curvy lines.

If you wipe off oil paint or pigment stick with linseed oil, she recommended cleaning that off with alcohol at the very end since it evaporates.

Molds (this is a little sketchy since she was rushing and I'm a little rusty on mold-making)
Paper clay - like papier mache - push object into it and leave it for a couple of days. Pull it up when dry. Glue it to the panel with matte medium on back.

Gray modeling clay - roll it out and put object in it (coat it with linseed oil first). Pull it up. Fill the cavity with wax. Let it set a bit and remove it. Use toothbrush and water to clean clay off. Preheat surface of the painting. Put wax piece on palette to melt a little and then put it on the painting.

Elemental Substances and Processes by Mari Marks

Mari's work is kind of minimal but also textural in a different way.

She had what seemed like a very time-consuming process but also sort of meditative.

She started with a panel that had a solid color of encaustic paint on it. She mixed artist's graphite powder with denatured alcohol. The alcohol dispersed the powder and enabled her to brush it on the painted panel. The alcohol evaporates and leaves the pigment. She then fused it under a lamp, moving the lamp very slowly. This seemed to allow the powder to melt into the paint. Sometimes the powder reacts with the paint to create interesting textures and shapes.

She mixes other powders with the denatured alcohol to create similar effects - ashes, red ceramic clay powder, plastic roofing cement, dry pigment.

Break Away from the Brush by Nash Hyon
I don't have a website for her, but click here to see some of her work.

She said that she rarely ever used any brushes. She applies paint almost exclusively with metal tools, using as-is or heating them for different effects.

Transfers - warm surface and apply copy face down, burnish, apply water and then scrub with a sponge or cloth. The toner will transfer onto the wax.

She mentioned something called Digi-Fab - digital silk - inks printed on clay-based paper that will transfer (I'm not sure if I wrote that down correctly).

Collage - when collaging paper, scrape with scraper to help it adhere and remove bubbles.

Metal tools - she had different metal tools such as a nail in a wood block - she would heat up the head of the nail and press into surface of the painting to create textures and shapes. Same with a piece of copper, metal screen tool, metal comb, paint brush cleaner, metal dog brush, ceramic tools, etc.

Iron - she recommended Reynolds non-stick aluminum foil - iron it to get texture.

Applying paint with metal tools - she used what she called "surface knives" for Venetian plaster that can be found in the decorative painting department at hardware stores (I found some at Lowe's). She would apply the paint and then smooth it out with the same tool. You can also heat up the tool and smooth the surface or drip paint off of the tool.

To create texture, she used it at a cooler temperature and let it kind of drag on the surface.

Those were the demos for the first full day. There were some the next morning that I will write about later!

To be continued...
Now playing: Ryan Adams - To Be Young
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 06, 2007

Plug - a couple of shows

I know I said I was going to post about the conference today, but I thought I'd just post this little plug...

I have work in a couple of local group shows:

Raged, 24" x 24", charcoal, oil, and encaustic

Visual Arts Society of Texas 19th Annual Juried Members Exhibition
Meadows Gallery, Center for Visual Arts, Denton, Texas
400 E. Hickory
Gallery hours: Tue - Sun, 1-5 pm
The show is up until August 27th

Inside, 24" x 24", collage, oil, and encaustic

Visual Arts Society of Texas Members
219 W. Oak, Denton, Texas
Open 7 days, 10 am - midnight
(try the tapas!)
The show is up until August 30th

Now I'm off to hang another show for the same group - I'm not in this one, just helping out. It'll be fun, too, because we're hanging it in the gallery at TWU, where I was a gallery assistant during grad school.

Now playing: The Velvet Underground - Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
via FoxyTunes

In Overwhelm

I'm used to having a lot to do. In fact, I like to be busy and to know that I have a lot of things going at once. But every now and then I feel overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes I think about everything that I need to do and I feel paralyzed by indecision. I'm not sure what I should do first.

One of the things I've been paralyzed about is this blog. I have so many things that I want to write about that I don't know which one to start with, so I don't write anything. I KNOW what I need to do - just do something - yet I find something else to do instead. I'm really good at avoidance techniques. As a result, my office is REALLY clean right now!

So this is my attempt at getting back on track.

First of all, I want to thank Joanne Mattera for plugging this blog on her blog. Joanne is a wonderful artist who is widely known in the encaustic painting world for her book, The Art of Encaustic Painting. But her blog contains a lot of excellent information - reviews of shows, information about art fairs, and thoughts about being an artist.

The next post will be the final post about the Encaustic Painting Conference that I should have posted a few weeks ago... Hey, I've been cleaning.

I wanted to mention an online art community that I just joined: I met someone at an opening that uses it. I don't know much about it yet, but it kind of looks like MySpace for artists. The art seems a little uneven but I guess that's to be expected. If you stop by, I'm enchiladaplate, as usual.

Now playing: Blondie - X Offender
via FoxyTunes