Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Commission, Part 3

I wanted to blog about the other pieces I created for my commission, and this is the second on that I worked on.

The original piece is two 12" x 12" panels that I created about 5 years ago, while I was in grad school.

If I remember correctly, the panel on the left has white paper and a color copy of clouds glued to the surface. I drew the triangles with oil pastel and did a solvent transfer of the telephone pole from a copy. The right panel is similar - white paper, oil pastel, and a solvent transfer. Except I can't remember how I made the transfer on the right so much lighter...

So they wanted this piece to be 48" x 66". Since the original was a diptych, I decided to do this piece on 2 panels as well, so the panels ended up being 48" x 33".

This piece was by far the most difficult. Nothing worked out the way I had originally planned it. Plan A was to glue down a color copy of clouds, do solvent transfers of the telephone poles onto the panels, paint clear wax on, collage in a large piece of tissue/rice paper with the triangles and words, and then add some transparent blue wax.

Well, the large copies that I had made for me wouldn't transfer with the solvent. I had done a test with a copy I already had and it worked. So maybe they changed the type of machine they used or they type of toner, or something. But it worked as a transfer directly onto the wax (without solvent), so I decided that I would do that.

Lots of other things didn't work, either. The large color copy was way more than I wanted to spend, so I got a black and white copy and colored it with colored pencil.

I also had a problem collaging in the paper. The only paper that I could find that was large enough to cover the whole panel was apparently not absorbent enough, because it didn't soak into the wax like I needed it to. It just made a big wrinkly mess.

And the transparent blue wax didn't work. As I mentioned before, working large in encaustic is definitely a challenge. I couldn't get the surface to look smooth and even like I wanted it to. I just didn't like the way it looked. So I scraped it off. From both panels.

So on to Plan Q...
Here you can see how I transferred the words to the right panel. That's the tissue paper that I was originally going to collage in. I used blue transfer paper to get it on the panel. Then I wrote over it with a blue colored pencil.

I then covered both panels with clear encaustic medium. It was much easier to get the clear wax smoother. Or maybe the unevenness just wasn't as noticeable with the clear.

Here are the panels with several layers of clear wax added.

So then I did the transfers. I have good transfer karma, for some reason. I have friends that have tried and tried to do transfers (solvent or wax), and can't do them at all. So these large transfers weren't hard, just time consuming. The paper really stuck to the wax, so most of the labor involved wetting and rubbing the paper off.

Here's what it looks like after I've burnished the transfer and I'm rubbing away the paper that has stuck.

And here are both pieces with the tranfers. I couldn't really make the one on the right lighter like it is in the original, but I tried to make it rougher and less dark. I even sanded away a little bit of the toner.

Instead of using the blue wax, I decided to rub a thin layer of oil paint onto the surface. I scratched the triangles and the houses into the surface using a needle tool and rubbed the oil paint into the scratched lines, and then continuing over the whole surface. If it got too heavy, I would add some linseed oil to a paper towel and rub some of the oil off.

And here's the final piece. I like the way it came out, even though I think it's different than the original.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Commission, part 2

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I was commissioned to create a piece similar to the piece pictured above, but in a much larger size.

The original bird pieces were 20" x 16" and the painting in the center was 12" x 12" and they wanted the final piece to be a triptych, each 45" x 17".

I had some 45" x 17" birch panels created by a local woodworker, and then made my plan of attack.
The original bird piece on the left is also on a wood panel. I had brushed on some clear encaustic medium, and then collaged the birds in (cut out of black paper). I painted the red birds on top using oil paint.

The bird piece on the right is similar, but the red birds are drawn on the board with colored pencil, clear medium was added, and then I collaged in the birds cut out of black paper.

The piece in the center was created while I was in grad school, but luckily I still have it, so I could look at it. I had stretched raw canvas over a board and then wrote using oil pastel and I did a solvent transfer of the telephone pole directly to the canvas and covered it with clear encaustic medium. I think I then carved lines using a needle tool and filled them in with oil paint. Then I covered it with a layer of orange-ish medium. That may not be right, but that's my best guess. It was five years ago, after all!

I was a little hesitant to do a transfer of the telephone pole, since the other elements were more hard-edged. So I decided to paint it directly onto the panel using gouache.

Since I hardly ever throw anything away, I still had most of the original imagery that I had used in the original pieces. So I enlarged some copies and used carbon paper to transfer it to the panel. Then I painted it in with black gouache and did the lines using a Sharpie.

I did similar things for the other 2 panels with the birds. On one I painted the birds with black gouache and cut out red paper, and the other I painted with red gouache and cut out black paper. I ended up removing some of the cut out birds so each set of birds and trees didn't look exactly the same.
So in the photo above, on the left panel, the birds are painted in black gouache and the red is cut paper, and on the right panel, the red is gouache and the black is cut paper. So that's what it looked like before I added any wax.

I found this ginormous hake brush at Jerry's Artarama in Austin. It's helpful to scale up your brushes when you scale up your work. And although these pieces are tall, they're not really terribly much bigger than my other work, so it wasn't too hard to get a nice, even surface on these.

I brushed on a few layers of encaustic medium and fused with a heat gun. Then I added the cut paper and collaged it in using some more medium. Here's an image of the pieces with all the wax added.

I really like the way it looks here, but I knew that it wasn't exactly what the client had asked for. After conferring with my friend, we agreed that I should make the middle panel look more like the original (more orange-y), so I scored lines into the wax using a needle tool, and added some reddish-orange oil paint, rubbing it into the scored lines and also leaving a little bit of paint on the surface.

So here's the final piece:

I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

Here's a shot of the piece installed in the spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa!:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


OK, I'm not going to go on and on about what a bad blogger I am...

I have been busy, though. I just completed my very first commission! I'm very excited about it. It was a real challenge, but I enjoyed it very much.

I got the commission through a friend. She was bidding on a large hotel project and needed more artwork, so she asked her artist friends to submit their work. So I sent her links to my Flickr sets of 3 painting series, Palimpsest, Seeking Shelter, and Waxy Buildup. She included several pieces in her presentation, and they chose 4 pieces.

The first one is actually a triptych made of one of the Seeking Shelter pieces and two of the Palimpsest pieces. An interesting combination that I wouldn't have thought of.

The original bird pieces were 20" x 16" and the piece in the middle was 12" x 12". The piece they commissioned is 3 panels measuring 45" x 17".

So I needed to recreate this piece in that new size. They don't expect it to be exactly like the original, but similar style, colors, etc.

The second piece was originally 12" x 24" (actually two 12" x 12" panels) and they wanted it reproduced 48" x 66". I ended up doing it on two 48" x 33" panels, since it had been a diptych to begin with.

The third was originally 12" x 12" and they wanted it 43" x 43"!

And the last was also originally a 12" x 12" and they commissioned it at 31" x 41".

All of the pieces are encaustic. And if you've ever done large-scale encaustic painting, you know what a challenge it is. I'd never done anything this large before. And I'd also never tried to reproduce my paintings before. So it was quite a challenge!

Some specific challenges:
-Many of these pieces were created 4 or 5 years ago, and I don't have them any more, and I barely remember how I made them. I can now really appreciate those crazy, anal-retentive artists who make copious notes about their colors and processes!

-I used a lot of collage elements that are difficult to scale up to a larger size - maps, transfers, cut paper, etc. Also, one piece has a lot of scraping on it. It was 12" x 12" and the marks are made by a regular sized paint scraper. Hard to reproduce that affect on a 43" x 43" piece!

-I find it really difficult to get a smooth surface with encaustic at such a large size.

I'll go into more detail in future posts about each piece and show lots of work in progress shots. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Summer Object Challenge

I joined a Bee Team project called the Summer Object Challenge. Those who signed up were paired with a partner who sent them an object to use in an encaustic piece.

Melissa Hronkin sent me a lovely little red doily and some contact sheets from someone's wedding photos, probably from the 50's. This is what I was inspired to create:

To Have, To Hold
collage, foil transfer, and encaustic
12" x 12"

I couldn't bring myself to mess up the contact sheets, so I made copies and glued them to the board. Then I covered the board with clear medium and embedded the doily in the wax. Then I used some gold embossing foil (that a student gave me) - writing on it to transfer the foil to the wax.

detail of the doily

Oh, and there's me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Encaustic Center

Deanna Wood and Bonny Leibowitz are proud to announce the opening of The Encaustic Center in Richardson, Texas. Our focus is sharing the beautiful art of painting with wax in all of its various forms.

The Encaustic Center
offers beginner and intermediate workshops and studio workdays along with special events such as demonstrations, exhibitions, guest artists, supplies and our big Grand Opening May 15th!

Check out our website to see more information on classes and events going on at the center.

If you're in the area, I hope you can make it to the Grand Opening on May 15, 7-10 pm. There will be artists from TexasWAX/Dallas doing encaustic demos, music, and more.

Workshop schedule:
$100 (includes all materials)

Thursday, April 30 - 9:30 am to 3:30 pm - beginner workshop with Deanna
Saturday, May 2, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm - beginner workshop with Bonny
Saturday, May 23, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm - intermediate workshop with Deanna
Thursday, May 28, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm - beginner workshop with Deanna

See Deanna's work at www.deannawood.com
See Bonny's work at www.bonnyleibowitz.com

The Encaustic Center
580 W. Arapaho #271
Richardson, Texas 75080



Sunday, March 01, 2009


(a version of this is also posted on Make28)

During yoga class the other day, my teacher was talking about the theme for the week - finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. She said something about "connection," and that stuck with me. During the rest of the class, I thought about the concept of connection as it relates to Make28.

Make28 is a project that was dreamed up by my online friend, Consumatron. He set a goal for himself to create a video every day in February, and he challenged everyone to join him by making something every day as well. So a few of us joined in and have also been making stuff - food, paintings, videos, drawings, journeys, enemies, music...

This project has created many connections, the most obvious being the connections we made with each other. I've really enjoyed seeing what everyone's made, how they interpreted the concept of "making," and glimpsing a little bit of everyone's creative processes. I love to see how other people work, create, and solve problems, even in different disciplines.

In Fearless Creating, Eric Maisel mentions the importance of getting together with other artists. "If you are a novelist, when do you meet with painters, dancers, musicians, and filmmakers to talk about your mutual concerns? When do you meet to discuss selling art, managing depression, or surviving as a truthful witness in America? My estimate would be never. This is really too bad. ...you will surely suffocate if you live in a vacuum."

I think projects like Make28 can be an important part of a creative life, creating connections with others working on different things, but with the same goal.

During these 28 days, I've also made some less obvious connections. Just the act of sitting down and making something every day has helped me to connect more with my creativity. Even if what I made wasn't that great or if it's not related to bigger things I'm doing, I know that what I'm making now will inform something else that I make in the future.

Here's a collection of the things that I made during February:

You can see more in my Flickr set. And the whole Make28 Flickr pool.

How do you make creative connections?

Oh, and Make28 will continue, so feel free to join in!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Being part of the Make28 creativity challenge, has made me focus on making something every day. And that's got me thinking about creativity and all its forms.

So I've been extra sensitive to information about creativity and of course, I start seeing it everywhere, or at least I start paying attention.

I thought I'd share a couple of videos with you. They've been making the rounds, but perhaps you haven't seen them yet.

This is from Atlanta based editorial photographer, Zack Arias:

And this is a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert:

I'll be posting more soon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Make 28

One of my online friends, Consumatron, has started a "make something every day" challenge for February, called Make 28:

So watch the video for inspiration and then make something. Anything. And then send him a link to what you make. Go to consumatron.net and leave a link in the comments. Send him an email at consumatron at gmail.com. Or follow him on Twitter.

Here's a preview of what I've been making so far:

You can see more on Flickr.

So what are you going to make?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Whine of the Week

I've been unmotivated and even more prone to procrastination lately. I've been complaining about it and moping around and procrastinating even more. But of course I know what I need to do.

I guess it always goes back to fear - fear of failure - fear of looking stupid. I always let my perfectionist tendencies get the best of me. I want things to be right, and if something can't be perfect, then I tend not to do it at all.

Blah blah blah...

So I'm hoping that maybe posting about it will help snap me out of it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exhibit in Oklahoma!

reception at the Leslie Powell Foundation Gallery, January 10, 2009

I can't believe I forgot to post this!

My solo exhibit, Seeking Shelter, is on display at the Leslie Powell Foundation and Gallery in Lawton Oklahoma until February 28, 2009.

It's probably the last time I'll exhibit this work all together in this form. I still want to continue this series, but I don't know that I'll actively pursue exhibitions with it any more. It's already been in several venues across the country - Kansas, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, and 2 venues in Oklahoma.

As you can see from the first photo, I installed a miniature version of my hanging spiral tornado. The full version includes almost 200 small tornadoes. This one only has about 30.

If you're near Lawton, please stop by and check it out!