This is the post that was almost forgotten in the midst of preparing and setting up for Artspan San Francisco Open Studio.
Day one of the weekend is behind me and in an hour or so I’ll head out to San Francisco for Day 2.
Events like these are similar to surviving crashing waves. You know they’re coming. You’ve been watching them build up momentum far off in the distance. There is eagerness to play yet uncertainty of the growing power. Curiosity keeps you rooted.
I’m still in the crashing wave right now. Soon there will be a receding silence where the gems, keepsakes and treasures will surface. I’ll carry them back into the studio to rinse them off and take a closer look.
A thank you to my old and new friends for visiting me yesterday. You’re in my treasure box!
The encaustic workshop is behind me and I’m getting ready for Weekend One of ARTSPAN SF Open Studio. It’s crunch time which means I’m saying no to most invitations. I’ve even put the dancing and workouts on hold. I’m focused on selecting work, finishing edges, wrapping and boxing paintings in order to be ready on Thursday for the U-Haul delivery to SF. Phew.
Oh, and there’s a painting I need to deliver to the juried show at San Francisco Women’s Art Gallery. Tomorrow.
Fortunately I’m good at planning and all I need to do is do my To_Do list. Let the list absorb the tension of juggling perhaps too many balls. Or maybe you remember those plate spinners who run from stick to stick giving each a little spin to keep the plates from falling. That’s how this week feels. Spin, spin. Spin, spin. Eyes ahead.
This strategy paid off when this I received an email this week from The Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton asking if I’d exhibit some of my work in their lobby gallery. When? ASAP.
I’m realizing the benefits of having systems in place to be able to move quickly and spin multiple plates. Within two days the work was delivered and on the walls. By the third day the Center had my work and information on their website and in their marketing loop.
What a pleasure it was to work with others who have systems in place and follow through with the talk.
Four. The perfect number to sit around my large studio table and explore the mysteries of encaustic painting.
I’m in the middle of teaching my weekend encaustic painting workshop. Step by step, course by course we’re learning various applications and techniques particular to this medium. Many are curious but few attempt this old, hot mixture.
It’s a simple set up but different than an oil and acrylic studio. The mindset is of cold/hot rather than dry/wet materials. I always think people who gravitate towards encaustic have a unique sensibility. Encaustic requires patience and the ability to tolerate trial and error.
It speaks to people who say:
I don’t know. Let’s find out!
Day one is done and today we’re moving on to encaustic on paper. I’m bring out the hotbox, (designed by Paula Roland), the spray paint, the Japanese paper, barons, gel medium and more panels. The electrical outlets have been tested and we’re good to go. I have my lesson plan and know what I’d like my students to learn. The rest is out of my hands.
Encaustic has taught me to let go of control and be nimble when surprises happen. No force. Re-position yourself and let the wax flow!
The teacher in me gets to come out this month. I’m preparing for one of my small group encaustic workshops. With 17 years of public school teaching in me it’s hard to let go of creating a learning environment for others.
A question I’m often asked from people interested in taking the class is
What kind of experience do I need?
I smile and respond, “None at all!”
It seems like a silly question for me until I realize I ask the same question when I approach something new. It could be a dance class, music lesson or an art fair; any endeavor where other people are involved and a perceived judgment situation exists. I’m aware of not wanting to be lesser than, a burden to the class or teacher or embarrassed by my lack of knowledge or experience. I suppose I want some reassurance from the instructor that I’ll fit in and be accepted by the group.
Despite these assurances there is always a tremble in my legs or in my stomach. Now I know from my work with the Chakra Series, that the location of the pain is associated with an energy center (chakra) in your body. A tremble in my legs means I’m not feeling stable. I can’t find the ground and there is a disconnect. So I put on a pair of red pants and breathe into the Earth. I know this sounds all wooey, but it works. It helps my mind focus on an action oriented solution rather than dwelling on the fear. Deep breathing acts like a drain cleaner for the body; pushing out the collected gunk.
And yes I’ve been in situations where my experience is greater than the level of instruction. I can choose to get upset, pull boredom into my being or leave. Truth. I’ve done all of those things. The challenge is to flip that mentality. Fact. The greats of anything always practice the basics of their field. Or, I could help another in her learning which always satisfies me and deepens my learning. These situations are more of an emotional ego challenge than a technical one.
I think about all of this when I prepare my classes. I create a space of teaching and learning where we can do our private work in public.
As Philip Pullman writes in Part 1 of his new trilogy The Book of Dust:
“Asta became an owl and perched on the prow, her feathers shedding the water in a way she’d discovered when she was trying to become an animal that didn’t yet exist.”
PS: I have one spot left for my workshop on September 29 and 30. Email me if you’d like to join us or get on the workshop list for the next one.
…a little break from the studio to focus on my other life long journey. Mr. First. Remember him?
I spent 4 days away from the art studio to be immersed in the horse studio. The skills from one studio easily transfer to the next. Once respect has been cultivated there is an allowance for mistakes, questions and leaps of faith. Art. Horse. Dance. Music. It’s about getting into your bubble and working from the inside out to create that color, sound or movement.
One practice sheds light on the other. Through the horse I build patience in my painting and remember to breathe and lighten up when things aren’t quite right. That rightness has a feeling, an intuition which crosses all platforms. A little thread that only now after many years on the planeta I see I’ve been pulling along studio by studio.
As a leader in the horse dance, I need to lead! I set the pace, direction and form. But here’s the gem.
There has to be an invitation.
An agreement. We each play a role in what we create today.
“Would you like to dance with me today?” I ask First.
I wonder how it might be if we approach the art studio in the same way. Can we enter the studio and take a moment to look around and honor all that we’ve created; the good and the not so good. Perhaps we can show a little respect and sweep the floor before we get to work to develop a direction and rhythm.
Within each painting is an invitation to dance. To play. To bend and be effortless.