Paintings and boxes are moving in and out of the studio right now. It’s a busy month November and I’m happy that my work will be sprinkled all over the Bay Area! In between bursts of renting U-Hauls, getting sick and updating the website I’m beginning to think about my next series of paintings.
In my last post someone mentioned how amazing that violet painting could be if it were large. I agree. Large is exciting, monumental and commanding. But are they functional? Do they serve a purpose other than to delight the artist?
The people I’ve encountered seem to prefer mid size to small paintings in their lives. How many people can really put a 4 foot by 4 foot painting in their home? Or even larger? It’s like having a grand piano in your home. Either you play or you don’t.
Perhaps it’s a matter of knowing your trajectory.
I’m thinking about 2019; a year to reel it in, allowing the sensibility of encaustic to enlarge the space it resides. Like gas, it will fill its container.
What size do you think this painting is?
Would it be better appreciated if it were smaller or larger?
A few days ago, I removed the last large painting from the gallery space for Artspan San Francisco. I looked back and felt a wave of sadness. The room seemed cold and naked. Forgotten. A new show was going up so I knew it wouldn’t be empty for long.
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.
Studio Wildcat has been very relaxing and light filled lately. I divided my long table into two which means I have more floor space to work on. This really helps with the larger paintings. I’ll stay working this way well into the process. It’s always a bit scary exciting to lift them from the floor and lean them against the wall.
The palette has stayed true to orange but I’m highlighting it with greys and creams. I’m letting more of the process and unpainted areas show.
It’s like letting go of the wrinkle correcting cream.
PS: If you click on an image it will bring up a nice slideshow!