Entries Tagged as: encaustic

Family History in Your Art

September 8th, 2011, Comments (7)

This month's theme called to mind some of the pieces I've done relating to my own family history. While working intuitively and learning about encaustic art, I created a piece called "Memory Tree." It related to my family tree and my grandmother who at the time was suffering from Alzheimer's. She has since passed away.

I later created other memory trees in encaustic. I loved the medium, but didn't love the fumes (they gave me a headache), so I had to stop.

Family history, stories, memories, loss, and joys can be such a powerful place to draw from in your creations. What sort of family history could you pull from for your own creations?

p.s. My mother and sister are walking to raise funds for Alzheimer's research this fall in memory of my grandmother. If you feel called to, you can help support the cause here. Thank you!

Interview with Bridgette Guerzon Mills

May 22nd, 2009, Comments (14)

bgm innate

I'm so thrilled to be sharing an interview with artist, Bridgette Guerzon Mills. I absolutely love her creations! Her work fits so well with the Creative Every Day Challenge theme of nature this month. I know you'll be inspired by Bridgette's gorgeous art, the ways she connects with nature, and how that comes through in her work. Enjoy!

LPK: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

BGM: I am a self-taught mixed-media artist living in Chicago, Illinois with my husband, our 2-year-old son, and our dog.  I incorporate a variety of materials into my artwork, including photographs, oil paint, acrylic paint, and encaustics (wax-based pigments). I have always been drawn to the beauty and spirit of the natural world.  Through both imagery and medium, I create organic pieces that speak to the cycles of life, memory, and the passage of time. I layer paint and photo transfers, papers or fibers to create depth in both form and meaning.

LPK: How does nature inspire your artwork?

bgm where memory resides
where memory resides

BGM: I think nature has a strong hold on my psyche. I grew up roaming around outside, climbing trees and playing in mud. The imagery in my paintings always include something of the natural world - a tree, a plant, a bird.  The patterns and backgrounds that  I create are attempts to mimic nature's effect on surfaces through the passage of time and the elements. 

On a conscious level, I am always looking for and searching out the details of what is around me.  I think of myself as a sponge, absorbing the colors, surfaces, and emotions of what is around me - even when I am not aware of it. For example, when I lived in the Pacific Northwest my palette was very moody with different tones of grays and blues, reflecting the clouds and the water around me.  I have recently moved to Chicago and my palette has shifted to more earthy tones that include the rust and patina of the urban cityscape of my new environment.

LPK: I've noticed that like me, you seem to be drawn to trees and birds.  Can you tell me what these elements mean to you?

bgm origins

BGM: Ever since I was young, trees were my playmates, my sanctuary.  If my mom couldn't find me in the house, she would send my sisters to look for me in the branches of an ancient Magnolia tree!  As such, it is only natural that trees appear in my artwork.  Trees symbolize growth, life, roots and strength. 

It is interesting, though, that most of my trees are bare winter trees.  I think that I am attracted to bare trees because a bare tree is the essence of a tree pared down. To me, a bare tree represents the idea of strength being found in the bare bones. Trees have the ability to withstand anything that life and nature throw at them.  A tree often works metaphorically as a self-portrait in my work.

Birds are creatures of both earth and sky. Because of this, they often represent to me the go-between of the two realms.  Crows in particular appear in my work when I am speaking of dreams and/or visions.

LPK: Do you have any special places you go to gather inspiration?

bgm beneath the prairie
beneath the prairie

BGM: Anywhere!  Inspiration is about keeping your heart and eyes open to the beauty and the messages that surround us.  As a mother of a very active 2-year-old I am no longer in the studio full time as I used to be.  It is challenging because I do believe that inspiration is not something that appears out of nowhere, but rather in coming to work at your table or easel everyday.

However, I have found that in the moments between, I am constantly gathering information, experiences, inspiration from my everyday life.  I always try to have my camera with me at all times. When I do get concentrated studio time, it is like an eruption!

LPK: Are there any natural symbols that are especially powerful to you  right now?

BGM: Right now I am working on a series about prairie life and plants.  Working on this series has been instrumental in helping me adjust to my new home in the Midwest.  My work with this series has helped with both accepting where I am and embracing what is around me.

LPK: You create gorgeous journals for sale at amanobooks. What role does journaling play in your creative process?

bgm heartland

BGM: Journaling plays a huge role in my creative process.  When I first began to paint, I dedicated myself to journaling about each painting that I created, as well as studio notes for myself so I wouldn't forget the painting lessons I was giving myself! 

Little did I know when I started that process that I was essentially creating a dialogue with myself - putting words to what I was doing on canvas.  This dialogue helped me figure out my symbols and what I was trying to say with my paintings.  I believe that the process of journaling empowers my work and helps me hone in on my objectives.

LPK: Do you have a favorite quote you'd like to share?

BGM: I love quotes!  Here are some favorites:
"Art is not living. It is a use of living. The artist has the ability to take that living and use it in a certain way, and produce art."
~Audre Lorde

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." ~Pablo Picasso

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the Beautiful Stuff out." ~Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Bridgette, for all the inspiration! If you'd like to see more of Bridgette's work visit her at her blog, art website, or her art journal shop, amanobooks.

Do Art Not Dishes: How to Stop Avoiding Your Art Supplies in Four Steps

May 20th, 2009, Comments (17)

Three Muses

One of the biggest clues I get that I'm avoiding my art, is when I have some time to create, but all of the sudden I have an incredible urge to do the dishes, mop the kitchen floor, re-fold my laundry, or clean the litter box.

Now, if you love cleaning, doing dishes, or scooping out kitty poo, this may not be your clue. But anytime you're filling your art-time with things that don't really need doing in that moment, stop, take a breath and ask yourself, "Hey, what's happening here? Why am I avoiding my art?"

Doing distasteful chores is my clue that I'm in major avoidance mode, but there are sneakier ways I avoid. They're easy to fall into and oh, so time-consuming. For me, these sneaky avoidance tools include reading blogs, surfing online, and Twitter. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing any of those things, but you have to stay aware of when you're doing these things not just for fun, but as a way to stay just busy enough that you have no time to create.

O.k., so I've noticed myself avoiding. Now what?

First step: Do not beat yourself up

Beating yourself up over not creating will only lead to, you guessed it, more avoidance and less creating (followed by more beating yourself up.) Ouch. It's a vicious cycle and it's painful, so let's sidestep the berating yourself and move into the space of being gentle.

Second step: Gentle Noticing

Take a deep breath and gently notice the inner pulls that want to lead you into an activity of avoidance and then take a peek at why you're avoiding. There's usually some kind of fear there. A fear of not being good enough. A fear of making bad art. A fear of failure. (All totally normal, by the way.)

This may be enough for now. To just notice. You can then go on and do whatever avoidance tactic you were about to do (maybe you really do need to do those dishes!), but you'll do it in a conscious way. There's a big difference between choosing to do this activity instead of making art and doing an activity while unconsciously avoiding.

Step Three: You're Not Your Fear

After you've taken a gentle look at your fear, you may want to do some journaling about where this fear stems from. Ask yourself what is scariest to you and then see if you can determine some playful ways to work through them. 

One of my biggest fears is of not being good enough. When this fear comes up, I work through it by getting playful. Play can help quiet your inner critic to a whisper. Heck, you might even get your inner critic to play along with you. At a time in my life when my inner critic was particularly loud, I started having art picnics on my bedroom floor. I created a safe space in which to create freely and gave myself permission to make complete and utter crap. Lo and behold, this totally worked for me.

Once I got playing, I got into a creative flow, my confidence began to build, and I was creating freely again. The hardest part is often starting. If you can get through that, you'll be on your way.

Step Four: Commit to Your Creativity

If you find yourself getting into avoidance mode on a regular basis, it's extremely helpful to create a regular date with your creativity. You can do this on your own by scheduling time and putting it in your calendar (every day at 3 p.m. for the next month, I'll create for 30 minutes or every Saturday from 12 - 1, I'll work on my writing), you could make a date with an art pal or group of friends to create together on a regular basis, or you could take a class (I know when I pay for a class, it helps me keep my commitment to showing up.)

A student in my last Art Picnic class mentioned that if she hadn't been signed up for the class, she would have decided her day was too busy to create. But because she'd signed up, she showed up, and was so glad she'd taken the time for herself.

It's so easy to feel like we're just too busy, but creativity doesn't need wide expanses of time to flourish, it can come in little bits. And when we make time for our art, whatever that may be, we feel so much more alive.

So for today, forget the dishes and get creating.

p.s. The next Art Picnic class has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 17th from 8 - 10 pm EST. I'll be posting more details soon, but in the meantime, you can learn all about it and sign up right here.

Weekend Show and Tell

May 18th, 2008, Comments (6)

My computer has been one hassle after another lately. This weekend the power cable started to melt. Glad I noticed it before it started a fire or something. I looked it up online and apparently it's been a big problem with the magsafe power adapter on Macbooks (even on the Apple website, it's rated just 1.5 stars out of 5.) But seriously, within a few months my keypad stopped working, my hard drive completely died and now the cable is fried. From what I've read you can go to any Apple Store with your wrecked cable and they'll give you a new one and I have the Apple Care extended warranty, so I'll be all set, but I'm not pleased. I think this is the first Mac product that I've had any complaint with though. I still have an older iMac, the hubster uses a Mac at home and work, I've owned an ibook before with no trouble, and we have a variety of ipods. I've always been a Mac fan, but this Macbook is starting to annoy me. Hopefully this will be the last of its troubles for the near future.

The upside of a computer problems is that I'm on the computer less and yesterday I really had no time to be on the computer, except to check my email in the evening, because I took an all day workshop in encaustic painting (so fun!) with Tracy Spadafora. Tracy was a fabulous teacher and I learned a lot. I have done some encaustic work before as I had a brief introduction in a mixed-media workshop last year and I've read Joanne Mattera's excellent book, The Art of Encaustic Painting. But the intro I had wasn't all that in-depth and I couldn't figure out some of the techniques from just reading about them. I needed to see it and then try it myself. I was especially excited to learn how to incise into the wax because I especially love to draw and this is a great way to work with the medium. I started with a purely experimental 8"x10" clayboard (above) and tried some of the layering techniques, some incising and some painting with color. I love the depth created by layers of wax! Then I started a smaller 6"x6" piece (below) that's not quite done (ran out of time), but I like a lot so far. I used a heat gun to fuse one of the layers and it created this cool separation between the medium and color which I liked. When I looked at it after it had cooled I thought it looked like a brain. The silhouette isn't very clear from a distance, so I'll be filling that in with oil or wax another time.

At the end of the day, I had a massive migraine developing, so driving home was not fun and I had to go immediately into a dark room and sleep it off. There was fresh air blowing through the studio and exhaust fans, so I don't know if it had anything to do with the fumes or if it was just a migraine (which I get from time to time.) Hard to say. I'll have to keep an eye on that when I work with encaustic again. Luckily, I found the cure for migraines.

Today the hubster and I had a wonderful hike through the woods on a new-to-us nature trail. It was beautiful out and loads of people had their super happy dogs with them. When I got home I felt so beat! Thought about napping, but that isn't going to happen, so instead rested a bit and then tried making a repeating pattern using instructions from Julia Rothman on Design*Sponge. Very cool. Hope you're having a fabulous weekend, full of creative goodness!


April 18th, 2008, Comments (13)

Art journal pages. Another scribbled intuitive drawing and a collage with some writing on it that says, "everything outside is blooming. i want to bloom too." Speaking of blooming...here are those lovely ranunculus flowers I mentioned yesterday.

I worked on a small encaustic painting today. It was so gorgeous out that I brought my encaustic tools out onto the porch and put this together with wax, tissue paper, and textured paper for the two crows on a 6"x6" panel. It was inspired by a photo I took while at Artfest.

I started using an old iron with the encaustics and like it much better than the hot air gun. Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day and I plan to take advantage.

I hope you all have a wonderfully creative weekend!

If you needs some inspiration, check out what these Creative Every Day participants have been up to!

  • Hanna has been making some beautiful stencils, one of them was one of the coolest happy accidents I've seen in awhile!
  • Valerie has made a gorgeous box out of coasters.
  • Cris has a lovely painting in progress of sheep in a field.
  • Mrs. Pivec has a stunning mixed-media piece that sings spring.

And there's so much more to see. Go take a gander at what people are up to!

Inspiration Galore

March 20th, 2008, Comments (10)

I'm working away on some inkblots and prepping for the art lesson on Saturday. In the meantime, I'd love to share some inspiration with you! Oh, and speaking of inkblots, Tammy asked about the medium used to create them and she was right on. They're actually made with acrylic paint. So I suppose I should be calling them paintblots! :-) I loved reading what you saw in the inkblot/paintblot by the way! So great! I'm working on that one too, so soon you'll see what I saw! Now, on the the inspiration!

-I loved this Craftcast podcast with Christine Kane. I mention Christine's blog posts a lot on this blog because she always has such great inspiration to share. I loved hearing the interview with her and how she described creativity as something that can be found anywhere and everywhere. I couldn't agree more!

-I'm sure many of you have heard about Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team challenges. If not, do check them out! Michelle has such great style and energy. You can't leave her site without some inspiration. The latest challenge is about creating your own stamps. I did this last month and it was so fun! Be sure to check out the list of participants of this latest challenge to see some fabulous stamps such as Kim's and Kathy's! And speaking of stamps, I totally loved this foam stamp tutorial from Bridget of The Matchbook Blog.

- Claudine Hellmuth has a great video tutorial on her blog about doing transfers. I especially like the look on metallic paint!

- For some business inspiration, be sure to check out the blog, The Boss of You, which is all about women run businesses. The authors of this blog have a book coming out by the same name and you can now download (for free) the intro and first chapter. The first chapter has some great exercises about determining your business goals, your personal measure of success, and your strengths and weaknesses. I found it to be very helpful and I'll definitely be checking out the book when it comes out.

- For some business inspiration with an art twist, check out this site which has some great articles about getting your art out there.

- For some inspiration in the kitchen, check out this delicious smashed potato recipe. Super simple, super delicious. And they were a big hit with the hubster too, which is something cause he's definitely the better cook in the relationship. :-)

- Lastly, check out the amazing student work from Judy Wise's encaustic classes with high school students! Wowzers. Great stuff!

Hope you found some inspiration here!

Art, Risk-Taking and Breakthroughs

March 19th, 2008, Comments (19)

So my laptop is back. The trackpad was busted and now it's working, however it's ultra sensitive now, sometimes clicking on things when it shouldn't. Grr. Hopefully it will settle down.

I've had a busy few days. I received an email newsletter about the upcoming full moon which said that this particular full moon was full of signs of transition, big changes, courageous leaps and I kind of feel that. Spring always brings about that feeling for me too, so who knows what it is, but I like the energy.

In the realm of courageous leaps, I've got my first private art lesson this weekend and I'll be instructing a mother and her two kids in an hour of mixed-media fun. I've envisioned teaching as part of my life plan, but I've been afraid to jump into it. So, I'm excited and nervous about this beginning. I've also put in a couple proposals for classes at a local recreation center, so we'll see how that goes too!

Yep, still loving those inkblots. I did about seven ink blots in my little hand book yesterday, so that I'd have a bunch to play with in the future. I decided to take some quick before shots, so you can see the before and after results. There's one above. What do you see in it?

I also finished a piece of artwork that's been taking forever...like over a year to complete, mainly because it was a gift for a special person and I wanted it to be just right. And the idea of "just right" scared me from getting started for a long time and then I ran into some technical difficulties, but finally, I figured it all out and I totally love it. Hopefully she will too!

This gift is for someone who may check in here on occasion, so if a certain best friend is reading this, do not click below or you'll ruin the surprise! :-)


Art Day One – Women of the Forest

November 1st, 2007, Comments (20)

This piece was started spontaneously with no big goal in mind, but it ended up very far from where it started. I wanted to do something in encaustic which I've only had a brief introduction to, but which I'm very interested in. On a wood panel, I painted on the wax, fused it with a heat gun, let it cool and then tried to do some transfers with photocopies. I had some problems with the transfers though. The first few I tried didn't come out at all. I'm not sure what I did differently, but it made me take the whole thing in a new direction. I tried another transfer with a little more success. I started working on it then with one large tree trunk in which the women lived, but they later became part of separate trees. From the start I had the idea of the past encaustic pieces I've done in the past that had to do with Alzheimer's, memory, my grandmother and family trees. These women are not from family photos, but they made me think of my grandmother's sisters and how she's the only one to suffer from this disease. I used oil stick to apply color and carved into the wax to create the trees.

It's 8"x10" on cradled panel. This happens so often where the end result is so far from the starting point. It's always best when I can let go and go with the flow, to let go of my expectations and let what wants to come, come. Sometimes, that takes practice and sometimes it takes knowing that I can toss it if I hate it in the end. I do enjoy the surprise of what comes when I let it though!

Happy Art Every Day Month to all you creative folks out there!!

Hey, some long delayed art!

September 6th, 2007, Comments (21)

Capturing and cropping and posting art is such a pain in the bum! :-) But here we go. I've got an 8"x8" encaustic piece above. This piece was done by spreading wax on wood panel, doing a transfer from a photocopy of an old lace pattern and then carving into the wax to make the tree and then using oil stick in black to define the lines of the tree and darken some of the background. This is the second piece in a Memory Tree series I'm planning to make about Alzheimer's, which my grandmother suffers from. In the first one, I had images of the brain and the tree which relates to a family tree and also reminds me of the neural pathways of the brain. In this piece and some future ones, I'm planning to use transfers of lace patterns which make me think of my grandmother and also relate to the intricate patterns of the neural pathways in the brain.

While super busy with wedding stuff, I haven't always had time for involved art projects, so my solution for everyday creativity has been lots of drawing in pen or pencil on big pieces of watercolor paper or little pieces of scrap. I'll post loads of sketches later on.

Today, worn down with a cold, I felt pretty crappy, but my spirits were raising by the evening. With some good chats under my belt, I was starting to unwind more and more. And I'm also very excited about two retreats in my future. One this weekend is a mini art retreat at Jes of Junque Revival's farm in Maine. I was so lucky to meet many wonderful women at Mindy's open house a few months ago and right off the bat we made plans for a mini retreat complete with art making, good food, wonderful company, and antiquing! Yay! I think this will be just the getaway I need.

And on top of that I sent off my registration form for Artfest 2008. I've never been and since I'm missing out on Just Be Connected in October, I was really itchin to do a creative retreat too! I would have been teaching at Just Be, but the venue we picked for our wedding left us with the same weekend open, so I couldn't do it. I know Just Be will be a wonderful time and I wish I could be in both places at once! I will certainly be thinking of all the Just Be people on my wedding weekend and I hope you'll all send good wedding wishes my way while you're out having fun on the Cape! Artfest isn't til April, but apparently it books up mad quick, so it's good I was paying attention this year. I'm super excited as I know I'll meet some great creative folks and take some fantastic classes and I may extend my trip a little bit and make a full week of retreating out of it. I've never really done anything like this for art, so it's exciting and special. People get crazy with swaps and stuff at Artfest and there are whole discussion boards made for planning these things. It's a little overwhelming, but still I think it will be fun. Ok, time for bed. Ciao for now.