Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 3

OK, enough silliness - back to the conference report...

On Saturday, the first full day of the conference, I attended the morning panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Joanne Mattera and included Timothy McDowell (artist), Katherine French (curator), Richard Frumess (artist and founder of R&F Paints), Hope Turner (gallery owner), and Barbara O'Brien (curator and critic).

I found the discussion interesting and lively. I took some notes on the highlights:

On the fragility of encaustics - no one seemed to be concerned - just suggested that you have to be a little more careful. Tim McDowell related a story he'd heard about Anselm Kiefer - Kiefer's gallery person called him to let him know that the new owner of one of his straw paintings was staring at a pile of straw in their living room. Kiefer replied, "It must be beautiful."

Someone else mentioned that throughout history, wax has been used as protection and a preservative.

Encaustic lends itself to expressionism. Color can be entrapped in and bounce out of the layers of wax in the painting.

On encaustic painting as a ghetto or cult - most panelists agreed that the idea or formal image is the most important aspect of a work of art, not the medium chosen by the artist. The medium can be interesting but it is secondary (this idea was repeated several times).

Barbara O'Brien stated that art doesn't speak for itself, an artist has to educate the viewer.

Miles Conrad asked the panel if encaustic is seen as a medium used mostly by women. He has noticed an overwhelming majority of women artists entering his encaustic invitational every year. Someone on the panel suggested that perhaps women are more open to trying new media or are more willing to learn from other people (I have noticed, too - I've been teaching workshops for a year and a half and haven't had one male student...).

But historically, male artists had passed down the knowledge of the encaustic process - Brice Marden learned from David Aronson, who learned from Karl Zerbe...

On shipping encaustic work - Someone said that they use 1st or 2nd day FedEx and only ship on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to arrive on Friday. This eliminates the danger of the artwork sitting in a hot truck or warehouse over a weekend. Never use the US Post Office. Never put anything in contact with the surface. Use a crate within a crate. Someone suggested using Ethafoam. Tim McDowell says he usually ships overnight. He also suggested never to list the contents as "artwork." They won't pay the full insurance value on artwork. In the description line he writes, "hand-painted signs." They'll insure those...

On getting into galleries - Look at galleries in your area. Look at the gallery's stable and get a dialog going with the gallery director/owner. Produce a web page that focuses on your art. Keep it businesslike and easy to migrate through. Go to openings and network. Just because a gallery says no once, it's not final. Send them information later with new work and they'll often look at your work again. Don't give up. Gallery owners put a lot more weight to recommendations from their current artists.

Debra Ramsay

After the panel, Tricia Lazuka, Heather Harris and I walked over to see Hot Stuff, the juried group show of encaustic work. I took photos of most of the work and you can see it here. I'm working on finding the names for each work, so if you know who did any of them, please leave a comment.

To be continued...

Related links:
My Flickr set of the Hot Stuff show
Joanne Mattera's in-depth synopsis
Linda Womack's on-going report
Daniella Woolf's blog
International Encaustic Artists

Monday, June 18, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 2

on the Salem Ferry
On Friday, before the conference started, I decided to make a trip to Provincetown (on the tip of Cape Cod) to visit the Ernden Fine Art Gallery. They showed my work last summer for the first time and I hadn't been able to visit before. I didn't let them know I was coming because I honestly wasn't sure I would make it!

Joanne Mattera and Nancy Natale gave me some helpful travel tips and I was able to figure out a way to do it. I had rented a car since I flew into Manchester, NH, but in order to drive to Provincetown, I would have to go through Boston. Now, I had been to a conference in Boston a few years ago and had made the mistake of renting a car, so I knew that driving in Boston is a dicey proposition...

Ernden Fine Art Gallery, Provincetown, MA
So I got up early and took the ferry from Salem to Boston. From Boston, I took a ferry to Provincetown. I surprised Dennis, the gallery owner, when I showed up at the gallery. Of course I took some photos...

Ernden Fine Art Gallery, Provincetown, MA - my work is on the right
I was impressed with the gallery. Since one wall was mostly windows, they had built some portable walls to create more hanging space. I really like the work of the other artists that they represent. I feel like I'm in good company.

Another reason for the trip to Provincetown was to meet up with Mary Richmond, a blogger that I have corresponded with occasionally for a few months. She's a ceramic artist and painter and also a writer and naturalist. We had lunch and she drove me to the beach - it had been too long since I'd had my toes in the sand, and it was great to get a tour from someone who is so knowledgeable about the area.

Mary (l) and me (r)
My visit was far too short, because too soon I had to catch the ferry back to Boston. The ferry back to Salem wouldn't have gotten me back in time for the start of the conference, so I took the train. And in order to get to the train station, I had to take the subway. Luckily a nice woman in the ferry office looked up my route and told me how to do it (silver line to the red line to the orange line and then the train - during 5:00 Friday rush hour to boot).

I'm always so jealous when I visit a city with public transportation!

Anyway, I arrived at the conference at the beginning of Joanne Mattera's keynote presentation, so it worked out perfectly.

Joanne talked about the history of encaustic and some of the early pioneers of the encaustic process in the 20th century, expanding on the information in her book.

Here are a few of the notes that I scrawled:
The Fayum portraits -
The painters might have used bicarbonate of soda to mix their wax.
They were painted during a 300 year period.
Metal and gemstones were applied to the wax.
The gold leaf was most likely applied after the person's death to symbolize the passage to the next world.

There was a get together of the International Encaustic Artists after the keynote at one of the area hotels, but I was beat from my "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" type of day, so I decided to skip it.

I ended up going back to my hotel and grabbing a bite to eat in the hotel bar/restaurant. There was a "loud talker" in the group sitting next to me so I couldn't help overhearing their conversation. I thought at first that they were professors or something because they were talking about historic places to visit in England and then some kind of organization that they were in. After a while, though, I realized that they were witches!

Only in Salem...

Oh, I forgot to mention - the next day Dennis sent me an email saying that he had sold one of my paintings!

Release - 12" x 12" - collage, oil, and encaustic - SOLD!
Linda Womack blogged about her experience at the conference, too. Check out her blog, Embracing Encaustic.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 1

I'm still trying to digest everything that I learned at the conference. I thought I'd break it down into several posts to make it more manageable.

I arrived in Salem late on Wednesday night. My ex-husband works for Southwest Airlines and he was very generous to give me a free pass, which meant I had to fly standby (exciting in a nerve-racking sort of way). I had been invited to a reception at Joanne Mattera's house on Thursday evening, so I definitely wanted to be there in time for that.

Joanne was so gracious and warm. It was such a delight to meet her and see her beautiful home and studio. I was too shy to take pictures in her house but I got up the nerve to ask her if I could take some shots of her studio.

I got to meet and talk with several artists there -
Sandi Miot from California, who has produced a beautiful show catalog of her work (she used and recommended them highly). She does really dimensional work. I asked her a bunch of technical questions about her process, too.

Heather Harris from near Seattle, who made me very jealous because she's moving to Italy soon.

Daniella Woolf from California, who I didn't really get a chance to talk to but her work is really amazing. She pointed out that we have the same initials.

Kim Bernard from Maine, who does lush paintings and beautiful sculpture.

Nancy Natale from Massachusetts, who does beautiful abstract paintings. She also really helped me out with advice on getting to and around in Boston.

Paula Roland from Santa Fe, who teaches encaustic monotype workshops. I've had a couple of students that have taken her workshop and I was excited to meet her. I attended her demo and I'll talk more about that later.

Tricia Lazuka from Ohio, who does encaustic painting and monotypes and also works in ceramics. She and her husband had driven there from Ohio.

I met several other people there but don't remember their last names... I'm hoping they put out a directory of the attendees that will help jog my memory...

Here are shots of Joanne's studio:

I'm blogging about all my tourist-y sight-seeing activities on my personal blog, in case you're interested...

To be continued...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Travel Fatigue

I returned today from my trip to the Boston area where I attended the First National Encaustic Conference. It was so much fun - lots of great information, networking, and ideas. I'm overwhelmed.

It was so much fun to talk to so many people who understand what you do. I'm so used to having to explain what encaustic painting is. It was refreshing to just talk about what kind of work we do. And of course, we all shared with each other about our techniques and processes.

I'm going to go through my notes, sort through all the business cards and postcards that I picked up, and upload my photos. I'll post a report in the next couple of days once I sort it all out!