Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays

origami gift box (my son is very into origami and has to show me how to do the top part every time...

I feel like an elf - I've been busy making presents this year.

There are several reasons for this -
1. I really like making things
2. I can't really afford to buy much
3. I don't really want to buy much
4. I decided to make or buy handmade items whenever possible

I'm sure you're like me and you enjoy creating things. I made a bunch of my collage boxes for a gallery in Fort Worth recently. While I was making them, I listened to a bunch of my backlog podcasts - specifically This American Life. In one episode, Meet the Pros, David Rakoff talks about how he loves to make stuff and he wonders if he could love it as much if it were his job. He makes things for his friends but he's afraid that it must be like having a fitness-loving friend come over and do 25 push-ups in your living room and then say, "Happy Birthday!"

All I can hope for is that the recipient can feel the love that went into the creation of the gift. It would be a bonus if they actually loved the gift itself.

Anyway, here are some of the things I've been making:

Shrinky Dink pins for Tracey (inspired by wee wonderfuls)

Recycled bow made from strips of a magazine (inspired by Simply Green)

Tag/card (inspired by Lisa Solomon) - I had a ton of green paint chips left over from my son's room - I promise I didn't steal these for this project!

Sisters, 12" x 12"
Collage on panel with Lazertran, paper from Rag & Bone, solvent transfer, and gold colored pencil.
My mom asked me to make this for my cousin - these are her daughters. I finally used some Lazertran that I've had for about 3 years.

Another "commission" from my mom - she asked me to make a book from the same photos of my cousin's girls. I made a little flag book with some more Rag & Bone paper...

Detail of inside the book.

Another detail (that photo on the bottom in the center cracks me up every time).

Colleen's tote (inspired by the library tote from The Crafter's Companion)

Detail of embroidery on tote.

So as you can see, it's been busy and varied. Sewing, painting, collaging, bookmaking, Shrinky Dinking, and even some jewelry making!

I'll post more photos of projects later (don't want to spoil any surprises!).

The day after Christmas, my son and I are going with my mom, stepdad, and 2 nieces to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We're planning on skiing, sledding, visiting the aquarium in Albuquerque (I love that little aquarium), and of course gallery-hopping! I've been promised a day by myself on Canyon Road. Woo hoo! I'll be celebrating my birthday there, too. I'd considered canceling it this year but then I wouldn't get any presents.

I hope everyone has a great holiday!

Now playing: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Blue Hotel
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 30, 2007

Book: Creative Careers by Elaina Loveland

I got this book from the library and thought it might be helpful for someone who was thinking about a career in art.

The subtitle is: Paths for Aspiring Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers.

There's a very short introduction about the book and then each section has an introduction with an overview of careers for each category (actor, artist, dancer, musician, and writer). Each section has profiles of different careers within that broad range.

I have to admit that I was only interested in the section on artists, so I'll concentrate on that here.

There are several career options for artists - animator, digital filmmaker, video game animator, architect, landscape architect, art gallery director, art therapist, artist, illustrator, photographer, art teacher, art professor, art director, industrial designer, floral designer, graphic designer, interior designer, web designer, fashion designer, fashion editor/stylist, jewelry designer, conservator, museum curator, preparator, and museum educator.

There is a basic overview for each one, including a job description, training and educational qualifications, job outlook, salary, and industry resources.

Each career also includes a Q&A profile with someone doing that job, with questions about internships, the best cities for that job, favorite and least favorite aspects of the job, professional associations, helpful publications and websites, and advice for people who are interested in pursuing that particular career.

The artist profiled is Tiffani Taylor, a self-employed artist who paints murals, paintings and pottery and lives in Savannah, Georgia.

A couple of great quotes from Tiffani:
I believe fear is a major factor that stops most art careers--the fear of putting oneself out in the world for others to see. Additionally, artists are faced with the problem solving of being self-employed.
Don't let fear of the unknown stop you. Take it a day at a time and live the life you have imagined. work each day toward "self-actualizing;" become the best person you know you can be. Don't listen to "dream squashers." Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you and believe in you. Ask for advice from people you admire.
There's not much here for creative professionals who are already doing what they love, but this would be a great book for someone interested in changing careers or for a young person just starting out.

The author's website:
Creative Careers: Paths for Aspiring Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers by Alaina Loveland

Thursday, November 29, 2007

International Shipping

I got a question recently from someone wanting advice on shipping sculpture from the US to Europe.

Have you ever shipped art internationally?

Do you have recommendations on methods and companies to use and/or avoid?

Please leave your response in the comments.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


First of all, before I forget, congratulations to Kaija, Mary, and Ben on the Pay It Forward project! I'll get something fun out to you soon.

I've been thinking a lot lately about scarcity and abundance. And I guess generosity and stinginess also come into play.

Like most things, I think it's all in how you look at it. I have enough. I have a cute house, a nice studio, a great family, wonderful friends, good health, and basically a great, stress-free life. I have more than I need. Until I start comparing myself to someone with a bigger house, nicer car, more income, handsome husband, skinnier body, etc.

In "Creating Affluence," Deepak Chopra says,
"We experience health when our identity of who we are comes from reference to the self. When we identify with objects, whether these are situations, circumstances, people, or things, then we relinquish our energy to the object of reference. As a result, we feel lack of energy and vitality. When our identity comes from the self, then we keep our energy to ourselves."
He's talking specifically here about health, but I think it applies to anything. When you compare yourself to others, you will come up short in some way. That's not to say that you shouldn't strive for more. I believe that we should all grow and change.

It's kind of like that bumper sticker, "Begin Within." Or the Gandhi quote, “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

So, maybe it's naive, but I try to apply this to the art world as well. Everyone agrees that it's a very competitive business. But if you approach it with an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity, it all changes. Instead of self-absorbed artists just in it for ourselves, we can all help each other. I think deep down we all want to be helpful in some way.

I've always thought that it's sort of a numbers game - you have to send out 50 proposals to get 2 shows; you have to approach 100 galleries to get representation in 4 of them; you have to have work in several shows before you build up a following, etc. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but I think for most of us it's true. You have to get your work out there and eventually the right people will see it.

There's more to it, of course - you need have good work, be able to talk confidently about it, conduct yourself professionally, etc.

I have to remind myself of this concept of abundance often, though. I think there's a tendency to be self-protective and think, "It's competitive out there. I found this call for entries and I want to keep it for myself. If I let Artist X know about it, he might get in the show instead of me." But if you come at it from abundance, then there's enough for everybody. And if you help your fellow artists and cheer for their successes, they will help you and cheer for you in return.

I ask myself often if what I'm doing is coming out of generosity or stinginess. I have to remind myself what I want to be: Generous.

Gratitude is another concept that's important. Remember to thank those who help you along the way.

So thank you all for reading and for the great comments and encouragement. I'm inspired by all of the talent and generosity of spirit in the artist-blogger community.

Now playing: The Decemberists - Think About Me
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pay It Forward

I don't know where I heard about her, but I've been reading Francesca's Mrs. Eliot Books blog for a while now. She makes some wonderful little wooden books. I'm a sucker for books.

Recently she mentioned a new blog meme called "Pay It Forward," where you promise to send a handmade item to the first three commenters and they promise to do the same on their blogs.

I love the idea of lots of handmade items flying all over the place to new people.

So here's the deal:
Pay It Forward (via Sia, via Sandra via Camilla, via Bibbi and so on) - here are the rules:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I'm excited to see what happens!

I'm working on a ton of things right now and will blog about it soon.

Now playing: Kasey Chambers - Hollywood
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Learning Experience

Which is what people seem to say when something goes wrong and they're trying to be positive...

I received work back from a show and the work was not packed properly. I was mad at first but now I'm just mad at myself. It's mostly my fault. I helped unpack the work but wasn't there to pack it up at the end. I just assumed that someone who helped unpack would pack it up or at least clue that person in...

Never assume.

So what happened was that whoever packed the paintings didn't put the archival paper on top of the paintings. This allowed the bubble wrap to lay directly against the surface of the painting and the pattern of the bubble wrap was transferred to the wax. It's hard to photograph but you can see it in the photo above in the right half - those shiny areas.

Maybe it's easier to see in this one - you can see dark and shiny circles:

What gets me, though, is that there was a piece of paper in EVERY box. Every painting was sent back packed in the correctly labeled box but the protective paper was disregarded underneath... Somewhere along the line it seems like someone would have wondered what it was for and clue in. Oh well...

Lesson: I should have included detailed packing instructions.

Fortunately it can be fixed. I will have to reheat each piece very carefully with a heat gun - that seems to make it go away. If you've done encaustic, though, you know that that can be tricky. Sometimes if you heat something just a teeny bit too much the wax will begin to run and you can lose your images, sharp lines, etc.

Here are the foamcore boxes that I make for my paintings. There are a few that I made out of cardboard, too...

I put labels on the top and sides with my name and address and I tape a thumbnail image on the top and sides as well.

Yes. I'm anal retentive.

But in a good way?

Kirsty Hall wrote a great post about packing artwork.

I also posted about packing and shipping previously (and obviously didn't take all of my own advice!).

And I should also mention that Cheryl McClure found some perfect already-made boxes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Etsy Shop

Buy Handmade

I added a bunch of stuff to my Etsy shop. Please check it out. If you're not familiar with Etsy, it's a wonderful collection of cool handmade things for sale. Mostly craft and designerish stuff - jewelry, purses, baby items, blank journals, greeting cards, prints, etc. But there's some good fine art there, too.

I had created my Etsy shop over a year ago and posted a few paintings but I was advised against it. Since I'm going the commercial gallery route (as opposed to alternative venues, selling only online, etc), it's seen as being in competition with my gallery. I completely agree with that. BUT, I've got all these small paintings that galleries don't want. And I need to make some money!

So I decided to create some small, fun things that are much different than my work that the galleries feature and will be more affordable.

Now playing: the pillows - MARCH OF THE GOD
via FoxyTunes

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thanks and welcome!

Thanks to Alyson Stanfield at the wonderful artbizblog for mentioning this blog twice recently!

And Joanne Mattera mentioned my work at Ernden Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts recently. Thanks, Joanne. I'm proud to be included in your "Wax Walk!"

Welcome to those of you who found your way here through Alyson or Joanne.

If you're here for the first time, check out the list on the right of "Helpful Posts." You'll find information on writing an artist's statement, putting together a proposal, designing a postcard, and many other things that artists often struggle with when starting out.

Please leave a comment. I love hearing from artists and the comments are often how I find new, interesting blogs to read.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Try This at Home!

Every now and then I'll be looking at my inventory of paintings and come across one that I don't really like any more. If this happens when I also happen to be out of blank boards, the painting will be "recycled."

When I teach my encaustic workshops, I usually talk a little about storage and shipping of encaustic paintings. One of the things I always say is, "Don't leave your paintings in the car." But secretly I've always wondered what would happen if someone did leave a painting in their car. So, for the sake of science, I did a little experiment with one of those soon-to-be-recycled paintings.

We actually had a fairly mild summer (by Texas standards) until the end of July, when it was in the upper 90's. So I took the opportunity to wrap the painting in bubble wrap and I put it in the back of my car. I left it in there for a couple of weeks and took it out to peek at it. It actually wasn't too bad. But then it got really hot and we had about a week of 105 degree temps, so I stuck it back in the car for a couple more weeks.

It cooled down a bit (back to the upper 90's), so I took it out the other day. As you can see in the photo above, it didn't look too promising. The archival paper that I use to protect the painting from the plastic on the bubble wrap had kind of soaked into the painting. This most likely happened because the wax was so warm that it seeped into the paper. I've never been able to find any Tyvek paper, but that (or glassine) might solve that problem... Also, not letting anything touch the surface of the painting is always a good idea, but it seems like that would involve some sort of crate where the painting is screwed in from the back...

I was surprised when I removed the paper - it's not so bad, really. You can see where the paper stuck to the wax, but I think it could be fixed with a little light fusing. I expected to see a big glob of wax...

But I think if the painting were in that melty stage (that allowed the paper to stick) and was somehow bumped or poked with something, the damage would be much worse.

So while I would never leave a painting in the car on purpose, this makes me feel better about shipping and transporting encaustic paintings, as long as they're packed well.

Other tips:
- ship overnight or second day
- never ship on a Thursday or Friday because the artwork might end up sitting in a warehouse over the weekend

More on packing and shipping here.

Now playing: Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Proposal

Today I'm working on getting out a couple of proposals for my "Beyond the Scrapbook" show. I'm happy that it was shown earlier this year, but I'd like to expand it and get it into a couple of more venues.

This time I included my resume, the proposal, 10 photos, an image list that corresponds to the photos, and a postcard from the previous show. This particular venue asked specifically for slides or photos. Otherwise I would have sent a CD.

I'm working on getting one out to another venue, but they want lots of really specific information like budgets for printing, shipping, catering, etc. It's stuff that I don't really want to think about, but I know it would be good practice to do.

As I mentioned above, I'm trying to expand the show since a couple of the original artists dropped out (one of them has even disappeared!). All of the artists are people that I know and went to school with, so I'd like to find some new people from different areas, especially from different cultural backgrounds.

So if you or anyone you know has some artist's books lying around that fit the definition of the show, please let me know. I don't actually need the book until we schedule a show, and then you can send the book directly to the venue.

Here's a brief summary of the show:
Beyond the Scrapbook features artists that remember, examine, and present family histories through the medium of book arts. The artists have each presented their family histories in very different ways. Some celebrate their past while others delve into the dark side of family memories. But each has used the medium of book arts to preserve the past and create a work of art that transcends the traditional scrapbook.

Now playing: Natalie Merchant - River
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I had a very productive day today. I worked on putting proposals together for the Waxy Buildup exhibit.
I made a few minor changes after I shot these images, but it's basically how it looks. I included our resumes, a CD, an image list that corresponds to the images on the CD, and a statement. This image shows a postcard, but I ended up not printing them because the prints off my computer scratch too easily. I want to get some professionally printed postcards to include in future proposals.

Each packet also includes a cover letter and a SASE.

There's one packet that I had to customize because the venue had really specific proposal guidelines. You have to do that sometimes, so it helps to be flexible.

I'm sending out 8 proposals tomorrow. Wish us luck!

I also entered my work in a couple of juried shows and put together a packet of my work to send to a curator.

I like days like this.

I've got some new stuff going on in my studio but I'll talk about that later. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with it.

Now playing: Building On Fire' - open on FoxyTunes Planet">Talking Heads - Love -> Building On Fire
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Body of Work

Deanna Wood - Poise, 12" x 12", collage, wax transfer, and encaustic

I finally completed the series of "Waxy Buildup" paintings that Trayc Claybrook and I collaborated on.

I'm working on a proposal now and we're going to send it out to art centers and galleries. Hopefully we'll get to show it somewhere.

Alyson Stanfield mentioned SlideShare on her blog the other day, so I thought I'd check it out. It's kind of like YouTube but for PowerPoint presentations. Normally, I try to avoid PowerPoint, but I did one for the proposal CD and thought I'd upload it. Check it out:

Despite my aversion to PowerPoint, I actually liked SlideShare. There are some examples of really well-designed presentations. You can also see some really atrocious ones, which is helpful in showing you what not to do. In fact, after looking at some presentations on the site, I redesigned mine to make it be more readable.

Now playing: Patty Griffin - Getting Ready
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Galleries Choose Artists to Show

Panel Discussion sponsored by the Greater Denton Arts Council. June 14, 2007

Nancy Whitenack from Conduit Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Marty Walker from Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Burt Finger from Photographs Do Not Bend, Dallas, Texas

The GDAC hosted an exhibition of emerging artists that are represented by galleries in Dallas (Denton is about 35 miles north of Dallas). They also hosted this panel and invited arts groups and art students from the area universities. I took notes and wanted to share them with you.

Nancy Whitenack:
Her gallery features two major spaces and a small "project room" where they show artists that they don't represent.
She sees the gallery/artist relationship as a journey.
She watches the artist change and brings the public around to the changes.
She picks artists instinctually.
She does studio visits and views juried shows.
She responds to work that she immediately resonates with and connects with - she has to love the work.
She tries not to overlap other types of work - not have two or more artists that do the same thing.
She likes work that examines a story in a different way.

Marty Walker:
Suggests that you take time to visit the gallery or website to see what the work looks like before you approach a gallery.
She sees several variables - she must like the work - the resume and exhibition history is important but not the final decision. She's willing to take a chance on an artist.

Burt Finger:
He looks for an artist that will add something to the gallery.
He thinks about his clients, not just what he loves.
Suggests that you do research on a gallery before you approach it.
He prefers artists who have work in major museums and who have a monograph.

What is the role of an alternative space?
Alternative spaces are important - Some recent grads are not necessarily ready for a commercial gallery. They're great for creating a community of artists and are important for experimental work (there were several artists present who are on the board of the 500X, a prominent alternative space in Dallas). But all of the gallery directors said that if they believe in an artist, they would be willing to show experimental work.

How should an artist approach a gallery?
If you're local, go to the openings and meet the gallery director.
Build up a relationship first.
Make a personal connection.
If you have work in a local show, ask them to visit to see your work.
Participate in major local juried shows (in this area it's the Contemporary, the MAC, Art House, Art in the Metroplex, TVAA, etc.)
Show work in non-art spaces to begin with - coffee shops, etc.

What makes you want to visit an artist's studio?
The artist has to be serious.
It helps to have built up a relationship.

What about exclusive contracts?
Marty Walker and Nancy Whitenack said that their contracts are usually just locally exclusive (if you show with them you don't show at another competing gallery in Dallas).
Burt Finger said that he prefers his artists to be exclusive to his gallery.

Other thoughts:
Most galleries will send out packets with info on their artists to museums and collections.
They all said that they didn't have any bias against self-taught artists.
If energy is happening in your studio then everything else will fall into place.
Don't expect to produce part-time effort and expect full time results.
Artist's recommendations are very important. They place a great deal of importance on recommendations from other artists.

Now playing: Red House Painters - Another Song For A Blue Guitar
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Annual Encaustic Conference, Part 5

Finally! The much-promised final chapter in the Encaustic Conference saga...

The final day of the conference (Sunday) featured some more demos in the morning. These are the ones that I chose to attend:

Encaustic Monotype by Paula Roland

Paula's work is featured in The Art of Encaustic Painting and a couple of my students have attended her workshop in Santa Fe, so she's a bit of a celebrity in the encaustic world.

She talked a bit about the teacher that she learned the monotype technique from, Dorothy Furlong Gardner, from New Orleans.

Paula has developed her own painting palette, seen here in the first photo on the right. The heat stays even all over and it's a light color to allow you to see the color of the paint.

The ideal temperature to have the palette set for monotypes is between 160 and 200 degrees. You'll get more detail at lower temperatures and more wax flow or saturation at higher temps.

Things to consider - temperature, type of paper, amount of wax, proportion and kind of pigment.

She uses 50% pigment and 50% medium for grittiness and texture and saturation.

It's easier to layer on thicker paper with thicker medium. Paper absorbency affects the outcome, too.

Often uses masa paper - a type of rice paper. Also uses kitakata paper, Rives BFK and other printmaking papers.

She will put dots of paint in the corners to indicate area to print. Apply paint to the palette and lay the paper down. Apply more paint and lay it down again to add more or to blend.

You can put the paper face up on the clean palette and blot with newsprint to take off some surface paint. You can use rice paper to blot and then use that to build up a print. While it's laying on the plate you can also draw into it with charcoal, pencil, add more encaustic... Graphite becomes fixed in the wax.

Silk flowers can be stamped into the paint on the palette and then stamped onto the paper when it gets saturated with paint.

Use wood block stamps.

You can block areas with newsprint on the palette.

Ghost image can be picked up with thin paper.

Create lines and shapes with dental floss, scrape with combs, rubber-tipped shaper tools, credit cards - anything that won't scratch the palette.

You can use a saturated print as a plate.

She showed some slides of other artist's work. One featured what she called "inlay" with a smaller piece of paper in a cut out hole of a larger piece. Scrolls - large rolls of rice paper printed with encaustic on both sides and worked back into with other media.

You can paint with watercolor on the un-waxed parts of the paper.

Recommends mounting a print to board with acrylic medium on the back (keep the back free of wax).

Way too much information for such a short demo! I'm sure she barely scratched the surface of what can be done with encaustic monotypes...

Encaustic Sculpture by Kim Bernard

I really like Kim's work and was hoping that she would talk about HER work, but she gave a presentation about several artists working 3-dimensionally with wax in some way.

I'll just list the artists that she talked about and a website if I can find one... You should look at their work. It's quite amazing.

Melissa Stern - NY

Sylvia Metzer - NY (her work is in the Mattera book but I can't find a website for her)

Lynda Benglis - NY/Santa Fe

Johannes Girardoni - NY/Austria

Nancy Azara - NY

Michelle Stuart - NY

Martin Kline

Wolfgang Laib - Germany

Text Pictures by Mary W. Hart

She showed various ways to incorporate text into encaustic, most of which involved collage.

Writing with ink on rice paper - when collaged into the encaustic the paper absorbs the wax and almost disappears.

She painted white gouache or chalk onto collage elements before adding the wax. The white will show up when it's waxed.

She used transfer letters (Letraset rub-on letters) and carbon paper.

Creates lines and rubs oil pastel or oil bars into the line. Wipes with walnut oil and fabric to remove excess.

Stencils - she creates stencils from transparency film.

Another interesting technique for collage materials - she painted words in white gouache on watercolor paper, let it dry and then covered it with waterproof in. Then she washed off the gouache and used it to collage into the encaustic.


That was it for the demos. There was a final closing session and some get-togethers but I had miss them because I had to rush to the airport.

One last travel story...
As I mentioned before, I was flying standby and all the flights were full for the next couple of days and I was worried that I would be stuck. As it turned out, I was able to get out of Manchester but I got stuck in Chicago. I considered spending the night in the airport but that's depressing and also way too much like camping, so I went to a nearby (probably over-priced) hotel. I got to the airport super early the next morning and finally made it to Houston and then finally to Dallas. Quite an ordeal! But hey, it was "free!"

So the conference was fun and very informative and definitely worth the trip. I'm hoping to make it again next year!

A request
If anyone else happened to attend any of the other sessions, I would love to read the notes that you took. I'm especially interested in the one by James Meyer (Jasper Johns' assistant), the panel discussion about Wax, Paints, Substrates and Grounds and the discussion about beekeeping - Wax in the Context of the Hive. I wish I'd had a couple of clones that I could have sent to all of the sessions!

Now playing: Whiskeytown - Everything I Do
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

First National Encaustic Conference, Part 4

OK, finally, more of the conference...

Note: I'm going from the notes that I took during the demos, so if you happened to be there and notice that I got something wrong, please let me know. Oh, and often there was more info, I just tended to write down the things that I didn't know already or that helped clarify some process...

It was really difficult to choose between the competing sessions, but here are the ones that I chose:

Textural Explorations by Lissa Rankin

Lissa's work is very textural with built-up areas of encaustic. She showed many different techniques for achieving these types of effects.

She began talking about her love of the blowtorch. She said that she only used a heat gun for a long time but then tried the blowtorch and has never gone back. She recommended the Iwatani CB-TC-PRO Butane Torch. It's a small creme brulle torch available from

Scumbling - to get built-up texture, she uses sort of a dry-brush effect, letting the brush strokes build up. She takes the encaustic paint off of the heat to cool a bit. She brushes a few layers before fusing since the fusing knocks down the texture a bit. She continues, sometimes working on a piece all day long.

Relief - using leaves, burlap, lace, etc. She heats the surface a bit and then flattens the material onto the surface. She paints medium on first and then paint. She then removes the material (you have to experiment to find the perfect time to remove it) and fuses to soften the edges. She uses a pigment stick on the edges to add color and dimension.

She makes her own medium with 80% beeswax and 20% damar resin.

Stencils - using mylar stencils or transparency film that she cuts her own stencils from. Preheat the surface a bit before applying the stencil. Brush on some medium and then the paint. She recommended using a heat gun because the blowtorch can sometimes melt the stencils. Fuse lightly then remove stencil (again, there's a perfect time to remove it). Fuse again to soften edges.

You can put the stencils in the freezer and the wax will break off and you can reuse the stencil.

She makes her own blending sticks with 4 parts linseed oil to 1 part beeswax.

She makes her own pigment sticks by mixing half of the blending stick with half powdered pigment and then pouring it into a muffin tin.

Elevated shapes - using masking tape (I believe she used the blue painter's tape), mask off an area and then brush on medium first. Brush on paint. Fuse lightly and remove. 1/4" thin making tape bends and makes curvy lines.

If you wipe off oil paint or pigment stick with linseed oil, she recommended cleaning that off with alcohol at the very end since it evaporates.

Molds (this is a little sketchy since she was rushing and I'm a little rusty on mold-making)
Paper clay - like papier mache - push object into it and leave it for a couple of days. Pull it up when dry. Glue it to the panel with matte medium on back.

Gray modeling clay - roll it out and put object in it (coat it with linseed oil first). Pull it up. Fill the cavity with wax. Let it set a bit and remove it. Use toothbrush and water to clean clay off. Preheat surface of the painting. Put wax piece on palette to melt a little and then put it on the painting.

Elemental Substances and Processes by Mari Marks

Mari's work is kind of minimal but also textural in a different way.

She had what seemed like a very time-consuming process but also sort of meditative.

She started with a panel that had a solid color of encaustic paint on it. She mixed artist's graphite powder with denatured alcohol. The alcohol dispersed the powder and enabled her to brush it on the painted panel. The alcohol evaporates and leaves the pigment. She then fused it under a lamp, moving the lamp very slowly. This seemed to allow the powder to melt into the paint. Sometimes the powder reacts with the paint to create interesting textures and shapes.

She mixes other powders with the denatured alcohol to create similar effects - ashes, red ceramic clay powder, plastic roofing cement, dry pigment.

Break Away from the Brush by Nash Hyon
I don't have a website for her, but click here to see some of her work.

She said that she rarely ever used any brushes. She applies paint almost exclusively with metal tools, using as-is or heating them for different effects.

Transfers - warm surface and apply copy face down, burnish, apply water and then scrub with a sponge or cloth. The toner will transfer onto the wax.

She mentioned something called Digi-Fab - digital silk - inks printed on clay-based paper that will transfer (I'm not sure if I wrote that down correctly).

Collage - when collaging paper, scrape with scraper to help it adhere and remove bubbles.

Metal tools - she had different metal tools such as a nail in a wood block - she would heat up the head of the nail and press into surface of the painting to create textures and shapes. Same with a piece of copper, metal screen tool, metal comb, paint brush cleaner, metal dog brush, ceramic tools, etc.

Iron - she recommended Reynolds non-stick aluminum foil - iron it to get texture.

Applying paint with metal tools - she used what she called "surface knives" for Venetian plaster that can be found in the decorative painting department at hardware stores (I found some at Lowe's). She would apply the paint and then smooth it out with the same tool. You can also heat up the tool and smooth the surface or drip paint off of the tool.

To create texture, she used it at a cooler temperature and let it kind of drag on the surface.

Those were the demos for the first full day. There were some the next morning that I will write about later!

To be continued...
Now playing: Ryan Adams - To Be Young
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 06, 2007

Plug - a couple of shows

I know I said I was going to post about the conference today, but I thought I'd just post this little plug...

I have work in a couple of local group shows:

Raged, 24" x 24", charcoal, oil, and encaustic

Visual Arts Society of Texas 19th Annual Juried Members Exhibition
Meadows Gallery, Center for Visual Arts, Denton, Texas
400 E. Hickory
Gallery hours: Tue - Sun, 1-5 pm
The show is up until August 27th

Inside, 24" x 24", collage, oil, and encaustic

Visual Arts Society of Texas Members
219 W. Oak, Denton, Texas
Open 7 days, 10 am - midnight
(try the tapas!)
The show is up until August 30th

Now I'm off to hang another show for the same group - I'm not in this one, just helping out. It'll be fun, too, because we're hanging it in the gallery at TWU, where I was a gallery assistant during grad school.

Now playing: The Velvet Underground - Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
via FoxyTunes

In Overwhelm

I'm used to having a lot to do. In fact, I like to be busy and to know that I have a lot of things going at once. But every now and then I feel overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes I think about everything that I need to do and I feel paralyzed by indecision. I'm not sure what I should do first.

One of the things I've been paralyzed about is this blog. I have so many things that I want to write about that I don't know which one to start with, so I don't write anything. I KNOW what I need to do - just do something - yet I find something else to do instead. I'm really good at avoidance techniques. As a result, my office is REALLY clean right now!

So this is my attempt at getting back on track.

First of all, I want to thank Joanne Mattera for plugging this blog on her blog. Joanne is a wonderful artist who is widely known in the encaustic painting world for her book, The Art of Encaustic Painting. But her blog contains a lot of excellent information - reviews of shows, information about art fairs, and thoughts about being an artist.

The next post will be the final post about the Encaustic Painting Conference that I should have posted a few weeks ago... Hey, I've been cleaning.

I wanted to mention an online art community that I just joined: I met someone at an opening that uses it. I don't know much about it yet, but it kind of looks like MySpace for artists. The art seems a little uneven but I guess that's to be expected. If you stop by, I'm enchiladaplate, as usual.

Now playing: Blondie - X Offender
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 27, 2007


"What Every Consumer Should Know" (detail)
Thanks to Alyson Stanfield for featuring a detail of one of my artist's books in the current Art Marketing Action newsletter on!

"What Every Consumer Should Know" (detail)
"What Every Consumer Should Know," handmade artist's book - acrylic box with accordion books. Books are clear vinyl sewn together with ink-jet printed transparencies inside. 1994. One of a kind.
Alyson always shares great ideas, tips, and resources. Be sure to check out her blog, too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I hope this is a joke...

Please tell me it's a joke.

I saw this in the classified section in the most recent issue of ArtNews under "Job Opportunities:"

"60-year-old male major artist in Queens seeks female assistant, collaborator, organizer for learning experience of a lifetime. All mediums. 2 studios. No money involved. 917-214-4899."

Sign me up!

It's gotta be a joke...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm off, again...

Installation view, Seeking Shelter

Tomorrow morning (way too early), I'm going to be heading out to Douglasville, Georgia (outside Atlanta). My aunt and cousins live there (and my mom was born there). When my aunt was visiting here a year ago or so, she mentioned that there was an art center in Douglasville and I should send them a proposal. I did and they offered me a show!

It'll be fun to see my aunt and cousins and all the cousins' kids. We're hoping to visit the aquarium in Atlanta, too. I'm hauling my work out there and will help install it a few days before the opening on Sunday.

If you're in the area, please stop by!

The Tornado Show: Seeking Shelter
Multi-media installation by Deanna Wood
Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville
Douglasville, Georgia

July 8 - August 17, 2007

Opening reception and ice cream social
Sunday, July 8
2 - 4 pm

For more information, call 770-949-ARTS

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...