All is One.

Progress is being made, slowly. First I painted the spontaneous images with oils, and have layered the first encaustic layer. So far just clear, but yellow lines are inlaid yellow wax (on the moth). Thinking of transformative powers in nature and in the mind. I envision many more layers happening somewhat spontaneously. I'm trying to join human images with natural ones because all living things are one. 

 Here are some others that are in transition at various stages.

Owls are archetypes of wisdom and visionaries of night. I like to use them for vehicles of experimentation in color and texture. Here is a rainbow owl coming together and behind it a cloud owl?
We'll see! 

Day of the Dead

 This is an excerpt from a painting recently completed for a day of the dead art show.  The show opens at Designbox next month.  I'm excited to see everyone's take on the subject- lots of artists are included in this show.  Love how this holiday is a celebration of life at the same time as honoring the deceased. Also have been collecting images of this subject for study.

 This is a new one I've just started, on the larger side for encaustic work for me.  I started this one by gluing in a drawing I had done in 2006.  Now I'm working on the sky.  I have a feeling this will become another ghost house.
 It's funny how the paintings seem to group themselves- based on where I've randomly placed them. On the left is one I have had in my head for a while.  I'm utilizing some screenprinting for this one.  It has to do with balance in nature.  And on the right- I am so excited to be doing an octopus painting! It's so much fun.  This is almost done and will be ready for my aquatic themed show with Keith in Elizabeth City.
 The aquatic paintings have also become a place for me to play with layers and texture.
 Here are two  that may never be finished, they have been in the works for so long.  They are snails.  Every once and a while I see something that needs doing.
Here's two that go together thematically.  Both of the Subjects share some headspace with a hidden or ghost subject.  The idea that you sometimes can't take full credit for everything you do, good or bad.  


 Here's a grouping of work I am making for an upcoming show I have with Keith in Elizabeth City. We decided to do a water/fish theme for the show. Some of these are finished, some are not.

 Here is my working area.  Lots of wax tools and detritus. I've been using these water paintings as a vehicle to explore what I can do with the wax.  In the painting to the left, I'm working over top of a very smooth, flowing background and building up some layered imagery.  Partially inspired by Haeckel's work.

 The larger painting is oceanic.  I'm really happy with the way it looks and now hesitant adding imagery. I'm just waiting for the right idea so as not to mess it up! It's very smooth and flowing. The smaller one has passed through several incarnations since this photo was taken. I have built up lots of color layers and done lots of scraping back to reveal the previous layers.

See top photo for a more completed version of this painting. I am using incised linework on the sea plants and jellyfish.  The fish's linework was done by carving. I painted the whole fish orange, then painted it blue. I carved through the blue to get the orange line. 

Yellow Summer

 Here are two paintings that are along the same lines.  Both I started with oil paints and then painted encaustic over. I was starting to think my thoughts and intentions were like birds springing forth from my mind.  I have enjoyed playing with layers lately as ever.  With two completely different scenes intersecting, which one is the reality?

 I enjoy working with translucency because it allows for hidden images.  I have enjoyed using my new tools in this piece (pictured below).  The burnishing tool has allowed me to press the edges of the rice paper drawing smooth with the surface of the painting, obscuring the edge helps to disguise that there is paper there.  I used some of the carving tools to shape the leaves and also to flatten and scrape the surface after I incised the lines that make the stems of the plants.  I am loving my new tools!!
This is an oil painting that is in the works.  I feel like it has been influenced by my work with encaustics, with the linework and floating layers.  The color yellow has made it's appearance in my paintings this summer probably more than ever.  I call it my yellow summer. 

 Here is a sneak peek at the tiles I'm working on for the Healing Ceilings project. They will be installed at a cancer center on the ceiling so that people can look at them while receiving chemo.  I was honored to be picked for this project, as I have a firm belief in the healing powers of art, color and positive energy.

My new tools!  The tacking iron isn't new, I tried it a long time ago and didn't like it, but have brought it out for another try.  It works for smoothing out fabric in wax and adhering it to a mixed media piece.  the boxy thing is my temperature regulator. The woodburning tools get too hot for the paint and must be carefully regulated.  The tan one is a burnishing tool, helps to smooth painted surfaces or create texture in wax.  The green one has several different tips, the one you see on it now is the one I used on the painting below.  It helped me achieve a subtle color transition for painting a face with wax.  It also can be used to gouge into the wax and create texture.  It has a paintbrush attachment that heats up and helps move around the wax colors after they are applied to the surface. The black carving tools can do lots of things, smooth the surface of the painting, scrape incised lines or refine the edges of a shape.  They can be heated by pressing them to the hot palette.  

Lastly, here is my butterfly themed grouping of work over at Designbox!  

An Introvert's Inner World

 These are the paintings I am just now finishing.  I have been thinking a lot about introverts because I'm raising one, and am one myself.  The world inside is so vast and rich, but can't be seen by everyone.  One must be to be worthy to be let in that door.
 These paintings are mixed media= oil and encaustic.  I've been doing the background and the portraits in oils and the interior painted symbolism with encaustic.
My favorite thing about painting this way is the transparency and layers. Lends itself to work of a psychological/ meditative nature.

New series inspired in part by books.



Returning to the Source

The 3 paintings above are finished examples of the new series of paintings I've been working on. It all started about 6 months ago.  I wanted to exploit my favorite things about using oil paints, and encaustics, and do it in the same piece.  The way these two mediums look so different intrigued me and I wanted to build them one layer over the other.  First with oils I build up the background colors.  I mix cold wax medium into the oil paints which thins them out and gives them a translucent buttery consistency.  After painting one layer of color, I use sandpaper and turpentine to lighten areas and remove some paint, then add the next layer.  This background process takes time because each layer needs to dry before it can be manipulated and painted on, and that can take a few days.  I've been wanting to do some figurative work with oils, mainly to express some characters from books that I love and also hybridized real life characters.  I want these paintings to be very peaceful and poetic but also philosophical.  It can take a while to paint the person just right, and then to figure out what else belongs in the painting to express the emotions there.  The best thing for me has been taking my time with this process and waiting until the paintings speak to me.  I find life to be layered and enigmatic and I'm trying to express this.  I want  to build translucent layers of imagery, as well as add mixed media elements to my work. The goal is to create a layered surface to emphasize dimensionality. This technique lends itself to work concerning the imagined realm.

 This one above is one that I have just finished.  She reminds me of a character from one of the Russian novels that I've been enjoying lately.  The whole thing is painted with oils except the green lines encircling her and the birds, incised encaustic line.
 Here are some new new ones with mostly only one layer.  Stay tuned to see what happens with these!
A close up of a painting with a couple layers of background paint.  

Draw, Draw, Draw!

Sketchbooks organize image chaos by making it sequential and binding it together.  I have complete freedom to make no sense whatsoever in these books I created while at Penland this past summer.   Some use drawing as  tool to help plan compositions for more ambitious work.  I do the opposite, I tend to see it as a way to unplan for my paintings.  Imagination needs freedom without pressure to conform to a plan.  


Duality is '... a single conceptual unit that is formed by two inseparable and mutually constitutive elements whose inherent tensions and complementarity give the concept richness and dynamism' (Wenger 1998, p. 66).
 I had finished the piece on the left as part of the Magic Strata series I collaborated on with Alison Overton.  It's kind of an enchanted forest at night painting. The one on the right I'm still working on.  It's more of a day painting.
 Two more unfinished ones, part of my castle series. It seems like the breeze in the painting on the right is blowing into the painting on the left. Maybe a continuity there. I'm still waiting on my next installment of ideas to finish these two.
 Sketchbook paintings.  I'm enjoying working in the books I made at Penland.
 It's super relaxing to just let my mind go a bit in these books.  There's a sense of freedom in there.
 New paints, new paints.  I love all these colors together.
 Two new encaustic backgrounds...


 Penland is like a magical fairytale land for any artist.  Beautiful enchanted surroundings and resources to create.  The best part is yoga twice a day and delicious food at every meal so you don't have to think about what you'll eat.  People are great there, I made such lovely friends and had such a great time.
 I found myself not sleeping a whole lot, and not missing my sleep.  There is an energy there.  Everything seems to sparkle, maybe its because of the mica.  Everything is so lush and beautiful and it doesn't get hot and muggy in the mountains or at least it didn't while I was there.
 It was amazing that there was nothing to do but focus on creating for two whole weeks.  No distractions, no tvs!  It was a much needed break for me.  As much as I missed my family and little one I appreciated the time I had to do my own thing.  I must thank the United Arts Council that gave me the grant to make this trip possible.
 Here are some of the books I made while there.  They have "signature covers" or colorful papers that cover and protect each section of white paper. I used super nice paper and loved the effect of putting a book together with the torn edges and having the variation of edges of paper.

 You have to do a lot of measurements to make a book.  Measuring and right angles are usually not my thing, but I found with the right tools and a large workspace anything is possible.  So I learned to care about numbers a little.  These are all sketchbooks that I'll fill with drawings and watercolors and glue things in.  Homes for ideas to live in.
 This one is for our studio, for people to write comments in.
 I used masking fluid and gouache to paint this plaid pattern.
 Watercolor is so relaxing to do....
 Beautiful NC mountains.  I miss you already.
 Here's one I made for my friend and fellow artist Lisa who I visited in Asheville.

 These are all coptic bindings.  I learned other binding styles but this is my favorite.  I love how the spine looks all naked.

It's between me and my muse.

“On that night the sky laid bare its internal construction in many sections which, like anatomical exhibits, showed the spirals and whorls of light, the pale-green solids of darkness, the plasma of space, the tissue of dreams… 

— Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles

I  was talking with a fellow artist about are most frequently asked question- "Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?"  We were laughing about different ways to blow off this very difficult question.  "I can't reveal that information for fear of damaging the fragile relationship between me and my muse."
The truth is to fully answer this is impossible.  To even try I would have to get somewhat metaphysical.   I will suffice to say that I try to keep an open mind, inspiration somedays bursts from everything I see, weeds, burnt out buildings,  dirt, trees.  Somedays it's better just not to try to paint.  Some days I can resolve multiple ideas.  Other ideas take a while on the back burner.  The mermaid oil painting is on the back burner at this point.  It's almost done, just a hair away, but needs something that I can't come up with just yet.  My interests and direction are in wax right now and I'm not worried because there's nothing I can do.  My muse would never steer me wrong.  

An overlay on these two faces.  More plants, bugs, jewels?  

I can't talk about this one too much, it's a secret painting that won't be revealed until November.  Suffice to say I'm having so much fun with the wax here.  This painting has a long history and is finally coming into its own.
Here's one that I am done with now, a meditative piece.

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.

-George Santayama

I've been working on this painting incrementally with oils.  I got some comments that the figure in the foreground looks like me, so I changed it, I'm not trying to make a self portrait.  She's holding a shell that I found in Ireland.  Standing at the edge of her world looking out.  

These two represent the series of four that I'm working on.  I am doing buildings on transparent paper to show the oil painting once sealed on with wax.  The faces and backgrounds are painted with oil using a lot of cold wax medium.  Then sealed with clear encaustic wax and clouded by a building drawing.  Old structures with souls.  

 While I have been painting, my little artist has been busy with inks, acryilcs, watercolors, water soluble crayons and colored pencils.


 These are all ideas I've had for this painting kind of spontaneously this weekend. The cat's dark house.  Mystery and alchemy.
 I've been looking a lot at Russian painted facades.  I love the detail.  This house is walled from the sea, as in my previous painting.
 A mermaid in the ocean.
 She holds a seashell.
 Ever faithful and stoic companion.  Sees all, knows all and is silent.
 Homage to the blues.  Inspired by Mississippi John Hurt.
Homage to Van Gogh.

Turbulence and calm

The latest oil painting I am working on started as just colors.  The top picture was taken just as the imagery began to emerge from the abstraction. Then I changed the composition and changed the dog. Just trying to stay loose with this one.  I'll put in a swimmer in the ocean eventually.  After painting the last cityscape- Bee City, I have wanted to work more with painting water.  Not sure what I'll put at the top of the hill yet, maybe a statue.  I love working with the combination of orange and blue in the water.

This is a series of four paintings I am working on in panel.  They are all oil right now but I am planning to do the next phase in encaustic.  I find that I like painting faces better in oils right now.  The subject seems to be serenity, meditation, communing with nature, and inner worlds.  I did lots of thin washes with oils to get the effects.  The birds pulling strands of hair and hat are symbolism.  They could symbolize a thought or group of thoughts that tugs the brain.   


I am almost almost done with this painting.  I am obsessing over faces now.  And other details.  I seem to be dragging out the  process because I don't want it to end- painting this has been so much fun.  To me, a face needs to show individuality and emotion, even if painted really tiny.  That's why I've done and redone these people, painted over and over their faces  five or more times.  I want them to look like people I might know even if they aren't portraits.  That, and making sure everyone's eyes nose and mouth are done convincingly.  Also even at this stage background colors change.  I am never afraid to mess up what I have already painted if it isn't right.  Luckily I haven't had to do anything huge to this one, just trying to get enough different shades of green and create contrast where I need it.  Good contrast with background colors is how small narrative details show and are noticed.  Details need details too. Branches need highlights and leaves too.  I like my trees quirky and Suess-ian.  Those have taken a long time and are almost finished.  Also, I need more birds on the line!!!

On a side note I have been taking a bookmaking class at Pullen Art Center to learn the coptic stitch. Here are the results of my efforts.  I won a grant to go to Penland this summer to study bookmaking.  My interest in books goes way back.  In art school my sketchbook was a private haven, a world unto myself that was never critiqued and never due.  I created these massive intense books with collage and drawings.  They would go everywhere I went and I was drawing constantly.  
There has always been a thread of narrative in  my work and I also want to explore that.  I'm not sure where the bookmaking interest will take me but it's something I've always wanted to learn.  

Almost Done!

It's easy to obsess over small details.  I love the idea of each section being its own "mini painting".  I try to made sure everything has been considered, wether I've chosen to refine it or leave it loose.  I'm in the process now of adding some flourishes to this one to give it a unique flavor.  My clients have inspired me with stories and objects they find meaning in.  I love to include details that will give them a closer connection with their painting.  When doing a commission, I consider that the client will spend lots of time with this painting for years to come.  That's kind of heavy if you think about it too hard, the bottom line is they've trusted me to give the painting life.  I appreciate that.  Anyway, some would call this the tedious stage of the painting.  It's a bit more tiring to do focus on the micro.  At the end of the day though, the micro doesn't matter if the macro doesn't work.  I have to remember that and edit.  Also from time to time I have to take a break, it gets so wet that it smears because I tend to rest my hand on it while painting with the tiny brush.  I'm really excited about this one, and I'd say now it's 90% done. 

Life is the details.

I have started the more narrative stage of this painting this past week, which means I have scaled down to a much smaller brush.  I'm trying to add the things that will give this painting its personality and develop its stories, but at the same time I'm trying keep some areas more brushy and "free".  I have been a little overwhelmed with all the ideas I'm getting for this painting, luckily I can't paint fast enough to include them all.  The faces and bodies of people have been roughed in and some refined further.  As I go through the process of refining, I also strive to keep some of the abstract brushier bits from previous stages.  

A bee monument

I admit that finding the differences in this series of progression of the painting will be daunting.  The top image is the most recent.  Before I started working on this painting I took a moment to note the colors I had used, and what colors the painting needed.  I like to take some time preparing my palette before digging in.  I mix the colors I think the painting needs, in general.  Then, I mix lighter or darker shades of them.  Then more vibrant versions, and more muted.  I like to have a balanced color palette before even getting started.  
I am selectively adding details at this stage.  Architectural details, cars, trees and sketches of people.  Each building takes on a personality.  Some are more apparent to me than others, so they get their details first, while others take a while to come forth.  I am putting a statue in the middle of the park, it's going to be a bee getting nectar from a flower.  At this stage in the painting the narrative begins to form....

Idealistic world

 The really nice thing about painting a city from your mind is everything can be vibrant.  The city is the framework for people to reach their potentials and expand their minds.  The space that the architecture creates is where all the exciting things in life happen.  Books are written, inventions invented, all for the greater good.  There are little or no constraints.
I've never been a "reality  painter".  I would rather paint things as I think they should be.  No homelessness.  No hunger.  Equality. No ugly strip malls!  No historic buildings torn down in order to have a bigger parking lot.
This past week I concentrated on putting a first layer of color on everything.  Buildings will change color, some may change shape.  I needed to have everything somewhat solid so I could see what I was dealing with.  Oh, and I took the bridge out, I'm going with docks instead. This phase of the painting I get to have a lot of fun mixing colors.  Every phase is fun.

Imaginary city comes to life with color.

This weekend in the studio I spent more time thinking about things than actually painting, but still managed to paint some.  At this phase, it's good to sit with the painting and slowly make the changes it needs, as the needs present themselves to me.  I keep going back and forth about how I want the bridge, and still am not done figuring that out.  I keep adding buildings behind buildings.  I've started putting some color in.  Trying hard to refrain from painting details at this stage but it's hard.  I see so many possibilities.  I do love the detail part but that comes later- I've learned from the past that too many details too soon can ruin the composition.

Happy Spring!

Sketching out and composing a city of the mind.

Not to go on and on about it, but I really get frustrated with computers, and trying to use them.  I have a suspicion that making a slideshow to put on your blog is alarmingly simple to do, since I see them around the internet all the time, but the skill eludes me.... so here are some photos in sequence of the progress I have made on my cityscape painting.  This is a commissioned painting for a family that likes my cityscapes and wants to give their living space a fun urban feel.  I think a lot about the book I read on urbanism- A Pattern Language.  My dad gave the book to Keith a few years ago for Christmas.  My Dad is an architect, and Keith is an "armchair city planner", so this gives them something in common.  The book is a great read, and presents ideas on what makes cities livable, and alive.  I try to remember these ideas when I'm laying out one of my city painting.  These are cities of the mind, and they also need to be alive and give the mind places to wander.  They need nooks and crannies.  The buildings need personalities.
At this point in the painting, compositional changes may still happen.  I like the idea of a walled city on a river.  I haven't done one like this yet.  I love to put bridges in my paintings.  And the bridge in this one has already changed since the photo was taken. There will be an open park in the center where I'll put some people and perhaps dogs.  There are a lot of covered porches in this one, so there will be of course people hanging out on them.  I hate it when some one has a great big beautiful porch but you never see them out enjoying it.  So I'm excited to start adding more color, but need to spend some time with this composition and make sure it's working.