Thursday, July 28, 2011

ENCAUSTIC Update: Using the TIP!

After a short break, I'm back to making art and more specifically, back to working with encaustic.  After some shouts out (i.e. begging), I am very pleased to have received a few very helpful tips on encaustic, and some fantastic contacts whose brains I will be picking.  A huge THANK YOU to Heather at Green Genes who makes some really fantastic encaustic collages (check out her stuff at Green Genes, 5111 N. Clark in Andersonville,  I go in there all the time looking at the adorable and eco-friendly kid stuff, and this last time I happened to ask her about her encaustic pieces.  We got chatting about my pathetic attempts and she nodded and smiled, as if she knew exactly how I tried to improvize with my beginner process!  Maybe she was just being kind.  Regardless, I came out with a very helpful tip- literally!  She suggested that I try a quilter's iron.   I promptly headed to Michael's (because it is actually more difficult to find these than you might think... except online), and purchased the iron for about $35.  As you might recall, I tried using a heat gun prior, but that seemed almost TOO powerful as it pushed the wax across my board like a high power blower pushes the water across your windshield when you get a car wash.  This little triangular heated tip allowed me to 1. control the heat level, and 2. control the wax depending on how hard I pushed, how long I held the tip to the wax, and how I moved the tip across the piece.  Wow, this was very helpful for this control freak.  I also mentioned to her how I was working with the pigment sticks as well.  Heather nodded and said that she has not worked with them, but that she's heard it is difficult.  YES!  It IS rather difficult!  The sticks are so potent and saturated!  But, again, if I had several little pots where I could mix the pigment with the wax medium, as opposed to my attempts to pallet, I think I'd have a lot more success.  Heather also suggested using a small crockpot. That is my next mission. 

Another helpful contact tip was from Jen Chrzanowski- THANK YOU!  She suggested a contact who works in encaustic, and I will be speaking with that contact shortly.  I'm really looking forward to some suggestions from a PRO! 

As I worked with the encaustic, I started adding more and more layers of "clear" wax (which is not clear, of course, it is translucent off white) to add to the depth and help subdue my heavily saturated areas.  I think that on the next piece, I may try to build up some layers of wax prior to applying the collage images.  Maybe.  We'll see. 

Again, I hate to be a jerk, but I feel like I have to keep you in the dark until I have shipped this piece to its rightful owner as it is a surprise.  Stay tuned!!

'CAUSE I'M LEAVING... ON A JET PLANE: Inspiration here we come!

I'm not makin' ART.  Never fear, this is still about ART.
Last weekend I headed to Santa Fe, NM, for my first time.  It seems a bit absurd to be an artist and never have been to one for the most jam-packed artistic towns in the country.  Several years ago, my mom and sister visited Santa Fe and for these past years I have been taunted by their adventure.  Time moved fast, and I was always working... and so, it just never happened.  Finally!  This summer was the summer to make it happen.  Ok, so it wasn't the all out art bonanza that I had hoped, but with my sister and mom as my traveling companions, we really wanted to enjoy our short four day visit and not over pack with activities. 

Tesuque Village Market:
I should have gotten a shot on of the inside...
doesn't look like much, we almost drove right by it!
The fun of traveling:  Finding quaintness
We flew in to Albuquerque, enjoyed some authentic Mexican (the "hole-in-the-wall restaurant with bars on the windows" was a Yelp find... well worth it:  El Sabor de Juarez), and headed up to Ojo Caliente Mineral Spa.  (Another quaint find on our way up to Ojo:  Tesuque Village Market- seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but this grocer and restaurant had the best 'crunchy' vibe!)  Once at Ojo, we soaked in the mineral pools (Iron, Soda, and Arsenic- yes, I said arsenic!, and of course... MUD!), and laid in the hammocks.  This spa is nothing like the fancy schmancy findings of Chicago, but boy was it an experience not to be missed.  The mineral pools left you feeling silky smooth and detoxified, and, well, a little more stress free.  One funny thing we noticed about these pools and baths:  you can be in the water for an hour and you do not get raisin toes!

Now that the relaxation is over, let's get on to the ART!
On our drive to Santa Fe

Canyon Road
After those few exquisitely relaxing days spent at Ojo Caliente, we headed to Santa Fe for one crazy art-filled day.  We first walked up (most of the way) and down Canyon Road.  If you have ever been to Santa Fe, you already know what I'm talking about.  If you have not, well, how do I describe?  This is a very quaint mile or so of gallery after gallery of artwork.  Contemporary, abstract, realist, hyper realist, Native American, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, mixed art- anything you can think of!  And the gallery managers were amazingly friendly and kind, to boot!  I have never experienced such welcome walking in and out of those galleries which also had fairly priced artwork (a pleasant surprise!).  I found myself inspired and frustrated all at the same time.  However, I did find some encaustic works that really pushed me to get even more excited about working with wax.  My next idea is to use encaustic in a style inspired by my oil paintings.  More on that in a future post!  Scroll to the bottom to find a list of a few of my favorite artists during this visit.

Finding THAT piece
While planning the trip to New Mexico, I found myself lucky to be working with some Mega-Santa-Fe-Professionals... meaning that my coworkers could not talk more about how awesome Santa Fe is.  Of course, working in the art field, this only makes sense.  A huge thank you goes out to Gary Davis (a visiting artist at our school who worked with the students to create some amazing pottery, and then created an outdoor firing of the pieces!), who lent me his Santa Fe magazines and expertise, as well as to Sophia Pichinos who gave some fantastic suggestions which helped to guide our travels.  When looking at the magazines, I found this FANTASTIC piece of jewelry:  a rather large turquoise cuff.  Anyone who knows me know that I absolutely LOVE large jewelry, and as most know, it takes a particular person to pull it off.  It has been said that I am that person.  My goal this trip was to find THIS piece of jewelry at a bargained, haggled, begged (purchaseable) price.  I walk in to a jewelry store along Canyon Road, and what do I find?  The most amazing vintage pieces.  I am a sucker for vintage.  I point at the necklace in the display and ask the man, "May I look at the piece, please?"  He pulls it out and I glance at the tiny white price tag like any reasonable, price-conscious, baby-toting woman would do.  $115.00.  WHAT?  Really?  Ok, it's MINE!  I place it around my neck and it lays gently along my collarbone.  My sister and mom ooo'ed and ahhhh'ed at how it seemed as if it was made for MY neck.  My mom asked the gentleman, "How much is this piece?  The price looks a little smudged."  The older man took hold of the 1940's piece and said, "eleven thousand, five hundred." 

Didn't I just say that the art was surprisingly affordable?
Did you just choke a little?  So did I, but quietly, on the inside.  I asked if he wouldn't mind if I took a photo of it, which he replied, "I guess so, it won't do you any good- you can't wear a photo."  Eh, maybe.  But at least now I can post it for all of you to see before I say "Thank you!" and kindly and briskly head right out the door. 
The Governor's Plaza and The Bargain.
After a visual overload (scroll to the bottom for a few of my favs), we headed into town to walk through the Governor's Plaza.  This is a row under an awning in which Native Americans sit with their blankets of jewelry and art for sale.  It is an amazing experience, and the people were the kindest.  Among the blankets, I saw some fine hand crafted pendants, cuffs, earrings, ponytail holders with silver etched discs of bear, buffalo, and other symbols, and even large chiseled sculptures.  The Native Americans smiled at me as I walked along and used long telescoping wands to point at the various pieces.  I walked along the row a few times to get a feel for what was available, and to find that unique piece not found anywhere else.  There was one older lady that I stopped by and spoke with for a little bit.  She had the most unusual pieces- pieces I did not see at any other blanket. Among the pieces that sparked my interest were pendants that had hanging silver dangles in which she told me she had just finished the day before, and was up until 1am that evening polishing all the little dangles.  The cuffs, which I was most interested in, where created by her son.  Each silver detail was individually soldered onto the cuff.  I was attracted to the dull silver piece that had turquoise in the middle and almost sea shell scallops (three-dimensional) on each side.  It was beautiful, but still not QUITE what I had in mind.  She told me it was $350. 

I walked away and thought about it.  As we headed to a gallery my sister was interested in visiting, we came upon a "Going out of business!" Okay, I'm not an idiot.  The people inside were tourists, and the manager was an incredibly high energy joker- clearly a salesman.  But, of course, I glanced in the window and there it was.  THE PIECE!  Half off.  I couldn't resist.  Plus, I'm a haggler!  This is the woman who walked in to the Dick Blick Outlet in Galesburg and found an easel marked from $250 to $75.  I could NOT pass that up... but still, I bargained as there was a chip in the frame.  I wanted a deal!  (And I got it!)
So, I walked in and pointed to the display, "I want THAT piece."  The girl pulled it out and I placed it on my arm.  It was priced at $500., but it was 1/2 off.  This was a piece that I would have guessed to be $800.  It is large and adorned with turquoise and silver detail.  It is stamped as a genuine Native piece.  I bargained for $175, and ended on a keen $225.  The crazy salesman (that took over the mild salesgirl's sale), placed large pendants around each of our necks and called them a gift (which we joked- "We will need to wear them at every family event now so we can be matchy matchy."  As soon as I left the store, I started to take mine off, and the salesman saw me and yelled at me.).  So, what can I say.  It's what I wanted, and the price was right.  I made the deal. 

Shortly after, we walked into another jewelry/trading shop and the Native American woman working there complimented me on my cuff I had just purchased!  When I mentioned that we bought it at that store around the corner, she rolled her eyes.  But, she did tell me that I did get a great deal on a really nice piece of jewelry.  I looked at her cuffs that were very similar and they ranged from $350-$850.  I purchased a Native American rattle for my daughter (who cannot get enough of that thing!  Shake shake shake!). 

A few regrets.
I like to say that I do not regret anything in life.  I do regret, however, not spending more time looking through galleries.  And I do regret not purchasing a small carved animal with a little stone strapped to his back from one of the Native Americans at the Governor's Plaza.  But heck, it's not a regret so much as something to bring me back to Santa Fe.  There is a lot more that will bring me back to Santa Fe; hopefully sooner than later.

Favorite artists (or galleries):

Ted Gall - A favorite of my sister and mom, I saw his pieces a few years ago at Chicago's SOFA show.  Sculptural pieces with moving parts, exploring the inner psyche.

Michael Madzo- Surrealistic and whimsical collage-esque pieces.  Stitched canvas, and then painted

-Both of these artists are represented at the Hunter Kirkland Contemporary Art Gallery on Canyon Road

Marie Najera-  Collage-esque quirky, funny paintings

Leah Saulnier-  whimsical paintings

Bonnie Teitlebaum-  layers of color and texture using acrylics; reminds me of my scenic art days... very similar techniques to layering and distressing and experimenting.  Some gorgeous colors, very shiny (I asked if they were resin coated- looked commerical)

Joseph Bellacera-  Beautiful use of color and movement.  Feels very cyclical, color moves from waves into sunset with clouds... abstract.

-These artists are represented at Patricia Carlisle Fine Art Gallery on Canyon Road)

-Mill Fine Art on Canyon Road-  Meg, the manager, was incredibly friendly, chatty, and helpful. 

(I have more- I will add!!)