Tag Archives: encaustic

Timeout for Art: Future Art



Robert Genn was a prolific artist and mentor to thousands through his twice weekly “Painter’s Keys” newsletter. His daughter, Sara, a wonderful artist in her own right, has continued putting out the newsletter, since Robert’s death. She takes turns, offering her own insights and advice one day, publishing one of her father’s essays the next. Readers – artists working in locations all over the world and in all different media – discuss, in comments, the topic at hand. I value the connection. It has been a way for me, from this remote location, to get a sense of what is going on elsewhere, in the world of art.

Over the years, Genn gave advice on starting and finishing work, approaching galleries and pricing. One suggestion that has stayed with me is that one shouldn’t talk too long or too much about work that is still in the embryonic stages. Ideas need to be guarded and treated tenderly. A lack of enthusiasm in a response to sharing or – worse – a negative viewpoint can destroy a vision before it has a chance. Sometimes just the act of talking about an idea takes the energy away from it. With that in mind, I am cautious, usually, about talking about future work.

I have plans, though. In this last, dry year, with little time for making art, my mind has still been working. I have several large collage paintings in various stages of completion. The imagery still holds excitement and validity for me; I plan to finish them. Likewise, I have several collagraphs that have been waiting for final touches. I have a coupe large drawings to finish, and a few dozen clay bowls to fire. That would complete the work that is underway.

As for new work, I’ve been intrigued by encaustic painting since I studied the work of Jasper Johns. I have wanted to try it for years. It is a method that fits nicely with the collage/paint/aged surface way that I work. This year, I read three technical books on the encaustic process. I purchased multiple support boards in two sizes, tools, equipment and materials. In the next year, I will do some encaustic painting. In fact, with the idea that I have to leave room for learning, experimentation and mistakes, I plan to do a lot of work in encaustic next year.

There are more things that interest me, ideas I’d like to flesh out and materials I’d like to try…but that’s enough for now.


Looking Ahead


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Today is January 1, 2016.

Today, the new year begins.

Yesterday, it was all plans.

Yesterday, after work, I went to the grocery store. I chose items for meals based on the fact that I’ll be participating in my friend Carla’s “5 Day Clean Eating Challenge.” So, of course, I wanted foods that would not only taste good and be healthy, but that would photograph well, should the need arise. My plan is this: mostly oatmeal or yogurt and granola for breakfast; healthy homemade soups for lunch; for dinner, I’ll work my way around salmon, chicken breast, brown rice and the mound of vegetables and greens I brought home. Day before yesterday, I made a huge pot of bean and barley soup with a tomato base and lots of vegetables. I made so much, in fact, that if the 5 day challenge started today, I could eat soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week, and not have to think about another meal!

I ran to the airport yesterday afternoon when I learned I had packages waiting. More books to add to the stack. I have quite a collection of self-help books, waiting to start my new year off on the right foot. Every one, I am sure, will change my life. I do this every year. So far, my life has not been dramatically changed by any self-help book. Still, winter is here, books are nice companions…and I still hold out hope for life-changing advise. In the pile this year are:

the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo

Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory

This Year I Will…by M.J.Ryan

do less by Rachel Jonat

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

F*ck Feelings by Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett

I was so impressed with that last one, I ordered one for each of my daughters as well. Yeah…those will probably have to go back. It doesn’t take a self-help book to know that self-help books, presented to others, carry the idea of judgment and even insult. Improving myself is job enough!

Yesterday I outlined plans for studio work this year, including a hundred small paintings, a few larger paintings and putting my printing press back in use. I also want to do some experimenting with encaustic painting, and I am tentatively thinking about a drawing class.

Yesterday, I committed to writing every day in 2016. What was I thinking? It’s even a leap year! It was a moment of weakness. My friend Joss, who writes poetry and does amazing and magical things, said she planned to write every day this year. She asked if any others wanted to join her in that commitment.

I am over-extended in every area of my life. I lay awake at night thinking how I will accomplish just the basic things that I need to do. I mourn the things I’ve had to let go. This time of year, though, makes me crazy. This whole idea of new, of starting fresh, of unlimited possibilities makes me think anything is possible.

I thought, “It was really hard just writing every day in November!” I thought, “Are you nuts?” I thought, “I have tomorrow off…I could do that.” And just like that, I have taken on a 366 day writing challenge.

So, if I’m going to succeed at this, I can’t plan a long post every day. I can’t spend a half-hour going through photos to pick the best illustration for my little writing. Most days, it will be whatever view I encounter when I take Rosa Parks out for her morning constitutional, in words and pictures. With that in mind, I brought my camera outside with me this morning. Snow is coming down; the view in every direction is a study in gray. On the way back to the house, I noticed my garden sculpture – a form I made of loose coils of clay, now topped with a gazing ball – was wearing a party hat of snow. Perfect!

Happy New Year!

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I like the four seasons we experience here in Michigan.

Living on Beaver Island, with its wintertime isolation contrasting with summer’s influx of visitors, the season’s are even more distinct.

Labor Day marks the end of our busy summer season. In this economy, business drops off suddenly.

I’m right on top of it! When things slow down, I move instantly into my off-season pace.

Springtime, when things pick up, I’m a bit slower to catch the wave.

Through the winter, with time spreading out before me like a warm blanket, it’s easy to start new projects. Winter menus and New Year resolutions inspire new commitments to exercise. Time in the studio sparks several new creative pursuits. Maybe try encaustic painting…do a little clay work…get back into drawing…teach a class or two. A warm April encourages a whole new aspect in my garden. Why not? Time for writing…sure, commit to a blog. Add pages showcasing my art. And writing. And sure, why not even add book reviews.

Memorial Day marks the beginning of our summer season. Talk of the weather is replaced by speculation on summer business. Gas prices are up; the economy is not. It’s an election year; unemployment is still high. We depend so heavily here on summer’s bounty to carry us through the entire year, it’s always a concern. Will people come to Beaver Island?

They’re coming!

The days are once again punctuated by the blast of the ferry boat’s horn. The restaurants are adding their summer help. Businesses have changed to summer hours. Gift shops are open for the season. The streets are busy with cars and people. The islanders breathe a sigh of relief.

The second sigh is one of exhaustion.

I just finished working a stint of eleven days in a row. Actually, there was one day off squeezed in there, which I used to take my aunt to the mainland for medical tests. Not even considering the 8AM flight or the mainland traffic, a day spent in hospital waiting rooms and medical offices is not a relaxing day. I’m counting it as a work day. So, eleven days, many nine or more hours. Busy! My pedometer, which barely clocks ten thousand steps per day all winter no matter how many walks I add, was marking over double that, just during work hours!

I came home exhausted every night. Dragged myself out to walk the dogs. Put the most pathetic collection of meals together. Read a few meager paragraphs before falling asleep. No exercise program, no studio time, no gardening. No blog.

For my blog entry, I re-posted one of Renee Fisher’s “Life in the Boomer Lane” selections. She is an excellent writer, always thoughtful and often laugh-out-loud funny. It was a wonderful, encouraging post. It covered many issues that have been rolling around in my mind for quite some time. She spoke of those issues much more eloquently than I would have. Still, it felt like a cheat to my commitment. I’ve already quit writing the book reviews, having remembered that – though I love reading, and even enjoy reading reviews – I have always hated writing book reviews. Now I’ve sunk to re-blogging, as well.


When the tempo picks up this time of year, it takes me a while to catch up with it!