Monday, 30 April 2012

Fanfare - mixed media with encaustic

"Fanfare" - Encaustic Collage on board (photo transfer, fabric, paper, oil paint, hot wax, 30x30cm)

Another half-failed trial to create some texture with burnt shellac. Still, these are all my favourite colours and interesting things have materialised. Having no control when using the torch can be exciting but also very frustrating.
This painting reminds me that spring is in the air, at least it was today (forecast: rain rain rain...), and nature is exploding.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Encaustic Collage - "Tulip Fever"

"Tulip Fever" - Encaustic collage (photo transfer, fabric, oils, hot wax)

Mixed media with encaustic, Song at Twilight

"Song at Twilight" - mixed media collage with encaustic (old letter, music, chocolate paper, fabric, hot wax, 30x25cm)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Encaustic collage "Winter Fern"

"Winter Fern" - Encaustic painting (35x25cm, paper & wax on board)

Experimenting with encaustics is full of surprises. This new work involves shellac (left side) which actually didn't turn out as I would have liked it. It didn't create these large crates and web patterns - don't know what went wrong.
On the right side, my first trial of photo transfer, using a photocopy of a picture of the wonderful Karl Blossfeldt. Not easy to find a photocopy machine doing laser prints, as my inkjet copies wouldn't do the trick.
I made some incisions with sharp old dentist's instrument, filled them up with burnt umber oilpaint, put on a layer of medium, and finally collaged in the music. Although I'm not quite sure about this last bit, maybe I'll take it away again. It's there thanks to a musician friend, a cellist, who recognised two cello necks instead of the ferns.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Setting yourself goals for being creative

I admire Alicia Tormey's  daring and experimental approach to encaustics, resulting in subtle and often huge paintings. Here are her useful, inspiring tips on her blog.

12 Ways to Motivate an Artist

We all need a little push now and then so I put together this list of tips that have helped me stay motivated and maybe they can help someone else too.

1. Show Up: This is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your productivity in the studio. Get in there. Even if you are just making phone calls, sorting out your brushes or organizing your supplies. Simply spending time in your studio will get you into the habit of creating. Daily time spent in your studio will improve your productivity.

2. Set Goals: Set goals for yourself and break them down into smaller categories: Long Range, Short Term and Immediate. Example: I am going to paint 5 pieces this month, 2 paintings this week and prep 1 panel this afternoon.

3. Dress the Part: Put on your favorite work clothes for motivation. I have a great pair of funky old shoes (see photo) a beautiful scarf and a paint-encrusted smock that make me feel super creative the moment I slip them on. Discover your power outfit and wear it when you need some extra motivation.

these are my favorite shoes to work in
4. Connect with Community: Join an online forum and leave comments. (Connect right here!) Create or join a local chapter for artists in your area and meet once a month to discuss your progress and share resources. I am part of a group here in Seattle we call the Arty Girls. Start a blog and invite people to share their comments. (Just like this one – so please leave your comments .) Connecting with others will keep you going.

5. Make Yourself Accountable: Tell someone what you are working towards and share your progress with them. Enlist their help to keep you on track. Knowing that someone is waiting to see your progress can help maintain your momentum.

6. Lower Your Expectations: Not everything you create will be a masterpiece so allow yourself some time to create the experimental work and rough pieces that will inform your next masterpiece.

7. Open Your Studio: Invite a guest or the whole neighborhood to visit your studio. This will help you to get things organized and asses the amount of work you have ready to display.

8. Apply for Calls: Nothing like a deadline to get you motivated so apply for juried shows and art opportunities and create new work to submit. Even if you don’t get accepted the exercise of organizing and assessing your work is invaluable. Here are a few links to organizations that post National Calls For Art and other art opportunities: Art , Washington State Arts Commission and National Calls For Entry

9. Take a Class: Sign up for a class or workshop. (I prefer workshops because they tend to be condensed and more intense.) This will help you plug into your arts community and connect with like minded folks. It’s easy to comeback to your studio and continue working if you are already in the zone and dressed for the occasion. Arrange to meet with other students after the class.

10. Host an Art Exchange: Throw an art exchange party – Invite guests to bring a small, piece of original art in a plain brown wrapper to swap with other guests. When you know your work will be judged by your peers it can motivate you to up your game.

plain paper wrapping helps hide the identity of each artisit
11. Trade Critiques: Swap critiques with another artist. Share your work and use the feedback you receive to propel your work forward. Make changes and submit the new work for additional feedback – The exchange of ideas will help you stay focused and energized.

12. Give Yourself Permission: Don’t let other work or a looming deadline trap you into paralysis. The dishes, the laundry and the shopping can wait. Schedule time to be in the studio and give yourself permission to be there.

Letter to his Mother - Encaustic Collage

Letter to his mother (35x40cm)
Encaustic collage (coloured paper, stencil,fabric,original letter)

My father wrote many letters to his family back in Second World War Germany when he, at the age of 17, became a prisoner of war in 1945. He was quite lucky though, staying with a farmer's family on a small island in then Yougoslavia, off the coast from Dubrovnik. They really treated him like a son, and they had a strong relationship with each other for many years after his release in 1949.
His letters again show his strong feelings of responsibility for his family left in the Sudetenland (today's Czechoslovakia). They had to flee in 1944 to Western Germany, having lost everything and being forced to build up a new life from scratch, like millions of others.

To me, being born after the war and never have lived in wartimes, this all is hardly imaginable. There must be a psychological mechanism in us forcing us to start anew instead of falling into depression. Apparently there are hardly any people suffering from depression during wartimes. Every energy seems to go into surviving.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Encaustic Collage "Garden of Love"

Encaustic Collage "Garden of Love" (30x25cm)
coloured paper, stamps, fabric, hot pigmented wax

Encaustic Collage - "We set out together"

Encaustic Collage  "We set out together" (25x20cm)
printed paper, gold chocolate paper, leaf, text, pigmented wax

Thursday, 22 December 2011

When Life Begins - encaustic collage

Scientist might have discovered how human life begins, how it grows, how to do in vitro fertilisation and countless other amazing things. Even in times of overpopulation the growing of a fetus and birth itself still seem like an unbelievable miracle.
Thinking of Christmas, the catholic belief of a virgin giving birth to baby Jesus seems an even larger miracle - but what would religion be without faith in things which can't be proved scientifically?

I'm also very intrigued by Ginkgo leaves. The Ginkgo tree is a phenomenon, an object of veneration, a sacred tree of the East, a symbol of unity of opposites, by some seen as a symbol of changelessness, possessing miraculous power, bearer of hope and of the immeasurable past, a symbol of love. Because of all its properties it is associated with longevity.

"When Life Begins" - encaustic collage on board (30x34cm)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Secrets of Life and Death

"Secrets of Life and Death 1" - encaustic collage including Leonardo da Vinci's "Fetus" (70x50cm)

Birth and Death - enigmatic events which science never will totally decipher I think.
And there is no day without us being confronted by both ( more by death when you watch the news...), and no day without me thinking and fantasising about these topics.

I have been fascinated by the genius of Leonardo da Vinci for a long time.  Two years ago I visited a brilliant exhibition in his manor house in Amboise (Loire/France), where he lived until his death. They reconstructed many of his engines and inventions, and huge semi-transparent posters showing his drawings were hanging from the trees in the surrounding parc.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was an Italian Renaissance genius: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.
As a successful artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre. Leonardo made over 200 pages of drawings and many pages of notes towards a treatise on anatomy.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

This green winter - encaustic collage "Across the Fields"

Last year we had snow and very low temperatures at this time of the year. This year's winter is more English: green fields and fertile dark brown, freshly ploughed soil, surrounded by rows of bare oak trees and hedges - this all gives the undulating Norfolk landscape such a harmonic and gentle atmosphere. It feels like spring, walking under glorious sunshine and surreal blue sky.
"Across the Fields" - encaustic collage (100x70cm)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Being Creative - but how?

"Mate o'Mine" - encaustic collage  on board (30x25cm)
I found an interesting post about being creative today on Terry Holliday's blog. Although I might not agree with all her details, it is encouraging to read this list and make myself aware of things which typically impede creativity.

"When it comes to art and being creative, there are no rules. Here are 6 things that every creative person must know about.

1. Aim to be different.

You can either aim to be “better” than all the other artists out there or you can aim to be “different”. Stop comparing yourself to other people. There will always be things that they can do better than you. Likewise, there are also things that you can do better than anybody else. You are in a class of your own. Embrace your uniqueness. Dare to be different. Look at Lady Gaga. When she was in grade school everyone would laugh at her for being weird. For being different. But it is because she has embraced her uniqueness that she has become the best selling artist she is today.

2. Challenges are what push you to be better.

No one likes having problems. But instead of thinking of them as problems why not think of them as challenges? Every time you are challenged you are pushed to become a better artist. Why? Because it is when you step out of your comfort zone that you learn and grow. There is more to art than what you already know. Be willing to discover new horizons.

3. Trust your gut.

We artists have gut feels. We know instinctively whether a piece of art needs something more or is just “right”. Yes, we should listen to what other people have to say. But in the end we should trust our instincts.

4. Simplicity is beauty.

A piece of art does not have to be complicated in order to be beautiful. More often than not, simplicity is the key to beauty. Remove distractions. Get rid of clutter. Decide what your main subject is and let everything revolve around that.

5. Make mistakes.

Making mistakes are the fastest way to learn. Don’t be afraid to go wrong. Make mistakes and learn from them. Avoiding failure is pointless. Sooner or later we’ll trip up. After all we are only human. Instead avoiding failure, learn to look at it from another perspective. Look at each “failure” as a learning experience.

6. Real artists create.

There are many kinds of artists. But the bottom line is real artists create their own stuff. Sure you can get inspired by the work of other artists. But don’t copy it. Make your own. Create your own mark. Try new stuff. Use old materials in different ways."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Encaustics & mixed media - "Decreasing Moon"

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” ~ Victor Frankl
"Decreasing Moon" - encaustic collage on canvas (70 x 55cm)
My work I think is hardly inspired by the outside world. Despite my daily dog walks through beautiful fields or along the beach, my paintings don't seem to draw from these images. Never mind - as long as the creative juices flow!

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
... and painting is one great way of becoming aware of what lies within us. It is often surprising (and sometimes even shocking) to see what emerges during the creative process. To me it seems like another form of dreaming.
"morning chill" - encaustic collage (20x15cm)

I quite like this encouraging quote from Georgia O'Keefe:
"I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
What a strong woman... I can see this strength in her art which is grand, brave and strong.
My paintings are more like playful jigsaws or mosaics, I'm always trying to put little pieces together which may or may not fit.
"Tuscan Autumn" - encaustic collage on board (40x30cm)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

encaustics & mixed media , Home / Your Voice

"Your Voice" - encaustics with mixed media on paper & board (30cm x 25cm)
"Home" - encaustics with mixed media on paper & board (45cm x 25cm)
I am getting more into the "swing" of this new medium.
The good thing for me is that the encaustic technique is very open to experimenting. You can always re-heat and scrape off or, if paper, take it off.
The difficult thing is, as with painted papers, to avoid messing up their colours when covering them with hot wax, and when fusing them with a very hot torch.
And, most importantly, how to avoid covering your hands (and clothes...) with hot wax? You have sometimes to react so quickly - and if there's no tool at hand, I just hold things down with my fingers...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

mixed media - "Melisande in the wood"

"Melisande in the wood" - mixed media (70cm x 55cm)

The painting itself is actually not quite as colourful as in this photograph. I find it really difficult to take photos of my artwork, especially if the surface is partly shiny, partly "muted".
Inspiration for this piece comes from tribal art, shaman rites, and here again colours and textures I sucked in during my holiday in Spain are very present. I can't deny it - I love colours! Although I'll try to get them a bit more muted. 

We live and experience so much through our visual sense.  What would I do without it? Seeing colours, compositions, textures and artworks I like opens my heart and gives me so much joy. How could I ever live without that?