Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Challenge

While I told myself 2012 would be the year I challenge myself to create a new artwork every week (fleetingly I even contemplated creating a very small work every day, as many more disciplined bloggers do) here it is, late January and I have created nothing but the beginnings of something: yesterday's distressed panel.

Every day for the past couple of weeks I've sought inspiration by looking through my collection of travel photos, reading other artists' blogs, magazines, books, sifting through on-line images of classic and contemporary artworks, YouTube demonstrations of encaustic, collage, and painting techniques, and ... zilch ... I seem to be having some kind of mental block. I explained my dilemma to my daughter and she told me it sounded like I'm inspired to be inspired but am stuck. She's right - I am stuck. I notice there is a plethora of information on getting 'unstuck', including an article in the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine I purchased yesterday: 52 Art Prompts for 2012. Must go read it now before I get stuck doing something else ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attempt #1 - Encaustic Painting

Over the past many weeks I've been gearing up to begin an exploration of encaustic painting: I've purchased books, equipment and materials, spent many hours researching various techniques on-line, and even signed up for an on-line video workshop with Oregon encaustic artist Linda Womack.

Yesterday, keen to get going, I began work on a 6" x 6" wooden cradle panel. I painted a couple of layers of wax medium (dammar crystals mixed with filtered beeswax - commercially produced) over the panel and attempting a photo transfer from one of the pictures I took of a hallway in Kilmainham Gaol while my youngest daughter and I toured Ireland last year.

My first problem was with the thrift store griddle I'd purchased for melting the wax medium - it overheated and the medium began smoking; second problem - I didn't have the proper ventilation required for drawing away the toxic fumes, so I threw my studio door wide open and the icy breeze cooled down the wax too quickly; third problem was attempting a photo transfer using an inkjet photocopy rather than a toner-based photocopy. My second attempt at the transfer seemed to be coming along nicely until I hit it with the heat gun and the transfer suddenly shrank severely, cracked, and lifted off the waxed substrate - eeeeek!

I was picking the brittle bits of transfer off the wax, silently cursing and wondering if I should attack it with a scraper and begin again at square one. Partway through the picking and scraping, I stopped to examine the distressed surface and decided it was beginning to look interesting; just for the heck of it I added some red wax medium and decided the experiment was taking a turn for the better. I quit then and will continue to work on it again soon, once I've purchased a new griddle and thermometer to ensure a minimum of toxins in the studio.

Must do more research before I return to the panel... stay tuned.