Friday, January 30, 2009


Today I'm watching paint dry (literally).  Due to vacation days, snow days and sick days my house has been quite full most of January and my studio time has been very limited.  I'm hoping this will change as we enter February and am planning to spend the weekend working on some small block paintings for a "creative muse" group show I'm participating in next Friday evening. My oil paint/beeswax experiment is coming along but both pieces needed some tweaking so I have no new work to share today.  I would like to share this poem by Billy Collins (U.S. Poet Laureate 2001 & 2002) and say that this blog is my asterisk, my little star in the margin and I thank you all for stopping in.....
Have a fabulous weekend!

P.S.  thank you amanda for suggesting the walnut alkyd....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things we bury (that grow anyways)

 The idea for these subterranean jars has been in the back of my mind for a few months...
I love the  idea of emotions in jars on a shelf, buried underground, or cast out to sea.  I see many more jars in my future.... 

 What are you up to this Tuesday evening?

Monday, January 26, 2009


Hey There....
Thank you for all the comments on the photographs in my last post!  I wish I could take all the credit but I think this lens has a lot to do with it.   I worked on both house paintings last night and am just about to finish up a new encaustic painting which I will post tomorrow but I wanted to share the expression on this little gal's face.  You would think that someone with flowers in her hair would look a bit happier but I just can't bring myself to change her expression (I still have a lot of work to do on her).   She is another experiment in the oil and beeswax thing I've got going on here and her fate is yet to be determined. 
Back to work.....

Friday, January 23, 2009

slow food...

Friday used to be pizza night but lately that has moved to Thursday.  At the end of a long week (and after not cooking Thursday) I have begun spending Friday afternoon's cooking and experimenting with new recipes.  It's so comforting to put on some Miles Davis, pour a glass of wine, chop, puree, saute, and bake.  The house smells amazing and you end the week with a small feast.  Anyways, I was planning to try making this pasta last week but the two snow days kind of threw things off.  The recipe is "White Bean Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter" from Mario Batali's "Simple Italian Food".  I actually made two batches of dough because I was serving eleven people ( I invited our neighbors over to share in this untested recipe....).  The first batch I mixed using the fork/well method and the second batch I mixed in the food processor and I kneaded both by hand.  The dough mixed in the food processor came out much more tender and required minimal kneading.  The filling was white beans, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano, salt and pepper.  I have to say the pasta was much easier to make than I had anticipated and it truly was delicious.  The thing that it took was time....but Friday afternoon's I'm learning the value of slowing down.
Here are a few of my favorites from the Art Institute last weekend.  Many pieces are in storage awaiting the completion of the Modern Wing which will open this May (I got a sneak peak at the almost completed space and it is spectacular).

 Little Landscape at the Seaside by gerhard richter 
City Landscape by Joan Mitchell

P.S.  If you visit Chicago you must have a bite at Avec .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

a color cocoon...

As I looked around my house today I realized that it is quite like a color cocoon.  I have a variety of lovely colors on all the walls in this charming old house,  rainbow like art on top of those walls in every room, and bold and color saturated rugs underfoot.  The funny thing is I wear black 90% of the time!  Lately I've been exploring color a bit more boldly in my work.  Using simple lines, text and color to evoke memory or emotion has been creatively freeing.  I love using the oil paints as a base because they flow across the wood panel so smoothly, which is very different than using color in encaustics.  That being said oils do have their drawbacks (drying time, mess and clean up).  Theoretically the two paintings above will be done in oil paints and then covered in a layer of clear encaustic medium.  I say theoretically because many things could wrong here and most likely the damage would be done in the final stage!  I have a very clear picture of what I want to do with these two complimentary paintings (which never seems to work in my favor) so I'm going to take it slow and see what happens.  I'll share again as they progress but will get back to some encaustic painting tomorrow as these dry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"What if the mightiest word is that casts a widening pool of light."
 What an awesomely beautiful idea to try and wrap your head around.  That is my favorite line from Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem which was both accessible and memorable. I spent most of the day glued to the tele (knitting in hand) watching the days' events unfold and went to bed with my heart smiling.  These two little paintings were inspired by Michelle and Sasha Obama's fabulous attire!   Tomorrow I hope to share a bit more work and to update my  shop...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

making and baking...

Happy Saturday!  Even though the kids had back to back snow days this week Saturday just feels different...more relaxed.  I spent some time in the studio today finishing up "Love 15 Ways".
  I know, yellow, can you believe it?  When the cadmium yellow deep  started calling to me from the shelf I ignored.  But then I couldn't stop thinking about it's warm jewel tone and deep egg yolk I tried it and loved it.  I am really enjoying these word quilts and plan to continue playing with type, tissue and color.  The second painting I completed is from my "On the Ball" series and I believe she will be named (my life is a circus). 
 The other two photos are yummy whole wheat blueberry muffins which didn't stand a chance with 3 kiddos in the house!  My parents come into town tomorrow to stay with the kids while my man and I spend a few days in the city exploring The Art Institute, skating at Millenium Park, walking hand in hand and enjoying good food,wine and conversation.  See you Tuesday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

love 15 ways...

It's amazing (and kind of silly) to try and pack all that love is into one word...I mean whose idea was that?  Love is big, small, empowering, humbling, comforting , frightening, random and's SO much bigger than one word.  This pile of tissue prints shows love in 15 different languages.  It's funny some are small short words, some soft sounding and some sound hard sounding but they all mean the same thing.  I'm working these into a block painting which I'll share tomorrow if all goes well....
brrrr.....(not above zero today!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

gocco love...

It's amazing how difficult it can be to commit to using two gocco bulbs. Does anyone else have this problem? I think it's because the supplies are not readily available and I'm an instant gratification kind of gal (I'm remedying this by ordering a large supply of bulbs). These sweeties are two separate drawings  layered for the final magic flash. The first photo is of the print itself in black ink and the second is colored in with pencil...I was planning to paint them with gouache but there just wasn't time for that today.  Hibernation mode is about to set in here with temps hovering around 0 for the rest of the week so I plan on getting lots of work done....

Monday, January 12, 2009


As much as I wanted this piece to work it just wasn't.  For the past three days I have been trying to make it work but every thing I tried just took it one step further away from what it was supposed to be....and so it is no more.  I plan to start this piece over once I have a few days to think about the problems I encountered and what I need to do differently the next time. I learned with knitting a long time ago that sometimes letting something go and starting over can be very liberating.  

about tissue printing.....
1.  set up your page with the fight font or image in the right size and place on the copier
2. carefully tape a flat piece of white tissue paper to a plain white sheet of paper and place it in the copier tray
3. cross your fingers and press the copy button
4. cut out the words or image (once the toner is dry) and dip into clear medium, lift carefully and place onto your warmed wax surface being sure to get it flat and gently press out any air bubble without ripping the tissue
5. apply a thin layer of medium over the image and heat set

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

there's no place like home...

No matter what you call it,  in the middle of winter with 11 inches of snow outside there is no place like home.  I've spent most of this week "enlarging" my last two block paintings.  I really liked the way those last two little blocks and felt that perhaps they would translate well onto larger boards.  Well, let's just say that was easier said than done.  The whole tissue printing debacle left me a bit frustrated and my printer a bit off (oops...).  Then there was the waxing and applying of all the words onto the larger version of the "compartmentalized" piece (i'm still working on that one).  Anything over 9" x 12" becomes pretty tricky when working in encaustics.  Getting good coverage with each layer of wax is difficult and heat setting each layer can be quite brutal on the arms.  That being said I love the small blocks (3.5"x5") but I also really like the more substantial presence the larger versions have  (8" x 10" and 12" x 16").  I'm hoping to finish the 2nd one up tonight and maybe play around with my gocco printer this week.....warm wishes to all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

looks boring but....

it's really exciting!  The attachment I found for my drill ( a forstner bit) makes this perfect and beautiful hole in the back of my wood blocks so they can hang flush against a wall.  This means I won't have to drill and hammer my already finished paintings anymore (which was always a bit nerve racking).  I found it to be too difficult to paint, scrape and incise a painting if it had a hanger attached to the back of it...I need to work with a piece lying flat on my work table.  So anyways, I have drilled a number of blocks and am feeling a bit giddy after my power tool extravaganza!

Here are my five everyday loves (for gretchenmist)
(keeps us warm in this drafty old house from breakfast thru story time)
(this paper is full of the best and worst of humanity and everything in's actually tied with NPR but I spend much less time in my car these days....)
(without this product I resemble a walking bit of cotton has been my everyday love for the past 8 years)
(i love, love, love this space and am so grateful to have it....)
(my home is one block from the lake and it's constant presence whether I'm walking or driving makes my midwestern local seem open and expansive....)

I'm not going to tag anyone but I'd love to hear what your 5 everyday loves are on your own blog or here....

Monday, January 5, 2009

new work and a new friend....

Good morning!  It is oddly quiet at my house this morning with the kids back to school.  I was ready to get back to the routine of having the house quiet at least three mornings a week but the first morning everyone is gone always feels a bit lonely and awkward.  However, I have these two new pieces to share which I finished on Saturday evening.  The first one was done using oil paints directly on a wood block for the stripes.  I then layered beeswax and used a tissue copy for the letters.  I love stripes (always have) and mixed with the old typewriter lettering I really like the bold and kind of graphic feel of this piece.   The second painting is all encaustic with tissue copies for the words set into tiny wax windows or compartments.  We all carry so much inside of ourselves it's interesting to imagine that we are all pieced together like a quilt of ideas, emotion and grace.

Yesterday  I met up with fellow blogger and encaustic artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills for coffee.   It was the first time I have met an "online" friend and it was an amazingly rewarding morning.  Our conversation focused on the paths that led us to where we are and what our hopes and dreams are for the future.  Most importantly we discussed how we planned to make those things happen.  Bridgette  shared a lot of information and insight and I want to thank her for opening up her studio to me.  Seeing another artists' work and peeking into their process is an invaluable source of inspiration.  One of my goals for the coming year is open myself up a bit more to the encaustic community and this meeting was the first of many steps...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Talking Blocks

                                                       simple pleasures

                                                  occasional graces

My muse has taken to showing up around 4am every morning (since I go to bed around midnight this is really cutting into my shut eye) .   The other night as I lie awake thinking about these striped blocks (at 4 am) I kept envisioning different ways of writing on the top.  I knew that I wanted to create a series of "talking blocks" and I really like the way the oil paints striped the bottom but I was  totally stuck on how best to execute my idea.  Then I remembered a post Bridgette did in which she talked about copying images onto tissue paper....PERFECT!  So of course I had to get out of bed, creep down the creaky old stairs  and re-read the post and give it a try.  It worked!  I love the way these turned out and plan to try a larger version as well.  Maybe once the kids are back in school next week the muse will appear at a more reasonable hour (once I can crank up the music and paint during the day).  But for the next few days I can be found quietly painting in the wee hours....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

hello 2009!

                                             Party Girl 2009 (all dressed up)

                                         Party Girl 2009 (make a joyful noise)

                                              Party Girl 2009 (starry night)

I was so very happy that so many of you took the time to share a hope, dream or resolution that I decided I would give away TWO of these Party Girls (the 3rd one will be added to my shop).
A drum roll would be good here....
the first name pulled from the cookie tin was  BETH!!! 
You get first pick (just let me know which little sweetie you would like and I'll send her off tomorrow).
the second name pulled from the cookie tin was LEILILALOO!!!!
Yay Dana!  Just let me know your 1st and 2nd choice (once Beth picks I''ll let you know which girl is travelling to Holland).

Congratulations and all the best on this first day of 2009!