Saturday, December 17, 2016

Micro Art Series 2...Murmur

Warm wishes from the very wintery midwest.  I was up early on this snowy morning baking a six layer spice cake with buttercream frosting for my Mom's 70th birthday today.  These little guys are finally cured and ready to go.  I priced and listed each piece separately but am offering discounts for buying multiples ( i've given away a few and they stand perfectly well on their own but tiny does love company).  I'm offering free USPS priority mail domestic shipping thru December 20th, so if you are looking for a last minute  handmade holiday gift it can still make it! 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Handmade Holiday SALE

To help celebrate a season of giving handmade I am offering 20% off all work in my Etsy shop 11/19-12/1.  If you've had your eye on something for someone special or for yourself I hope this helps...use the code HANDMADEHOLIDAY at checkout .

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Sense of Place

A Sense of Place 1 & 2
encaustic on wood
5" x 5"

Made it through another week. Looking hard for hope and beauty. I have to look a little harder these days but its there, just below the surface, waiting to be be revealed.  
It's 72 degrees here today and snow likely tomorrow. 
Crazy weather, crazy times.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Prints on wood!

 This package brightened up my weekend.  I have experimented with making prints of my work a few times and none of the attempts ever felt like a good fit, but these little babies are awesome.  I only ordered a few pieces to see how they would translate, how true the image would appear and what the quality would be like.  They exceeded my expectations and the customer service was excellent as I worked through the process of uploading, resizing etc... The images are printed on sustainable birch, maple and bamboo plywood in a factory that is 100% solar powered.  The sides of the panels have a clean look that I really like and they have a keyhole hanger in the back so they can hang unframed.  (they also have a small cut out and wooden wedge so they can stand on their own).  I'm planning to add a new 'prints' section to my Etsy later today.  



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

between you and me

between you and me
4"x 5"

between you and me. a heavy heart telling my children we got it wrong. telling them it will be ok. hugging them tightly and truly believing that love still trumps hate. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

house, home and good neighbors-

Friends & Neighbors
6" x 6"

Good & Plenty
6" x 6"

Turned on the pots today and worked in wax.  Felt pretty summery outside but that's about to change.  Darker earlier, temperatures dropping and something big going down tomorrow.  Thinking about house, home, friends, loved ones and the state of the nation.  


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lucky Day-

Lucky Day
14" x 20"

A little color, a few bunnies and some lucky numbers.
Wishing you a weekend of good fortune.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

returning to wax-

::new encaustic mixed media work::

So I've been framing all week and every flat surface in my house is covered with work.  Yesterday I started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work left to do so I did what any red blooded procrastinator would do and I started something new.  I already had some small blocks gessoed and so I turned on my skillet, picked out some bits of print from the pile, and created these small pieces.  Going back to hot wax and old imagery was like visiting a good friend and it was just what I needed.  These pieces (and quite a few from my Etsy shop) are going to The Ann Arbor Art Center for the "Art Off The Wall' show. I'm delivering them tomorrow so if you are interested in any of these paintings (or something you saw on Etsy) let me know and I will set it aside.  Now I need to get back to attaching dust covers and hanging hardware....right after I start a new micro art series :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Micro Art Series 1

tiny art!

An answer to all of the large paintings in progress crowding my studio space was to go tiny. Super tiny. Like 1.5"x 2" tiny.  I had squirreled away scraps of wood left after cutting the talking blocks with the thought that I would create a series of tiny landscapes.  But after working on large abstract pieces for the past couple of months and filling large spaces with color and shape I decided that I wanted to do the same on a smaller micro scale.  I started this set a few weeks ago and every couple of days I layered on more color and detail.  It was very freeing to have less space to work with and I already have a color pallet picked out for Series 2.  Sadly it will have to wait as the next few days are set aside for framing.  I have LOTS of new work which is just about ready to share.  Some pieces will be going to The Ann Arbor Art Center for Art Off The Wall and some pieces will go into my Etsy shop the 1st week of November.  Well, maybe I can just lay down a 1st layer of color...

happy day-

Thursday, October 20, 2016

new cold wax work-

The Very Thought Of You
cold wax, oil, mixed media
24" x 24"

Counting On It
cold wax, oil, encaustic
14" x 14"

Two new pieces in a new (and very messy) medium.  'The Very Thought Of You' has been in the works for months and it was created with cold wax and oil paint and .a few bits of newsprint. 'Counting On It' is a reworking of a painting from late summer. that I finished this afternoon.  It was created with cold wax, oil paint and oil pastels. I was in the studio most of this rainy day and it felt so good...but now I'm worn out and ready to call it an early night.  Just want to say a quick hello and share :)

sweet dreams-

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

from sea to shining sea...

from sea to shining sea

Hey are you?  Another long pause here on the blog but I've been posting regularly to instagram (@bethbillups).  Pop X came and went and my installation was everything I wanted it to be but I'll save that for another post.  One with lots of photos and some thoughts on the whole process.  This piece has been hanging around the studio for quite some time but it never felt quite finished....not sure why but it just needed something, turns out it was more wax :)  I painted the image using layers of cold wax and oil paint which I then carved into the surface and set it aside to dry for a few weeks  months.  This morning I applied  three layers of clear encaustic medium and's done.  I have so many cold wax paintings in the works right now and I'm really enjoying the process of playing and learning to slow down and let pieces evolve over days, weeks and months.  Here's hoping you are finding time to create and savoring moments of quiet amid the chaos.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The rabbit hole...

talking blocks
wild hare (indigo)

This is by far the longest I've been away from this blog.  I fell down a rabbit hole of endless words, wood and wax.  Throw in two college visits, a quick trip to see old friends and a family vacation and there you have immersion in the be here now thing.  I have just over 500 word blocks complete and I need to start on the picture blocks.  Pop X 2016 opens September 22 and the installation date is just over a week away.  I'm not really stressed but I am working non-stop to get things ready.  But...every now and then I need a little creative diversion.  I worked late and woke up early to finish up this pair of wild hares.  Nothing like a little bunny love to set the refresh button.  I have all the basic words covered and more but I'm interested in knowing if you had to pick three words to tell your story what they be?!?  Mine would have to be 'back to work'. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

hand stitched support...


I spent all last week sanding, gluing and waxing over 200 talking blocks while watching the Democratic National Convention.  Yesterday I took some time off  and ordered a lawn sign, made a donation and made a shirt Alabama Chanin Style.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Use your words...

A friend came to visit over the weekend and she helped me get started on my Pop X installation.  As we sat out on the back porch for hours each morning and afternoon sanding blocks, cutting paper and pasting paper onto wood we talked about the power of words.  Looking at the roots of words, words hidden in words and words that mean different things to different people.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am creating this installation to engage the Ann Arbor community in conversation, to let people tell their stories and for people to hear what others have to say.  The weight of this idea really hit me hard as we talked about recent events here in this country and abroad and I realized just how important it is that we all do a lot more listening and a lot more speaking up.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer color and summer news-

Water's Edge

Night Garden

Summer is in full swing and the 5 of us are scattered to the wind.  Between us, in June and July, we are in Ann Arbor, Nebraska, Northern Michigan, Southern Illinois, Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Ontario...and this is not counting C's work travel!  Lots of fun and adventure kicking off this season with breaks in between where we are all here to hang out and catch up.

I have another week and a half off before I start teaching summer classes at The Ann Arbor Art Center and I've been in the studio every day painting with cold wax and oil paint.  I am totally addicted to this new to me medium. I love the depth of color and the gorgeous texture the thick buttery wax creates and the brightness and clarity it maintains when applied that is very different than my encaustic work.  I have quite a few pieces in the works in a variety of sizes that I will continue to share as they are completed...which may be awhile given what I am sharing in the next paragraph :)

I am super excited to share two new bits of work related news.  The 1st is that I have been invited to participate in Art Prize 2016.  'The Art Of Mending' will be shown in the main Lobby of the FifthThird Bank/ Warner Norcross and Judd LLP building.  If you are in or near Grand Rapids or are looking for a late summer adventure that will feed your soul I highly recommend exploring this art filled community event.  The 2nd bit of news is super, super exciting.  This year I submitted a proposal for POP-X 2016 which is a 10 day public art installation that is up in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor September 22nd to October 1st....and I am one of eight artists that have been chosen!!!  It is hard to describe my project so I am including my actual proposal (and mentioning that 500 blocks will not be enough and I am now up to 700...yikes!)

For POP X 2016 my proposal ’Talking Blocks’ is a dynamic and interactive art installation that invites the Ann Arbor community and its visitors to express themselves in short phrases, six word stories, poetry and full sentences.  The installation will be made up of a tall, free standing, black, four sided wood structure with multiple long black shelves on all four sides. The freestanding rectangle structure will be centered inside of the 100 sq ft house so that the public can enter the structure and walk all the way around it.  Having the structure centered, rather than lining the walls will take advantage of the natural light inside and will allow the installation to be viewed through the windows from the outside.  The interactive part of the display will be five hundred 2” high reclaimed wood blocks of varying lengths.  Four hundred of the  blocks will have words on them and the other hundred will have images form my work on them.  Things like, but not limited to, houses, boats, water, butterflies, rainbows, roads, people and birds.  The words and images will be printed on archival paper, bonded to the blocks with bookbinding glue, the block will then be coated in four thin layers of encaustic medium.  Each layer will be fused to the layer below creating a finish which is durable and impervious to water. I will then cover the blocks in black oil stick and wipe the excess away, leaving the black to fill in the bubbles and lines in the wax highlighting the texture and depth of the layers.  The words and images can be combined in infinite variations creating an ongoing conversation that will change by the hour and the day.  ‘Talking Blocks’ offers a way for the community to share ideas and to be heard, and will introduce many people to the ancient art of encaustic painting.  On it’s own each of the 500 blocks isn’t really much but when put together they will say a lot.

And while we're on the subject of new I wanted to mention a few other things I am exploring.  The 1st involves a new company I think many of you may have heard from if you are a working artist.  VIDA and Co. is a new style licensing company that is very interesting.  I have used three of my 'Art Of Mending' paintings to design long cashmere/silk scarves.  Check them out and let me know what you think and if you have any information or experience with this company I'd love to hear about it.  I have also ordered a 10" square print of one of my larger paintings on wood panel.  I'm not sure how the work will translate as a print but I'm hoping I will love it.  I experimented with prints on paper many years ago and wasn't thrilled with them but I think the wood will help keep the image more dimensional.  And lastly, I'm looking into getting some temporary tattoos printed with my artwork.  The night swimmers are begging to be first :)

Here's hoping your summer is off to a great start and that you are soaking up the sunshine!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

cold wax on paper-

they look like illustrations, don't they?

These are the 1st two cold wax paintings I did while at The Vermont Studio Center.  I wasn't really happy with them while I was working on them because they felt so flat and I wanted texture from the wax. Working on paper is very different than working on wood and I had to allow myself the time time to play and experiment freely. After working them over a few days time I was able to get some movement and texture in each piece by using oil pastels between layers of wax. Partially because I taped my edges I think they look a lot like illustrations. Theses two pieces have grown on me but I've switched back to working on wood now that I'm home.  I am really loving painting with the cold wax, oil paints and palette knives...messy in a different way than encaustic and it's nice to move between the two mediums.   Have you worked with cold wax and oil paint?  Love it or hate it?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Another piece from my time at The Vermont Studio Center.  River rocks, driftwood, encaustic paint, natural and hand dyed indigo linen.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Patch Work

Patch Work 1 & 2

Another resident came into my studio while I was working on The Art Of Mending pieces and suggested that it might be interesting for me to use the same color pallet and style but to work bigger and loosen things up.  I really like the result and plan to use these two pieces as a jumping off point for even larger paintings.  I ordered two 24" square panels and a 24" x 36" panel which I'm excited to get to work on.  Normally I buy large sheets of plywood and cut them to size for larger work but they are very, very heavy and I move my work around a lot as I paint and scrape and layer and heat set.  So, I decided to order cradled panels and see if it makes working large easier. 

Happy long weekend people :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Art Of Mending (new encaustic series)

The Art Of Mending

 Last year I began sewing some of my own clothing and mending and patching and learning about slow fashion.  I came across the term 'visual mending' which led me down a path where I discovered Sashiko stitching and Boro garments.  The idea of something being made stronger and more beautiful by highlighting the mending process really struck me.  Japanese Boro garments honor a person's history by acting as a map of sorts.  Items are mended and handed down from generation to generation exemplifying the beauty of practicality and the value of spending time caring for something over spending money to replace that thing.  Pieces of Boro cloth sell for thousands of dollars and are considered very beautiful and valuable.  It occurred to me that if this same idea of visible mending was applied to people the world would be a much better place.  I wrote about this idea in my residency application last summer and tucked the idea away hoping that if I was accepted I would be able to translate the look of the Boro fabric into my work.  So I went to VSC with 9 boards, a limited pallet of encaustic paints and got right to work on these pieces.  I layered the Indio, blues and neutral white until the piece looked balanced and then I used my pin tool to stitch my work.  Once the stitching was complete I used  pigment sticks to fill in the stitches and wiped the excess away with paper towel and linseed oil.  A few of the pieces have image transfers from photographs of fabric, two are traditional Sashiko stitch patterns and the rest are just free form patchworks.  I really liked working with the limited pallet and went on to abstract this idea a bit and to play with it using other grounds (more on that later in the week).  I'm not sure where this series will go from here but I feel like I have a solid start to a larger body of work created around the idea of mending.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Back from the Vermont Studio Center...

::double rainbow over the main building on open studio night::

Saturday evening I returned from a two week artist residency at The Vermont Studio Center.  The experience was absolutely phenomenal.  It was my 1st time attending a residency and my 1st time away (on my own) in many, many years.  Today I'm going to talk a little bit about the experience and over the next week or two I will share the work I created while at VSC.  The Vermont Studio Center hosts 50 visual artists and writers every month year round.  It is a huge and well run program that offers a private room, private studio space and three hot meals each day.  Most people stay for 4 weeks but you can choose to only stay two (like me and 10 other peeps).  During my stay there were 17 poets and fiction writers and 37 visual and performance artists from all over the US and the world.  My days started with breakfast with breakfast from 7:30-8:00, followed by 4 hours of solid painting time.  Lunch was available 12:00-12:30 and then I worked for 4 more hours before breaking for yoga on M-W-F and catching up on email or going for a hike the other days(sooo much natural beauty...covered bridges, waterfalls and the gorgeous green mountains).  Dinner was served 6:00-6:30 and was followed by more studio time. Most nights there were presentations scheduled from 8:00-9:30 that were optional. There were two visual artists and a poet who did slide presentations during my two weeks, two of the nights fellow artists presented their work and spoke briefly and one of the nights was set aside for readings by the poets and fiction writers and there was an open studio night.  The experience of having solid solitary work time interspersed with absolutely delicious meals in the company of amazing and interesting artists and writers three times each day was one that I will carry with me for a long time. I worked on an encaustic series I had planned before I left, experimented with cold wax on paper and on boards, messed around with mono printing on paper and worked with some natural materials gathered by the river just outside my studio window.  Over the next week or two I will share a bit about the things I created and the processes I experimented with and what I learned about myself and my work while I was away.  If you have ever considered applying for a residency program, I have to say,  you should absolutely go for it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New work, new medium, new colors-

Row, row, row your own boat
cold wax mixed media

The Last Best Place
encaustic mixed media

Just wanted to pop in and share two new pieces I finished up over the weekend. I spent much of last week messing around with cold wax medium and oil paint.  Have you ever used it?  There's not too much information out there on it right now, but a new book is coming out later this year and on-line there seems to be a lot of interest in it as a medium.   I really like the texture and the matte finish it offers and the fact that is it speeds up oil paint dry time so you can work in many layers over the course of a week or two.  I used palette knives for mixing colors and for application, mixed in pigment stick, oil pastel crayon and collage elements.  It's fun to mix it up a bit and explore new ways to work.  The 2nd piece is straight encaustic on the bottom and pigment stick, collage and encaustic on top.  The colors of summer are making their way into my work and the tiny bits of color peeking out here in the upper midwest tell me that it truly is just around the corner.  And on that note I wish you a warm, bright and lovely week-


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

the road that leads to infinite possibilities and exciting news i think i forgot to share-

The Road That Leads To Infinite Possibilities
14" x 20"

 We make decisions everyday that lead us down one road or another.  This piece celebrates the way that yes changes everything. You know the old saying about 'everything in moderation'?  Well, I think I'm going to have to go with saying no in moderation and saying yes with wild abandon.  On that note,  I wanted to tell you about something I did last fall that took me way out of my comfort zone. I really had to push myself at each step of the process to say yes because no kept making a lot of noise.  I applied for an artist residency program at the Vermont Studio Center, and guess what...I got in!!!  It's something I had been thinking about for awhile but with the kid's schedules and Chuck's constant travel it never seemed within reach.  But this year my oldest is away at college, my middle child can drive and has a car and and my youngest is old enough to do everything but get himself to school and back.  I opted to do two weeks instead of four (baby step, right?) but I will be leaving just over a month from now and I'm super, super excited.  Now that I've gotten used to the idea that I am actually going,  I am starting to think about all the nitty gritty details like shipping panels and supplies and thinking about what series I will work on when I'm there.  I received a partial scholarship and will be doing a work study program to help cover the cost but I will have two full weeks to paint, meet other artist and writers, attend lectures, practice yoga and and paint and paint and paint some more in the gorgeous state of Vermont. What have you said yes to lately?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Night post, night paintings...

Small Matter 
(a story of thinking, being, knowing and not knowing in 12 parts)

A rare evening post to share these space-like-night-sky paintings.  They started out as a group of soft pastel paintings but as I discussed in my last post they were just too high maintenance and messy to handle so I came up with an interesting process involving wax, which allowed me to melt the original image into the wood block.  Then I covered the image with another thin layer of clear medium and pulled the 3" x 3.5"blocks together with image transfers,  incising and white pigment stick.  This little group came out of nowhere but with a full moon rising (technically not full until 8:01 tomorrow morning but still...) it seemed a good time to let them shine. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Not one to leave well enough alone...

I know, I know, in my last post I was totally committed to embracing the dead matte finish of the pastel on wood block pieces I created but they turned out to be quite fussy little things.  I didn't want to use fixative and I didn't want to frame them under glass...I wanted them to be easy to handle and wanted no barrier between the work and the an encaustic piece.  So, I created a few more pastel blocks and messed around a bit before finding a way to get my original image, created with the soft pastels, covered and embedded into the wax.  Once the wax was on and heat set I was able to add more detail and color to really bring them to life.  I have five more to do but am not sure I will get back into the studio this week.  My oldest is home from college for Spring Break(yay!), my middle child is in a play that opens on Thursday (and is sick but on the mend), C is gone all week and my in-laws arrive day after tomorrow.  It's busy times here as Spring says hello to the upper mid-west but I'm enjoying having the windows cracked open, switching out wool coats for wool sweaters and seeing the 1st tiniest bits of green outside.  What's making your days these days?


ps:  this is a brilliant piece of writing on a gorgeous song.

Friday, March 4, 2016

a new way to work (or knowing when to say when)...

A few days ago I went into the studio thinking I was going to create a series of pale neutral abstracts and this is what happened. I love the depth of the colors and the chalky matte finish of the rough pastels but once I finished them my brain turned on and said... "Ok, now time for the wax".   In my mind that made sense because I'm an encaustic painter, I love the lush look and feel that wax lends to a piece and wax makes everything better, right?  I created a small mock up piece to experiment with applying wax over the pastel and tried poring the wax and brushing it on and had pretty good results.  There was only minimal smearing and the wax created that ethereal milky look it gets when painted over black,  but I couldn't bring myself to apply it to these pieces.  In the end I decided that this series is going to be left naked and wax less, left with that deep-matte-dead-flat-chalky-pastel-goodness exposed.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

The best place I'd never been...

You know how sometimes you think you're going to like something and then that something just blows you away....that was Austin.  We went to visit UT's Radio-Television-Film and Theater Departments and took a few extra days to explore the city.  The weather was gorgeous, the city was vibrant, the people were friendly and all the food was amazing.  The Migas Taco from Vera Cruz Natural is hands down the best 1st bite of food I've ever was crazy-i'm-still-craving-it-a-week-later-and-have-tried-to-recreate-it-good.  I'm not sure if Theo will end up attending UT, but C and I definitely plan to spend some more time in Austin checking out the music scene, eating more BBQ and soaking up the sunshine.  Happy weekend y'all :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

in progress in between travels....

The boys are on mid-winter break and we are heading off for our third college visit this week.  The last tour takes us to a warmer climate, and as much as I love winter, I am going to super soak up sunshine and 75 degrees.  I will see you next week warmed up and recharged :)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

Checking in with a few new pieces...

10" x 12"

Everything I Never
12" x 14"

These are two of three paintings that have been in the works for a few weeks.  The third and largest piece underwent a little change this morning and so I had to set it aside for a few more days.  Softer colors and deeper thoughts are filling my head these days, I have been keeping my hands busy and I will have more projects to share next week.  For now wishing you a weekend full of clarity and creativity.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

done and done and...


Is it just me or is 2016 off to a kind of wobbly start?  I mean, things are OK around here and there is a lot of creative energy in the air but there is also an underlying sense of being overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.  Too many projects piling up, too many meh results.  My plan for this year is to sort through what is working and what is not and then to pare down and chose projects wisely.   Pictured above are the mittens I finally finished (and love), this bread which was more involved than expected (but smells amazing) and three paintings I am working on (today). Is your year off to a smooth start or do you feel it too?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

She asked for a pop of orange...

::scrap garland::

My daughter moved into a new dorm room over the weekend and she mentioned she needed a pop of orange to set off her purple bedding.  I poked around Etsy looking at paper circle garlands and fabric flag banners but didn't find anything that seemed quite right.  So yesterday I made a quick trip to the fabric store, cut a million 15" strips,  and then Sage and I made this scrap garland last night.  It's bold, funky and homemade and it should add just the right amount of cozy to her new space :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Back in the groove-

r e a d i n g :: e a t i n g :: m a k i n g

Happy New Year people.  I've started the new year off with a flurry of activity.  Listened to 'Station Eleven' while taking P back to school and loved it.  Am reading 'A Little Life' for a book discussion at the this awesome little bookstore.  Have made this yummy and healthy dish twice in the past week for lunch. Am just finishing up Tiny Objects No.4. And... I'm wishing on each an every tiny star that your new year is off to a lovely start.