Monday, August 18, 2014


Bloghop post.  
I’m late in getting this up - anyone who thinks of summers as lazy calm time is living in a different world than I am.  At any rate thanks to Supria Karmakar for inviting me to participate and here is my long overdue post.

What am I working on?
I’ve been working on a group of linked series in response to a monthlong residency at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument last September. Lots more about that residency here. The residency was wilderness based and left me with a strong sense of being between ground and sky as we spent days hiking in high desert during a month of dramatic storms.  In response I have been working on paintings and monotypes which are somewhat abstracted but experiential in mixed media and encaustic. The monotypes in particular are very storm focused but loose and painterly in approach.
2 trees, encaustic monotype on kozo
Storm over desert II, encaustic monotype on kozo
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

My work connects me with science and environmental understanding of the environment while not always directly incorporating data or scientific imaging.  In the past I have incorporated these elements more specifically but these days it informs what I do without necessarily directly showing up in the work. So I do landscapes - from both aerial and conventional points of view which are somewhat abstracted and science connected.  My work is influenced also by my interest in Asian sumi brush painting and color field abstraction - I want the pieces to read as successfully as abstractions as representational images. These are pieces about texture, composition and color as well as environment and the experience of being in that environment.

Desert Clouds III, encaustic monotype on Rives Lightweight

Why do I do what I do? 

Why breathe? Making work feels essential to me and I expect it always will. Specifically making art about environment and climate comes back to my love of the outdoors and my deep concern that we our destroying the only place we have.  I don’t make specifically didactic work since that would be boring to make and worse to view but sharing my love of wild places and wild weather while making what I hope is visually compelling drives me to keep making. It’s a push pull situation between the ideas behind the work and the visual elements that develop as I explore in the studio. Recently going through old family photos and letters I came across an elementary school newsletter quoting me as a 3rd grader writing about the environment so I guess the obsession has been there for a very long time!

How does my writing/working process work?

lively juniper - from sketchbook

My work starts outdoors with drawing, photography & journaling.  Those elements come back to the studio where I develop work using collage, encaustic paint, mixed media, digital printing to make monotypes and paintings in series.  I work in layers on multiple pieces at once, adding and subtracting elements and a process that involves scraping away as much as adding media when painting.  Monotypes are more direct and spontaneous in process and the dynamic between working on paintings and monotypes is very stimulating for me with one being loose and the other more considered. 
Storm/ground, encaustic on panel 

Storm over Cannonball mesa, encaustic on panel, 24" x 48"

I have invited 3 other artists to participate in the blog-hop and their information is below.  They are Candace Compton Pappas, Kim Trail Rhoney and Natalie Abrams.




Through exhibitions across the country, Abrams’ work has increasingly focused on symbolic use of materials to explore environmental and social issues. Her process utilizes both organic materials such as beeswax and wood, and increasingly inorganic materials otherwise destined for landfill, to create works representing theoretical landscapes.The incorporation of these new materials creates a more thorough representation of the issues Abrams explores, as well as will become the foundation for a long term life-as-art project focused on the parallels of life and viability amongst bio-diverse ecosystems and the urban landscape. In its simplest terms, a circumnavigation exploring environmentally threatened areas and the populations dependent on those areas, with the findings being used to develop site specific installations, exhibitions and publications.

Abrams’ work has been exhibited in national invitationals including the Third Annual Encaustic Invitational, as a highlighted artist at Ball State University with Encaustic Works 07, as well as the 2010 book “Encaustic & Beyond”. “Losing Ground, Gaining Perspective”,Abrams’ first curatorial project, was held at Gallery X at Castle Hill, Provincetown, MA including work by noted artists Laura Moriarty, Lorrie Fredette and Paula Roland and herself. Additional exhibitions include “Dear Nature” at Artspace, Raleigh and “Objects in Perspective” with Aspen Hochhalter at the Gaston County Museum, a solo exhibition “Beneath the Fold” at City Ice Arts in Kansas City, MO and an expanded presentation of “Objects in Perspective” with Aspen Hochhalter at CPCC in 2014. Residencies including the McColl Center for Visual Art, Escape to Create and the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts have helped Abrams’ further explore our relationship to our surroundings in the form of multimedia sculptural landscapes and topography.

Kim Rhoney is a painter working predominantly in oil paint often mixed with cold wax medium. She paints with brushes and painting knives in layers that develop into a textural surface. Bees wax adds luminosity and depth to her subjects. She paints predominately regional flora and landscapes with recent special interest in wild flowers, prairie flowers and the bees that pollinate them. Kim finds her inspiration in rural Michigan both at her family's small farm in Milan, MI and on her travels camping and hiking along the Lake Michigan shoreline. "My family plays on the beach while I am over looking at the beautiful grasses and wildflowers". Kim earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University. You can follow her at

I work at home in Michigan, in a studio overlooking a beautiful landscape with a lot of bird and wildlife activity. My work is influenced by this landscape, as well as the quiet and space that surrounds me in my studio. 

I work in both 2-D and 3-D using imagery that is close to me. The birds outside my studio have shown me what flight and return, character and persistence can be. Chairs represent a solitary place, a throne, a place to land. Houses are templates, made of solid or disintegrating materials, raising questions of permanence.

The search for home, both literally in my surroundings  and metaphorically in my Self has been a constant theme underlying my work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Some thoughts about the Eight International Encaustic Conference

Far too long since my last post and I’ve been busy.

I recently attended the 8th International Encaustic Conference. I had not been for a number of years since the timing has coincided with kids graduating from high school and college but this year was finally able to go.  Better still, I had a professional development grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) to help with the costs.

I attended two pre-conference workshops as well as the conference and return home overwhelmed with the amount of information I need to assimilate and incorporate into my studio and professional practice. Sessions on art-making, on expanding the reach of one’s practice, on the business of art, the history of the medium, teaching standards and pedagogy, of course technical sessions on materials and techniques and lots of looking at work both in person and on screen gave me a great deal to think about.  Networking with other artists and gallerists was tremendously useful.  I sold some work in the hotel fair, bought some work, traded some too. Of course bought lots of paint at the vendor room too.

It’s a funny thing - often the most useful and memorable things one takes home from a conference are the encounters that happen around the sessions.  This in no way is meant to denigrate the sessions which were outstanding - Joanne Mattera and Cherie Mittenthal put together a wonderful, mind-expanding range of programming but one of the great things about an event like the conference is the chance to talk to so many other focused artists about what they do and why.  It’s interesting too the way social media has changed and expanded the reach of this kind of connecting since the conversations start well in advance of the event and continue well afterwards.

The last time I attended the encaustic conference was year 2. At that conference I saw Paula Roland demonstrate encaustic monotype which led to a major change in my work  allowing me to work more fluidly and spontaneously, hearkening back to my training as a printmaker and painter with a deep affinity for paper. Since then I have studied further with Paula and focused much of my work in monotype. This year’s conference did not produce anything which will deeply alter the direction of my work but rather provided more depth and knowledge to my current practice, especially in both art business and project scope. Somehow that seems appropriate since attending was funded by a professional development grant!

Monday, February 17, 2014

CANM residency blog posts in one place.

In the interest of making it easier for those who are interested I am putting links to the blog posts from my September 2013 residency here in one place since there are multiple bloggers at the Aldo & Leonardo blog.

The Aldo and Leonardo Project placed artists in wilderness settings in 6 different biomes across the USA.  The project blog includes all of the artists plus posts by the directors of the organization behind the project Colorado Art Ranch.  The project was also funded by the Aldo Leonardo Wilderness Research Institute which is part of the Forest Service. There is a lot to see on the blog and it's worth a look.  My two co-resident artists were Esther Rogers and Benjamin McCarthy.  Esther in particular posted a great deal on the blog and her insights are very worthwhile.

My posts are below, in chronological order.

Going to the desert

On the way

First few days

Discussion of our final presentation

Reflections afterward