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!