Meanwhile, in the Studio…


I’ve created several distinct bodies of work over the last couple of decades, and yet,  when I am making a change, or even just a shift, in my work, it is still both uncomfortable and exciting. It’s easy to embrace the excitement, but I still want to hide the fear and resistance. So here I am, outing myself (and maybe starting a conversation, see below). Sometimes the fear and resistance feels like bees buzzing under my skin, and other times it feels like a dull wall in my mind. But I really think the fear is a good sign, and that I might want to be concerned if it went away completely, because it’s an indication that I’m working against comfort and toward something new.


The process takes persistence, because usually I try a lot of things that don’t work. Sometimes I rewind and start over again, and other times I keep pushing forward, even if I don’t like it, just to see if something new will come from it. I’ve discovered and refined processes and techniques that came originally from making “mistakes”, too, so I try to not think of it that way. I tell myself it’s all just action. Some of it leads to art I like and some of it does not.


The detail above is from a painting that is proving elusive. I just don’t know where it’s going, or what it needs next. I’m trying to find new solutions, and let the Periphery Walks influence this new group of paintings, so I’m trying hard not to indulge in old solutions. That is just too easy. I know if I just trust this process and keep going, the new solutions will arrive.

So that’s it–that’s where I’m at in the studio right now. It’s a bit of a mess, and I’m not sure where I’m going, but I’ll get there. So my question to you is: Do you struggle with starting new bodies of work or do you love it, and in either case, how do you approach it?

*All of these photos were taken in my studio this afternoon, and are a typical snapshot of what it looks like when I have new work developing… Lots of things started, a big sprawling mess, and not a lot finished.

*I started this blog post the other day, and have since then finished a couple of these. If you are interested, check out my Instagram account.

11 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in the Studio…

  1. Anne Stine

    Thanks for the encouragement. I feel the same way — excited and scared and impatient and frustrated when I start a new work. But isn’t that feeling wonderful when it does all come together after a million missteps? Euphoria.

  2. April

    I love the pieces. I’m enjoying the brilliant blue hues in your photos and it is nice to see them coming through in your work. When we start a new project everything is new and exciting, just like you described in you blog post. Then there is a point where the project becomes a discipline or practice. I am curious if you’ve gotten there with this project yet? and what you’re feeling about this aspect of creating? Or even, what do you do to keep yourself going?

    1. LisaK Post author

      Good question, April. The transition from shiny new idea to series/discipline mode happens fairly quickly for me. It’s important for me to be ruthless in the beginning about culling ideas, and determining limitations on the series or body of work. This is the stage I’m still in, feeling around to see what the shape of the project is. I expect this project to last about two years, so keeping myself going is a concern. For me, it’s mostly about showing up for it, and knowing that even if it gets rough, that if I keep showing up, it’ll still move forward. I think you really have to love and be engaged with the problem you’ve found or created for yourself.


  3. Joanne Otte

    Fear. I read a good book on art and fear by Rollo May. It made me relax about my own fears starting a new body of work. Or my fear of getting in the studio period! I work full time in mental health. I have to go away and rent a studio to paint with encaustic. I drove to New Mexico from Canada and spent 10 days in Shawna Moores studio in the way down. I painted for at least 10 hours every day. I couldn’t stop, I was so excited. I lost myself. It was complete utter joy. I didn’t paint for two years after that. Then I spent three weeks of my holiday setting up an encaustic studio in my home. Talk about setting yourself up … I have been procrastinating … Driven by fear. So I just forced myself in there and started making medium … Slowly moving on to 2 small pieces in unfiltered bees wax. It’s coming back. I don’t like the pieces but I am working, interrupted by my daytime job, but I there, and like you in April, I know I will get there… I will get to that place or total commitment and get lost in the encounter with wax. I appreciate your work, your blog and the photos on Instagram.

    1. amanda sargent

      Joanne, though I do have my own studio and I am set up for encaustic painting, what you wrote so mirrored part of my experience; working in mental health, and constantly feeling the pull of painting, of getting back to the wax, which sits so stunningly present but still when the heat is tuned off, brushes suspended in the electric frying pan, solidly quietly waiting…… and waiting and waiting……so I impulsively sign up for a class in something other than wax but perhaps gelli plate printing…. and through the back door prime my pump, or a photography and encaustic class in the middle of the summer, ( phew, hot) in someone elses studio, and painting on clay board in the dining room, and between cients at times………
      thanks for sharing the ways you have gotten yourself excited. Keep on. We all must.

  4. Jana Cross or Jana S. Cross

    Seeing this makes me so excited! I live in small town America where there is no art community. Running across artists like you who love to work in the same medium, and have talent makes me feel like I might be a sane person! I’m not sure anyone here knows what it means when I tell them I am an encaustic artist. They might act like they do but the don’t. 🙂 I love what you do with the wax. I’m a fan!

  5. Judy

    I often struggle as well. Sometimes I have in my mind, a full-blown idea of exactly what I want to achieve, and then struggle with the how to get to the result I want. Other times I have an image of the main focus of the work, but figuring out how to make it work or flow on the canvas can be a struggle. But when it all starts to come together, it’s just a wonderful feeling. Lovely work!

  6. Kim the Midwife

    Sometimes I’m an explosion of too many new ideas! It’s 50/50 how I feel about the work right away, but more often than not, I end up working backward, re-layering, scraping… then set the work aside for a while. It’s the looking again after time when I can tell if it’s actually what I wanted in the first place- or if I discovered something good that I never intended.
    Love your work, BTW. I’m in Oakland.


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