Category Archives: art

Double Life, and a Studio Clean-Up

brush

 

January is just whizzing by me.  Surely, time moves faster as you chase it.  And I feel as if I have been chasing it, with so much to do, and trying to fit it all in.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to just stop, and breathe.  And slow down the moment.  And pay attention.

For months now, I’ve been simultaneously preparing for war and peace, so to speak. ( I think it’s an Einstein quote, and he actually said, ” You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”)    For about a year, now, I’ve been going to school part time to complete a certificate in technical writing.  I’ve also been trying to increase my hours in the studio, ramping up my practice, trying to make a go of being a full-time artist.  The sensible fall back plan, and the big dream.  I feel like every day I get up and just throw myself at it all.  There is rarely a sense of completion, because there is always something more to do.  I just keep setting little goals, and moving forward.  Inch. By. Inch.

There are financial pressures.  I don’t know if the artwork can answer them. It seems to be gaining traction, but I have to wait and see how it all shakes out.  I really want to be able to jump in with both feet into… something.  But for now, I must simultaneously prevent and prepare.

Painting and technical writing might seem at odds with one another.  And it does feel like I’m living two lives, or preparing for two futures, or even two potential selves, sometimes. Each activity exploits different parts of my personality.  But the two things also compliment one another in remarkable ways.  When I was working my way through my foundation technical writing courses, I was struck with how the skills I was learning could be directly applied to all of the writing that I am required to do as an artist- statements, bios, website copy, etc.  Active voice, defining audience, elegance, efficiency, specific language, direct style.  My studio notebook has become my constant companion, and I’ve learned to just get it all down, and edit later.  My editing class sharpened my attention and further developed my appreciation for brevity and specificity in my painting practice.

Right now, I’m taking a course in Information Graphics, and I find myself asking different questions in the studio.  Questions like “What is the question that the work answers?” and “How do I shape the data to answer the question?”.  It’s all pretty interesting stuff.

NewYearStudio

 

One of the things I always do in January is clean my studio, and this year was no exception.  I also tried to create a “clean” area, over to the right, for a drawing space.  I’m trying to have a corner that isn’t covered in wax and paint splatters! (I know–good luck!) I’ve also added the memory foam mat on the floor, because all the standing takes it’s toll.  If you don’t have one of these in the studio, get thee to thy computer, and order one.  They are heaven.

Well, then, back to work!  I have a data set to download, and some paper cutting to do!

Works In Progress

studio shot lisa kairos

 

I’ve been hard at work in the studio.  Here is a look at a larger piece in progress, and some small pieces lined up.  The small pieces were a challenge for me (they are 8″ x 10″), because I really prefer to work larger.  I think my paintings are generally more successful on a large scale, but this time around I tried approaching the small work a little differently.  I treated each as if it were a small, experimental piece of jewelry.  I found that taking this approach naturally adjusted the scale that I worked at, and kept me from trying to jam in too much imagery, a common problem for me when I try to work small.  These six pieces will be available at Hang Gallery in December.

six new paintings lisa kairos

 

Here’s another view of my studio work table…

studio shot lisa kairos

 

This is something I often do, especially when I am trying something new.  I’ll find a way to “mock up” the next element in a painting.  This is especially valuable to me because when I start a painting, I only have a vague idea of where I want it to go, and often it takes me someplace completely different.  And because I’m always working in transparencies, allowing each layer to show as I build the image, it is especially important to me that I respond to the image by adding each layer in the most aware, informed way possible.  By trying out different elements before adding them to the painting, I can be a little more efficient, and often this process leads to innovations that I may not have thought of otherwise.  It also allows me to make little adjustments, sometimes minute, that make a big difference in the compositions.  These yellow circles may or may not be added- I haven’t decided yet.

Overall, I’m having a productive month in the studio so far…

Blog Makeover, and Other New Stuff

studio workbench lisa kairos

I’ve been fiddling with this blog pretty much non-stop for a few days.  Isn’t it so much nicer around here?? I didn’t even like to look at my blog before, but now I love it. I figured that if I’m going to be sharing and writing here more, I’d better make it a space that I actually like.

I’ve also added a lot of content on the periphery.  Here are some changes that you might not notice right away:

  • I’ve listed upcoming teaching gigs in the navigation bar.
  • There is now a drop-down menu above that acts like a mini gallery page with some examples of my work.
  • Click on the “Hang Gallery” button in the sidebar to see where you can view or purchase my work.  Hang Gallery is also listed in the navigation bar under “Representation”.  By the way, they are some of the most friendly, kind gallery people I have ever met.  Worth a visit if you are in San Francisco.
  • I am very excited to share all of the links and book suggestions listed under “Inspiration” in the navigation menu.  I am obsessed with process, so I love to peek into other creator’s lives and I gain so much insight from reading about the psychology and process of creating.  Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy these links and books.  If you have favorite websites or books to share, leave a link in the comments.
  • “New Work” in the sidebar will take you to my website.
  • Click on “About” to read a little about me and what my work is about.

And yes, more is coming.  I will add content to “Projects” as that takes shape.  I have packing and shipping information that I’d like to add to the sidebar.  I also have a writing project that I’m working on, but that will have to wait a while…

As always, thanks for reading!
Lisa

Upcoming Encaustic Show…

I am so pleased to be included in this upcoming group show.  Thomas Morphis has done an excellent job of curating this;  each artist is distinct, and the show promises to have great variety and texture!  I’m looking forward to seeing it myself Saturday night at the opening.

Mary Black

Robin Denevan

Eileen P. Goldenberg

Lisa Kairos

Opening Reception:  7-9 pm, Saturday, January 15

The gallery is open Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, 1-5 pm, and the show runs until Feb. 12.

Studio Shots

It’s been such a gray and rainy spring! But that hasn’t stopped the work in the studio… in fact, it’s been a wonderful year for the plants this year. Above, some mustard gone to seed.

The hummingbirds have been busy disguising their nests with this moss that grows on the old plum trees behind my studio.

This lovely thing fell to the ground during the last wind storm. I’m looking forward to drawing it.

This pile of embroidery thread is waiting to be woven into some paintings… paintings that are only in my head at the moment. I’m looking forward to the hours of summer, and seeing if some of my new ideas work.

In The Studio

I thought I’d share some current works in progress from my studio. This piece above will be put together in the end as one piece. I’ve been inspired by other artists who work large on multiple panels. Here, I had these small 10×10 inch panels lying around, and I thought I’d use them as a little test run… and that’s my medium setting up in the muffin tins. Working large uses so. much. medium!

This is a pretty crappy photo- taken late in the day with my lights on. But you get the idea. I’m really loving the metallic paints from R&F. So lovely when they are scraped down- this design is done in the german silver color, and it has a lot of variation, like a patina.

On to the next layers!

Show in Santa Cruz

February 5 – 28, 2010

Opening reception:  February 5, 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Felix Kulpa Gallery, 107 Elm Street, Santa Cruz, CA

Gallery hours: Thurs. – Sun. 12-5, or by appointment (tel:  408.373.2854)

I’ll be hanging this show this weekend, and I’m really looking forward to seeing my paintings alongside Norman Locks’ photographs. If you are in the area, I’d love to see you at the opening!

Upcoming Show…

This should be a great show of encaustic work in Santa Rosa. I can’t wait to see it myself… and I’m so pleased to be included in this show! The show was curated by Thomas Morphis, and includes an impressive list of artists:

Mary Black, Howard Hersh, Julie Nelson, Tracey Adams, Eileen Goldenberg, Robin Denevan, Carrie Ann Plank, Emily Clawson, Mark Perlman, Eleanor Wood.

Oh, and me. I’ll have three of my larger “Winter” paintings hanging.

(I couldn’t find a link for Eleanor Wood for this list- if anyone knows, please send it to me…)

Encaustic Technique #8: Gesso

A small holiday gift for you all: a new tutorial. This one is a little different. It’s not about the wax, but what we put under the wax.

I’ve written here before about using paper or claybord as a base for painting. About a year or so ago, R&F came out with an encaustic gesso. It doesn’t smell and isn’t labor-intensive like rabbit skin gesso, and, unlike regular acrylic gesso, it is absorbent enough to be used under wax. Until recently, I’ve just used it as it comes: bright white.

Recently, though, I started experimenting with tinting it with powdered pigment before applying it. My aim was to create an aged looking, darker background for painting.

In the above example, I started off with a layer of white gesso. I let that dry completely. Then, I mixed a portion of gesso with my powdered pigment and applied it in large, sweeping strokes to most of the canvas.

After letting this dry slightly, I sprayed the panel randomly with water and scumbled the surface with rags, creating a textured looking surface. When the gesso was completely dry, I sanded portions of it where I wanted more light to come through.

The point here is how flexible this could be- try using different colors, layering colors, or painting into the dry gesso with water based paints, such as guache. The surface could also be stamped with homemade stamps before applying your first coat of wax.

My one critique of the gesso is that it pinholes like crazy (similar to claybord). I remedied this with a lot of fusing and additional layers of wax. I’m not sure what causes the pinholes- If any of you know why it does this, please leave a comment! I’d love to know how to control it.