Category Archives: nests

Studio Update

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Some new studio shots from this week. I finally got around to cleaning up. I like a good, productive mess, but with my paintings slowly growing in size, and my studio not growing to accommodate, the mess and the art were starting to battle it out in there. So I hung some things up, threw some piles out, vacuumed many a cobweb, and kindly showed some spiders the door. 

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Ahh. Much better. studioshot3

And after a short break from my acrylics, I’ve started experimenting again with what might be an extention of the white encaustic series I’ve been working on. After a year of working on two distinctly separate bodies of work (the nests and the white paintings), I decided that since the nests have been slowing down for a while now, I’d try bringing the acrylic work more in line with the encaustic work, and have been exploring some of the same ideas. But, of course, these two mediums are so, so different- my aim is for the paintings to feel related, but to allow each medium to express it’s own unique influence.  I’ll have some photos of those works in progress soon!

Some Encaustic Goodness

We have a chilly, rainy day here in Half Moon Bay, and I just went out and turned on the heater in my studio. I’m nursing a cold (*sniff*), but am still hoping to get a little work done. I’m working on a larger encaustic piece right now, another in the white series. This one is the other half of that hollow core door that I sawed into pieces a while back. 

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When I’m working on larger pieces, I find it helpful to break down work sessions into smaller chunks. An hour, or two. Just getting a single layer on there, and fusing it can take over half an hour. Whew! 

In the background above, you can see some home made encaustic color charts… My next technique post will be about color, and I’ll go over the how and why of making those charts (plus, it’ll get me to finish my own set! )

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And here are three acrylic paintings waiting for some embroidery thread… I am especially happy with the grey one. This is a terribly wonky photo- my camera shoots wide angle whether I want it to or not- and the texture just didn’t show up, but I almost always like what happens when I restrict my pallet. I’m funny about color. I’ll tiptoe my way out on some colorful limb, and then always come back to my neutrals. I hadn’t done a nest yet with such somber colors, and I like the way it turned out. 

For those of you who are looking for information on encaustic technique, check out Malissa Martin Wilkes’ blog. She’s got some great information and photos, some studio shots, etc. Her set up is a little different from mine, and it’s good to see how different people work.

Avian Brilliance

Could anything be more beautiful?

My mom and dad came for a visit recently, and when my dad walked in, he was carrying this. Found under the tarp for their wood pile.(Thank you, dad!!) I felt a little badly that these poor eggs were abandoned, but I will look forward to painting this nest.  This nest is in fantastic shape- and the avian architectural brilliance is always startling. Every piece of grass and animal hair is woven- just so.

As for me, I feel like I am starting to weave myself together as I come off from a busy busy couple of months.  Thanks to those of you who emailed me and made sure that I knew that this blog matters!

Sometimes I forget that my most artistically productive times are fed and nurtured by things that I don’t always give credit to.  Like walking, gardening, knitting, exploring, reading,  relaxing and playing with my family ….  and doing nothing. Sometimes I want to be efficient and productive, and I replace that quiet nothingness or repetitive, rhythmic (but seemingly mindless) activity with something that delivers a more quantifiable something. And I feel my creative juices eventually start to dry up….. I suspect that the physics of our souls are very very different from the physics of matter. Or perhaps I just need to get smarter about what kind of productivity I want (or need) to invest in.  So, though I know there are times when I just have to “get things done” that aren’t particularly nurturing to my creativity, it feels really really nice to get my feet back on the ground and create some margin for myself. One of these days I’ll get it through my head that creativity needs *space* to happen.  That sometimes it takes a whole lotta nothin for the best things to happen.

I can’t sign off without introducing you to my new blogging partner.

Meet Mouse.

Our new kitty, and the terror of the neighborhood. He totally owns everything around here (including us), eats at at least 3 houses, and chases our neighbor’s cats. And he’s only 5 months old. This is not necessarily a good thing. But this cat redeems himself with a personality the size of Texas. He is a study in fearlessness. And goofiness. 

And this cat knows all about margin.

Inspiration: Nature

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

This was one of my birthday presents this summer, a gift from my mother and father in law who live in Bonny Doon.  We think it is a Jay nest. The interior is earth, and it is quite large, with a very architectural feel- as if it was built, rather that woven, like many of my other nests. It was attached to something (the house? A tree?) on the side that is not there. 

I want to share, today, a couple of other artists who work with nature imagery. I love their work- take a few moments to click on the links and enjoy some stellar artwork.  The first is Emily Clawson, who’s painting was hanging next to mine in the “Translucent” show in San Francisco this summer. Her seed pod work and wing series are my favorites- the wing series is especially ephemeral, with enlarged patterns of dragonfly wings drawn with graphite and then transfered onto the wax. The second is Sharon Beals . I first encountered her work in Farley’s coffee house in San Francisco (kick-ass chai). I was blown away by her photos of nests, and am still scheming about how to get my hands on a print for my own walls. They are so beautiful, with velvety blacks and the nests absolutely glowing on German etching paper.  Go take a look. 

Enjoy your Sunday!

Views of Birds and Bees at Enso

Here are some shots from the show at Enso. Lovely, lovely space. Wonderful people there, too. No shots from the opening, as I forgot my camera (!), but it went well, and I visited with friends and family and met lots of interensting, artistically minded locals. Just what I was hoping for…

Remember all of those little encaustics? They pack a punch hung all together like this.

This nest is going to a new home on the coastside. 

And here are some shots of the outside of the gallery/yoga studio. How appropriate- to have an art gallery space inside a work of art! The building feels truly hand made, rustic and recycled, all at once.

As for me, I’ve taken a bit of a breather from art this week, preparing for the new homeschooling year, and getting my daughter ready for her first year of public high school. I did clean up my studio, and have been preparing supports for a variation series on the small encaustics I’ve been working on.  I also have another project in the works, but that’s secret for now…..

Chaos and Riches

A little pre-show chaos in my studio:

I’ve been working, working, working, trying to finish up some things before Saturday. I’ve got paintings waiting in line for embroidery, almost finished…

Eventually, most of my work finds other homes, but I love the feeling of having a lot of finished work piling up. It’s like putting up jam for the winter…it feels abundant and delicious. I kind of gather it all around me, hoard it in my home, and enjoy my temporary riches. Maybe like a magpie with her secret treasures. I especially enjoy it before I’ve really shown it to very many people. I wonder why that is? It feels like it’s totally mine, and then, by degree, it goes out into the world, and is experienced by other people, and it becomes less mine, and more the world’s. 

Good thing that creating is truly one of those inexhaustible things.

And life, too, just keeps on delivering.  I visited my sister a few weeks ago, and she gave me a nest she found in her yard.  It is a wonderful nest- an urban bird’s masterpiece. It has dryer lint, part of a dusting cloth, colored string, rose petals, and part of someone’s window screen woven into it, among other things. It had a shoelace, too, that fell out before she had a chance to give it to me! If this bird could have fit a hub cap in there, it would have.

Here it is with a dress I found in an antique shop the same weekend. I love the way the scrappy little nest contrasts with the delicate thin cotton of the dress.

That’s all I’ve got for now- time for me to go wire some paintings and print some postcards!

Painting: New Work

Here are two newly finished nest paintings that I’ve previously shown in earlier stages of development….

Both 24 x 24 inches, mixed media and acrylic on canvas.  I just finished the embroidery on these this morning, while drinking my coffee.  The top image was painted from a nest that my husband’s parents found in their wood pile.  The second, from the nest found outside my studio. I’ve been working so much in encaustic lately that these two poor things have been sitting, forlorn, in a corner, waiting to be finished for a few weeks now.  Sometimes I think I enjoy paintings more after not looking at them for a while.  It was nice to come back to these after a break, and see that they held up.  A little space can be a good thing.

However, sometimes a little space can turn into too much space…. that has been the case lately with my husband traveling for work….. (sigh).  Can you tell that I miss him?  It’s been several weeks, this trip, but I am very happy to say that his company is flying me to spend some time with him in……Thailand.  Yes, that’s where he’s been working, and that’s where I’m going, for two weeks.  I’ve never been to Thailand, but it looks like a lovely, wonderful country, and I’m taking my sketchbook, two blank art journals, and my camera and anticipating lots and lots of inspiration.  Not to mention my sweetie, and our 15th anniversary.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep up with my blog while I’m away, and share some of this with you all, so stay tuned!

A New Nest

As I was cleaning up in the yard the other day, getting ready to mow the lawn, I saw this….

I didn’t even know right away what it was, and I think I stepped on it.  It is a hummingbird nest, about the size of a golf ball.  You can’t see in this photo, but it still has tiny egg shards in it.  The lining is some really soft fiber, like a cotton ball.  I am starting to think my studio is a nest magnet.

I love the way each bird chooses completely different materials, carefully constructing and arranging.  This one used redwood from our mulch, and some of the moss that grows on the dead pine trees in my neighbors yard.  

New Encaustics, etc.

Some new work…..

    

I’ve really been enjoying working in this small format (8 x 8 inches) in such an open ended subject area.  The only criteria for them is the dominant color must be white, and that the subject involves repetition.  I’ve been playing with different ways of layering the wax, and applying it.  I also discovered that paint pens do just fine layered in with the wax, and am experimenting with a fine point white paint pen.  I got it for journaling, but it’s opened up another world with the encaustic, being one more way to create precise lines and imagery.  Encaustic is difficult to control, and generally takes a lot of deep breathing and letting go from me, because, well, I can be a control freak like that.  But that is also what I love so much about this medium- it keeps me on my toes, keeps me loose and open to possibility as I work, and it is such a rapidly evolving medium right now, with artists finding new ways to work with it all the time.  Each piece is a wild card.  

Here is another piece I finished the other night- sorry this photo is not sharper.  It is difficult to see the texture here- one of it’s assets, I think. The embroidered circles are doing a lot for these nest paintings, adding some unusual texture and relief to the image.  This, by the way, is the nest I wrote about a couple of posts ago. This is also a small piece.  I have been warming up to this painting small business.  It used to be that any painting under 3×4 feet seemed like a waste of time, but there is something so satisfying about being able to finish a painting in a relatively short period of time, and then being able to hold it in my hands and look at it….. instead of having to stand back 8 feet just to see it properly.  The small pieces are more intimate that way.  

Well, I’m off to make more tea, go to a friend’s baby shower in San Francisco, and then come home and paint sets for the play.  And maybe embroider more paintings…….Whew!