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For one brief shining day the sun was out, the temps were in the low 40s and everyone came out of their winter caves to inhale the glory yesterday. The laser beam of the sun was so acid bright that it was difficult for my eyes to adjust to the glare. ART + SUN = FUN! Unfortunately it’s raining today, and I’m hunkered down in front of the fireplace (ok so it’s gas).  Retrace our  fun-in-the-sun day with me…

I  manipulated this photo to make the brown remnants of last summer’s plants green!  Truly though, the snow was melting and we did see new green sprouts.

Chicago’s Millennium Park is featuring contemporary sculptures from China. This one by Chen Wenling was entitled “Valiant Struggle No.11.” The pig motif is one of his signature images. He turns this local symbol of wealth (the pig) into an icon of contemporary Chinese society: fantastic, ironic, satiric and comical. Holding on to the dangling pig are a man and woman.

From Millennium Park we took the walkway to the sensational Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

One of the rooms featured wallpaper with repetitive images of a black man hanging from a tree and a white man sleeping.  Cat litter bags are lined up against the wall, and the unfilled wedding gown stood in the middle of the room. The next picture offers the artist’s explanation.

This struck me because I was just speaking with a dear friend about the plight of gay marriage in our country.


It was fun to see people out walking dogs, pushing baby carriages and enjoying, hopefully, one of the last weekends of ice skating.

We grabbed a cup of coffee and walked over to the Gehry band shell. It wasn’t too hard to imagine spreading a blanket on a warm summer night to listen to the music.

Looking UP…the patterns of surrounding buildings.

Looking DOWN, it was fun to see the art in a worn sidewalk.

We stoppd to pick up a falafel to eat in a sunny spot by the river.

The falafel shop had this funny, strange shelf of figurines.

Fun in the sun. A hopeful sign that summer is on its way!

The Facebook Group, Encaustic Art, has issued a new challenge to create an encaustic painting (or two)  based on “The Earth as We’ve Never Seen It,” recently featured in the New Daily News. These incredible photos from USGS National Center for EROS represent various combinations of satellite images from Landsat 7 and Terra Satellites to create the vivid RGB composites seen here. The satellites acquired the images in black and white, and then assigned a different ‘false color’ to each radiation wavelength, or spectral bands, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. You can find out more about these images here.

It sounds like an interesting challenge for the new year. Below are the stunning images that interest me from the 25 total images featured in the article. It will likely depend on my mood the day I start the painting as to which one I use as a jumping off point and how I interpret it. The colors are scrumptious. I’ll share my final painting later this month and link you to the other works entered into the challenge.  Any favorite?

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This week two of the blogs I follow feature junk. At Art Propelled, South African artist Robyn Gordon features the art of Leonardo Drew (shown in the two photos above) from Brooklyn, New York. It’s definitely worth a visit to his site to look at his work. He’s probably the king of the junk collectors, and it makes for fascinating creations.  And at artist Leslie Avon Miller’s blog, Textures, Shapes and Colors, she reminisces about her mom’s junk drawer. What’s in your junk drawer and what does it say about you?

DSCF2385Handsome Hunk and I are longtime junkies, picking up rusted metal shapes and other detritus that we find pleasing in some way as we walk the city or along the railroad tracks. I once flagged down the street cleaner and asked where I could get one of his big round street cleaning brushes made of thin metal strips. He said, “Just tell me where you want them and how many and I’ll bring them by.” So I did and he did. I don’t have enough room to be greedy, so I only asked for 2 of the 4 quarters that make up a big round brush. They’re lurking under other junk in a closet somewhere, I’m sure.

Several years ago, my husband erected little found object sculptures along the railroad track. One I especially liked was a triangular piece of wood he stuck in the ground topped with a pink high heel. I always wondered how a pink high heel ended up along the railroad track where we found it. A few weeks ago a neighbor remembered these little sculptures and it was fun to tell him it was my husband who created them.

Off and on I’ve used found objects in my encaustic art (a few examples below). I find it intriguing to see who’s attracted to “junk” art.  Are you a junkie?

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Saturdays are made for fooling around, which is exactly what we did today. It was a stunning, sunny, warm day to be out traipsing about. Right now handsome hunk is watching some blood and gore movie, so I’m fooling around on the computer, looking through 2009 photos. My photographer friend, Albert, returned today from a week-long photographic workshop in Portland, Oregon and I’m anxious to see him and hear all about his adventures.

Meanwhile, here are a few of the images I’ve taken this year that caught my eye tonight:
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On a hot September day like today, it’s difficult to imagine the cold days of winter.

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Tomorrow we’re up early to head out of town for a walk in the woods. I hope you have fun fooling around this weekend too.

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We had a last minute reprieve from going to the land of the effusive, though I do regret I won’t be seeing some of our close friends. But since I took the day off, I’ve been happily playing around our place this morning. So far, so fun!

Last week I finished the paintings I had in progress so it was high time to clean the studio. When I’m in the flow, I somehowDSCF2030 manage to paint amid the chaos that accumulates as I work. I’ve always been oblivious to how much paint I get on me until I glance in the mirror and see it streaked across my face or see blotches of color in the bathtub that have come from my feet. Let’s face it, I am not known for being a neatnik. When I was younger I applauded the needlepoint pillows I saw that proclaimed, “A clean house is the sign of a life misspent,” and similar sayings about creative messes.

After cleaning up the studio, I used the wax scrapings from previous paintings to prime several boards for new paintings. It’s too expensive to just toss all that wax like I used to do before that dim light bulb in my head came on with an aha! thought.

Little things excite me. I had the fun of christening my new heat gun that I got from Ace Hardware online. SO MUCH BETTER than the little one I had from the art store. It has different tips that can be used as diffusers and different heat and blow settings that allow me to have more control. Since it’s larger, it also saves time fusing the wax. And at least with the flat diffuser I tried today, I’ve noticed that I can eliminate those little pits in the wax that are a bugaboo for encaustic painters.

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I love the way my heat palette looked with old wax on it:

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DSCF2032After taking the studio pictures, I had my camera in hand and took these shots of our mantle with a little collection of white ceramic vases I display from time to time. The sensual shapes, slight variations of monochromatic colors and different sheens please me.

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Now, I’m going to grab an umbrella and walk to the library to pick up a few books I have on hold. Has anyone read any of these?

The Girl Who Played with Fire
On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again
Olive Kitteridge
How We Decide
You or Someone Like You: A Novel

If you’d like to share any reviews of books you’re reading and photos of your studio/creative space, please send them to me for a future post!.

Summer is fleeting. I hope you grab some of it this weekend!

I’ve felt productive these past few weeks, and it feels wonderful. My productivity has been in accomplishing some of the things I’ve always wanted to do such as focus on my creativity, but it doesn’t preclude contemplating my navel. I’ve always valued my down time when nothing is planned or expected of me. But now, even my down time seems ultimately more productive and satisfying. Maybe the guilt I’ve experienced from procrastination and dreams unrealized has moved on to greener pastures.

I feel that I am discovering, tapping into thoughts and feelings, unraveling and expressing. The voyage metaphor seems apt. A journey with an uncertain destination, yet the anticipation of the unexpected. Right now, I’m contemplating whether or not my latest encaustic is actually completed. I wish I had an expansive studio to hang my pieces on a large blank wall and encounter them unexpectedly as I walk into the room or turn around. It would help to see a painting with more detachment.

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

And, I’ve also been doing a free Deepening Creativity e-course designed by Shelley Klammer, Intuitive Artist. It involves taking 10 minutes each morning to create a spontaneous collage by selecting imagery in magazines that may feel vivid and exciting or that evoke an emotion. Shelley uses phrases on her Web site that appeal to me such as “Trust Invites Intuition,” “Visionary Creativity Can Be Accessed in Small Daily Ways,” and “There is Great Creativity Beneath Our Everyday Thinking.” To create a collage, she recommends that you suspend thinking to learn how to create effortlessly without planning. I look forward to this exercise each morning, it’s been more enjoyable for me than the daily writing recommended in The Artist’s Way that I tried years ago. Here are the six collages I’ve created so far:

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

What are you contemplating at this point in your life, your career, your relationship, your art? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Ta-da! I finally pulled out the fabric I purchased about a month ago at The Needle Shop and made two pillows for our bed. Every year or so, I paint the interior walls of our condo with different spot colors as a fix for my addiction to color. In our master bedroom, I’ve settled on a darkish taupe for three walls and a linen color for one wall and a nook. The taupe is a rich neutral that affords me the opportunity to switch accent colors on pillows and bedspreads when I get the urge for a change. For spring, we usually pull out the white chenille bedspread because it’s lightweight and looks fresh and crisp against the wall and cherry wood. Pink has been on my mind for this room, so I pounced on the graphic print fabric for these pillows. I’m happy with the way they turned out. Now on to my next sewing project—two dresses.

P.S. The Needle Shop has a store in Chicago and an online Etsy store.

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I couldn’t believe it the other day when my husband brought home this bit of paper he picked up a few blocks away from our place. He’s a scavenger for found objects just like me. It’s a little marker sketch drawn on a post office label that says: Art is Hard, Don’t Fret.

This little find seems karmic for me at this point. Breaking my “losing” streak, I actually made it down the hallway, all twenty feet of it, into my studio this past week and completed an encaustic painting to get the feel of the wax again.

24"x24" Encaustic

24"x24" Encaustic

I’ve found it surprisingly helpful to employ some of the ritual techniques that were discussed in the Twyla Tharp book I reviewed in a previous post. Now each day, I walk into my studio, turn on music and stretch or dance. Then I decide what color I feel that day and document it. One day I was “puddles of pink” which sounds a bit Pepto-Bismolish and nauseating now…but hey, I was going with the flow. Trying new things. I’ve also started writing down a mission statement for each painting to provide guidance when I need it. I feel very optimistic about art and life in general these days. Happy weekend!

pdA few months ago, I came across these gorgeous and inexpensive clutches and handbags from Mad Imports. I’d love one of each style in every scrumptious color! However I need to watch my pennies, but which should I choose? Such a dilemma.

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Mad Imports is a socially & environmentally responsible company that markets handmade handbags from Madagascar & Kenya. The international artisanpurse b partners incorporate renewable raw materials to create original clutches, totes and shoulder bags. The sale of their stylish products enables families to gain economic independence and promotes environmental conservation. There are a lot of styles to choose from, and most appear to be under $100.


Colour Leaf Sun Star

Originally uploaded by e s c h e r

A few weeks ago, I discovered Richard Shilling’s blog Land Art. He uses nature’s materials such as leaves, stones and twigs to make amazing art. Enjoy!