Tuesday, October 28, 2008


awaken, encaustic on clayboard, 8x8 inches

Months ago I got an idea for a new body of work. But I wasn't sure how to tackle it. So I have let it sit and brew in my brain. Lately it's been screaming at me to get going. But still, I hesitated. Not ready yet, I thought. It's about an issue that I think about on a daily basis. I will talk about it more, once I feel comfortable doing so.

But this weekend I started and this is the first piece. It's very different, I feel, than what I usually do. Lately I have been so attracted to color. Maybe it's because I did that whole series a few months ago that was very pared down. Just black on birch with a teensy bit of color. Maybe it's something that is shifting inside of me with all these life changes that I have been experiencing.

In my intuitive painting class, my instructor noted how every Wednesday night my paintings are filled with red, red, red. She asked me if that was my normal palette. And I said, no, actually not at all! I usually do blue-gray, white, foggy, misty colors.

I owe a big huge thanks to Tangled Sky Studio and to the The Bee Team for the inspiration of the word "Awakening" for this month's theme. When the theme was announced at the beginning of the month, I started this piece. And then I let it sit. Looking at the calendar this past weekend I realized I was running out of time! So I got to it, and something inside just shifted.

I feel really excited to work more on this series. It felt right and good turning on my heated palette and working just in pure encaustics again. I hadn't done that in a long time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

my studio


I love to see where people work, so I though I would share my work space. When we were in Seattle, I rented a studio in Ballard. I loved it. It was my space. My sacred time to myself. But. It was tiny. As in closet size. Seriously. Ok, a rather large closet, but still pretty small. I created so many paintings in that studio that for the most part have left me for shows and for new homes. That tiny space in Ballard will always be a magical space for me in my mind.

Now, in our new house, the attic had been regutted and totally redone by the previous owners. And now it is where I work. When I first stepped up here, my heart stopped, my lungs filled with air, and I knew this was our house. I can't imagine this being anything else other than an artist's studio. I have lots of natural light and space. I had a feeling that getting a bigger space would influence my work. I am gearing up to work larger, for sure.

On the table by the window I have my encaustics set up. In the window I have a fan that pulls the air out and on the floor I have an air filter. We plan to someday put in an exhaust system above my encaustic space. On the left wall is my inspiration wall. Taped on the wall I have print-outs of paintings of artists who inspire me- whether it is their imagery, palette or style. I also have tear outs from magazines of colors that jumped out at me. One is of a photo of a cut open squash against a blue background. Heavenly. In the foreground on the left side is part of my "book-table". This is where I cut boards and paper for my journals. I also have a book press there as well. I try to keep paint and spillable things off that table. I am very accident prone.

I still have some re-arranging to do. It usually takes me a while working in a space to get the arrangement right. But for now it's working.


On the south facing end is where I have my computer, a couch and a little table for Noah's crayons and toys. Also a windchime that I bought on our last trip to Orcas Island. I also do my packing of journals and paintings over here. I have my packing tape, my boxes, baggies, sharpies, mailing labels, etc. etc. over on this side of the studio as well.

It's funny to look back several years ago (end of 2002) when I first started making and selling my journals from amanobooks.com and we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. I had art supplies and shipping supplies crammed into every conceivable space and I used our our ugly dining room table that was falling apart as my work table. Every time we ate breakfast, lunch or dinner, I had to clear off my books, glue, papers, and paint. I don't think I ever even thought it was possible to even dream of having my own studio.

I kept a journal back then of intentions. And I glued in photos of artist's studio and workspaces that I tore out of magazines. Intentions. Powerful things.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

visual journal spread, III


This is the last journal spread I have to share for now. I prepared more pages in Judy's workshop, but they are still waiting for words or more arting up. This page has many many layers, including water soluble crayons (I think, I can't remember!), acrylic paint, stamped images and designs, plus stencils, plus my hand....I am sure I am forgetting something. Now all that is left is to do some writing.

I think the main point of this spread is not to be afraid of layering and covering up what's already there. It probably will look like a big mess in the beginning, but you can tie it all together in the end. I still have more of that to do on this spread.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

visual journal spread, II


This was another entry that I started in Judy Wise's class on Saturday. We did a cool automatic writing exercise across the two pages which we then covered up with gesso. She had us pick a word that had been on our mind, or a word to focus on. I chose "clarity" because currently in my life I am trying to hone in on my mission/vision of how my art and life intersect. She then had us write for 15 minutes on a memory from childhood that may fit with that word.

I wrote about a story that is now part of my family's lore. We each tell the story to our kids now, so that they will know their aunt even though she is no longer with us. It was about the time when all the lights went out in our 180 year old house during a really bad storm. My three sisters and I were terrified by the storm and the idea of having to go through the old creaky house in the dark to get the candles that were down in the pantry. We were in my oldest sister's room which was the converted attic. And the pantry was next to the kitchen, 3 floors down through hallways and several rooms. It seemed like an overwhelming feat.

But then my sister's little voice piped up in the darkness "I can lead you. I know the way".

My second sister was blind and her life was in darkness. But the hallways, bumps, corners and steps had all been memorized by her hands and feet and her other senses. We all lined up behind her- I was in the middle because I was so little and scared and refused to be on the end. We held hands and made our way down to the pantry and got the candles and flashlights. With the light the world became ours again. But without my sister's other knowledge and intuition, we would have been lost and scared.

I wrote this incident much better in my journal, but that's the gist. I don't think I am done painting this page. But I might be.

Monday, October 20, 2008

visual journal spread, I

right half of journal spread

Judy had us create a bunch of different backgrounds in our journals to show us different technques that she uses in her visual journals. Throughout the whole day the room would be buzzing with chatter and laughter. However when she told us to open up one of our prepared backgrounds and paint a face smack dab in the middle of the two pages, the room went quiet. It was pretty funny. We all laughed when someone remarked that Judy had found a way to shut everyone up.

I have to admit that I haven't painted a face in years. I'm trying to remember the last time I did so...I think it was a painting of my niece when she was maybe 2 years old. She just turned 9 last month. Yikes! And I really haven't painted a free form face since I don't know when. It was a lot of fun. I used to love painting and drawing faces. I will definitely have to get back into that at some point.

I already journaled on this page. I did that in Madison in a parking lot at the Original House of Pancakes. Noah had fallen asleep on the way to the restaurant and there was a wait for a table. So I stayed in the car with him while my husband and our friend we were visiting, waited for a table.

That's the great thing about preparing your pages beforehand...you can pretty much journal anywhere whenever you get a chance. Just make sure to have a pen with you at all times!

raevn's nest art retreat

This weekend we packed ourselves up and headed up to Cedarburg, Wisconsin so that I could attend the Raevn's Nest Art Retreat. We stayed out in Grafton, which was more farmland, it seemed. Below was a view from the hotel window on Saturday morning.


The reason why I went was really for one reason alone. To meet this wonderful woman below- the lovely Judy Wise. She literally has this inner light that just glows.

My little blog here has brought me so many unasked blessings- but the gift that I appreciate so much is that it has brought me into contact with so many strong, creative women that I would never have met otherwise.

judy and me

I took her Friday evening workshop called Making Art a Business. It was a great little gathering. We sat around a fireplace in an old inn and shared our stories and absorbed what Judy shared with us about her experiences in the art world. She gave me a lot to think about. One thing I learned was that I actually know a lot about making my art a business because of amanobooks.com that I have been running since 2003. I learned a lot on my own with success and failures, but that is the best way to learn. Just throw yourself into it and figure things out.

As the description of my blog says I am transitioning to painting. And I do feel that I needed direction about selling fine art and the different venues to do so. I always had this nagging feeling that since I am-self taught and don't have that art degree that I missed out on important information on marketing my artwork. But as it turns out and that the women in our small group shared with me- art school does not teach the business side of things. So we're all kind of in the same boat!

Anyway, a lot to think about. So much to think about that I couldn't go to sleep until 2 am! And then my little guy who was in the pack n play next to the bed woke up at 5 am and wouldn't go back to sleep because mama and daddy were in the same room. But because of the early rising I was able to get the beautiful photo above of the sunrise.

On 3 hours of sleep I went to Judy's workshop The Artful Journal. I've been journaling forever and visual journaling too- but it's always a good idea to mix things up a bit and absorb from other people. I had so much fun playing with paint. Laying down backgrounds. Judy is such a great instructor with so much positive energy. Even though I was literally exhausted from no sleep, it was a great day.

It was just what I needed to- getting out into the country. My husband, son and I went for a little hike along the bluffs of Lake Michigan. We miss our hikes in Washington and it was like a reuninon with the trees and the dirt trails.

A lovely weekend overall. I will share my journal pages later.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


testament, mixed media, 5x7 inches

American Heritage Dictionary - (těs'tə-mənt) n.
1. Something that serves as tangible proof or evidence: The spacious plan of the city is a testament to the foresight of its founders.
2. A statement of belief; a credo: my political testament.
3. Law A written document providing for the disposition of a person's property after death; a will.
4. Testament Bible Either of the two main divisions of the Bible.
5. Archaic A covenant between humans and God.

I italicized the meanings that spoke to me. This mixed media panel will be bound into a journal later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

rooted within

rooted within
encaustic and mixed media
6x8 inches

I just created this mixed media and ecnaustic piece because my current journal is almost finished. Which is unbelievable considering it is one of the thickest books I've ever bound for myself. And I only started it late last year. I should take a picture of my last two journals, because they are similar to this one. A series of journals for myself.

I inscribed a little message to myself that can't be seen in the photo. But it's something that I want to keep in mind this next year as the pages of this new journal get filled. The message I wrote to myself tonight is this: finding my roots within myself.

Here is a detail of the upper left corner:



My sister, her two little kids, and my mom came to visit us from Maryland this weekend and we had such a great time. I am really feeling like this is home now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

musica, maestro!

My intuitive painting class last night was so much fun. We had a surprise guest from the Fifth House Ensemble. He played music for us which we had to react to with paint. We warmed up first with just black ink. Then we added color. I have never painted like this before and it was a really great experience for me. I painted abstracts! And I actually like them. Adam took a picture of us painting which you can see at Fifth House Ensemble blog.

The last piece we listened to was 22 minutes long, the longest we heard, and I ended up painting an abstract which in the end kind of looked like a lake. At least in my head it started to look like a lake. The piece sounded a little melancholy. As I laid my colors down I felt a deepening in the music. Layers of depth. Some sorrow and calm. Turns out that the piece was about a lake. How intuitive is that?! ha!

I don't have any of my paintings I created because they are going to use our paintings during their concert that takes place this weekend. The show information is on their web site. Unfortunately I don't think I will be able to make it. It would be neat to see our paintings up on a huge projection screen behind the musicians.

I am definitely going to develop these exercises into larger paintings later. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I signed up for this class? I am going to be sad when it's over!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

quiet spirit

quiet spirit, encaustic, 5x7 inches

Today is Sunday, my sacred studio day. Unfortunately I am just not feeling it today. I painted a little bit and made some progress on some large oil paintings that I am working on. Painting in oils requires a lot of patience from me. I am used to being able to work fast in either acrylics or encaustics. But with oils, I work slowly, building up layers, letting them day, then building up some more. I just love working in oils though.

I still need to work today even if it's not painting, so I am doing computer work. Updating the collage journal section and the art section on amanobooks~ I have just added a new mixed media journal as well as an encaustic painting there. I also just updated my etsy shop with the encaustic painting shown above.

The printed text embedded in the wax reads:
Darkness is not necessarily a place of despair. It can be warm and safe. Like a cocoon- protecting.

...stillness. Quiet Spirit.

Life, life in its fullest capacity is not pretty. But because of that, it is beautiful.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

the keeper

the keeper, 6x8 inch blank journal
mixed media and encaustic cover

I remember reading an article about the vanishing bee colonies explaining that the honey bee is critical in the food production on this planet of ours. The humble bumble bee, the keeper of life. It is scary to think about the implications of the vanishing bees.

This 6x8 blank journal is now available at amanobooks.


Even though I have my own web shop, I also have a shop set up on etsy. I like the concept of etsy as well as the energy there. Oh, and don't forget the shopping there! Actually I try not to do too much browsing there because there are so many cool things to buy there.

Tangled Sky Studio told me about an Etsy Team called The BEE team which is a group of artists there who work in encaustics. They have a nifty web site that they set up that has links and info and all sorts of cool things. I am now a member of the team and I am looking forward to participating in the group. I'm hoping that by being part of this group, I may get motiviated to keep my etsy shop updated on a regular basis.

house on stilts

house on stilts, acrylic, 11x14 inches
exercise in Intuitive class, week 4

My Intuitive Painting and Drawing class was great last night. We painted from a still life set up to focus on paint and color. The point of the exercise was not to create a still life painting. Yeah, I know, weird, right?

I started painting the red teapot that had an orange sitting next to it. Then when I was ready I flipped the canvas 90 degrees, then started painting a green pot. Then I flipped the canvas again and started painting the flesh tones of a pig that was up on the stand. Etc, etc.

The point of doing all this was to break free from preconceptions, from expectations. To really just look at color and how we use paint to lay color down. The first time I turned my canvas, I kind of experienced this odd feeling...like, wait, this is not how it's supposed to work! But I went with the flow and felt myself loosening up and just enjoyed myself playing with the paint.

At break time we put our canvases or paper or the wall. I didn't even know which direction to put it up. I chose randomly and several people said that my red teapot(now upside down) looked like a house. And I was like, hmmm, yes it does.

When we continued to work on them, I decided to develop that. And then as I was working and little red legs started to appear under the house, I remembered a dream that I had taken note of in my dream journal just a few weeks ago. I dreamt of a house on stilts. And so, I went with it.

I may develop this exercise into a finished painting eventually. I just thought the exercise was really great for me. It was a relaxing class last night, something that I really needed. I am so glad I signed up for this class. I really like the instructor and my fellow students. The six of us!

Paula of Second Studio blog left me a comment the other day that we both followed up together through emails. She asked me if and how my work has changed through the years. It definitely has changed, developed, grown. And right now I amd definitely going through another change. Even though I still work on my small mixed media pieces (for my journals) in my usual style, I am sensing a change inside while I'm working. Something a little looser. This post is long enough already, I'll write more about it at some later point.