On August 10th of this year it will become legal for people to collect rainwater on their property in Colorado. To celebrate and raise awareness I will paint a rain barrel as part of the Boulder Barrel Project, a community art project in Boulder, Colorado. I don’t often do community art projects. But something about this one sparked my curiosity so I answered yes right away without knowing what sort of barrel I’d be working on. Organizers have sent two photos. The classy looking barrel on the left is apparently a no-go. (OK by me, attempts to stay classy deaden creativity.) The clunky-bumpy barrel on the right, or something similar to it, is the one I expect to receive and will be working on this July.
My challenge is to make something on this utilitarian substrate that I am happy to show, something that connects to my art but that isn’t exactly art (this is more of a design project, really) that will also make sense in the lawn or garden setting where it will eventually go.
Summer is my slow season for workshops. So while I’ll be in there working, my studio (always open by appointment) will be closed to a regular schedule of encaustic workshops until fall. Stay tuned! Fall dates for Basic and Continuing Encaustic, and Encaustic Transfer coming soon. Can’t wait until then? Email me to schedule a private lesson.
Wax coated brushes ready for action.
Like many artists, I make ends meet doing a variety of things. The goal for me (and it’s an elusive one) is to balance income with studio time. Since I prefer setting my own hours as opposed to logging time at an away-from-home, away-from-studio workplace each day, freelance work that I can do at my own pace works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some people prefer a more regular gig outside the home with set hours. Or something more social. The key is to know yourself enough to know what works best for you.
Anyway, I’m happy to announce I’ve added a new freelance gig to my mix, writing about bees for the bimonthly mag, Countryside & Small Stock Journal. My first piece about honey and veganism, July/August 2016, is out now. So far I’m enjoying the writing and believe it’s added something, a different energy and style of thinking, to what I do in the studio. I see it as a complementary as opposed to a draggy gig.
The line between art and entertainment can be hard to draw. It’s actually easier to say what art has in common with entertainment than what makes it different. They’re both diverting. They’re both cultural products. The differences, I think, have to do with intention, context, and the feeling produced in the viewer. Art offers something extra in that realm. Sometimes it produces an inchoate yearning that has to do with your potential as a human being. Or maybe it evokes awe, or startles you, or is weird. Whatever the feeling you get from it, art gets under your skin.
The Knick, a TV show directed by Stephen Soderbergh, is piece of entertainment that feels like art to me. It has atmosphere. The cinematography is intimate. The sound design, modern, driving. The editing, sensitively done. None of the trailers I’ve see for it do it justice. But here is one . . .
“A Good Sign,” encaustic and ink on panel, 5″ x 4″
Here are four encaustic samplers made by four different artists in a recent Basic Encaustic workshop at my studio. We make samplers in Basic Encaustic so artists new to the medium can explore it freely without the pressure to produce art right off the bat. It’s exciting to see the results people get. The sampler format with its constraints reveals something interesting about each artist’s sensibility.
Have you thought lately about why you make art? What you’re in it for? Here’s another quote I like a lot from Olivia Laing’s book, The Lonely City.
People make things – make art or things that are akin to art – as a way of expressing their need to for contact, or their fear of it; people make objects as a way of coming to terms with shame, with grief. People make objects to strip themselves down, to survey their scars, and people make objects to resist oppression, to create a space in which they can move freely . . .
She goes on to explain that while art doesn’t have to be reparative, just like it doesn’t have to be beautiful, it very often is. I like the quote because it’s gritty. There’s an urgency to it that in-it-for-the-long-haul artists can lose touch with.