Double Life, and a Studio Clean-Up

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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!

A Contribution

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At the close of 2012, I find myself grateful for my and my family’s health and all of the goodness that has come my way this year.  It has been a year of big shifts, subtle changes in perspective, and a deepening of my art practice.  I am so grateful for generous friends, supportive family, and the opportunity to share what I do and learn from others through my relationships, the galleries that represent my work, and through online communities.

I want to say thank you to every single one of you who take the time to come here and read my occasional posts and updates.

I think it’s a great time to share this link with you, part of my online community… it’s a contribution to the diverse, enthusiastic, occasionally snarky, and certainly generous online painting community that I am lucky to find myself a part of.  You’ll also find the link in my sidebar.  It will take you to the packing and shipping website that I developed in 2011 with Larraine Seiden, which until now was only available through the IEA website.  It was written to accompany a presentation we gave at the Portland IEA retreat about packing and shipping encaustic work.

Disclaimer:  It’s not a definitive work- I’m sure that many of you will find new tricks and tips, and many of you will find faults or disagree with some of the methods.  But it is a good starting point, and offers a lot of basic information about shipping encaustic work along with some methods for building custom boxes, cuffs, and insulated shipping crates.  I hope that you find something new there that takes away a bit of the anxiety we all feel when hauling our precious work down to FedEx or UPS.

Please feel free to leave additional information and experience in the comments sections of the various pages…it was our hope that our readers would use and contribute to the website, expanding it’s scope by means of our collective experience!  However, I won’t have a lot of time to respond to individual comments or questions from that site right now.

I hope all of you out there are having an excellent holiday season… here’s looking forward to 2013!

New Work: December 2012

Cloud_Index_2_900p_kairosHere is some new work , just finished last week.  These are all on the small side for me–all under 24 inches.  It’s a challenge, now, for me to work small after working larger for most of last year.  I have some larger panels waiting for me in the studio, though, and I’m excited to take some of these ideas into the larger formats.
Above:  Cloud Index #2, 24 x 24 inches.

Precipitation_900p_kairosPrecipitation, 24 x 24 inches.

Fennel_After_Rain_800p_kairosFennel After Rain, 12 x 12 inches.

Cloud_Index_1_900p_kairosCloud Index #1, 18 x 18 inches.

Storm_Warning_800p_kairosStorm Warning, 12 x 12 inches.

september_light_800p_kairosSeptember Light, 12 x 12 inches.

Mustard_In_Fog_800p_kairosMustard in Fog, 12 x 12 inches.

By the way, Cloud Index #1, Cloud Index #2, and Precipitation will all be available at Hang Gallery in San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More On Uncertainty

sketchesI came across a great quote by Henry Miller that alludes to uncertainty, though Miller uses different terms.  I knew I had to share it here.  The life preserver analogy is especially powerful to me; again, no risk, no art.

“I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.  I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink.  The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.  Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience.  Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge.”
–Henry Miller

*Quote via Brain Pickings.

 

Uncertainty

paperstrips_kairosSpecifically, embracing uncertainty.  Something I’m working on, because I’m generally not a big fan of uncertainty.  Uncertainty is… uncomfortable.

colors_kairosI do believe, however, that uncertainty is a vital part of making art.  Starting something new, how are we to know what will come of it?  “Is it going to work?  Where will it lead?  Will it be total shit?  Why am I even doing this?…”  That is the sort of thinking that tends to take over when I start new things.  It’s a vulnerable feeling.  But here’s the thing:  without risk and exploration, things dry up.  Art requires movement.  It requires progression.  It requires risk.  It requires action.

beginnings_kairosMost of the time, the experiments don’t work out.  Every now and then, they do.  Sometimes, they trigger a cascade of work that can last years.  But it all starts with willingness to embrace uncertainty.  So, that’s something I’m working on right now: setting some time aside to just play with different materials, play with different ways of thinking, play with failure, even.  Cultivating uncertainty.

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Above: Some of my current experiments (playing) on mylar.

Tools and Materials

tools november 2012 kairos

 

Tools and materials are my partners in creativity.  It’s sometimes easy to forget how important they are- how, often, it is a newfound tool or a deviant accidental mark that sets me down a new path of image-making.   Some of these tools have been with me so long, but I’ll try to recall how I collected each one, and what I use it for.  Left to right.

  • Ace blade.  Newest tool here.  Used for paper cutting and stencil cutting.
  • Tiny screwdriver.  Lifted from my husband’s toolbox.  Used for intarsia and mark making.
  • Ice pick.  I’ve had this forever and ever.  Used for piercing and intarsia mark making.
  • Metal brush.  Hardware store.  Makes interesting marks when heated.
  • Sewing snips.  A gift from my local embroidery shop owner.  Used for detail trimming of paper and thread.
  • Drill bit.  See thievery, above.  Great for drilling through wax.  Or wood.
  • Sewing marker.  Actually, don’t know what this is really called.  Found in old sewing box in thrift store in Modesto, CA.  Used for mark making.
  • Metal eye dropper.  Bought at Encaustic Conference in Massachusetts a few years ago.  It’s great for filling in empty marks with hot wax for intarsia.

What about you? Do you have favorite or unusual tools that you use in your art practice?

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…