A little dabble in wax…

Over the weekend I took an encaustic art class. It was my first time playing with wax, a heat gun, and my desire to deep dive into this art medium. I have been interested for years, follow a few local artists, and finally took the plunge to dabble in something that has inspired me for quite some time. I learned a lot, have even more of a desire to purchase my own supplies and whittle away the hours in my own little creative world.

You may remember a post from almost a year ago on the encaustic piece that Chris and I purchased at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. It is the second piece we have hanging from local encaustic artist Karl Kaiser. I love the modern look of his work, the clean, smooth look of the wax resin, and I have to say after spending 2.5 hours playing with this art medium, what he does takes incredible patience. Here are the two pieces I semi completed during the class. You should feel honored and lucky that I am sharing my unfinished artwork.

As soon as I have a spare moment (life has been busy what can I say), I am going to do some research to find out what it will cost me to purchase a heat gun, pancake griddle, metal warming pots, resin, wax, medium, encaustic paint, boards, etc. While it sounds like a lot, I think I can do it fairly inexpensively to start with to ensure that it really is something I want to do long-term. As I write this I have visions for different paintings I would like to try, and I can see it begin to become a bit of an addiction. I can only imagine that there are things to do at home, the house is interestingly quiet, and Chris tracks me down knowing that he’ll find me in the studio (aka baby room, aka dog room, if only we could decide), wasting a Saturday away playing with wax. Is that really so bad? There have to be worse addictions. There was something soothing about manipulating the wax and in some ways having no control over it.

I asked the instructor if I could play with hardware washers. I ended up only having the time to put one into my piece, but I can see where I would like to explore metal and wax, sort of a juxtaposition on organic and industrial in one piece. I think I am already addicted.

Chris are you ready for our shopping trip to the art, hardware stores and oh your favorite: Michaels?

Words Matter

Have you ever thought about how words matter? Writing is my world. Yes, I have other strengths and focuses, but at the end of the day, if I could do what I wanted it would be to write, play on the potter’s wheel, bring out a blow torch and do encaustic paintings, oh the list goes on and always tends to involve creative outputs. Words, though, dictate so much. You can provide a visual explanation of art through a painting, but to me words can bluntly or eloquently tell folks what you really think. They matter. They change emotions, moods, and communicate a variety of informative details.

Words alone do nothing. They have to be interspersed with tone, intention, care, and purpose. Without the emotion and care words have meaning but they stand alone. Sometimes even with the best intentions, how words are communicated can turn individuals away, make them feel guarded, alone, separate. With the best intentions and carefully crafted, words can make individuals feel included, respected, and valued. Words matter.

I am passionate about the selection of words, their meaning, and their intent. I think about it for almost every email I draft, every communication I write — whether for work, or among friends. I wonder, though, do we all think about our words and their effects on those around us? Do we write to make others feel inspired, engaged, and excited about what they are reading? Sometimes. Other times our words fall on deaf ears because we do not communicate well. We miss moments and opportunities to have a direct connection with our reader.

Yes, words matter. Think about that as you draft that next email, communication, blog post, Facebook post, whatever vehicle you use to share your ideas. You might find, as you focus on the words, you receive a different response from your reader.

Memories of creativity?

Do you remember that first childhood moment when you felt creative? I remember the house I grew up in often had many projects in differing states of completion. It might have been an art project, or learning to bake something in the kitchen, or my mom was canning, or my sister was singing, you name it. At the time I did not know that the different creative projects I did as a kid with my mom or sister would be something I would want to continue doing as I grew into adulthood. Looking back, I am grateful that I grew up in a home that cultivated creativity, as that is now the thread that weaves itself throughout my life.

my first Batik

my first Batik

I distinctly remember doing batik at home with my mom. I do not know if I learned how to do it at school and then wanted to do it at home, or vice versa. After purchasing some Rit dye, in the range of navy and cobalt blue, some muslim fabric, and wax we were in business. I will not bore you with the step-by-step details, but after melting the wax, I painted it on in the pattern I wanted to stay the creme muslim color. Once that was complete we dyed the fabric and I had my batik artwork. I believe we stretched the final piece around cardboard. If I were doing it today, I would probably stretch it around a wood frame or pressed board for durability.

Maybe it was because we did not have a television growing up, but I found that my free hours would be spent with creative art projects (oh and of course reading). Eventually, in elementary school, I applied and submitted a portfolio to be apart of a Gifted and Talent art class. If I remember correctly, the class met after school. I was accepted and so thrilled. I loved the different projects I got to do as part of that class. I also remember really enjoying drawing. In one art class we learned to draw upside down. See link for the famous Pablo Picasso drawing that we used to learn this technique. Does this image look familiar? Did you learn a similar technique?

I am a strong proponent of exposing kids to all types of creative activities. Even if they do not become artists; the problem solving skills, willingness to try new things, and the potential confidence they learn, it is worth it. Maybe in the end they do become artists.

Were you a creative kid? If so, what were your earliest memories of being creative?