Monday, July 11, 2016

Painting With Encaustic: Tips and Insights

Pods - Terry Jarrard_Dimond
Encaustic Painting - 12" x 12" - 2016

In my last post: Encaustic Worksop at Cullowhee Mountain Arts,  I talked about my recent workshop with Lisa Pressman in a general way.  This week I want to share some tips and insights I have had since returning along with information Lisa shared that finally sunk in with me.  

Smoke Ring
 - Terry Jarrard_Dimond
Encaustic Painting - 12" x 12" - 2016

  • All mediums are not the same.  I have used several brands of encaustic medium and I have also made my own.  I have spent lots of time trying to get a shine on the surface of my work and it never seemed to look good.  During the workshop we used R&F Medium and the work looked hard and shiny as soon as it dried.  It could then be buffed up every more. I am totally sold on this product.

  • I have lots of the "old" medium which I can not afford to waste so I will use it as one layer of the prime for my boards but I will no longer mix it with my encaustic paint.

  • Lisa uses a safety razor blade held between forefinger and thumb to scrape rather than loop tools.  The razor blade worked much better for me as well.  Much more control....however, I have arthritis in my right thumb and it becomes painful after a while.  When I returned home I found a holder for this type razor blade used for scraping windows and tried scraping with the blade in the holder.  Not a much finest as just holding the blade but a mix of the two approaches will be good.

Window scraper 

  • When priming your board always warm the board first.  I had forgotten that.

  • When using the heat gun always put it on low or you will move the wax around in ways you won't like.

  • Air bubbles can be popped when using a propane torch by flicking the bubble with the tip of the flame.  Don't over heat.

  • Encaustic paint can be mixed with lots of medium and remain beautiful.  Don't use the paint straight from the block.  

  • You can fit more paint containers on your hot palette if you use rectangular paint containers.  I began with round containers but I just got some of R&F's paint pans. I can fit about 10 pans on my small hot palette.

Strings Attached - Terry Jarrard_Dimond
Encaustic Painting - 12" x 12" - 2016

  • Establish two palettes.  One for opaque colors and one for transparent colors.  I have previously not been very careful about that but I like this idea and I am loving what transparent paint adds.

  • Using soy wax to clean your brushes and tools may leave a residue which can cloud your paint.  Rather than cleaning your brushes all the time try having brushes that you use with only one color.  If you do use soy wax to clean your brushes be sure and wash then with soap and water afterwards.

  • I replaced the wooden clothes pins which help remove my paint containers around on the hot palette with tiny metal clips I bought on Ebay.  These work a lot better.

  • Don't pick your paint containers up with the clips as they aren't that tight.  To pick things up off the palette I use a pair of pliers.

When the Dust Settles - Terry Jarrard_Dimond
Encaustic Painting - 12" x 12" - 2016

  • If you like to work in a square format (I do) it gives you the opportunity to combine several paintings to make one larger one.

  • Don't melt an entire block of paint into one container.  Break the paint up with a hammer and melt the chips as needed extending them with medium.

  • Float frames work great with cradled boards.  They can however be very expensive.  I've just ordered one frame from Dick Blick that isn't expensive.  I'll let you know how it looks when it arrives.

  • For safety I plug everything into one multi plug outlet along with a night light.  When the night light is off I know everything else is off.  This includes 3 electric hot plates and a vent-a-fume.  So far I've had no issue with power outages but you will want to be careful.

  • When my palettes and paint cool down I cover everything with a drop cloth to avoid dust or other debris from getting into or onto my paint and equipment.

Enjoy your studio time!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Encaustic Workshop At Cullowhee Mountain Arts

Supplies generously donated by R&F Encaustic for the workshop.

Yesterday I returned home from a week of study at Cullowhee Mountain Arts at Western Carolina University with Lisa Pressman.  The class was an advanced encaustic painting class.  It was informative, fun, and very satisfying.  

I have had a desire to make progress in this medium for a couple of years and I finally have enough information to begin the process in ernest.  I highly recommend Lisa as a teacher and as a person.  She is willing to spend personal time with you answering questions and concerns and also willing to give honest and thoughtful feedback on what you are doing and how to improve your work both technically and aesthetically.  

Class exercise

This is an example of a class exercise which involved drawing directly on an unwaxed cradled board, adding  medium and then white paint.  The piece was taken further after these processes. During the class I began perhaps 10 boards and will be evaluating them to see what they need over the next weeks.

Lisa Pressman

On the last morning of class we presented the work for everyone to view.  Everyone was invited to see the best work from each class member.  There were many supportive comments from the class and guidance from Lisa.

My best to everyone in the class and many thanks to Lisa for another great class!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Paint, Paper and Fiber - Tom Dimond and Terry Jarrard-Dimond - Part II

Trinity V2 - Tom Dimond - 1997
30" x 22" - mixed media

I have known Tom Dimond since I was a senior student in college.  I have watched his work develop and how he can mine the gold of his ideas.  His sense of composition and eye for color are exceptional.  Tom is a fine artist and he is also my partner in life.

Looking at this tiny sampling of his work I am struck by the depth of information contained in each work and what a beautiful flow there is between each piece.  There are strong and continuous lines of exploration that run from our first meeting through today.  

Perhaps the strongest of those ongoing explorations is his love of geometric abstraction.  If all a viewer knew about his work was his current work they might be surprised by that statement as his work has broadened and softened recently.  However, the understructure of all of his work, the foundation of all of his work is firmly geometric and abstract in nature.

Trinity V2 is the oldest piece in this group and the bones of the painting are very clear.  If you click on the image to enlarge you will see the complex pattern of circles.  This is a structure he has used as a format for many years.  While it serves as an "actual framework" I have always thought of it as a way for him to get into the work as drawing all of that structure takes many hours.  These hours are ripe for contemplation and meditation.

Trinity V2 - Tom Dimond - detail - 1997
30" x 22" - mixed media

If you have ever taken an art history class or read art history you know how the study of an artist or a specific work by an artist can reveal mountains of information the casual viewer will never see or understand for what is "really" in the art.

Two examples of that type of content are revealed in Trinity V2.  The cherries (in life they are air freshners) refer to a famous work by Kurt Schwitters and The Cherry Picture.  In addition to the use of the cherries, Trinity V2  uses collage which is a process Schwitters is famous for using.

The other reference is the geometric element at the top which is a stellated dodecahedron.  Tom was on a trip to Italy and saw this figure in a tile floor by Paolo Ucello in St. Mark's Cathedral.  Tom has used this form not only as an element in paintings and collages but has constructed entire paintings on frames which go together as this geometric form.

S.H.I.E.L.D. - Tom Dimond - 2013
30" x 22" - mixed media

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a collage painting.  I use the double term as there is about a 50-50 mix of paint and collage materials.  The beautiful and serene symmetry which Tom often uses is very present and the large black form draws you in. As you approach the work for closer inspection you see that hiding under paint and thick layers of mediums and papers are other possibly more familiar and recognizable images.  Spend some time looking at the large black element.  Put it together in your mind.  What is it?  I'll share that later on but hiding under the paint are panels from comic books.  

Each panel from the comics has had the text removed and parts of the images are obscured.  You are ask to "fill in the blank".  What is the story"  Is there a story?  Is it enough to enjoy the relationships of the images, marks, textures, colors?  For me the answer is absolutely.  That is one of the joys of contemporary art.  Tom is and has been a fan of comic art for his entire life.  He knows all of the classic characters and more importantly he knows the artists who created them and brought them to life.  Their inclusion in his work is not a hollow exercise.  These images are part of his creative body of knowledge, his art vocabulary.

Reaching Out - Tom Dimond - 2013
30" x 22" - mixed media

Reaching Out was created during the same time span as S.H.I.E.L.D.   You likely recognize the black element from Shield only in a different configuration.  These look like little faces staring with their big eyes and smiling or frowning.  Have you figured it out.  Tom walks and during his walks he became aware of small metal disks on the street that had been mashed.  He has a little jar filled with them.  They are the metal end caps from old style fluorescent light tubes.  Who knew?  By scanning, simplifying and enlarging them they have been morphed into tribal masks, little people, entities far removed from their manufactured origin.

Reaching Out - Tom Dimond - detail - 2013
30" x 22"

Reaching Out is named for the hand that appears at the upper center of the piece.  It is the hand of one of Tom's favorite characters - Silver Surfer.  Silver Surfer brings an entire history to the piece and I know there are people who recognize him and other characters that are making appearances in Tom's current work.  It is just another way people can enjoy these complex works of art. 

The work continues to move ahead.  More painting.  More collage.  More layers.  Tom's studio reveals his concerns, thoughts, process.  Things hang and are out for study.

Tom in his sunroom studio.

This work along with my work are on view in Paper, Paint and Fiber at the The Art Center in Clemson SC until Wednesday, June 15, 2016.  Tom is presenting demonstration/workshop June 11 at the Art Center. For more information and to register: click here

Monday, May 30, 2016

Paint, Paper and Fiber - Tom Dimond and Terry Jarrard-Dimond

Vortex - Terry Jarrard-Dimond - 2014
12.5" x 13"
fabric, dye, powdered charcoal, string, stitching

Thursday evening May 26th, 2016 was the reception for the two person exhibition, Paint, Paper and Fiber featuring my work and the work of Tom Dimond.  We want to thank everyone who came out as well as the staff of the Art Center of Clemson SC.  You made the evening!

In addition to having an opportunity to talk with individuals about the work both Tom and I gave a gallery talk.  Gallery talks are such a treat for artists as it is a chance to share some of what happens in an artists' studio and how the work is brought into fruition.

Actually, just having the work hanging on white walls, nicely arranged and well lit is a treat and I find it to be a time to re-evaluate how my body of work is developing.  (I hope my work will always be 'developing'.)

Evidence of Life - Terry Jarrard-Dimond - 2016
10" h x 7"w
Oil/Cold Wax on oil paper

My contribution to the show was new encaustic and oil/cold wax paintings and fiber pieces which spanned perhaps a five year period.  I am pleased to say that my art vocabulary was clearly evident throughout all of this work.  My love of mark-making, smudges, shape and clear composition are some of the aspects I value in my art.  Perhaps the most notiable differences between the paintings and the fiber work was the color palette and the scale of the work.  Most of the fiber pieces feature a neutral color palette while most of my paintings are colorful and varied.  My paintings at this point are also small with the largest pieces piece being 12" x 12" and the largest fiber piece is 50"h x 34"w.  Learning how to work small has been a challenge but I am beginning to develop a feeling for this new small scale work but intend to work larger in time.

Valley Scape - Terry Jarrard-Dimond - 2016
6"h x 9"w
Oil/Cold Wax on oil paper

My art is developed during the process of making the work.  I do not begin with detail sketches or plans but rather I begin with a feeling of where I want to go. If the work offers me an interesting and different path I often choose that unknown direction and my willingness to allow the work to direct me is a big part of why I keep making art.  The excitement of seeing the work come together is my "runners high".  It is the light at the end of a tunnel.  The sunrise after a dark night.  It is finding my way through a dark forest.  This may sound overly dramatic but this is how I experience the resolution of a successful piece.  I get excited. Sometimes I am relieved.  Art is a demanding endeavor but it is this process of discovery that I seek when working.

A few weeks ago I wrote about artist Tom Stanley's show at Hampton III Gallery in Greenville SC.  Stanley described his process of developing work as  "call and response".  This description really rang true to me.  As artist works we make choices which results in "something" happening.  It might be something good or not so good but either way we must respond. This process continues until we find the work we were looking for OR we find something quit new which propels us forward.

My experience with fiber is built of years of working in that medium.  I have a certain comfort level with that medium but my experience with paint, regardless of the specific type of paint, is less developed. At this point I am thrilled to see myself in this new medium.  My marks.  My shapes.  My layering.  My preference for specific spacial relationships etc.  My job with paint is to be open to the possibilities and enjoy the experience.

Check back in on Wednesday May 1st 2016 for my thoughts on the work of Tom Dimond.

Monday, April 18, 2016

KINDRED SPIRITS - Exploring Abstract Expressionism Today

The Greenville Center for Creative Arts is a new facility in Greenville SC and I was very excited when I learned they were hosting KINDRED SPIRITS - Exploring Abstract Expressionism Today an exhibition organized and curated by artist Katherine Duncan Aimone.

The show features the work of six artists selected by Aimone for the quality and style of their work and for how she found the paintings "different but complimentary".  Aimone states she feels each of the painters represented have been influenced by a period of art where artists often work from internal not external reference.

The teachers I personally had during my college years all came from an abstract expressionist background and they passed the love of this approach to art making to me.  I have been aware of several of the artists in this show via the web so it was great to see the work in person.

Blue Pulse - Galen Cheney - 2014
oil on two panels - 48 x 48 inches

Blue Pulse by Galen Cheney was featured on the cover of the very nice exhibition catalog.  The work is heavy with paint boldly applied and manipulated.  Often work of this style is created as the artists paints and paints over layers until the work is resolved and in this work I felt I was seeing a frozen moment in time where the work is coming together.  Maybe there could be more iterations ahead and many that have already happened but this is the moment Cheney allowed us to share.  The artist says, "I strive for my paintings to exist on a kind of tightrope, right on the edge of coming apart...and also with a sense of being composed."

unhinderedAccess - Jay Zerbe - 2016
acrylic and crayon on canvas - 30 x 30 x 75 inches

It was great fun to finally see the paintings of Jay Zerbe as I have followed his work for several years online.  Zebra's shapes and composition are very strong and recognizable.  My perception of these paintings is that the elements would all slide off the canvas except he interjects just enough counter pressure to stop the motion.  His use of color and value are very consistent and his style mature.  The Indiana artists says, "The contrast of chaos with order provides the structure for my work.  The appearance of order breaks down under scrutiny, which mirrors my understanding of reality."

Sad Ape - Matthew Dibble - 2015
enamel and paper on birch panel - 48 x 42 inches

Matthew Dibble is from Cleveland, OH.  I hope you will check out his webpage along with all the websites of these accomplished artists.  I love the photo of him sitting alone in his studio studying a painting.  Well sort of alone.  He is surrounded by his work.  Click on the link for Mono Chrome Paintings.  Wow!  I appreciate Dibble's technique and productivity.  There are bones underlying all the marks, scribbles, strokes and scratches and it's those bones that give the work power.  The work is a little tattered and worn and rich for being so.  He says, "I have a natural curiosity about my place on earth, and a thirst for sincerity in all forms.  These paintings are a glimpse into what happens when my very active inner life and the outer world collide".

Emergence and Dissipation - Steven Aimone - 2016
oil and graphite on paper - 12 x 11 inches

I suspect many of you are familiar with Steven Aimone and perhaps have one of his well respected books on your book shelves (Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within and Design!: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within) or perhaps have studied with him in one of his widely know painting workshops.  The piece I've chosen to picture is a beautiful example of his complex work.  It is rich and layered and has a monumental sense of scale but is in fact on 12 x 11 inches.  Aimone's statement about his art is one I think many people share.  He says, "My work is visual poetry, speaking indirectly and metaphorically about the human experience.  The paintings serve as gateways, affording access to complex, internal states of emotion, psyche, and spirit."

 Untitled - Margaret Glew - 2015
acrylic, oil, spray paint on canvas - 48 x 54 inches

While there were excellent women painting in the AbEx style when it was first developing, often the painters most referenced are the men.  As time has passed women are being more recognized for their contribution to this art approach and I feel that women excel in this very powerful and expressive manner of painting.  Margaret Glew welds her brush with abandon and relish.  The details of what has come before are partly obscured and the smears and smudges that fight their way to the surface become the "message" and the central focus of the work.  These works are painted with joy and vigor.  Glee is from Toronto, Ontario and she is quoted as saying, "I like a painting to have an element of unpredictability.  I want to surprise myself.  Deliberately try to disrupt the surface, unsettle myself, and provoke new ways of thinking about the work.  I am never satisfied."

The Floating World #12 - Katherine Aimone - 2016
acrylic on canvas - 48 x 60 inches (each panel 48 x 30 in.)

The last work is by the curator of this show, Katherine Aimone.  This work shows a different aspect or genera of AbEx in that it is very soft, organic, quiet and feminine.  Her color palette tends to be romantic and suggest water, twilight or a dream state.  The #12 painting which is pictured is from her series The Floating World and is a great example of the qualities I mentioned.  While there is texture and marks from the brush this work is carefully modeled and polished.  Aimone says, "My body of work is about experiencing beauty - that vulnerable state that is accessible each day, but often overlooked in our push to succeed and take care of practical concerns.  It is about feeling and sensing in the present moment; I consider it to be the source of my deepest and most authentic voice."

This exhibition will be on view at the Greenville Center for Creative Art through May 20, 2016.  Check their website for gallery times.