Friday, March 28, 2014

A Passion for Wax

There is something so yummy - so luminous, so... seductive about encaustic, the medium of pigmented wax. And relatively simple, as Joanne Mattera writes in her comprehensive guide The Art of Encaustic Painting- "The basic formula for encaustic can be summed up in six words: melt wax, add pigment, paint, fuse." 
encaustic, oil, collage on panel
12" x 24"
And that my friends will be what I am teaching tomorrow, Saturday, March 29 from 10 - 4 at my Encaustic Workshop at DCAD.
More, 2001
encaustic, copper leaf, collage on panel
12"x 9"
And as Joanne Mattera adds in the section about Encaustic in the Twenty-First Century, "it is not paint that makes the painting, but the artist." And there are lots of us...

Catherine Nash's computer interactive book on DVD, Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper & Encaustic offers a compelling opportunity to see the work of 28 artists who work with paper and encaustic through interviews that Catherine completed over a 2 and a half year road trip. These recorded studio visits are followed by images by more than 100 international artists (including me!)

I was introduced to the medium at a workshop taught by Francesca Azzara many years ago at the Arts Guild of NJ in Rahway and have been hooked every since.

See one, do one, teach one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Roots & Wings

This past Saturday, March 22, 2014 my elementary school suffered a 4 alarm fire in the central Jersey community I grew up in.
The day after the fire, James Monroe Elementary School
photo by Caryl Felicetta
I haven't been back to the old neighborhood in years, but the news of this blaze set social media on fire and the pictures posted, links to news reports and comments from many of my childhood friends offered real time reporting and brought back a flood of shared memories.

What strikes me about the tragedy of this fire and the response of those of us who grew up walking to and from school- and often home for lunch as well, is how fortunate we are to have had this sense of community. 

By the time I got to high school I was restless for life beyond suburbia and wanted adventures in new and varied places.  And "my story" seemed to be I grew up in Edison, NJ and couldn't wait to get out of there.  That may be true as from NJ I went to New York, California, Hawaii and then as life would have it- came full circle back to Edison in the mid 90's- only to want to get out of there again.

But as I think about the fire and read the responses by my fellow classmates and neighbors I am reminded that we were given strong roots so that we could fly. 
Roots & Wings
embossed collograph with graphite, acrylic, collage
44" x 30"
Some of us returned, some of us did not, but I believe that we each have a strong sense of who we are because of our time together at James Monroe. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grace Slips In

Several years ago when I was writing the application for my first Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant I took advantage of one of the information sessions that they offer for each cycle.
This gives you an opportunity to have your proposal reviewed before you send it out. If available, this is highly recommended for any grant you may be applying for. I thought working with this underserved group of new mothers was aligned Leeway's mission to "promote artistic expression that amplifies the voices of those on the margins, promotes sustainable and healthy communities, and works in the service of movements for economic and social justice."  

Turns out it was, but I had to rethink, and repurpose how I approached my proposal. A shift to truly seeing the power of Art for Social Change. 
When I wrote my first draft in 2010 for the printmaking workshops with YoungMoms, I initially set out to teach these young mom new skills and offer a place for community and self expression.
Sounds good, right? Not quite. What Makes a Leeway ArtistThe difference I learned is that it is not so much about teaching with its implications of status and power, but more about sharing and building community. And once that shift happens, that is where grace slips in and the real social change occurs.
Justine and Bridge with their sculpture- The Power of Love
We see each other as equals, empowered and uplifted by each other's stories, insights and experiences.
Putting on the finishing touches
And that is exactly what happened with our YoungMoms Women of Courage and Influence project that wrapped up this week. To read more about the project in Chester County Press click here.
Volunteer Barb Proto packing it up and heading out...
The projects completed during these workshops will be on exhibit at the YoungMoms 3rd Annual Community Brunch Hope Blooms on Saturday, April 26. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prima Donna on My Wall- Artist as Collector Series

Alyson B. Stanfield of ArtBizCoach is this week's guest blogger for the Artist as Collector Series.
Prima Donna on a Bad Hair Day
by J.Don Cook
wood, steel, brass, copper, wire, bone,
paint, animal hair
53" x 12" x 3"
When I was a young curator, there was a coffee shop in Oklahoma City called Medina’s. It was owned by artists Paul and Grace Medina and was a bona fide artist hangout. 

It was a coffee shop before its time – before anyone in Oklahoma had even heard of Starbucks. 

J. Don Cook had a show there at one point. He made his name as a photojournalist, but expanded into sculpture by the time I was introduced to him. I didn’t know much more about him. All I knew was that I loved Prima Donna on a Bad Hair Day and had to have it. 

As I recall, it was about $175 or $200 and I didn’t have that kind of money. J. Don let me pay it off, which probably took me months. And he didn’t charge interest. (As an artist business coach now, I’d advise him differently.)

This piece hangs above our kitchen table – between two large windows that look out to the Rocky Mountain Foothills. 

It makes me smile! Not just because it’s delightful, but because it was one of the first pieces of art I acquired.

Alyson B. Stanfield  is the author of the book I'd Rather Be in the Studio, the Artist's No Excuse Guide to Self Promotion, my personal go-to book from everything to writing an artist statement, getting organized or getting a gallery. Alyson also teaches workshops in person and online and has a plethora of material available to help you take control of your art career and share it with the world.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Works in Progress with YoungMoms

Brooke and Brooke(?)
This week wraps up the art workshops with YoungMoms of Kennett Square, PA funded by a Leeway Foundation ACG 2013
YoungMoms and mentors get down and work together on the mixed media
figurative sculptures
 The goal of the project is to work together collaboratively with a variety of materials and media while we learn about women who have overcome challenges and adversity to make a positive impact on the world.

We always start with a great home made meal prepare by wonderful volunteers from the community and then the kids go off to play in another room with the two sitters while we get down to work.
YM Executive Director Linda Mercner, left,
with volunteer extraordinaire
Barbara Proto on right
Our first two sessions together had us creating collage portraits of different women followed by a session making exquisite corpses.  We are now well into creating mixed media sculptures of our own super women.
Using inkjet prints of the YoungMoms faces we used Liquitex gel medium to create image transfers onto Crayola Model Magic- reminding us that we create our own future, and anything is possible.
The Power of Love
by Justine
The images transferred onto the surface with varying degrees in tact, and everyone had a great time working back into the faces with collage and paint.
Bridget... has worked with me before and it is so awesome to see
her come into her own as a woman and a mother
The girls also began to create the armatures for their figures out of boxes, tubes and other recycled materials.
Bethany and Stephanie

The sculptures are a work in progress... just like us! They are going to be on exhibit at the 3rd Annual YoungMoms Brunch on April 26 at the Garage in Kennett Square, PA.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Surviving the "Great Holiday Take Down" - Artist as Collector

New Jersey based artist Joy Kreves is this week's guest blogger for the Artist as Collector Series.
Joy Barth
Christmas Card 2013

Joy Barth's work is very textural with some kind of transcendent quality, which is very immaterial, non-physical.  This fascinates me.  

Although I have purchased Joy Barth's work, this small painting arrived in the mail as a Christmas card this past year. Typical of her work, it shows her muted palette and surface that has undergone much back-and-forth working with scrubbing and washes, sparkling textures, and the mystical quality that her best works achieve.  

I love it so much that it survived the great "Holiday Cards Take Down," and is still on the mantel. 

Joy Kreves is a mixed media artist whose work explores human-earth-universe interconnectedness, using all sorts of created and found materials.

Gilded Bee Bowl Setting
Ceramic, preserved moss, cornstarch, twigs, real gilded bees
 6"h. X 17" w.  X 14"l.