Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lansing Art Gallery Demo

Last week, as the conclusion of my grant for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, I did a hands-on demo of encaustic. The attendees were mostly artists and I'll be curious to see who pursues the medium. Several people tried it out. This is one of the images I worked on...not complete.

If you look at the green and red marks in the lower left corner, you can see where one goes from fat to skinny. This is a technique of incising the was, then filling the groove with color, then scraping away the excess to leave a filled-groove mark. The rest of the marks have yet to be scraped. I like the line quality this creates.

All in all the piece needs some cleaning up and punching here and there. I'm still undecided about whether to add more flowers...could go either way.

Today I'm finishing up the final report for the grant. I'd like to thank the Arts Council for helping me get going with encaustic, which I think will hold my interest for quite some time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wroking toward September

It's been a busy time in the studios and much of the work will be going to Lansing Art Gallery this weekend. I'll be Artist of the Month - which means a mini exhibit. This will be an exploration of the landscape, mostly in ceramic. I've really enjoyed working on these pieces which celebrate the natural tendencies of clay and how, like bonsai, small shapes and patterns mimic large ones. I've also experimented with obvara - a Russian technique I learned from Janet Smith after seeing her discuss it on Facebook.

Then - there'll be a number of encautic pieces done in a range of approaches as part of the Individual Artist Grant I received. On September 9 from noon till 2 I'll be offering a hands-on demo (that means people can try it) of encaustic techniques. There will be handouts about encaustic to take. I've very much enjoyed working in these different media over the last several months and hope people will enjoy the results.

As always - the process is the joy, but it doesn't hurt if the product's pretty cool, too!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

About Encaustic

In preparation for a September demonstration of encaustic, I've put together a sheet of information, which might be helpful to those who'd like to learn a bit about the medium.
Click here to take a look.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hoping for a Mackerel Sky

This piece was done for the Mackerel Sky 20th Anniversary Exhibit which is hanging now. In the months before the event I knew I wanted to do something in encaustic involving a mackerel sky cloud formation. Every evening as I walked the dog I watched the clouds and a few times thought they might be headed in the mackerel direction, but not once did I get the real thing. The quest itself became fun and meditative and I got to see some really beautiful skyscapes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hake Brushes and Encaustic

Went to the studio today with a few experiments in mind. Thought it wise to limit the image to two, so I could focus. One was glazing, which turns out to be a really great time. It simply means adding a LOT of the plain wax/resin to the colored block chunks - so the colors are used more as tints than paints. I had been frustrated that the colored encaustics were too dense and I lost the luminosity, but it's back using glazes. Glazing would not work for everything, but will be a nice tool in the box.

Having looked at a ton of Byzantine encaustic portraits this morning, I wanted to play with doing a face...large area of flesh. The glazing came into play here, as the tints were very sublte.

BUT - the big surprise today was the brush. I had bought some hake brushes from Dick Blick and have seen hake mentioned in many encaustic publications. Still I had not tried them because the bristles simply seemed too soft and I didn't think they'd let much happen. BOY - was I wrong! The first stroke of the hake brush put down a mark that was as smooth as silk...totally different from any other tool I've tried thus far. Again - not for everything, but I'm going to be ordering a bunch more of these brushes in every size they have.

Still working on finding the best melting containers. I may look for a teeny crock pot for the plain wax, so I have a constantly-available source of melted wax to add to other things. Off to Goodwill.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dental Tools

Started this piece for a demo(posted earlier). Last night the dental tools called, so I played with etching and incising and cutting back layers to reveal previous layers at various angles and depths. Should have waited till the paint I'd used for the etching had dried...both my hands were totally green and waxy. Thank goodness for pumice soap!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


For what it's worth, I'm posting a photo of my studio - clay to the left, painting in the middle, encaustic to the right and beyond that, framing. It's an all-purpose playground.

Sate of Mind

Starting a new job outside the home has taken some adjusting of schedule. When I do get home, I've felt guilty leaving my dog alone...yet I can go down to the studio to work. But, I think I'm settling in and starting to work it all out.

Got some clay pieces started to continue a raku mini-show I'll be having in September at Lansing Art Gallery. This weekend I want to prep some clay which will be worked together with encaustic - TOTAL experiments, but there in lies the fun. Have a couple of encaustic pieces I want to finish up and a new one to get out of my head and onto the board. Want to take several encaustic pieces to Lansing Art Gallery this week, too.

So - revving up and hoping to start moving forward again. Writing this is a bit like getting in gear. Hope I have enough gas to get where I want to go!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reach Demonstration

Reach Art Studios is unique and wonderful and serves kids in the best ways art can. It was fun to be there for an encaustic demo yesterday. We had a few other guests come, too.

I wanted to quickly run through some of the basic techniques of etching, layering, embedding and filling in. The piece was still warm when time ran out, so we couldn't really show it all. The birds in this piece was based on some papier mache birds the kids were working on when I arrived.

This is a less than great photo, but I like how it shows the waxiness of the surface. There's still work to be done on this piece, for sure.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bird on a Wire

The first encaustic piece since getting the grant. As part of the my contract I'm going to blog about working with encaustic.

This piece started out with leaves and such on the left. I was going to do a very realistic apple on the right. It was just too uptight for my taste. I scraped and layered and the texture got more and more exciting.
For the bird I tried a transfer process - putting graphite on the back of thin paper, then using a hard point to draw, embedding the graphite into the wax. Oil pastels work very nicely for tinting surfaces.

The new heat gun is great - has variable temperature and blow.

At the end I rubbed acrylic into the whole surface, then wiped it off to further bring out the texture. There are a couple of wax-filled incised, then scraped lines, because I just wanted to try that.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gouache Book is IN

Yesterday the printed books arrived. Have to say I'm really pleased with the results. It's so fun to see this out of my head and real. I'm hoping to reach illustration and painting teachers who might consider using this as a text. It's meant for anyone who's ever thought they might like to try gouache, which is a remarkable medium.

Available HERE.


Final images for the Wine Label Library seeking wines.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Almost done

At this point it's time to let these rest overnight. Just in scanning, I can already see things I want/need to tweak. It's been awhile since I've worked in goauche, so this hit the spot.

I'm not too sure about the blue feather - may go back to something more neutral there.


These have been on my drawing board for over a month, waiting for me to start painting them. I'm posting the start to commit myself to finishing them soon. Just proves how distracting the rest of life's been lately. All good - just lots going on.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Warming Up

Today was my first foray into encaustic since getting the grant. I started a board, just hoping the right concept would come as I worked, but in the end I tried pretty much everything I'd read about in the book last night - in addition to trying oil pastels. Needless to say, the piece lacks focus. Like the oil pastels a lot and can see how I might add them down the line. I'll go back to the piece later with a fresh eye and see what it needs.

In the book they discuss keeping one brush for each color...VERY hard for a painter to do. I just dip where I need it. So, pretty much contaminated each color pan and brush I have. If that's how I work, it'll become part of what makes my stuff look like my stuff. I can clean brushes if it really gets to me. Can already tell I'm going to want another hot surface, so I can have more choice of color at one time...not patient about waiting for a color to heat up, just so I can make a single mark.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


In the interest of limiting the variables while exploring encaustic (by doing as much to and with it as I can) I've chosen the theme of growth for the imagery. The point of getting this grant was to allow me to grow as an artist - to bring fresh shoots to old wood, as it were. There's a LOT of room to play with this concept!

Embracing Encaustic

First box of goodies arrived today. Thought I'd start with reading "Embracing Encaustic" to get my head going. It was a very simple, but good solid primer for processes and supplies. It didn't blow me out of the water, but I really liked that they made it all very approachable. Nothing hit me as radically new, but it reminded me of a few things I want to try. I liked that they talked about every day tools you could use and it may end up having saved me some $$ here, that I can use better there.
Check out their site here.

Psyching up

All the new tools and supplies have left R&F and Dick Blick and are headed my way.
Encaustic medium
Wooden panels
tacking iron
heat gun with - the important part - nozzles to direct the air flow

The hot plate will have to wait.

At some point I'll be ordering encaustic colors from Bees Knees Encaustics - a great place I found with wonderful customer service.

A guest brought be her favorite oil pastels. Have never used them, but just know they're going to be a wonderful addition to the encaustic toy chest.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As an incentive to get the studios clean and get psyched up for the run with encaustic, I agreed to be part of the Mid Michigan Creative Alliance Studio Crawl, April 22 from 2 - 8pm.

This event will have many creative spots around town, followed by a gathering for a sip and a bite. Should be fun.

I THINK anyone can attend, but go here to learn more if you're interested.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Won't take it for Granted

I just learned that I've been awarded a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. My project will be the exploration of encaustic, with two hands-on demonstrations down the line. With this grant I'll be able to purchase the tools I need to take this medium through its paces - without toxic fumes. I've already been playing with the medium and will be curious to see what the proper tools allow me to do. I'll be posting what I learn along the way.
Thanks to the Council and to the funding which allows for such grants. I'm grateful and very excited to get to work.

Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Looks like I'm in this month's CAWL. All I know is that I should have had my glasses on for that photo. Thanks to the magazine for the covergage. Brittney Moody, who wrote it, did a great job.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Lately logos have been coming my way. I've always loved doing them - saying the most as simply as possible, but have not had much opportunity. One of these is for hand-harvested wild foods like sassafrass tea (GREAT, by the way), mushrooms and wild rice. The other is for a series of workshops for women to learn pretty much everything about nature - medicinal plants, living out of doors, making fires, identifying edibles...really sounds intriquing!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Vino

Hate to admit it, but I'm one of those people who buys wine because the label is cool. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. A few years ago I came within cork-sniffing closeness to being able to produce a series of wine labels for a young company. It would have been a dream come true.

A recent conversation with friends about private labels made me long to do this art. So, I decided to create labels for wine which does not exist. I could have a collection of labels and someone could pair a wine with them, or I'll simply have some fun along the way.

My husband named the first one as I was describing the image I wanted to do - Caged Crow.
I do a lot of birds - they mean many things to me. Did this piece in encaustic.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Learning Curve

So, it seems that for silk screened work I need to have created vector art. That means back to Illustrator, which makes me make ucky faces...too mathematical in feel and I've finally gotten so comfortable in Photoshop. There's apparently no easy way to translate from one program to the other. I just need to learn it, so I can create are that's easily reproducible. As long as there's no deadline, I enjoy the curve.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baby Birds

This might be the last of this little series (for now, at least). I think the giraffe will have to be the outlier. The vertical bands of color just set it apart. It might become the first in a separate jungle series ( later, if at all). Not sure what's going to be the next focus.

You never know when you do something completely new if it'll make sense, so posting these was a little test. I so appreciate the FB feedback along the way...kept me at it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's not Friday, but it's Fish

This just came out - was not where I was headed when I started - at ALL. I love when that happens. Next is to look at the series and see what needs to be added or tweaked to get a series of 6 which works well together.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bahhhhh, or is that baaaaaaa?

Easter must be in the air - or it's just the child palette. I wonder if the black blacks in this series are a bit heavy, but on the other hand like the strength of the black in contrast to the soft colors. I see these as big and to be seen from a distance, so want them to pop.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teeny tweak

Well - it was stunning to see how many people read Facebook, but the no ball won, hands down. In the final analysis it still needed a little something, then, which I added.


With, or without the lower green ball? I just cannot decide.

These are being developed for silk screen. I'm hoping to be able to create the cat's stripes by printing the lower yellow over the black.

And the winner is:

Thanks to those who helped.

Monday, March 8, 2010

One a Day - more fun than a vitamin!

I'm going to try to get an image a day done for this series. My mind is spinning with possibilities and I have to keep moving to get to the next one.
I'm starting to think this group has some promise for a number of applications. We'll see. Right now, I just want to do more. They make me smile.

I'm posting them on the i-spot portfolio - could be fun for illustrations. We'll see if they get hits.

The i-spot is cool, because I can switch images up at will and learn what gets response and what doesn't.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New direction

Today I opened Adobe Illustrator for the first time in 18+ years. It was familiar, yet foreign and VERY frustrating. BUT - it made me work in a way that's different from my usual and it showed in the imagery. I wanted flat color (long story - will come later), but in the end I worked in Photoshop. I need "Illustrator for Dummies" or something. Here are a couple of the resulting images...REALLY having fun and can't wait to do more with this series...or some others that have burbled to the surface. I could play at this all day - quite meditative.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Town Scrap Fest

We're kicking in to gear for year two of this fabulous event.
As a fund raiser, some of us have made funk-fun gems out of scrap which will soon be available at Absolute Gallery in Old Town.
Applications are now available for artist teams - and lot more information at and on Facebook. Please come be a fan and follow the fun on Twitter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gouache Book

Finally - out of my head! The Gouache book I started some 5 years ago is finished - available now as an e-book and VERY soon to be available in print.
I've worked with gouache for a LONG time, now and still love it. I'm hoping to help others discover the joy of this wonderful medium.

Great for teachers and students alike.

Check it out or get yours (or one for someone else) HERE, or at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lunch with a Purpose

One young man had an idea and within days had a movement. Lunch with a Purpose - take your lunch hour on Thursdays and use it to make the world a better place. Be a fan on Facebook.

I really wanted to support the whole concept and they needed (in my humble opinion) a logo. They agreed and here's what we have, now.

I can't wait to see where this all leads!

Monday, February 22, 2010

And maybe done

This is it for today. I always like to go back the next day and usually find something to touch up or tweak, but basically this is the finished art. It will be used for the Capital Area Humane Society 2010 "Walk for the Animals" campaign.

step 5

Nearing the end. Still needs a little snap.

Step 4

Getting the light source and shadows established to be sure we have the sunny feel requested.
I'm underpainting, now, because I'm going to want to both model and add some fur with drybrush and I want there to be a sublte contrast between the flatter background and the figures.

Step 3

Since I don't ususally work in this coloring-book fashion, it's a bit new, but interesting. The event this is for takes place in a woodsy park in September, so the colors should read late-summer/early fall, but still feel sunny and inviting. It's now time to get some color in the animals, so their values/temperature can be etsblished. I'll probably need to tweak what I've done so far to pull things together, then.

Step 2

My client wants this piece to be bright and sunny, but because the animals are very cute, it runs the risk of being cutesy, which I want to avoid. So, I've taken the background in a more graphic direction and chosen a background color range that's a bit muted and subtle.

Life of an image

Today I'll be working on an image for the Capital Area Humane Society. I thought it might be fun to track the progress of the job. Here is the initial drawing on the watercolor paper. I'll be working in gouache, but want to approach this with a different method from my usual. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Great to have done some good.

This just came to me and made writing the book worthwhile.

Amber says, "Thankyou so much Barbara.

I recieved your book this week. I read it cover to cover over my morning tea. The part about patience and balance really resonated with me. Its a beautiful little book and I love your illustrations. You have wonderful gifts. Its very unique from all the other entrepreneur books I have read. Very personal and real.

I really needed the encouragement, it was a blessing. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and uncertain. Wondering 'is this good'?

Your words were very encouraging and made me feel at ease giving me the knowledge that others go through the same feelings of doubt and worry too.

Its a very special book.

Thankyou, Thankyou , Thankyou.
Best Wishes

Monday, February 15, 2010


I'm just listening to a program by Laura Roeder, who is a bold young woman and social media guru. She's talking about a pivot point where she was pondering what she wanted to do and trusting her gut to guide her to the right sort of client. This is something we all think about, though not always consciously.

I have learned that I'm a passive sort of networker. I work hard and try to be good at what I do, but my marketing approach has generally been in the line of: put it out there, and if they want it they'll call. In the course of doing illustration for years, the sorts of clients which feel right have come along. I love editorial work because I have to think and work on tight deadlines. I love children's books because of the huge visual and conceptual arc of such a project. I prefer to work with designers directly, so I can hear the implicit as well as the explicit messages.

I've never had any desire to be the next shooting star. I just want to burn steadily and brightly for a long time, work with people I respect and admire, challenge myself and create the best possible work. Is that asking too much? I don't think so.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Art Learning Opportunities

Now that I have my studio all in one place, it's a natural to want to offer some opportunities for others to come use the space. I'm offering sessions for free play in clay, critique and private instruction in any number of media. Class sizes will be small.

Check it out here.

Hope you can come to the playground.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm in the final phases of writing a handbook about gouache, which is the medium I've used to do illustration and fine art for years. I started this book about 5 years ago, then put in on hold. Somewhere along the line the entire file got lost. A couple of years ago I gave it another shot, but got sidetracked by another book. Now - FINALLY - I've wrapped it up and am getting ready to publish soon.

In the meantime, I just set up a page on Facebook for artists who do, or would like to use gouache to share their experience and imagery, as well as links to helpful resources or their work.

We can offer each other tips and troubleshoot when needed. I think it could be fun.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Buy It - CADDi get in the Lansing State Journal

What a GREAT way to start my day! The CADDi got written up in the Lansing State Journal today as a BUY IT. It's so wonderful to get support from our local paper. I do feel bad that I forgot to mention that the CADDI is also available at Michigania in downtown Lansing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back on Etsy

On again, off again...on again. I've opened a new Etsy shop. I seem to be making work at a pretty good clip these days and I need as many outlets as I can have, and Etsy is a way to augment.

This piece was done in encaustic - my current passion.

I've posted art, knitting patterns and "E is for Entrepreneur", which I think is a good self-help book for artists on Etsy.

I like the community there and will be using work from artists from Etsy in my upcoming gouache workbook. There's some great work to be found.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bee Inspired

Congratulations to Bee Inspired, who will appear on national TV this weekend. Last fall we worked on this project, which is a box with an inspirational quote for each day of the year. The one shown here is the signature box, but we worked on another, too with a theme. Great fun. Fun idea. Thanks for the opportunity to work on this.

Packaging is such a unique challenge, as the illustration needs to work in 3-D. The finished piece must pop from the shelves and be something someone would want to have in their home or office.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The i-spot

For several years I've had a portfolio at the i-spot. This has been my favorite system of advertising for all time, as it lets me change images at will and track views. They just increased the number of images artists can show at one time, so it's a pretty complete portfolio.

I just added several new and a couple of old favorites.

Here's the new collection.