Today I wanted to share a little about my progression as a painter. I think it’s fascinating to see how artists progress and change in their time as an artist. This is heartening for students and tells a better story for the general audience. I also want to give shoutouts to my mentors who have been instrumental along the way. These journeys never happen in isolation.
I graduated with my Masters in Education in May 2006. I had a full-time job and still had a whole lot more time on my hands. After many years of singular focus on my practical studies of economics and science, I was ready for art to become a part of my life again. This happened first through reading blogs.
One of the first artist blogs I ever followed was written by Misty Mawn. It was through reading Misty’s blog that I was introduced to this idea of living a creative life. Everything Misty did - raise her children, dress herself, decorate her home, paint her work, journal - was in-line with her magical, creative way of living. With a better understand of branding, I can now see that everything she did was in service of her brand, and her brand drew you into an idyllic yet raw way of being.
In 2008 I ventured to New Hampshire to finally take a class with Misty Mawn at Squam Art Workshops. I also took a class with Judy Wise. It was with trembling hands and enough self-doubt to kill an elephant that Judy slowly walked me through painting my first face. She talked about that face - once it was done - like it was alive and had feelings of its own. Anyone who knows Judy will tell you that her presence and impact as a teacher is magical. It was Judy who, a year or two later, first told me that I could show and sell my work. It was also Judy who introduced me to encaustic (hot wax).
In 2010 I did a small series of paintings where the main element was a line that rose and fell according to my mood throughout one day.
The years went on. I took more workshops. Eventually, I settled on exploring the home as a symbol of self and painting to narrate the journey we all take to find where we feel at home - both inside ourselves and in the world. In the future, I would be introduced to ideas of painting to elicit emotions in the viewer and would deviate from this illustrative style, but it served me for a while.
I took encaustic workshops as often as I could in these years. I traveled to New York, Boston, and Oregon to learn from various teachers including, Tracy Spadafora, Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, Hylla Evans, and Bridgette Guerzon Mills. Along the way, I met Linda Robertson, the encaustic guru of Portland, Oregon. Linda has been instrumental to me as I progress professionally and develop my art career. I call her my mentor, but she’s my friend too.
In 2011 I completed a month-long artist residency in a small village in southern Spain. I painted consistently for the first time and created a whole series of home paintings with collage being a major technique.
In 2012 and 2013, I stayed with the houses but evolved the process to involve less collage and more masking, which is still a favorite encaustic technique. It was then that I began playing with embedding large chunks of wax to create topographic elements.
2014 was a major shift for me personally and professionally. Regarding my work, it was in 2014 I decided to finally heed the call to paint maps and topography. I had been feeling the pull for years and collected maps wherever I traveled. Suddenly it was time.
It still took me 2-ish years to solidify the techniques and style that I have come to own and love. As I continue to push the boundaries of using encaustic and oils I now have an oil painting teacher, David McCamant. He is pushing me to both master my brushwork and think deeply about how an audience experiences a painting. Occasionally he tells me I’m thinking like a painter: expressing and pushing the audience to question and feel their own story through merely color and stroke. I take that as the highest compliment.
As I continue to explore the stories that cartography can tell, I am now working on painting the earth as the alive, ever-changing planet it is...without borders, division, and human impact. From high above, the earth appears alive and without conflict. Our human experience can often feel like the only experience of this earth, yet most of the planet’s lifeforms live without thought of humanity. More on this soon, but that’s what I’m exploring now.
In another life, with another name, I blogged about my entire residency in Spain. Those posts can still be found here. Please check them out if you’d like to know more.