Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Artists Are Always Young



"Artist are Always Young" this quote was written under my high school year book photo.

I remember the picture well, I had just come back from a swimming class and my hair was a mess. I chucked at the quote, not being terribly impressed at 17 years old, I was more concerned about the unflattering photo.



Me, 2019
Dad' Day at the University of Illinois, where I was majoring in painting and commercial design

In this shot from a local newspaper, I was working from a nude model, circa 1959


Now, many, many years later, I understand. Artists are always young because we are never finished with our work. Just when I get the inclination to put the paints away, I get another idea about developing more techniques for my paintings.

It has been more than 60 years that I have been a working artist.

Just finished this abstract. Encaustic and mixed media, on board


I had a battle convincing my parents to let me be an art major in college. My mother often said, "You are going to have to survive on beans and live in a cold-water flat." She insisted that I take a semester of typing so I could get a job after school. My first job was in the art department in a book publishing company in Chicago.

I always carried a sketchbook when I was traveling with my jazz musician, Kai Winding. I sketched and painted musicians for 12 years.
backstage at the Nice, France jazz festival, circa 1981


Process of a very large mural, circa 1990
My Christmas display in Artisimo Gallery's gift shop. About 23 years ago.
My partners in my first gallery, Artisimo, Scottsdale AZ. Note the T shirts I painted for some occasion.


My first abstract painting done during my second year in art school. Casein on illustration board. circa 1953












Saturday, September 7, 2019

I Repeat, I Am Not An Encaustic Artist

Sure, I have worked in the encaustic medium for 20 years. I can share many simple and advanced encaustic techniques and am always stretching what can be done with this medium, but that is not all that I do and love.

Diversity . The antonym is "Uniformity" Years ago someone suggested it would be better for my career if I would stick to one style and medium so my work could be easily be recognized. I have been working professionally since I was 21. I was hired by a book publisher in Chicago to work in the art department. I am now 85 years old. That would have been a lot of years making the same paintings. I wouldn't have lasted or kept my sanity.

August was a busy month. I had a full encaustic workshop, a drawing class and a new student learning to paint portraits in oil. I love it; going back and forth from abstract to figurative and using different techniques. In between, I have started another mixed media, encaustic abstract.
If you can measure and understand negative space, you can draw.

First we laid out our palettes, and started with the darkest darks, working through the mediums and the lightest color is last.

Everyone was busy making their original encaustic paintings. Next week is a new class

I start with the white milk paint base; apply watercolor and diluted inks and then the clear encaustic. Lots more layers to come.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Comprehensive Encaustic Workshops

learning to incise
The August workshops are over and both the group class of 5 people and the private class of advanced techniques were fun and inspiring, both for me and the participants. I am planning the next workshop in September.

group class

Advanced technique class


I will be taking a break from teaching in October to visit family in Scottsdale Arizona. In many ways that it a bit like going home. Here is where I, with a partner, opened my first gallery. It was a tremendous amount of work. I learned a great deal, especially about working with other artists. I have great respect for professional galleries. I understand what it takes to represent, display, advertise and host openings. Time, money and patience is needed.

Gallery reception


I am planning a 3 days workshop in October. Two people have already signed up and there is room for two more. It will be comprehensive

My 3-Day Encaustic  workshop provides a solid base in techniques and best practises for working with encaustic. Throughout this class, I encourage creative development in painting, layering, mark-making, and mixed media work. Students are introduced to effective studio setup, tools, and health and safety. I begin by approaching encaustic as a direct painting medium. Students become familiar and comfortable with brushwork, fusing, and layering.

Advanced techniques

I supply all the materials

Day 2 of the intro to encasutic


 This class examines the specific characteristics which make wax a unique material to work with; including opacity, temperature, adhesion, and texture. Next, we look at the many ways encaustic is adaptable to other mediums and artistic processes. Additional techniques we explore include collage,  image transfer, and combining oil and wax. After each demonstration, you are given time to work hands-on with the wax to explore each technique at your own pace. By the third day I will spend at least an hour working personally with each student, answering any and all questions.

Demo for the three day class



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Encaustic workshops, gallery shows and sales

I haven't had the time to post much lately. The days have been full and positive, so here is a catch up.

The beginning of August I had the privilege of showing my work in two wonderful galleries in San Miguel de Allende.
One of my larger paintings outside the door of the gallery. Sold

Opening night. That is me talking to the young sculptor who made the work in the middle

The invitation to the Nude exhibit at the second gallery

Someone checking out my paintings. These are older oil paintings


Then my daughter, Cynthia Hamilton and I went to Mexico City for a wonderful short vacation to celebrate my birthday. We are never disappointed by our visits to this huge city.
Checking Google I found this:

"Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world (150+ at last count). ... The most famous national museums are the Anthropology and HistoryMuseum, the Natural History Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the San IldefonsoMuseum, and the Templo Mayor museum" 

None of these were on our agenda, although I have visited all of them at other times. We always start our adventure by going to the Tamayo art museum. We decided since we only had a few days, not to venture unto the unknown and just retrace our steps to our favorite places.


Here is Cynthia in the park next to our hotel in Colonia Roma

An afternoon glass of rosé at the Tamayo museum

This old lady on this old bench in Chapultepec part next to the Modern Art Museum and across from the Tamayo museum

Then to add to this art filled month, I had a full workshop for the introduction to encaustic.




This was a beginning class in encaustic for all the participants
Everyone worked differently and I worked individually with each one, using slightly different techniques after the basics of encaustic were mastered.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Encaustic Gesso or Milk Paint


I like starting my paintings on a white surface. It is not necessary if you have a quality board and intend to use plenty of rich encaustic colors.
Here is an encaustic painting that I started on a birch panel with just a base coat of clear encaustic medium
I have used the specialized encaustic gesso and it is good, but since I can't buy it here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the shipping cost is as high or higher than the price of the product, I started using milk paint for white surfaces about 9 years ago. I can buy that from the Old Fashioned Milk Company and have that shipped here. Since it comes in powder form, the weight is much less than the encaustic gesso; therefore less money.

About 9 some disparaging responses; giving me all the reasons that it would not work. The main derogatory comments came from someone who sells encaustic gesso.
I proved her wrong during the last 9 years. The milk paint surface is perfect. It is non-toxic, pure and receives the encaustic paint beautifully. The major complaint was that it would not keep and would turn into a smelly mess in a couple of days. Well, I just mix up the milk paint powder in water for the amount I will use. On the occasion that I have left over paint. I cover and refrigerate it.

Applying the white milk paint to a board.



I prepare all the boards in my encaustic workshops with the white milk paint, so the students can just start applying the encaustic paint.



For the "Lightness of Being Series" I always start on a white surface. The absorbent milk paint is a perfect base for the watercolor washes and diluted ink shapes. This is the result of the first couple of days of abstract washes.



Here is the diptych I finished this week. It won't be part of the gallery show that opens August 3, but maybe next month. The panels can be sold separately as complete paintings.




Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Encaustic: BEYOND THE BASICS

I am teaching both encaustic and cold wax and oil workshops again. Check my workshop blog for dates: http://ezshwan.blogspot.com/ 

Of course I offer introduction to encaustic, but more recently I find that people who have some experience with the medium come to learn more than just making sample boards.

We just finished a two day workshop, 12 hours of fun, and learning many encaustic techniques. I love sharing everything I know about this medium, and it is a lot. I shared instruction and demos of how to make encaustic medium and the paint; how to create and use laser transfers, build pattern and detail with a hot pen, incorporate rice papers, oil glazes and more.
Students in my classes make their own paintings with my direction and no one makes the same painting.

I am sure that I had as much fun as Jean and Cynthia had.








Friday, June 21, 2019

When Is A Painting Finished?

collectors deciding which paintings to buy

When is a painting finished along with "How long did it take you to make that?" are questions that I hear the most.

As for how long did it take you to make?  "My answer is 60 years of practice. " I don't punch a time clock, nor do I write down my hours in the studio. I do know that because of all my 60 years of being a working artist, I never stop learning or pushing the techniques I use to discover my own voice.

"When is a painting finished?" Now that is another story. Sometimes I work on a piece until I think I can do no more and put it away for some time before I re-visit it. I just completed a painting that I "finished" three years ago. I like it much better now. I will post the changes next time.

Cold wax and warm shadows
These collectors couldn't decide on one painting, so they bought two.
encaustic, 24" x 24"
I have a viewing room where collectors can see one painting at a time in a relaxed atmosphere. The whole house is my gallery and it can seem like visual overload. Usually the client will get up from their chair and enjoy pulling older painting out of the stacks to see what they can discover. Here is also where I re-discover paintings that I am not quite satisfied with and either destroy or continue working on them.
The stacks



This array of paintings go back years. Some are the last of various series or painting I want to keep.