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.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Why Learn to Draw?

When I was a freshman in the University of Illinois, majoring in art, we had to spend the first semester drawing in black and white. We also worked from plaster casts and human skeletons. We kept drawing until the image was perfect. I loved it. One time I chose a dried corn cob to draw because it was the most complicated. I carefully rendered each kernel. 

Later in my career, I was sometimes belittled because I could draw. One comment I received in a group painting from a live model was. "That looks just like the model!" And it wasn't a compliment. I suppose that statement was supposed to undermine my creativity. Another opinion, from an artist working in a gallery was a scornful pronouncement was that drawing isn't necessary to paint. My answer was that since I could draw, I could paint anything using the same principles , and he could only paint non-objectively.

This classical training has served me well. If you can draw, it is the basis of all future art creations.

More reasons to learn to draw: Wrtiten by Hessam Moussavi, Lead Civil Engineer - Oil and Energy professional:
Improved Creativity
Improved Memory
Improved Communication Skills
Improved Problem Solving Skills
Stress Relief
More Positive Emotions
Release of Hidden Emotions
Increase of Emotional Intelligence 
Improving the Senses
Better Hand Mobility
Becoming More Observant of Details

I particularly agree with the last one: Becoming More Observant of Details, and I know it improves hand-eye coordination.

The images below prove that I am not stuck with just drawing realistically. I use everything I know about space relationships and composition that I learned in my classical training.
A pencil drawing done when I was 18 years old in my first year in art school

Oil and Cold Wax Abstract

From the "Her Journey" series

Encaustic and Oil

Cover of a Magazine

Seated Nude, Encaustic

Latest series, "The Lightness of Being" encaustic and mixed media.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Actually Painting with Encaustic

Encaustic painting still seems to be fascinating and drawing more and more people into trying their hand at painting with hot wax, resin and color.

In my mind, it almost seems like a cult and there are teachers all over the world offering classes in encaustic. It is fun for everyone. Lots of participants in classes just want the experience of using heat to see the colors move and make a more or less shiny surface.

I have taught hundreds of students in my encaustic workshops and after the first day of getting used to the heat source and seeing what happens when the colors move by themselves, I guide them into thinking about composition and negative space. I claim that my students often make more accomplished paintings than some "teachers".

My house mate, Cynthia Hamilton has mastered the encaustic technique. Her paintings are abstract, with the most beautiful surfaces I have even seen. Cynthia has also worked in this medium for 20 years. She is my daughter, but I did not teach her. We started at the same time; I was in Ashland OR. and she was in Brooklyn NY. She first saw the encaustic technique in Italy and I discovered it in Portland OR at a gallery.

We do not share a studio, so her finished paintings are a happy surprise to me.
Below are some of her newest encaustic paintings. I wish you could see the touch the glass-like surface. I love to pet her paintings. It is a sensual experience.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

60 Years of Making Art Video and Encaustic workshops

I have been sending this video privately to my subscribers, but now, this once, I am sharing it publicly.:

Of course since I made this I have continued creating and newer work can be seen on my website.

And here is my recent announcement for the upcoming encaustic workshops.

Dates of workshops:
June 17 & 18, July 15 &16, August 19 &; 20, Sept. 23 & 24

Check out the workshop blog: for the details

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Abstract; Back to Figurative

For the past 9 months, I have been working on my latest series, "The Lightness of Being" and it has been a wonderful creative adventure. I challenged myself to explore different ways to use encaustic with mixed media. Some of these paintings will be in a 3 month show in what I think is the best, most beautiful gallery in San Miguel de Allende , July, August and September.

I may eventually go back to this style, but right now, I am having a break that is fun and keeping me smiling; painting images from old photos of my childhood, and that was a long time ago; a simple time. I have just started. I only put in a couple of hours yesterday, but I am looking forward to getting back into the studio.

I have been working as an artist for a very long time and have no intention of stopping

The new painting, "Here, There and Everywhere"
Begining paint sketches

starting with ink washes on pieces of canvas
Another oldie , a cover of a magazine from about 2002

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Online Encaustic Classes

I love teaching encaustic students in my studio. They get individual personal attention and I get to meet people that I otherwise would not meet; sometimes it is not possible for students to get to San Miguel de Allende, so I offer online classes for those who have the basic encaustic experience. Here is the link for the classes

Check out more about the classes:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An Artist Can Only Paint What Is Inside Of Them

I have always felt that painters paint who they are. When I look back on the many years I have been a working artist, it is almost a catalogue of my life, experiences and emotions.

A friend, an artist ,who was my first encaustic student when I moved to Mexico almost 15 years ago, says he likes to paint chaos and uses mostly black on his very large paintings. One of his series is called Melancholy and the Lost. There are symbols that look to me like nuclear clouds. He was the one who told me that to be recognized as a Mexican artist, I had to paint angry art. That is never going to happen. The deeper I get into my spiritual, meditation practice, the less I want to bring more tension in my work.

I have spent a few hours going through images going back to about 1968 and almost got lost in memories of where I was emotionally when I made these paintings. Nothing stays the same and it is interesting to see my artist's journey following my physical and emotional journey. All of these images are figurative.

Since last August, 2018, I have been working on my series, "The Lightness of Being", all abstract. (If you would like to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, there is a form on the welcome page.)

I did not start photographing my work before the 1960's so the examples are all after that date.

about 1968


about 1975



The Circus Series, 1989

Every Woman Is A Goddess, circa 1991

Her Journey, A Woman's path to self-realization ,circa 1993
circa 1994


The Love Letter, 2016

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What Have I Done?

I just got these two big boards from the carpenter. When I ordered them, 100 cm x 150 cm, ( 39 1/2" x 55") , I did not plan ahead. I went to pick them up Saturday and found that they were too big for my little car. I ordered a truck for Monday morning. When I got to the carpenter's workshop, the driver wasn't there. Not surprising in Mexico. I drove home and my daughter offered to use her larger car to retrieve the boards. They are now in my studio, overwhelming everything else, including me. The first free day I have this week, I will start with a few layers of white milk paint.

I wonder if I had been feeling very creative when I ordered them, or just ridiculous. These will be the largest encaustic painting I have ever made. Finishing the 48" x 48" Tetraptych was exciting enough to make me take on the challenge of creating an even bigger encaustic painting, or two. I will post process photos.

The last creation of the Lightness of Being series 48" x 48"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I Am Not An Encaustic Artist

I have lived in San Miguel de Allende for over 14 years and have and have taught the encaustic technique here for almost that long. My earlier gallery shows were concentrated on encaustic painting, but I am ever seeking to expand my artistic visions and as of late I am incorporating encaustic with other compatible mediums to push the boundaries.

People still introduce me a the encaustic artist and I have been correcting them saying, "I am an artist and use/or have used used most other techniques and often use encaustic." Of course I still teach and am happy to instruct beginners on how to paint in encaustic as well as taking other, more advanced students in an exciting journey using many advanced techniques.

Here are some examples of some of the techniques I have used over the years:
oil and collage in the background

scratch board, album cover


encaustic and shellac

encaustic with taped edges


acrylic mural

casein, done 65 years ago

welded steel, about 50 years ago; I also carved in wood and stone and lost wax cast in bronze 



ink sketch

charcoal pencil

oil and collaged border
cold wax and oil

cold wax and oil