Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I've been wanting to take my photographic images a step further. I love to shoot and feel strongly about many of the images; but I want more. I thought of painting on them, dabbled in that with no success. I have collaged with some but what I have done so far actually takes the photo down a notch to me.

Anyway, I saw some encaustic work at a local school last fall and have been thinking about it since. Today I ordered a starter set of encaustic paints and some extra medium. I'm not going to invest in art store heat equipment or tools right now. I will get a griddle at the thrift store and use the metal tools and heat guns I have. I'll get some wood blocks and seal them myself.

For those of you experienced in encaustic, any wise words or experiences to share?

For those of you who haven't seen or heard of encaustic painting, it is painting with beeswax and pigment. Layers are laid on; colors show through each other and blend when heated. Heat tools and shaping tools are used to carve and smooth the image.

Encaustic is used for painting, collage, and painting over other images (like photos!). I'll update this site as I progress and would like to hear from any of you doing or thinking of encaustic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is anybody out there?

I enjoy my website and blog; but I wonder if am just entertaining myself? I don't expect to sell a lot of art on the net, but I would like to have some visitors and comments. I'm thinking about what I could include that would be of more interest to artists and art lovers. I don't feel qualified to write tutorials or even display techniques. I'm just working at art.

I do like to write about my photographs - interpret them in a way. I wonder if that would be interesting? I could also include how, why, and where I took a given shot.

If you're reading this and would give me some feedback via comment or email, I will certainly appreciate it!

PS: I'm making Artist Trading Cards from my photos. Some are small versions of the full image, some are crops of the image and some have been digitally or manually altered. I'm putting them on HolyCowPaper at Etsy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Misty Day

The picture here is the barn on the farm where we rent a house. It will be part of a story later in this post. This picture is from last summer.
We had a misty foggy day today, so I tried to get some shots with the fuzzy light. I went to the cemetary which has some old graves and a purportedly witches grave. I hope they came out, but haven't uploaded the camera yet.

The soft rain was actually good for our new flower seeds and it was warm. Yea! it was warm!

We have a small clay group that meets at an art gallery in Aurora - l'Eglise that meets tonite. We're going to build with slabs and coils in slump and hump molds. I bought old dishes and pyrex at the thrift stores and 4 yards of cotton fabric for $2. Should be fun and is something the others may not have done before.

There is a kick wheel there but I haven't tried it yet. I have only used electric and have one at home. I was very surprised at how long it spins once it is going. I'm sure the group will want to throw before long.

Completely unrelated - did you know pheasant eggs are a variety of colors from khaki to army green? There are pheasants on the farm we rent a house on and we found a bunch of eggs today. I blew some to use in something.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Good Book to Reread

Good books are worth re-reading. Past journals are no exception. I have a habit of picking up whatever blank book is handy when I want to write; so my journals cover long periods and have gaps. This week I finished one I started a year ago and picked another to use the blank pages that are left. I thumbed through each of them and found myself re-reading every page.

I was surprised at the richness of the content (do I think myself frivolous or shallow?) and both regretful and inspired by the plans and promises I found. Some I have moved past but most are still valid and rereading them reminds me to think of them and work toward them.

If you have old journals, I think you would enjoy and/or gain by reading them over.

Good writing!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Drama - Spring

I have never liked the concept that without sadness there would be no joy, or similar contrasts. BUT, after spending a winter in Nebraska, spring is more delightful than ever. I have never watched so closely for tree buds and flower shoots. I have never so appreciated grass greening. I have never been so excited to plant flower seeds. Without the snow, ice, wind, rain, and bitter cold, this spring would not be so sweet.

I didn't even spend the whole winter. The boys and I spent 1/2 of December and most of January in Houston. We actually missed most of the single digit weather. The cold was the coldest I've experienced and the snow stayed the longest; but it was the length of the winter that made the biggest impression and wore on me the hardest.

I liked the snow and the boys loved it! I got used to cold surprisingly quickly. In Houston I wear a coat when it gets down to 50 degrees. In Nebraska, we take off our coats when it gets to 40! The boys were in shorts and bare feet today in the low 60's. Amazing!

Anyway, I liked the snow. I didn't mind how long it lasted. The most dreary has been after the snow melted but the temps were still cold and the wind and rain took turns and came together. Especially the cold wind! Without crops or snow, the landscape was tan on brown. It depressed me. Sun has become joy. We sing "Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me." pretty often these days.

So, perhaps without sadness joy is less sweet. It is certainly so with winter and spring for me. I wish you each a happy warm spring.

PS: The photo is, for me, like being in the cold and watching the trees.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spit it Out! - Gently

I am a direct communicator. Outstandingly so, judging by reactions and responses I have evoked over the years. I don't know why. My family are not particularly direct, loud, or outgoing, although my youngest brother is a politician. I guess that counts. We are quite a bit alike.

Anyway, back to direct communication. I worked in business for 34 years to some success, including large staff management. When I say 'direct', I mean a style that includes asking direct questions, stating what I observe, expressing my opinion ( I always have one), and facing the tough questions out loud. I often ask the question a group is thinking but not saying. This directness has served me well and cost me too.

It serves well because I get information, I am heard, I clear the air and help groups get on with a difficult issue. It has cost me and my friends and associates because it can be shocking and/or embarrassing to others. It can hurt feelings. It can stop a room cold.

I am retired now and being away from workplace issues and projects, my own recent life events, and continued personal development have quieted my communication habits some and helped me have more appreciation of others' feelings and reactions. (My husband wouldn't agree) I am still, though, involved in teams, organizations, marriage, children, and friendships that require communication. I still see great value in speaking up, speaking one's mind, saying things clearly, and clearing the air when there are unspoken issues.

B U T, direct communication demands preparation, grace, and kindness. Prepare - think before a meeting or conversation how you can introduce difficult subjects or unspoken concerns gracefully in your own style. When I managed staff and had the wonderful opportunity to coach individuals on improvements and corrections I thought they could make in their performance, I learned that starting a conversation with some disclosures and encouragement helped the communication and helped both of us feel at ease. Statements along these lines:

  • that I am a direct communicator and that is sometimes a bit surprising to others,
  • that we would discuss some topics that might be uncomfortable at first,
  • that I encouraged them to use their own communication style (not mine),
  • and to feel free to ask for a break or change the conversation

Grace and Kindness - consider how someone else may feel, how you would feel if the topic were raised, question asked, feedback given. Couch it in friendly terms, start out slowly if you need to. Say "this may be a difficult question,...", or "if I may state an opinion...". Wait in silence for a response or reaction. Give others time to think and decide how to respond. Talk with a soft polite voice. DON'T, as I did many times, just blurt out your thought in a loud clear voice when no one else would dare say it. Wade in slowly. Think about how to say your thought in a graceful and kind way. DON'T, as I have, say "Says who?" when you could say, "excuse me, why is it, or under what advice...". Trust me, you'll be glad. Say it, but be kind. It will still help the cause of communication and progress and it won't hurt you or your associates! Don't make them victims.

When I know I am being extraordinarily direct, I try to prepare people and to be gentle. BUT I choose not to avoid the message or question. I tried that with no success and I frankly don't believe in it. I think we are all better off if we get our thoughts and questions in the open. We can not work on the issues we do not state. If we are willing, there is nothing we can't work out with time and effort.

So, my message in the post is encouragement to speak up, state your mind, ask your question, but unlike I did for many years, consider the feelings, fears, and preferences of others. I wish you great success in your communication. It can stop wars, solve world problems, and bring us closer together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Will it ever be spring?

I am so blinking tired of the cold! Houstonians aren't weather-proofed for Nebraska winter. April and it is still coat weather - something's not right about that! The grass is beginning to green up and I bought flower and vegetable seeds this week - hope lives.

The sunshine today really cheered me up. It's interesting how weather and sunlight or the lack thereof contribute to mood. I know after this first winter here that I'd never do well in Alaska or the like. I need the sun and warmth. I complain about hot weather but it's better than cold, especially windy cold!

Cozumel in May - our anniversary is coming up and we're cruising. I must keep reminding myself. Ah, Cozumel in May!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photography as art

Clearly not all photography is generally considered art - you know, 'real art'. What is and what is not is beyond me; but I feel more artistic with my photography now than I did almost 20 years ago when I discovered black and white photography and the relative simplicity of having a home dark room. At that time, I felt my photography was art, but I wasn't sure why. On second consideration, I wasn't convinced it was art, but that it could/should be. I was certainly exposed to bnw photography that I considered art.

Anyway, back to now. After many years without serious shooting, and since arriving in Nebraska, committing to focus on art, having relatively little entertainment (distraction), and being gifted the different landscape, plants, and buildings, photography has become a true artistic endeavor (preoccupation, obsession,...) for me. Buildings, grasses and hills, windows, fences, and the like, have become metaphors and objects of beauty - granted a different beauty than fine china etc.

On top of that, I finally made the leap to digital photography and digital editing of my photographs. I stuck with film a long time because I was committed to producing the image without electronic help, just me, light/shadow, and film. Ha! And autofocus, varying paper hues and printer and inks I couldn't predict or control, etc etc etc. Anyway, I gave in. My husband bought me the most wonderful digital slr, perfectly suited to the way I shoot. I already had Photoshop Elements and basic editing skills. I added a nice photo printer and off we go!

Now, back to photography as art. As I look at photos of my contacts on Flickr and continue to develop my own work, the art becomes more clear. Shadows are poignant. Colors touch me. Buildings come to life with history or opinion or feeling. For me, that is art. Whether it is for the viewer remains to be known; but for me, it is.

Then in the editing process, the colors and shapes become paint. Images appear in the larger composition that must be carved out and dramatized. I've always wanted to be a painter - a 'real artist'. I'm starting to feel like one. Again, to what success for others, remains to be known, but I'm having a new experience with the camera.

Shown above are a photograph as shot and a portion of it tweeked up with Photoshop as the muse directed. Can a photograph become paint to the artist? Is this art? What are your experiences?

The equipment I'm using is:
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ50 (Leica optics)
  • Epson R2400 Stylus Photo Printer
  • Toshiba computer and MS Vista
  • Photoshop Elements 6

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ceramic buttons

Here are the stoneware buttons I just made. the last picture shows the mess that fell to the kiln shelf. Some wouldn't fit on the rods of my bead rack and I strung them on two sizes of high temp wire. The smaller wire slumped. I think I can save some with a small dremel bit.
I saved some with minor glaze damage and will use those as collage embelishments.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The buttons are glazed and in the cool-down stage in the kiln -my new, and newly decorated kiln. Riley painted it with about 8 tubes of acrylic paint a couple of days ago. No harm and it is lovely and bright. Can't wait to see how the buttons turned out.

I have the first edition of my studio website up. It is holycowstudio.com. I plan to link or move my blog there when I figure the software out better. So far I have my ETSY shop displaying and I plan to use ETSY for my sales from the website. I don't think I want to manage an online store and I'm not selling much anyway!

I used godaddy to get my domain name and to host the site. I am using their software to build the site.

Tonite is clay-play at the art gallery. I'm working on a hollow egg - "CAT". We use low fire clay and work together once per week. It's fun to work together and visit. more later - dinner!

Dinner is over. I gathered up my majolica style glaze and colors to take to clay play. In the distraction of after dinner, Eli took a gallon of white glaze and poured it down the sink. He said it was old. Drat! I swear I can't have anything. It depresses me sometimes how destructive they are. They're 4. He knew that was mine and that it was 'paint'. It's not innocent. He's in time out but that hardly seems sufficient. He knew. Boy this is hard sometimes (parenting). Then again, just look at those faces!