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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Teaching Wax Monoprints

I recently taught the basics of wax monoprints to a group of high school individuals as a part of my Americorps position at a non- profit organization that provided outreach as a component of VSA North Fourth Art Center's many programs. The programs are geared towards, or facilitate arts for/in the community. I along with other members of the outreach team travel around to different sites in Albuquerque, NM with the purpose of  offering art based lessons and activities.

At this particular location we offered art and other lessons to high school students that are part of a after school program through Catholic Charities. The lesson this day was a basic encaustic, or rather, wax monoprint/monotype project; a project that I love to share. Unfortunately a budget commands crayons over real encaustic paint; however, the project was still successful- even with the wind. Yes, I said wind. Not to say that we couldn't have done the project inside; but, we all opted to work in the courtyard.

With kozo paper, watercolor paper, paper towels, rocks :) to keep the wind at bay, and a bucket of crayons instead encaustic, ten or so students created some great first pieces. Everyone was given both 90lb watercolor paper and Japanese kozo paper to see the diferences between the two; how paint sits and soaks into the surface creating two very different looks.

In the future I hope to make encaustic sticks using a crayon or candle mould. Especially if the student or individual has participated in the crayon version. Crayons worked well for this project, making them okay, and of course taking the account of sticking with a budget. Also, not to mention, blocks of encaustic are hard to handle sometimes when making small marks and lines. A baren for pressing the paper down on the palette and a handfull of tools for manipulating the paint on the palette would have been handy; forgot to bring those. However, there is always next time and for a first go at it, along with trying to document the whole process, I call it a success- especially since everyone had a good time and learned something new. Below are some of the students work.

Thank you all for reading,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Art Materials (Model Kits?)

Not just for glueing and painting, then playing with or staring at; all though, I will be making something that will be stare at. Technically this is a Japanese toy model kit from the 1980's; leaving me to title this post the obvious: "Model Kits?;" honestly, I don't know what to title it. Not to say anything bad, but I'm not a model kit kind of person. So the strangeness that I find in this may only be in the fact that I lack model kit knowledge. All of my memory of such things were of airplanes, cars, and alike; not necessarily people. The reason I bought it (from a thrift store) was for a art project; and a art project it will be.

Working mostly with encaustic I am likely going to cast them or dip them in wax. Concerning me with how the plastic and glue will react to massive amounts of heat (somewhat avoidable heat); maybe a good reason just to build it and cast it. I like the fact that they are flesh tone and not some other nondescript color of plastic such as grey. If I decide to dip them I may just use a clear coat of medium to retain some of that fleshy plastic look; who knows.

With literally hundreds of ways of using such things in your artwork the possibilities are endless. And if anyone has any ideas they would like to share, please do so; particularly if you use such things already. My problem is only in that I don't want to open it now because I found similiar kits selling online anywhere from $65 to $100; yikes! Well, if anything- maybe I sparked some ideas for you. I am looking forward to posting more on what I end up doing with it.

As Always: Thanks for Reading,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art Materials (Stuff #5)

This post is about wood; you don't have to be a sculptor, carpenter, or woodworker to have a reason to seek out wooden objects; painters and alike have good reason to keep their eyes peeled. Also, you don't need to go to a wood supplier to get all that you need; even-though, places like Rockler Woodworking and HardwareJapan Woodworker, and Woodcraft can supply you with much of what you need. Panels from frames can be painted on, cabinet doors are pre-made panels with frames, sides of furniture also, backs of old cabinets are often left quite intact even with the rest falling apart, and tops of tables and dressers are usually a nice solid piece of wood.

You can learn more by reading Wood on the Tools and Techniques page of the Encaustic Resources Pages.

Buying local is always the best way to go; that and there is usually a wood supplier around most places & oddest places. FSC wood is good, or if it is really local you will know why the tree was cut in the first place; maybe even exactly what tree it was. Houses get built, roads laid, storms topple, and trees rot; sources you need not feel bad for salvaging wood.

Local wood suppliers often carry local wood; also odds & ends that normally would be scrap. Like this piece of walnut I bought from the scrap box at the local Woodcraft here in Albuquerque NM. Part of an encaustic series on landscapes that I am working on- and is long overdue; hope to post on that at some point.

Speaking of that project, I've been using turning stock, like this black palm (see below), often 'green' stock which can pose a problem. If you not aware, wood is typically kiln dried; moisture is drawn out of the wood in a controlled environment. What you buy from the lumber store will stay relatively the way it was purchased with kiln dried products.  However, turning stock is often green wood; wood that has not been completely dried or dried at all. Green wood is great for turning a bowl on a lathe, but not so good for many other projects. As the wood dries- checking, cracking, splitting, twisting, and warping can all occur; particularly if the wood dries really fast. This environmental effect I actually like, and I am working to incorporate that in my series; also a effect that I am not necessarily choosing to be a part of the piece- yet keeping it in mind.

Wood comes in many different species and from many regions of the world; from Gabon ebony to longleaf yellow pine. I stress this point: that if you must have a certain species to get exactly the look you want, and there is no other option, pay attention to the practices of the company or business that it is purchased from. Also I have been incorporating veneers (a thin covering of wood typically placed over lesser valued species; common on the surfaces of plywood). I use the veneer when I want a more exotic look; I am able to afford more species and veneer is less damaging on the environment. It does not make since to damage what I am trying to protect. You might be asking yourself: why use it at all? Well, think about fair trade coffee; buying properly managed wood products from reputable companies, through organizations that pride themselves on sustainability and providing employment to people who need employment- just makes sense. You won't be able to completely eliminate the harvesting of wood, but you can pick who you buy it from; support the companies with good practices- thus eliminating the alternative.

Thanks for Reading

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art Materials (Stuff #4)

What is practical in art supplies? Uhhhh, I mean you know what it is used for, and that 'is', what it will be used for, instead of not knowing like before.

Brushes, rulers, tools, paint, glue, pigment, sandpaper, wood, whatever it is, you know how you are going to use it. Like this self inking number stamper used in the mailing industry, I will now be using it to number my prints; up 999,999 of them. Ok, I am probably not going to make 999,999 of anything, but it's nice to have the ability. A super handy purchase and picked up in a thrift store for just a few bucks; what I like the most is a trigger on the back-side that will advance it by an addition of one. It does need to be cleaned and a archival ink used, but it's worth it.

Practicality I reckon is in a item's usefulness; really it is all in how you look at things. Take for instance this print of knots; the practicality is in it's information; not in the physical use. But if you have no use for, say shards of glass, then practicality is individualized.

I personally like to think there is some practical use in things that give you inspiration; inspiration that drives one to create.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art Materials (Stuff #3)


What the heck am I going to do with this? We all seem to buy things now and again that we just like for some reason or another; yet, when we get it home we ask ourselves and wonder why?

I do this all the time when it comes to art supplies; however, I feel that there is a little more flexibility in art stuff. Reason being: if you can make something out of it or use it (e.g. paint, pencil, etc.) then it WILL get used- eventually. The problem for me is when it comes to storing it all.

Reasons may have been there when buying in the beginning, but went out the window later. These opaque glass pieces were to be part of a kaleidoscope project, but now that the project is a bust I will have to repurpose them. I wondered how they might be used in an encaustic work. I am sure it will come to me eventually.

Also, when buy buying oddities from here and there it's easy to be fooled. I am always on the lookout for wood- thought that when I bought this parellel piece of, 'not so sure what.' I think it's bakelite or very hard rubber; and now I am unsure what to do- oh well.

Even if you are not sure at the time what to do with something (lol, err- or what it is), you bought it because you liked it; no worries, you will find a use- even if it's giving it away to someone with that same feeling. Maybe they will have better luck, or not :)

Wood is super versatile, bottles you can put things in, tiny rubber people are just fun, and every thing in between. Don't worry to much, especially when the price is right; everything here was less than $4.00 :)

Thanks for reading, Jonathan

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Art Materials (Stuff #2)

Hello Reader,

This is a continuation of sorts from the original Art Materials (Stuff), I again visited Laura Stanziola's place just outside Santa fe; a lot less stressful the second time around. Oh, and I was still able to leave with a bag full of oddities; even with a budget.

If you missed the first post on, Art Materials (Stuff)  don't forget to take a look; also check out Art Materials Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

One of the many abundant things you can find for creating your art, are images cut from old books. Don't worry, from what I understand these books have moved past there life as a book and have found new value.

Many images are very old and you practically get a genuine print. You can sort through hundreds of images organized in bins of animals, the human body, etcetera. Each is sealed and labeled in a plastic sleeve that can be removed later; as well as some organized into small bags of similar images (LOL, It helps to look at what's in the bag first). The trick is not to go looking for anything specific, at Stanziola's or anywhere for that matter, rather go looking with an open mind and seek out your general interests.

Also (like I said) it doesn't hurt to look in the bag first. The little man labeled Fig. 1. was on top- and what I wanted; however, later by surprise I remembered that I had not looked at it's full content, and ended up with an interesting combo.
To conclude: a word of caution when using images from books: always be sure of copyright protections, there are many ways to use imagery that are both copyrighted and not. So, remember- instead of passing by old books that seem to be missing half there text block or completely irreparable or otherwise trash- take a look and reuse what you can before discarding. And next time I hope to post Art Materials (Stuff 3)

Thanks for reading,

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