Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hylla Evans has posted on her July Evans Encaustics newsletter, The Buzz, an extended version of Joanne Mattera's response to my recent post on the issue of labeling mixed media paintings. Lots to think about!

To see the July issue of Buzz, scroll down to the link for newsletter archives on Evans Encaustics homepage.

Thanks Hylla!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Beauty in art: not such a black and white issue; or is it?

Steven Alexander mentioned my work and Kate Beck's work in his blog post today. He wrote a nice piece referencing the open thread discussion Why Is Everyone Afraid of Beauty? on Edward Winkleman's blog. EW's post has so far garnered 158 comments. It's a controversial topic evoking lots of passionate responses. Steven's post is thoughtfully addresses the subjective nature of beauty, using my graphite painting (black) and Kate's oil on canvas (white) as examples of another way to approach beauty in art.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

mixing it up

Lately, I've found myself edging away from using a single process/media e.g.; oil; encaustic; and experimenting with mixed media. As I work, I often think about the nomenclature for paintings that incorporate numerous materials and how to label these paintings. Mixed media sounds so mysterious, and brings up my concern about conveying to a viewer, gallerist, juror, curator, potential collector, or other interested parties that there is a material integrity to the piece. For those of us who work with encaustic, we are often faced with the prospect of reassuring folks that, no, this won't melt during the summer, and no, it isn't toxic, and no, it's not especially fragile with the proper handling that any piece of fine art or craft requires.

I've seen many paintings labeled mixed media that contain what appear to be lots of different media/materials--sometimes more than my fairly informed eye can discern. I am then left to wonder what's there, how might the different materials interact, and what are the implications for conservation. (I do buy art when I can afford to. And I do want to know what's in there.)

Conversely, I sometimes see work that has numerous media listed on a painting's label, and it reminds me of the descriptors used on menus in some restaurants: oil, encaustic, graphite, paper collage, monotype, and xerox transfer on watercolor paper on cradled maple panel. Grilled and jasmine tea smoked muscovy duck breast on cedar plank with organic dried michigan bing cherries and braised black walnuts in a reduced house-made anjou pear and port wine reduction over hand-ground grilled polenta cake. (I made it up in a caffeine-fueled fit, and to be a little over the top to make a point, but now I'm also hungry and thinking...hmmm sounds like it might be worth trying.)

OK...it's nice to know all that, maybe. And it sure would pique my interest and curiosity. Sounds appetizing--and on menus, which are marketing tools--that is the point. But might it not take away a little from the experience of discovery while eating? Or with art, from viewing? Not sure. And it leaves me with the question of how to find a balance...

While participating in J.T. Kirkland's project Artists Review Artists I reviewed a painting by Ken Weathersby that had a great descriptor: acrylic on canvas with removed and reversed area. (You'll have to refer to the review to understand.) When I wrote my review, it did not occur to me that the words used for the labeling of the media could be part of the piece, but that's what I'm thinking now, which opens all kinds of neuro-pathways in my brain.

So readers, I'm wondering what you do in your own studio practice to address the issue of labeling if you use mixed media/mixed techniques. Do you tell all? Or do you mention only the most prominent ingredient(s) when there may be many? Have you developed a specific term that fits for all your mixed-media works? And do you have a specific philosophy or reasoning for your decision? Or maybe it's not an issue for you at all. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Everyone's a critic...

...Or as Peter Schjeldahl says in the Summer 08 issue of Art Forum in Deborah Solomon's conversation with him: "Everyone was always a critic. Now everyone is a published critic." This response stemmed from DS's reference to PS being "the most durably revered critic" in an internet culture that allows so many self-fashioned critics to put their two cents in. Interesting interview.

Peter Schjeldahl also states that "As a critic, I try to remember that I'm only visiting where somebody has to live. But I'm there by invitation, and it's not a hospital zone."

It is in this spirit that I've chosen to participate in J.T. Kirkland's newest project Artists Review Artists. It's pretty simple: artists submit a jpeg of a piece, and in return, receive a jpeg of a piece from another artist. Each artist reviews the work without knowing the name of the artist (100-500 words). The review can take any number of forms. When the review process is completed, all works and reviews will be published on JT's blog along with a link to the artist's website. Follow the link to his blog for more details. JT is still looking for participants. The more artists who participate, the better the final project.

Without revealing too much, I'll tell you that I am a participant, and I've completed my review, which is now in JT's hands. The process was so fun. Generally I post about my own art or art by artists I know, so writing a review of a piece of art without knowing who the artist is, or anything about the art but the title, medium, size and date of the work, presented a special challenge. I can't wait to see the "finished" project.

Thanks, JT, for this opportunity.