Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Gifts: Dad's Memorabilia Box

Not all of my family and friends are art fans, so at the holidays sometimes  I make things that are well outside of what I normally do.  It's always a good exercise to attempt a new material or imagery!  Here are some of my favorites from this past Christmas. (Sorry for delay in posting, but didn't want to give anything away).

After cleaning out Dad's house before he downsized, I found some old postcards mom wrote to him while they were dating, and pay stubs from the 50s and 60s.  I used my new favorite medium- encaustic- to collage them together on top of a wooden box. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Praise of Babies...

No, I'm not talking about the actual ones, although they’re nice too, as long as someone goes thru pregnancy and delivery (they’re called nieces and nephews) :)

I am referring to small pieces of art. Yes, I love doing very large pieces, but there is a certain freedom in trying out new techniques and processes on a tiny piece before you take them on a larger scale, which usually involves more logistical strategizing.

So on that note, today I forced myself to work on 8 little tiny 2” x 4" pieces for our upcoming open studio (Sat. Nov 22nd!).  These little babies are affordable gift-able versions of my larger work for all those people who say- "I love your work but can’t afford it." These are for them- but I had a helluva good time dancing and painting along the way!  Here are some previews.

the latest batch o' babies....


Aged English Lit- a page torn from an old book of English plays that I love for its font!  I worked over and under, scratching and staining along the way…

Green and gold hills- I sawed out a portion of a pour on clayboard, then drew into it with charcoal, added some gold leaf, and etched into it and stained it, adding touches of pan pastel along the way. 

Very excited about this process! Using one of my favorite subjects and materials- leaves!! Wax takes a perfect impression, then staining brings out every vein…. lovely! Not done yet, but a good start.

Magenta baby- cropped a work on paper that never got around to getting finished.  Used some solvent inks for some contrast here! Done? Not sure…

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Studio Reorganization

So save a little painting and venting- my post flood alterations are done! i wish i could say the same about the claim with my insurance, but we wont go there now.  instead, i am writing this for the other studio junkies who are always looking or another way to fit more in while still being able to find where everything is.  a friend passed this on to me- 

its an article from the Huffington post of different artist studios.  Fun to see other studios!!  
and i'm a little embarrassed to admit that i am an organization freak,and my studio starts out like one of the super organized one- and a couple months later looks like a chaotic one that is completely a mess!
 but at least when you start with an an organization system, everything does have a home to go back to, when i allot the time to do that .  
anyhow- here are some things i've learned in setting up what  i think  may be my 8th studio if you go waaay back!  
so heres what i have found works best for me: 

This is more for those mixed media folk. i am envious of watercolor or oil painters, who have one medium and type of support, it would be easier to organize that space. but  alas, my art ADHD (i've just invented an new diagnosis) requires i have at least 4 different process available to me at any given in time.  it makes things infinity easier if most of what you need is with a step or 2.  My friend and studio neighbor Anne VonEhr.com came in and put on  her interior decorator hat, and helped me sot out  how to reconfigure my mess of a studio.  sometimes its good to get an objective view!! 

so now i have an encaustic area, that is U shaped and is all covered with cheap ceramic tiles from menards siliconed onto tables, or in the case on the right- a wooden door, supports by wire racks that hold supplies.i like having different levels of work space- one for standing one or sitting, and a place to stack the less frequently used stuff.  the spaces under each table are stock full of storage, except where my chair or feet pull in.  note the new fan- set into a piece of Plexiglas so i don't lose my window view of the river! I love to watch for those diving cormorants…

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Right next to the encaustic area is another U shaped area for painting.  the encaustic table on the right can be cleared off to use for painting if need be-.  the shelves against the wall now hold all paint related supplies! hurray. the easel can move (soon to be on wheels), and and my painting cart and water are to my right, since i am right handed. lesser used materials are int the drawers behind the cart.  

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As many things as i can- i have on locking wheels.  that way readjusting your studio for a class, open studio, or different process doesn't not require bribing a crop of burly young men (altho that has its upsides, too :).  i have no sink in my room and have to access water down the hall. i got tired of carry 5 gallon buckets, so have a water cart now. My paint cart can be wheeled over to the collage or sculpture table, or to large piece that has to worked on horizontally. It leaves all my options open. 

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lastly- my collections. ugh. thats a hard one. i have everything from snake skin to antique maps. Trying to put that in some semblance of order so you can find what you need later- or be able to peruse through it is challenging.   since the flooding- i am investing in clear plastic boxes. but first- I tore everything out (it was out anyhow) and instead of organizing it by where i found it ( Puerto Vallarta rocks, Arizona sand, etc) i still have that information with it- but assembled them in broader categories. for example- sea related things on one shelf- critters(crabs, fish seahorse) whelks(love that type of shell) algae/seaweed- you get the idea.  

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then put them in appropriate containers.  

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so the back of cabinets has turned into a collage area- at least for now. again- i like to have an upper level of workshop ace for easy to reach tools no matter who big the space, i inevitably end up with a little 12x12 square to work with. having the tools off the surface helps me.  here- i hung cheap ikea containers on flexible closet shelving form the home depot.  working great so far!!  and this area is till evolving, so i can add or raise and lower shelves, depending on my needs.  

well- wood shop and back room still to be dealt with - but feels much better now! FINALLY can go and play!!! hope you can too. I love to see studios- send or post me yours!  

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Cheryl Holz

Monday, July 28, 2014

"What can I set on fire today?" or- further explorations into encaustic mixed media….

Today I just had to try some new experiments out of “Encaustic Mixed Media” by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch.  She feels like a kindred spirit- willing to try any new medium or material!

So who knew? Spread directly on wood panel, then set it on fire even before it dries.  The wood portions that aren’t covered turn a lovely burnt sienna/umber color… Fun! But stinky. I probably went a little too thick; cause still wasn’t completely dry when I left 5 hours later…. will have to wait to continue that one…but have some lovely organic shapes and tones to work with….

This makes me very happy! I love inks, and of course have a gazillion acrylic inks- but as far as I understand it, I can’t use them with wax.  BUT apparently alcohol inks are kosher. So- I googled what brands are alcohol based, and lo and behold, after digging in the back room, I unearthed some jacquard piñata paints. I used them for painting ornaments- who knew they come in handy this way? See- I can rationalize buying and keeping forever any art supply purchase…so here’s how I played with them…

Poured and splattered first on clapboard

Then covered everything with amber shellac.

And –yes, you guessed it- set it on fire! 
You get this lovely bubbled and speckled surface.
detail shows you a bit better….

This isn’t, of course, done- but allows so many lovely entry points to continue working ….

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fun with Fire! Delving into Encaustics...

It is inevitable. I can’t go more than a year or two without adding another technique to my arsenal of processes!! Discovering the new possibilities is exhilarating for me, and fuels a whole new chapter of work. 

 Recently I want to open studio night at the fabulous Starline factory open studios, http://www.starlinefactory.com/ and fell in love with Carol Hamilton’s encaustic work. http://carolhamiltonarts.com .  I brought a piece home, and signed up for a workshop! I had worked with beeswax in the early 90s as a covering for the natural porous materials I was using, and loved the creamy, dreamy matte surface.  However- I remember sitting at an art fair on a 95 degree day and watching the wax start to melt.  I’m sure I did not add enough dammar varnish (or any at all?)  I can’t recall, so anyhow wrote it off as too fragile a medium to endure sitting in an aluminum trailer in Chicago’s hot or freezing weather.  Now, 20 or more years later, I am no longer sitting at art fairs every weeknd, so thought it was time to revisit this again. 

Hers a pictorial trek thru my latest dive into encaustics:

Carol gave us the basics, and then we to to play.  Was also good to look at her range of work (love the 3D aspect- still to be pursued) and seeing how she set up her studio to accommodate the heat and fumes encaustics make. (Great- another toxin. :(  )
I just LOVE how fire moves the wax paints around, creating fluid organic shapes and patterns. It reminded me of pouring ink-but you use fire instead of water to push things around. AND –big bonus- you don’t have to babysit them and monitor them for hours as they dry and change.  These set up pretty quickly- perfect for a manic impatient artist! I was hooked.   So the last couple weeks have been spent scouring resale shops for heating elements, begging for art supply coupons form friends, and setting up an encaustic set up in the studio.  It is growing…

Then the best part- experimenting when it’s all fresh and new. Just like at the beginning of a brand new relationship when everything is exciting and new… remember that?  So I am relishing that!

So here’s what I’ve tried:


LOVE this! Paint it on, place it in my beverage metal bucket, and set it on fire!! The resulting amber patterns that occur are so lovely I want to put everything in the bucket and set it on fire. Don't visit me right now.
What i set on fire today....


So I love drawing back into my work- bit with acrylic, you had a small window to do that before things go too….plasticy.  Here- I can use a needle tool to stipple, scribble and write into the piece until the very end.  Then stain it- (LOVE staining too) to get an almost etching like mark.


Can embed papers, leaves, rocks, pods and…..??

Pan pastels: 

So while impatiently waiting for the beeswax to melt, I pulled out the pan pastels and tried them on the luan. FUN! Erased back in…. then read later that they could also be applied to the surface of wax!! Finding more ways of folding this into what I already do…

SO darn easy to transfer images!!  Been looking for this my whole life. Don’t have to make a screen, or endlessly coat papers – just make a toner copy and burnish on to warm surface. Scrub off back and – damn! Right there.  Bonus- if you torch it- it will break up and move about (at least I think that's a bonus.)

Ok- I confess I DO have some pyro tendencies, apparently…

So- to be continued. Right now- I am working small and experimenting. I’m sure working larger will bring it’s own challenges, but for now, I am vey happy with making small “tests”.  I dream about it, wake up thinking “I’ve got to try incising with a linoleum cutter next…”  or something like that…

Here are some of my test babies: 


1. I don’t have to clean brushes!!
2. No waste- turn off the skillet, and everything is there waiting for you tomorrow without having to cover it up.
3. Transfer process is a dream!
4. Collage and mixed media capabilities are endless!

1. Beeswax taxes my patience waiting for it to melt-or I need better equipment.
2. Toxins- need to look into some better ventilation.
3. Fire risk- the fire dept. every year has told me to move my fire extinguisher out of the back room.  It is now very close to where I work!
4. Cost- pricey to start, at least…