Friday, September 19, 2014

When it rains, it POURS

Every once and a while, nature reminds us to be humble. After months of little or no rain, a thunderstorm hit Joshua Tree upside the head. Last Tuesday, at around 3 pm or so, rain began to fall in our neighborhood. I was so excited, I ran outside and ran around the house several times, just to feel the drops hit my skin. I couldn't contain my excitement. The rain began to come down harder. Thunder and lightening. Terrified dog. Hail. Louder thunder and lightening. More rain. Hail. The backyard begins to look like a small creek. Then a river. Wind picks up. Now, my elation is turning into something else. The road in front of the house also looks like a river. More rain. Thunder is now loud enough that I jump each time. A loud >CRACK< and a bright, white light. (We think this may have been lightening hitting the house.) More rain. More hail.

video

Finally, after about an hour, the rain did stop. We were lucky. No water or mud came into our house or garage. No one was hurt. We ended up without internet for a few days, but for the most part, we were unscathed. Others were not so lucky. One man was killed after his car became stuck in the mud and a wall of water came down and rolled his car over several times. Many of our neighbors have mud in their garages and one house had a car buried in mud up past the hubcaps. Our road is washed out in several places. I have never seen anything like it. Ever.

I am a little tired of shoveling dirt and mud. We had to repair part of our driveway and remove mud from the sidewalk around our house. I am also trying to locate a sprinkler head that was beneath one of our trees. I still haven't found it. Trails that were once familiar paths where we walk Pono are now remodeled by the water and nearly unrecognizable. A reminder of the power of water.

Work in the studio has been interrupted somewhat by the storm frenzy and by husband coming home after being away. Nevertheless, I am gearing up for the Hwy 62 Art Tours October 25th & 26th and November 1st and 2nd. I have framed half a dozen small jackrabbit drawings and I am getting things wired for hanging, photographed and hung on the wall!!! Very exciting! If you haven't been to the desert for the Art Tours yet, I highly recommend it. You have a chance to see the studios of many area artists during the best time of the year (weather- wise). I will try to put in a word with the BIG GUY for no big thunderstorms during this event. ;) For more information about the Art Tours, click here.




I'm going to try to have some of these drawings available for sale online soon. I'll keep you updated!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Desert wonders

I have been working hard in the studio - so hard, in fact, that I haven't been sweeping the floor, dusting, cooking, or much of anything else. (this is unusual for me.) I haven't been very good at photographing everything I'm working on, either. But there will be an onslaught of photos soon, I hope.

Unless I have more days like today, where I worked and worked. Worked. Scraped away. Worked. Spilled wax on my favorite t-shirt, dropped a wax-filled brush on the floor - getting more wax where it shouldn't be. Then, I did a lovely jackrabbit drawing, transferred it to my encaustic painting, and then realized I had made it too small!!!! Aaargh......

Tomorrow is another day.

I did want to share with you the wildlife moment Pono and I had on our Sunday hike:



Yes, that is a roadrunner in the talons of this amazing hawk. I am not sure what kind of hawk it is. Cooper's? Red Tailed? Does anyone know?

Here is a  photo of a recent encaustic:

"Legs." (coyote) Encaustic, thread, twine and ink transfer on panel. 10 x 10 inches
I swear there will be more soon! I'm not trying to be a tease.

I leave teasing to the rain. I heard it poured in Yucca Valley - 6 minutes away. There was flooding in the lower desert. Here chez Pono? We got .02 inches. WIMPY!!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More Desert Creatures

Pono and I had a magical encounter with a desert tortoise yesterday morning on our hike. I took a video of it with my phone, which I had hoped to share with you. However, I can't seem to get the video to upload. Sorry about that. Photos instead...


Today's morning hike was all clouds and drama. As usual, no rain.


The studio has been absorbing most of my time and energy.

"Talking Roadrunner." Encaustic, thread, and ink transfer, 8 x 8 inches. 

There will be more work to share with you soon.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails! I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Art and the rational mind

You may not know this about me, but my husband and I lived in Hawaii for a few years. We lived on the island of Maui. It was an incredible experience. We loved being near the ocean, where we could snorkel, surf and swim, but I also enjoyed having a chance to learn more about Hawaiian culture. I took a beginning hula class and really loved it. We miss it, but life had other plans for us, and now we are in the desert. Lately, I have been pining for Hawaii, for some of the things there that touched me so deeply. Since the hula was such a big part of living in Hawaii for me, I have been watching videos of hula to reminisce.

Some of you may be more familiar with Tahitian hula, rather than Hawaiian hula. Tahitian hula is much faster than Hawaiian hula. The dancers tend to wear elaborate headdresses, and the movement is focused more on the hips and less on the hands. There are two different kinds of Hawaiian Hula. One is the Auana hula. This is the Modern hula - the one with guitars, ukulele, dresses, flower leis - the one most of us are familiar with. My favorite kind of Hawaiian hula, however, is the ancient hula, called Kahiko. There is a lot of chanting, the dancers are usually adorned with greenery rather than flowers, and the instruments used are mostly the rhythm instruments like the Ipu (which is a drum made from a hollowed out gourd.) I have attached a video of women (wahine) performing kahiko hula, so if you haven't ever seen it before you can experience it for yourself.



It's often interesting for me to think about why I love the Hawaiian hula and chants so much. I don't speak Hawaiian, so I don't know what they are chanting most of the time. Yet it touches me deeply, and sometimes when I watch a hula performance, I am moved to tears. Have you ever loved music that is sung in a language you don't understand? What I have decided is that when we hear or see something that really touches us, it doesn't necessarily touch us intellectually. It touches our hearts. It touches our souls. Visual art can be like that too. There is always this initial desire for people to "understand" art. We think maybe if we understand it intellectually, then we will really be able to enjoy it. I don't think that's true. I think if it's something that touches us, it can touch us without our rational minds. It goes beyond that - it goes deeper.

Maybe the rational mind is a barrier between us and an ability to be touched by art. (Music, dance, painting, sculpture - I am putting all art into this word right now.)

I am curious to know what you think about this. Do you think you have to understand the words of a song to enjoy it? Do you think you really have to know what a painter is thinking in order to be touched by their painting?

"Untitled - arrangement on blue." Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday's Coyote

If you find that you are sick of trying to find something good to watch on TV or Netflix lately and really want to be inspired, I highly recommend this interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAk4cwjvJ0A

I think you will LOVE it. I did. (With a shout out to Elena Ray for recommending it to me - thank you!!!)

Here's a new one from the steamy encaustic studio:
"Trotting Coyote." Encaustic, thread and ink transfer, 8 x 8 inches.
If you don't have time to watch the whole interview, I have cherry picked one of my favorite quotes from it:
"There is no creativity without vulnerability." ~Brene Brown

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Drawings

I have been doing a lot of drawing this year. It feels good. I have always loved to draw, even when I wasn't really that good at it. I think I am getting better, but I can see there is always room for improvement. I realized that I have shared a lot of these drawings on Facebook and Instagram, but I don't think I have posted them here yet. So here are a few of the drawings. (Beware of a possible jackrabbit overdose.)


this is a personal favorite




They were all done in this cool sketchbook I bought with a beautiful tan paper that was made from coffee bean bags or something. (unfortunately, the paper doesn't smell like coffee - wouldn't that be cool?) They are pretty small - only 5 x 5 inches or smaller. I am continuing my ongoing exploration of light, form and shadow.

Larger drawings in the works, stay tuned...

In other news, my show of desert animal paintings is still on display at Grateful Desert Herb Shoppe in downtown Joshua Tree. (right next to the Health Food Store.) They are open every day from 9 to 2 pm. (from 8 to 2 on the weekend.)

It is not too late to sign up for the Summer Art Camp that I am part of. There is an early sign up discount - if you sign up for the class before July 28th you save $20. More information is available here:
http://www.carlasonheim.com/2014-summer-art-camp/
The class I am teaching for Art Camp is also about light and shadow. I will be sharing some of the things I have learned about getting the values right when painting in color. There's a lot more to it than just my one class, though, There are 8 different artists teaching! The best part is that the lessons and videos will stay online for one year - so there's plenty of time to do each class. Won't you join us?

I hope everyone is managing to stay cool!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Forever a Student

"The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student." -Martin Palmer

One of the goals I set for myself this year was to learn new things. In order to achieve this goal, I have recently taken a class in Encaustics from Stephanie Hargrave. I loved the class, and I loved having a chance to learn how to work with encaustic paint. I am still just getting the feel for the medium, and Stephanie gave us many new techniques to try.

You may be asking yourself, "what the heck is encaustic paint?" Encaustic paint is beeswax mixed with pigments and damar crystals. The damar gives the wax strength, and of course the pigment gives it color. The wax is applied in a melted, liquid state. The word "encaustic" means "to burn," so each layer has to be burned or fused into the previous layers. I have been working with the encaustic on birch panels and really loving it. I love the way it smells. I also love that you have to work quickly, before the wax cools and hardens.


The wax is melted in cans on top of a flat griddle. I started out using a heat gun to fuse each layer, but now I am using a torch. (I love the torch!)

The first few experiments mainly involved just practicing applying the wax, and learning how to fuse each layer. Then, we progressed to adding color, incorporating paper and tissue paper into the painting, and then we learned how to work with different types of line. These first two photos were paintings I did where I used some handmade paper.

7 x 5 inches

8 x 8 inches
The handmade paper was something I have had for a while. I made it with the expert help of my friend in Colorado, Sally Mather. (thanks, Sally!) She showed me how to make paper when I visited once. I am so grateful to have talented friends who share their knowledge with me. SO THANKFUL! I love the textures that were created when I applied wax over the paper. 


"Desert Tortoise." Encaustic, thread, twine, ink transfer, 8 x 8 inches

"Sitting upright." (jackrabbit) Encaustic, thread, twine and ink transfer, 8 x 8 inches

The second two images are the most recent encaustic paintings I've done. With these two, I was practicing using thread and twine to make lines. I also tried a technique where I did drawings in pencil, scanned them, printed them with a laser printer, and then transferred them to the warm wax. I love how they turned out, and I am probably going to try doing a few more like these. Stephanie, if you read this, THANK YOU!!! I loved your class!

Speaking of learning, if you think you might want to learn some art this summer, I am teaching a class as part of Carla Sonheim's new Summer Art Camp! The class I am teaching is called "Paint a Monster," and it is a class about learning how to paint light and shadow. (Using a Monster Finger puppet!) There are eight different artist/instructors in this art camp, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. If you sign up early, you will save $20! (Click the link above for more details, won't you please?) I hope you will join us for this fun online class. The material stays online for a year, so even if you are busy this summer, you can still take this class!!!

Finally, we had a wonderful opening last night at Jenny Q's Grateful Desert in Joshua Tree. I have eighteen paintings of desert animals hanging in the shop, and the show will stay up until August. So if you missed the opening, don't worry! You can still see the show the next time you are downtown. (Local folks) For those of you who live far away, maybe I will have a chance to make a short video of the show for you to see. Thanks to all who came out!