Friday, April 30, 2010

Yo Dot

encaustic on board, 8"x8" with pastel drawings on tissue paper collaged into the wax.

Alternative title:  
Over Easy

Thursday, April 29, 2010


game, n. [OED] I. 1. Amusement, delight, fun, mirth, sport. 4. a. A diversion of the nature of a contest, played according to rules, and displaying in the result the superiority either in skill, strength, or good fortune of the winner or winners.

ADDENDUM: I have decided to become a Nats fan. Why? Simple! Because...

(image by Nicolette!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making a case for belt-tightening

or 'Laying a Square Egg in Metro'
True story, as told to me by "a friend":
"The other day I hustled on my clothes, since I was running late, and inadvertently put on a pair of old baggy jeans. No prob, really. Still serviceable, albeit a bit droopy around my hips. I slipped my wallet into my pocket as usual, with my Smartrip card in the outer fold of the wallet, then headed out. Get to station. Pull out wallet and swipe Smartrip card to get onto platform. Return wallet to pocket, hang around on platform, train arrives, enter train, sit down. Begin reading. All is well.  . . . .  Approaching exit station, I stand up and gee the wallet in my pocket feels kind of "funny". Exiting the train at my destination I realize that, rather than putting my wallet back in my pocket earlier, I missed the pocket entirely and I just slid it down inside my pants. And these being much baggier trow than the usual, as I am getting out of the train and onto the crowded platform, I feel my wallet begin to slide slowly down the inside of my thigh. Oops. A discrete but effective clutch at my crotch (discrete because I didn't want to scare anyone) and I retrieve the sliding wallet. I hook it back up to the vicinity of my waistband and I deftly (and quite nonchalantly I might add) pluck it out. Swipe Smartrip card to exit Metro and nestle wallet back --- carefully. carefully! --- into pocket this time. Lesson learned: When wearing baggy trousers, aim better."

Just quit effing around

Monday, April 26, 2010

Île flottante

Soft pastels on encaustic. About 7"x10".

The "water" areas have a radical (for me, at least) bumpy texture. The visual antithesis of "water" as seen from my viewer's assumed vantage point.

See all encaustic pieces here.

Why do you use soft pastels?

This is an interesting question that kind of assumes I've actually tried all these other media and made an informed and intelligent decision to go with one over all the others. Which, in my case, isn't true at all. I have never used either acrylics or oils. I have never been tempted to try them.

The "immediacy" of pastels is crucial, essential. I have my best luck and the most fun with processes that are as close to hands-on drawing mark-making as they can be. I have messed with watercolors and do play with gouache (and am just beginning to learn about encaustic), but the intervening brush seems to give me some trouble. I suspect that this is just a dodge, and that with practice, I might get the whole "brush thing", but hey-ho -- I just am not motivated.

I took an abstraction painting class this past winter and I was the only one in it using pastels (which had the unexpected advantage of no one wanting to share a worktable with me) but was tickled to be able to watch these acrylics and oils artists at work. To get a close-up and continual view of folks "working" those media. To see if I developed a hankering to try 'em. And the answer was 'No'. Still [shrug]: no interest.

The soft pastels are just so beautiful, so tactile, so right-away, so direct. Pick one up, lay down the color, and there you are. No squeezing something unseen out of a tube. No endless fussing with mixing.  Nothing but the pigment and your own fingers/brain. I love the instantaneousness of it.

(I also have the luxury of not being forced to sell my work to live, so I don't give a hoot about framing pastels and all the attendant issues there. Particularly the expen$e. But if I had to make my living as an artist, if this was a job instead of a lark, I might think about making pastels for the love of it and making something else to sell.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mellon Headzzzz

While we were all seated in the NGA's East Building Auditorium, awaiting the beginning of this afternoon's Mellon Lecture, a perky girl with a clipboard scampered up to gush and fawn over a couple sitting in front of me, assuring the man and woman that they were MOST welcomed and that NATURALLY the seats all around them at the lecture were reserved for their friends. And that OF COURSE they were invited to a Special Reception afterwards, with Dr. Miller. Blah blah blah. The now-thoroughly-brownnosed chickie then scurried off, wreathed in knowing smiles. And then, very shortly after the lecture began, that woman sitting in front of me threw back her head, opened her mouth wide, and commenced to sleep through the entire effing lecture.

At the Special Reception I have no doubt she assured Dr. Miller that she SIMPLY ADORED her lecture and was ABSOLUTELY RIVETED by every word of it. [sigh] And that it was the MOST COMPELLING thing she had ever heard. SHEESH.

Portrait Head of Pakal, from Palenque, Mexico, AD 600-900, Museo National de Anthropologia, Mexico.

Me & Luis

From top to bottom:  5" x 7"; and 8" x 9" (more or less). They are encaustic on board. The bottom one with image transfer of a sketchbook page of drawings. (This one, in fact.)

Friday, April 23, 2010


Pastel over the encaustic piece shown here. About 11" x 11". Layers, from the bottom up:
1- heavy wc paper
2- Golden Molding Paste
3- gouache underpainting
4- encaustic
5- clear Colourfix pastel primer
6- pastels

YOUR Courage

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mellon Lecture

I enjoyed the first of this year's Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art, given by Professor Mary Miller, from Yale's Department of the History of Art.
Her series title: Art and Representation in the Ancient New World. Her topic today: The Shifting Now of the Pre-Columbian Past. She is a very dynamic teacher, very passionate about her field. A joy to listen to!
Makes me want to go back to Dumbarton Oaks and take a closer look at the Pre-Columbian treasures there. (See also Mesoweb and FAMSI-Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies.)
I love living here, damnit. The whole city is full of treasures. (BTW, image above is from the Dresden Codex.)

I odödliga ord av John Blutarsky. . .


Take a deep breath. Then. Watch.

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

Friday, April 16, 2010


the first two are encaustic on board (the third one is encaustic on paper); the images used for the transfers are from my sketchbook

Transfer only onto cool and hardened wax. Otherwise big sticky mess. Patience!

Just geting warmed up?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easy! Right?

That's a Fact, Jack

encaustic, with image transfer

top piece:
12" x 12"
bottom piece:
8" x 8"

Hans Namuth's images of Pollock at work in exhibition Namuth Portraits, at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
✱ these images used in the above pieces were photocopied from Pollock Painting, H. Namuth, ed. B. Rose (1978).
Images from 1950 in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making spears from trees

Biography of Mitjili Napurrula, from

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Now that summer is here, we are newly freed of all the accoutre- ments of keeping dry+warm, such as gloves, scarves, umbrellas, coats, blah blah blah. So it's time to break back into ye ole Sketchbook and use it to secretly diss my fellow Metro riders.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Urban Mappings

Mark Bradford on Art:21
How I Made It: Mark Bradford, BK Jackson, New York Magazine, 24Sept07
Mark Bradford at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spirit Studies Mars

8" x 8" encaustic on cradled panel

(alternative title: "X Marks the Bruise")

Your Mars rover, called Spirit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eddie Innovates


More on this Degas painting from SmartHistory. Pretty interesting commentary.
Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture (Yellow is Navajo: Doko'oosliid - Abalone Shell Mountain)
Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples


Be sure that you have a good range of values.

pastel on modeled substrate with gouache underpainting; about 11" x 11"
Found printed on the plastic bag I put the fennel in at the market: Eat You Colors Every Day. Good advice. But what does it mean? Crayolas are edible, aren't they? Does this mean we ought to internalize our art somehow. Stains on the fingers not being sufficient, somehow, eh? Must ingest?

Bam! Yes!

Closely related Major Peeve : Posting pictures of your stupid cats on your otherwise pretty great blog. Doing so is unconscionable. Barbarous. Rude in the extreme. It drives normal people away, screaming. For heaven's sake STOP IT.