Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Repairing a Scar

It seems that some lessons I'm destined to learn over and over and over. In my excitement to begin work, I was not careful with blending the seams. The photo below shows a detail of an area where the seam is most apparent.

Because the painting consists primarily of transparent yellow, it is almost impossible to completely cover the offending scar with paint and clear wax alone. I painted a semi-opaque white wax, mixed with a tiny bit of yellow, over the seam. But I also had to add the wax over other areas of the painting, so that the resulting texture would be more unified.

I call this the ugly stage. It takes me a few days to actually build up the courage to attack the painting in this way. After applying the patch, I scraped it to a smoother consistency, and then started re-building the painting.

This detail of the area now has four or more layers of oil paint rubbed, painted and burned into the surface. You can see where the underlying wax was added, because the area is more textural, but I think it is richer and more complex than the original. It's a time-consuming approach which requires a lot of patience and trust. Check back later to see how the patch integrates with the rest of the painting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prep, Process and Problem Solving

our garage workshop with all three cut panels glued, sanded and ready to go.

The doors arrived to my supplier the day before thanksgiving. A huge sigh of relief. Next step was to cut them down to size, and fill and sand the exposed ends (picture below).

this is what the doors look like when cut open.
the wood filler needed to be stripped to the correct thickness, and cut to size.

Now in the studio, my images are adhered to the panels. Although my canon printer can print up to 50 yards long, it maxes out at 17 inches wide, so I've had to splice the paper sheets together. I'm not sure if it's a result of the cold weather we're having here in Seattle, but the paper seems to be moving as the glue drys on the wood, leaving a small gap along the length of the splice. I've filled the gaps with R&F Encaustic gesso, and then tinted the gesso with guoache to get closer to the correct color.

detail showing the gap in the spliced image

It takes a bit more work to make the line disappear once I start painting, but with enough paint and wax and texture, it all comes together in the end.

The first board is on the waxing table. In this photo, I still need to trim the paper flush to the edges of the panel. And I'd better clean up the work area before I make an even larger mess of things. In the upper right corner of the photo, you can see a smaller scale photoencaustic painting I did as practice for getting the colors right before embarking on the finals.

Check back next week for the next progress report.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daffodils and Snow in Seattle

It's freezing here in the studio, so working on bright, sunny daffodils bring memories of warmer and more colorful days. The image above is the approved concept thumbnail for a triptych commissioned for a new hospital here in Washington state. The three panels will total 30" tall x 104" wide. Delivery is mid-January.

The client requested deeper panels than the standard 1.25 inch hollow core doors that I typically use for my work. As soon as I received written authorization to proceed with the project, I placed a special order for 1.75" hollow core birch slabs with my supplier, Millwork Supply, in Seattle. Estimated delivery is 4-weeks. The doors come from Canada (I think). It's been over 6-weeks out now, and still no doors. I'm keeping calm for now, but if I don't start waxing by December 1, it will be a struggle to complete these in time.

I'll try to keep you posted on how things progress. When the doors arrive, they will need to be sawed down to size, and edges filled. This process typically takes about 3-days, depending on availability of my husband to help with the manual labor.

Have a great thanksgiving.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spring in November

"Unleashed" 36 x 42 oil and photoencaustic

"Tewzday" 24 x 39 oil and photoencaustic

"in a dawn" 24 x 24, oil and photoencaustic

It may be cold and stormy outside, but it still feels like spring in the studio. My goal is to paint at least four new works a month until my April solo show at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. In addition, I have a large (30 x 100) commission to complete by mid-January. The activity will keep me warm!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home At Last

Upside Down Martini, 70" x 54" x 3"

Last week, I finally removed the painting from its shackles, filled the holes where the handles and eye bolts were screwed into the wood frame, stained and cleaned up the edges and sides. I decided to leave the painting flat on the work bench until delivery, to protect it from potential damage. The finished piece weighed in at about 60lbs.

Patricia Rovzar Gallery brought their van to transport the work to the customer. I covered the surface with glassine paper, and made some corners out of corrugated board for protection. We decided not to bubble wrap the piece, because the fit in the van was going to be tight. Two of us were able to lift and carry the work to the van. Thankfully, it wasnt that difficult.

"Upside Down Martini" now lives in its new home. The client loves it, and I'm a happy artist.

Tomorrow I'll add a post to explain the name, and talk about how completing this painting is taking me on a new conceptual journey with my work.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

All Hung Up

The wall structure for holding the large panel in a vertical position was complete a couple of weeks ago. I was so anxious to get started with the paint application that I neglected to post my final entry about the construction project until today.
The image above shows how the panel rests on the steel and wood brackets. These brackets are bolted to channels, which in turn are bolted to the wall. I can slide the brackets up or down the channel to adjust the height of the painting.

I've intentionally blacked-out the painting because I don't want anyone to peek at the work in progress before it's completed and presented to the client. But you can see in this picture the full wall unit. A great additional purchase was a rolling scaffold with locking wheels. I can use it both for standing on to reach the higher areas of the work, and as a work table for my wax palettes.

One of the characteristics of the wax medium is how the color and textures seem to change with the light. So I was excited to discover a bonus to this new block and tackle setup. I can move the painting from the wall to another part of the room, along the ceiling (as shown in the previous entries), allowing me to view the work from greater distances, and under different lighting conditions.

The painting is really moving along nicely. I have about two more weeks of painting, and then I'll be finalizing the surface and finishing the edges. It delivers in mid-August, so stay-tuned for the posting of the finished painting.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Block and Tackle

The unistrut channels are now bolted into the ceiling and onto the walls, and the block and tackle is set up and ready to roll. It took a bit of work to figure out the best method to lift and move the panel, but luckily our friend Commodore David Anson of New Zealand was in town. Barry immediately put our navy boy to work. He set about designing a S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure). I'm very comfortable with lifting and moving the panel with very little effort.

The first photo above shows how the roller piece fits into the ceiling channel. Attached to the roller is the upper end of the block and tackle. The lower photo shows the second piece which is hooked onto a bolt screwed into the top of the panel. The blocks are called 'fiddlehead blocks'. One of the blocks would have a cam cleat. Typical brands would be Harken, Lewmar or Ronstan. You can find them at a Marine supply store.

This is me taking the panel for a walk across the studio. The commodore is enjoying a much-deserved beer. You can't see the hardware because the beam is in the way, but the line that I'm holding is attached to the block and tackle, and with a little bit of pressure, I am able to push the panel, allowing it to glide across the ceiling. We've attached handles to the sides of the panel so that when the wax and paint is applied I won't be touching the surface of the painting.

Commodore David demonstrates how to carefully lower the panel onto the horizontal work surface. The first few times we tried this, I was nervous and held my hand out to ensure the panel didn't fall too heavily. But now, I can raise and lower the panel without touching it. The locking mechanism and the cleat attached to the wall gives me the right leverage to ensure a safe and gentle landing.
I'm not sure if I'm raising or lowering the panel in this shot, but it's a good angle to see the lower mechanism attached to the door, and the upper in the ceiling channel. The line I'm holding wraps around a cleat attached to the beam above. This gives me better leverage for pulling the line to raise or lower the panel. My husband designed a special extension tool to make it easier for me to lock and unlock the line from the upper mechanism. (I'll post a photo of this in my next update). When unlocked, the panel can travel across the ceiling channel, and when locked, the panel is secure, allowing me to slowly let the line out to raise or lower the panel.

I still need to show you the wall unit that holds the panel vertically. We had to order some stronger brackets, so the vertical unit isn't functional yet. I'll post an update when its ready.

In the meantime, the panel is on the workbench, I've prepared the surface and am getting ready to apply my first layers of clear wax.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heavy Lifting

sketch of constructed panel by Matthew Olds.
I love painting large, so when I was contacted by Erik Bennion at Patricia Rovzar Gallery for a commission of a 54" x 70" encaustic work for a private collector, I jumped at the opportunity.

Encaustic requires a good firm substrate that won't twist, warp or split under the heavy weight of the applied layers of wax. I've been using hollow-core doors for my large pieces. They are strong, lightweight, and I can cut them down to just about any size. Unfortunately, the largest panel comes in just 48" width, and a custom order from my millwork supplier came to a whopping $2500.

So, I contacted the talented and able Matthew Olds from HOLD Studios. Matthew is an artist who supplements his income through canvas and panel construction for other artists in the Seattle area. He designed a panel that would fit my needs (see sketch above), my architect-husband Barry made a couple of tweaks to the structure, and within 2-weeks I had a good solid substrate delivered direct to the studio, ready to paint for just over $300.

panel under construction at Hold Studios on Vashon Island

We decided it would be best to use 3" deep bracing, and we added a panel to the back side to help prevent torsional warp. It's strong and sturdy. And HEAVY. Weight without wax comes in around 50 pounds.

For these large pieces, I need to work both horizontal and vertical, but I was afraid I'd destroy everything in the studio, including my back, trying to navigate the heavy panel around the studio. So, Barry has been enlisted yet again to design and install a block and tackle system with a pulley across the ceiling. If all goes according to plan, I'll be waxing and painting to my hearts content within the week.

I'll be sure to post updates of the system, so keep checking back to see how we progress. Wish us luck!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Three Small Encaustic Paintings

These paintings begin as studies for larger paintings. Sometimes they just seem to want to stay small, sometimes I'll take them larger-scale, and sometimes I'll paint over them and come up with something entirely different.

"Path" (above) is currently on the boards to be scaled up into a large painting. The study seemed sweet, so I bolted it onto another textured wax background.

The image on this panel is only 4" x 4", mounted to a 9" x 12" panel that has an old study of intertwining branches beneath the surface. I enjoy the look and feel of these textured backgrounds, and am considering doing something a little more abstract, where the background becomes the object itself.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Anne Siems Animation

... between the lines a dream is hiding ... from Robert Campbell on Vimeo.

Animation of paintings by Seattle artist Anne Siems. Voices: Eva Grace Siems Eggert, Ulrike Siems, Jacques Koekoek

Anne Siems is one of my favorite Northwest artists. She never appears afraid to adventure into new territory with her work. I love the way this animation by Robert Campbell takes her paintings, reinvents it, and presents it to me in an entirely new light. Makes me want one of her paintings even more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wet Feet

"Padded Feet on Misty Meadows" 36" x 68"
Some paintings are more difficult to part with. I would have liked to have held this piece in my own collection for just a few weeks more, but it's destiny is elsewhere. It will be delivered to the Patricia Rovzar Gallery today, where someone will discover it and make it part of their permanent home.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May Shows Downtown Seattle

Gallery Walk last night in downtown Seattle was bustling with lots of people out enjoying the change in weather. Highlights for me included the Tyson Grumm show at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. Imagery is as delightful and full of surprises as always, and check out those frames! Full disclosure -- I have three pieces up this month in the gallery too, and more new work in the back room (ask to see it if you stop by).

Also, don't miss Deloss Webber's show at Pucini Lubel . He has some new large pieces in wood that are every bit as graceful and well-crafted as the bound rocks that we've seen from him in the past.

Finally, Kamla Kakaria and Ricki Wolfe at Shift Collaborative - Ricki has developed her dimensional installations to even fuller depth, elegance and whimsy and Kamla's dimensional work is so scrumptious I can almost taste it. I'm going to try to get back to see the show now that the 1st Thursday crowds have died down.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Two More

Breaking Through 32" x 31.5"

Last week I completed two more paintings from the Dogs Eye View series. I'm starting to get a little burned out with the color scheme, but I still have a few more images in my head that I want to get down on board before they disappear from my mind forever.

Roll and Roll and then Roll Some More 55" x 24"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shawna Moore: Encaustic Painter

I had a visit with an encaustic artist from Oregon this past weekend who introduced me to the work of Shawna Moore. This video provides wonderful insight into the creative process.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Dogs Eye View

"Ahhh, To Nap in the Tall Grass of Summer" 36 x 48

"Bound Through Uncut Meadows" 35.5 x 48

"Twigs Tangle in Feathery Tails" three panels, 6 x 48, overall 18 x 48

"Dive Into Scent-Covered Blades" 35.5 x 48

These are my current paintings from the Solstice Park series of work. My dog Rocky and I visit this park daily. He spends the morning in absolute bliss. The paintings are sighted in the low four-legged vantage point of a standard poodle. The titles are words from my talented friend Lisa Wogan's book Unleashed. I'm delivering all four pieces to the Patricia Rovzar Gallery today.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Studio Open House Tonight

36" x 48", encaustic & mixed media on wood

I have four paintings ready to deliver to the gallery this weekend. Stop by the studio tonight, April 8th, from 6pm-8pm to share a glass of wine and view the work before they leave the workshop. Or, head to the Patricia Rovzar Gallery in May where you can see them along with the few remaining pieces from my February show.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April Shows

April showers bring May flowers, and also a host of good shows to visit. This month at Patricia Rovzar Gallery features the intricate work of Isabelle du Toit. The images are beautiful, quiet and expertly rendered. I had the opportunity to meet the artist last week, and her intensity towards her subject drew me ever closer to the work. Patricia Rovzar Gallery.

Across the street at Friesen Gallery you can see the art from the book "Speak for the Trees", with work by an astounding number of exceptional artists including: Lynda Lowe (pictured above), Martin Blank, Kim Keever, Laura Sharp Wilson, JanisMiltenberger and more. Don't miss the exceptional piece by the Starn Brothers. Speak for the Trees.

Make your way down to the Alexis Hotel to see the new work of Alicia Tormey. Alicia's use of the wax medium is absolutely gorgeous in technique and her graceful compositions bring you into the dream state of the work. Alicia Tormey

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Studio Tour

Photographer Bradford Bohonus came by the Building last month to make these amazing 360° portraits of the artists in their studios. I had just delivered twenty of my paintings to the gallery for my February show, so the studio isnt as full as usual. Check it out:

Joyce Gehl's Studio in February.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Video, Inspiring Artists

I was in Sun Valley last week and discovered the work by Hung Liu at the Gail Severn Gallery. The work featured layers of paint and resin, expertly painted, beautifully drafted. The imagery is both inspired and meaningful. When you get a moment, check out this video of Hung Liu at work.

KQED Spark: Hung Liu

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About Inspiration

"Birth of Venus" 10 x 36
Opening night challenged me to see things differently. I found myself unable to completely answer some of the questions asked. So now I'm trying to put it all into the bigger picture.

You asked me what my inspiration was for your painting. It may be the way the fog sat heavily on the hillside. Or the way the colors filtered through the light. Or the way the wild grass seemed to dance in the mist.

My first impression is very different from what was captured by my camera. And the thing that my hand creates from that image is even further removed from the original. I don't know exactly how the image will evolve when I begin. I may have an idea in my minds eye, but I allow the conditions of the day to guide my hand. If I am relaxed the work takes on a softness, if I am anxious, my nervous energy transfers through my hand to the canvas.

When the painting is complete, it rests. And then I see something entirely new. It is as if this thing I painted is a mirror which reflects my personal histories.

Now you see the work with different eyes. And you bring all your own memories and associations. Your impressions can be so different from my own. And that is what I love about art. That it is different and unique for every person.

I try to create something beautiful. But it is you who gives it life. And that is inspiration enough.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 4th ArtWalk Downtown Seattle

For those of you coming downtown for the first Thursday ArtWalk this week in Seattle, I have a few suggestions for your walking tour.

ArtWalk officially starts at 6pm, but come early and start your night at ChezShea. Chez Shea is a beautifully intimate restaurant and bar in the Pike Place Market. Buy yourself a glass of wine and enjoy one of their delicious appetizers while enjoying the art of Laura Marks.

It's 6pm, and you are now ready to begin the journey south to Patricia Rovzar Gallery. This month she features the work of yours truly. It's my first major solo show, and I can't wait to see how the work looks in her fabulous corner location on 2nd and University.

Next stop: Pioneer Square. Anne Siems is showing at GroverThurston Gallery in Occidental Square. The newest work looks phenomenal. Anne has been inspirational to my own development as an artist.

Finish off the night at the Collins Pub, base of Smith Tower on 2nd Ave. Enjoy your beer and pub grub while checking out the "fetish dolls" of Shaun Doll.

There is loads of art to visit this month, and I would love to post it all. Stop downtown another time during February and see what else is up.

Hope to see you on Thursday night!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Book of Paintings from February Show

I just completed a small book that highlights the paintings in my new show at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. It features twenty reproductions of my work and an introduction by art critic Daniel Kany. To preview and purchase a copy, visit my web site , or go directly to the publishers bookstore at

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Two-weeks before opening night of my exhibition of new work at Patricia Rovzar Gallery. The studio is full of finished paintings getting their final primping. I had no idea how much prep would go into my first major show. In addition to the painting, I've decided to redesign my Web site, and create a book to accompany the show. I'll let you know when the Web site goes live. The book will be available for purchase online.

Hope you can make it to opening night on February 4th, 6pm-8pm. The show will be up for viewing from February 4th - March 2nd. Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Seattle.

I'm anxious to get back on the easels!