The images I will share and talk about represent the directions I have pushed encaustic painting beyond the mainstream boundaries as an artist. This is about where I’m going with my art. It is my way of trying to be useful to those who, like me, see art as an ongoing adventure and a way of addressing other people. I want this to be informal – what I would say if you and I were standing in front of the paintings with you.
Enough – lets look at the first painting.
Please be Seated, Encaustic, 36”x40”
PLEASE BE SEATED is one of my favorite paintings from my new series of Table Life Paintings. I had noticed how much I enjoyed painting people gathered around a table with food and drink. So I decided to focus on the table. Anticipation of a special dinner. Good food being made. The dinner enjoyed. The last bit of cake that was shared with friends…..
They are “Table Life” paintings because they are alive! They are about the life around the table. They are not “Still Lives”- because they are not “still”. They are looser, more spontaneous paintings, with parts of the wood panel completely unpainted. There are also marks showing from my sketching in of my subject and other areas I have scraped the paint off to make my image and to show the grain of the wood again.
The Muses Amused, Encaustic, 34”x80”
THE MUSES AMUSED is from my series of paintings about Myths- my interpretation. I had the thought that the Muses must have enjoyed their own private parties – for women only. This is a painting of one of those parties. All nine Muses are present.
The Fates Love the Fearless, Encaustic, 28”x40”
THE FATES LOVE THE FEARLESS is also from the Myth series. This time I have painted my idea of the Greek Fates. They are often portrayed in art as three women, one of which is spinning, another measuring, and a third deciding when to cut the thread that represents the fate of mortals on earth. Pretty serious business! I thought I would try for lighter and more contemporary version, so in this painting I have the Fates casting dice to decide the destinies of humankind. One of the women who modeled for the painting also plays poker… it gives me ideas for another painting!
The House of Blue Lights, Encaustic, 36”x60”
THE HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHTS is about my favorite Seattle restaurant – St. Clouds, and my favorite band- the Rolling Blackouts. I like to paint from my experience and this is a good example because I have enjoyed many evenings watching and listening to these guys. I always go home happy after a night like the one you see in the painting.
For the Good Times, Encaustic diptych, 28”x60”
FOR THE GOOD TIMES was a commissioned painting that was a new kind of challenge. I started the painting by spending the evening at a party, getting to know the guests and the hosts while I also took photos. My best photos turned out to be images of the party reflected in the large glass windows along one side of the room. From these I painted two paintings of the evening… this is one. Both paintings were purchased.
Come Be My Guest, Encaustic on wood panel, 32”X40”
COME BE MY GUEST is a portrait of Valter Nassi, master chef and owner of Valter’s, an Italian restaurant in Salt Lake City. As you can see, he’s a man who oozes vitality. And oh, can he cook! I’m not a portrait painter. And I only paint portraits of people with whom I have a strong personal connection. After eating his fabulous food and enjoying his hospitality again and again, I wanted to give something back to Valter to express my gratitude. Portraits are risky – the image you paint and the person’s self-image are often in conflict. But this painting passed the test. He loves it. And so do I.
And if you’re ever in Salt Lake and want to have an unforgettable experience, go to Valter’s. Tell him Willow sent you.
In This Life, Encaustic hinged diptych, 17”x46”
IN THIS LIFE combines music with dancing as a hinged diptych. The hands playing the piano belong to Walter Wagner. I have often spent an evening listening to him play but when I decided to do this painting I took my sketchbook and camera to Canlis restaurant in Seattle where he plays. I enjoyed a martini while I sketched and took photos. I like that kind of work!
Rioja Encaustic on wood panel, 36”X80”
RIOJA is painted on a full size hollow-core door. A great solution to working large. Here I am experimenting with selective color for the purpose of storytelling. Red is only on the woman’s dress and in a tiny reflection in the mirror on the wall. Everything else is painted in sepia. This choice draws the eye to her. And then you look around and see the wine and glasses on the table, and a two other dancers sitting alone – perhaps wishing they could be sharing the wine and dancing like the woman in the red dress.
Torque De Oracian, Before Sunset, Encaustic triptych on wood panel, 80”X94”
TORQUE DE ORACIAN, BEFORE SUNSET is one of my best efforts to paint large – three full-size door panels. A daunting task when working with hot wax. I was worried that it was too ambitious. But – here’s the good news – it sold and is now hanging in a home in Atlanta! Now I’m working on a two-panel painting 3 feet by 10 feet.
What’s the size limit to my paintings? I don’t know. Yet.
Parejas- Partners In Tango, Encaustic on wood panel, 16”X53”
PAREJAS- PARTNERS IN TANGO has a little story to it that is not obvious. Friends posed for this painting. She was nude from the waist up, but you can’t tell. Oh, well, never mind nude tango. It is a sequence of images telling a story about an intense relationship. I also tried for the first time to paint a “frame” around each of the images.
Blues In The Night, Encaustic and mixed media on paper, 26”X20”
BLUES IN THE NIGHT is one of my pieces on paper. It’s very freeing for me to work on paper. Somehow there is so much less pressure or expectation. I often get more spontaneous images. And I like to draw, even though I don’t draw on the wood panels in preparation for painting. The only problem with combining charcoal and encaustic on paper is that the work must be framed under glass – creating a distance between the art (and the artist) and the viewer.
Full Cry, Encaustic on wood panel, 28”X60”
FULL CRY gave me an enjoyable challenge of paintings lots of figures. This painting is of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra playing Benny Goodman’s great work, “Sing, Sing, Sing.” I took lots of photographs of the orchestra in action, and then combined images to make this painting. This really pushed my boundaries of what I could accomplish with encaustic.
And to top it off, Members of the orchestra came to my studio to see the paintings!
So. There you have it. A glimpse of the road I’m going down now with my art as an encaustic artist. Pushing encaustic and imagery further and further. Working ever larger. At times painting in multiple sequences. Seeking images of people in motion – dancing, playing music, celebrating. And I am always looking for vitality in how and what I paint.