I attended the 5th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, MA from June 3-5, 2011. Throughout the conference I had the opportunity to pick the discussions and demos I wanted to attend. Looking back I can’t believe how many different sessions I participated in. I’ve put together a quick recap of what I experienced at my sessions.Fusing with a torch presented by Lynette HaggardFusing with a Torch

Presented by Lynette Haggard
I’ve wondered for a while now how you use a torch with encaustic. In the past I’ve blown fuses and blown out wax with just a wanding of my industrial heat gun. Lynette introduced us to several different types of torches: the Iwatani Torch, Benzomatic Micro Torch, Benzomatic Trigger Torch and the Benzomatic Auto Ignition Torch. Lynette made wielding the torch look so easy and safe, I’m looking forward to trying it on my own. While each torch had their benefits but I think the Iwatani will be the gateway torch for me (plus I can use it for creme brulee if it doesn’t work out with my work!). Oh, and my favorite tip of the day, “Don’t attempt to answer your cell phone while fusing with a torch.” Words to live by.

Jhina Alvarado, "Sitting in the Shadows” 24” x 24”, 2011, encaustic and oil on panelTaking The Leap

Presented by Jhina Alvarado
I admire artists who are able to support themselves with their work and I’m always curious to learn how they do it. Jhina shared her journey with us, she has been working as a full-time artist for over a year. She offered us some great advice, which I will summarize:

1. Make good work and make lots of it.
2. Once you have the work, figure out what you want.
3. Get your money stuff squared away.
4. Get your work out there.
5. You’re in, now what? (don’t change your style right away!)

Jhina was very inspiring and I’m definitely going to start following her blog, Rising Artist, The Accomplishments and Struggles of One Artist Trying to Make it in the Art World. I managed to win a prize in this presentation, a signed copy of her “Forgotten Memories” art book. I never win anything, I finally got lucky! Click here to read what Jhina Alvarado has to say about her experience presenting at the conference.

The studio interior of Lisa PressmanThe Encaustic Studio

Presented by Lisa Pressman.
This presentation was really fun. Lisa gave us a tour of about 15 different artists studios, including her own. She found an interesting relationship between the artists work and the view they had from their studio window. It made me think about what I look at while I work, my backyard, and nature is a big influence in my work. I of course walked away with a bit of studio envy, I saw some very large studio spaces with lots of windows and natural light that would be perfect for me to work in. I got some good ideas too. Jeff Schaller uses a bar mat since he stands while he does his work. Jane Nodine keeps a light over her work to keep her work warm (sometimes in the winter I find the wax cools too quickly, this is a great solution). Cora Jane Glasser stores her work in ready to ship Fedex boxes (so smart!). Lisa finished the presentation by showing her own studio which you can see here (also shown in the photo above).

Branding with Heat and Fire with Lorraine GlessnerBranding with Heat and Fire

Presented by Lorraine Glessner
I didn’t really know what to expect in the Branding with Heat and Fire demo. Lorraine showed us what is possible by branding with incense and different metal objects (all of these techniques are done prior to using encaustic). She started the presentation by giving a few safety tips: work in a well ventilated space, have a fire extinguisher, work on a surface like a sheet of metal or tile and a metal ruler can be used to quickly douse flames. I apologize for not having photos of what the branded patterns looked like but if you look at Lorraine’s work closely you can see the branding in the layers of her work. A great tip she shared with us is to keep two trays on your work station when branding labeled HOT and COLD. When you finish working with a hot piece of metal you place it in the hot tray so it keeps you from burning yourself when you forget which metal pieces on your table are hot.

Kim Bernard teaching "What's Your Work About" at the 5th International Encaustic ConferenceWhat’s Your Work About?

Presented by Kim Bernard
Let me just say Kim had me at “let’s stretch before we get started since we are tired from lunch.” It was the perfect way to wake up and get the idea of stretching into our bodies, although the stretching we were about to do was mental. Kim’s demo was about discovering what your work is about. I, like many artists, have a hard time conveying what my artwork says in words. The lazy artist in me frequently says, I’m a visual person you should be able to know what I’m trying to convey just by looking at my work. Kim helped us discover what our work is about by using speed dating techniques. We partnered with four different people in the room, each time answering 1 question, with two minutes to answer. We answered questions like: What do you fear? If you could spend 6 months researching anything what would it be? We took notes after each “speed date.” Here are a few of the notes I wrote to myself:

“Natural vs. Synthetic, what does it do? how does it change us? I capture natural things and make them look synthetic.”
“What are companies like Monsanto doing to us? Scares me. I think about it every day with decisions about food, beauty products and household supplies.”
“I’m afraid my work will sit in my studio and won’t go anywhere or mean anything.” (this statement scares the heck out of me!!!! I can’t believe I just wrote it in my blog I feel a little exposed.)

If you can’t tell from my statements the session was pretty powerful. I feel like I left with greater clarity on what is meaningful to me and what I’m trying to say as an artist. I felt really energized from the experience, like I was buzzing. This from a girl who avoids her artist statement like the plague.

Displaying Work Outside Frame presented by Deborah Kapoor & Brenda MalloryDisplaying Work Outside Frame

Presented by Deborah Kapoor and Brenda Mallory
Deborah and Brenda presented work from over 25 artists to inspire us to display our work outside the frame. I was so excited about this presentation because I’ve already shown work outside the frame and was looking forward to some inspiration. I was not disappointed. Click here for a full list of the artists presented, I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below:Kate MccGwireAlan Bur Johnson (check him out at Lisa Sette if you are in Phoenix)Installation photo from Deborah Kapoor’s solo show, Skin
Deborah Kapoor Brenda Mallory
Brenda Mallory