Tag Archives: Mixed Media

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of September, 2017, she will be working on mixed-media encaustic paintings featuring female icons and role models. We asked Ali a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Ali Herrmann

Ali Herrmann

Q:  Tell us about your background
I live in the Berkshires; travel around upstate NY and Hudson River Valley selling my work at markets, fairs, and events.  I have been making art since a very young age—coloring books and a box of Crayola crayons were always my go to.  I went to Colgate University to pursue geology, but after not being satisfied with my choice in college and the academic requirements surrounding the school, I decided to switch majors, transfer, and convinced my geology professor to write a recommendation for application to Bennington College.  My intent was to focus on ceramics and painting, but as it turned out, fell in love with printmaking and continued to pursue painting. I’ve always maintained a multimedia approach to my work, even to this day.  In addition to making art, I teach classes in bookmaking and encaustic painting, bringing my techniques, knowledge and shared experiences to each class.

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Encaustic Landscape with Trees

Q:  How would you describe your work?
My work is painting with a multi-media approach, using inks, papers, paint, encaustic wax, found object…the idea dictates the medium of choice. I often use multiple things in one painting, hence why I say ‘multi-media.’  Subject matter is typically botanical and nature oriented, in ways that I tend to personify it’s beauty.  There’s a graphic design element to my work, which is a trickle down effect from the very graphic-illustrative nature contributed by college printmaking techniques.

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

At work in the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What is your process for creating a work of art?
My day typically starts around 7:25 am,  getting up with my built in alarm clock, then I head for coffee and journal writing.  It takes me a good hour to fully ‘wake up’ in the morning, even after I’ve gotten out of bed, so I’ve learned this is a good time to let out the thoughts, dreams, ideas, and mental clutter into my journals.  After that, depending on the weather, I may head to the studio or go for a walk/jog.  If I head to the studio, I am likely to turn on the hot plate and slowly start heating up my encaustic paints.  While I’m waiting for the materials to liquify to working state, I clean off the work surface from the day before, prep paper collage materials I think I may want to use, and organize my workspace…much like decluttering my mind in the morning journals. When the materials are ready, I begin with a meditative layering and heat setting process with the wax, developing a surface upon which to work.  Encaustic works in layers, so this medium suits me particularly well, given that I utilize a multi-media approach to other paint processes.  Some of the pieces take days or weeks, while others may be done in a few hours…the elements and working properties of the wax dictate the direction, so it’s an experience of being both in control at times and letting go.

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Uma: B. Kiddo, 6” x 6” panel encaustic, 2017

Q:  What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to create a body of work that uses portraiture as subject matter, particularly women icons and role models.  I anticipate creating 100 6”x6” encaustic portraits of women, using illustrative drawings, paper collage techniques, writings, and encaustic wax.  Portraiture is almost a big diversion from my typical work in encaustic, since I tend to be more focussed on incorporating color abstraction and illustrative narratives using symbols of plants, trees, and sailboats. However, working with the more illustrative pieces in my tree series, where I embed text, I felt a sense of empowerment through the text and it led me to want to personify a strong women icon series.  And with everything going on in the world of current events/politics, I personally find this a perfect time to explore this series. Also interesting is the idea of ‘icons’, since the history of encaustic was predominantly a process of preserving pieces, such as the face masks from the Fayum wedding portraits, so in a sense, I feel as if I am bringing my love and knowledge of encaustic full circle. Going back to the beginnings and root of why this medium gained attention, while bringing attention to modern day women.

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

A collection of small, handmade sketchbooks

Q:  Do you collect anything?
I have a fascination for collecting ‘objects of containment’, yes this needs defining.  For a long time, I used to collect sketchbooks and they would sit on a shelf, pristine blank books, waiting and wanting to be used, but at the time, I was out of college and focused on a day job, completely unrelated to anything artistic.  The blank books became a thing of admiration, a collection of sorts: pretty covers, sizes, different bindings.  Once I took a course on different bookmaking techniques and realized how ordinary these were, I started using them to sketch, paint, & write while I made more fun books to eventually use.  While I do have a collection of sketchbooks I’ve made, it’s more for demonstrations and teaching purposes, but they do get used!  Additionally, I have other objects of containment, ranging from a modern, funky purse collection to old wooden boxes: rice boxes, tea boxes, cheese boxes, wine boxes, pencil boxes, and shelf boxes.

Q:  Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
While I enjoy going to a gallery or museum to see work, I really never want to make a full day of it or spend a lot of time in them.  There is a silent, sterile quality that somehow ‘quiets’ the art for me.  I believe this is because I am a process oriented person.  I like to see work in progress, the sketches, the inner brainchild workings, the silly notes, and the processes involved in making work.  The two places I really enjoy to see art are in peoples homes or artist studios.  I think there’s a real intimacy seeing what people collect and how they display it in their environment.  As for artist studios, you get to see the raw and visceral experience of being engaged in the process.

Six, 6x6 inch panels in progress

Six, 6×6 inch panels in progress

Q:  Do you collect artwork?
I think artists always collect artwork.  My collection started in college, where I exchanged a few etchings and monoprints with other printmakers.  Having an affinity for pottery and coffee, I have always loved collecting mugs, though the functional, everyday use aspect of it never made me think I was ‘collecting art’, but rather, creating a collection of enjoyment.  My first purchase that actually made me feel like I was buying art ‘to collect’ was a small portrait piece I found in a boutique type gift shop in Asheville, NC ironically during a pottery visit in 2003.  I saw this lovely portrait and it reminded me of myself: haircut, red background (at the time I had a red Jeep wrangler), seeming poignant, isolated, alone, but having this ingrained presence that could light up a room.  I kept looking at it; however, did not buy it that moment because I thought: why would I want to buy a portrait?   Of who? Of someone I didn’t know?… and so continued on my journey around Asheville.  When my trip reached it’s end, I found myself racing back to the store in the early morning, hoping they would be open, because I simply needed my this piece in my life, regardless of who this person was in the portrait.  I think I even floored the shop owner when I said, ‘I need that’.  She was so excited for the artist, to be selling a piece of their work, but it was more than a sale or a purchase, I somehow connected with that piece in a way that went beyond the imagery, so it became needing it in my life, not simply wanting it.

Since then, I have collected etchings from an artist in New Hampshire, and tiny paintings from artists based in Portland, OR.  Overall, I can say that all the work has a very illustrative feel, despite some being whimsical paintings and others being detailed bug/botanical prints…they all have images of birds, bugs, botany, with the artists personal vision/flair. Artists include: Cori Dantini, Michele Maule, Rachel Austin, J. Ann Eldridge  

Q:  What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The most useful tool is the most unattractive, bright yellow, mundane looking tool: an automotive bond application/spreading tool, but it has a great name…the Dynatron!  While I do love a palette knife, I find this tool in my car, my purse, in the kitchen, and yes, all over the studio for all media, so it is the most purposeful.  Life changing actually!

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In the studio at Main Street Arts

Q:  What’s next for you?
When I return home, I hope have a full schedule teaching classes in encaustic and bookmaking, head into autumn’s beauty, and ready myself for the winter market/vending season.

Q:  Where else can we find you?
On my webiste, www.aliherrmann.com, on Instagram, @aliherrmann, on Facebook, and on my blog, www.aliherrmann.blogspot.com.

Ali is teaching an encaustic collage workshop  on Saturday, September 16 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Emily Long

Emily Long is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. During the month of August, 2017, she will be exploring new mediums and working on a series that explores the idea that everything is fluid and connected—finding commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surrounding that inevitably confirm our greater humanity. We asked Emily a few questions about her artwork and studio practice. 

Emily Long

Emily Long

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At an early age I was enrolled in multiple art programs at my local cultural center, Snug Harbor and was constantly creating things at home thanks to the support of my parents. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an art focused high school in New York City and continued my interest in visual arts and museum studies in undergrad at Fashion Institute of Technology. Beyond creating my own art, I am passionate about art education and currently work for the New York Historical Society (NYHS) and Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My art is fluid. I am interested in exploring the relationship between one’s self and their surroundings. A majority of these works are illustrated with watercolor but I am always excited to add a new medium into my work.

Work by Emily Long, water color and ink

“Raw Synergy Recognize Symmetry”, Emily Long

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For every piece my process is a little different depending on how much time I am able to give myself to create. Some days I will jump right into a watercolor illustration. Other days I will spend hours researching symbols and their significance; taking notes on how they can be added into a work.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My primary medium is watercolor, naturally my paintbrushes are my most used and useful tool in my studio.

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Emily working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Choosing a favorite artist feels like telling one’s children who the favorite is. With that said, I love Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for her fearless use of multiple mediums and line use, Gustav Klimt for his use of gold, and Georgia O’Keeffe for her composition and abstraction. My favorite local artist was my childhood neighbor, Andrea Phillips.

Q: What advice would you give other artists?
Just keep working. Don’t be afraid to “waste” your materials or become upset if you create something you do not like. You have to get the “bad” art out before the masterpiece.

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Work by Emily Long: NY Time Dime (left), and Majority Too Big to Ignore (right)

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have had a recent interest in working with gesso and printmaking. I am excited to experiment with new mediums and making my work more sculptural while at Main Street Arts Residency. Recent projects have been inspired by folklore and myths. I plan to explore these themes with the exploration of new mediums.  

Q: What’s next for you?
In the fall, I will return to work at the museum. As for my art, I will be turning an old office space into my studio, where I hope to spend most of my free time.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On my website: emilysarahlong.com and on Instagram.


Emily is teaching a crocheted cacti gardens amigurumi workshop on Saturday, August 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Main Street Arts. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed creatures/objects. Sign up on our website to reserve your spot!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Cathy Gordon

Cathy Gordon is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. She is working on mixed media paintings and cut paper pieces during the month of June, 2017. We asked her a few questions about her artwork and studio practice.

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Cathy Gordon working in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: To start off, please you tell us about your background.
While I grew up on Air Forces bases across the United States and always created art, my love affair with art began when my parents divorced. My father moved to Chicago and my mother, my sisters, brother, and I moved to western Kansas. I know that sounds odd because you would not associate art with a small town in Kansas but it was a critical time in my life and as it happened the high school art teacher in that small town was a truly great art teacher (and a gifted artist in his own right!). I can’t begin to tell you how many of his students went on to become artists, art teachers, designers, photographers etc… He continues to mentor me to this day.

I went on to paint, draw, and print my way through the University of Kansas and I eventually obtained my Master of Fine Arts from Fort Hays State University, a small school in Kansas with an exceptional art program. Once again, I was fortunate that my drawing professor, who became an important mentor in my life, taught by example. She was a great artist and held her students to very high standards.

My experiences with these two great teachers made me realize that not only did I want to teach but I had to “walk the walk” for myself as well as my students. I knew my students needed to see me create art. I have taught full-time at the college level for twenty-five years and have always used an active studio approach to my classes.

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Cut paper piece by Cathy Gordon

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work has always been influenced by mathematics, Constructivist design aesthetics, and classical subject matter but most recently I have been inspired by the book, Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of information, by Manuel Lima. I am currently working on a series of cut paper drawings and mixed media collages that use the connecting lines and coordinates of mapping. Each coordinate represents a person, encounter, event, or transpiring moment in my life. The lines soon became a metaphor for the transience of life and our congruence with one another.

Cathy's workspace in her studio

Cathy’s workspace in her studio

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
For me, the process of creating a work of art is ongoing. I can’t turn it on and off. I am constantly contemplating a work of art whether it is in its early stages or almost completed.  It is a little embarrassing to tell you this, but I lay in bed at night thinking about artwork that I am either struggling with or considering. There is no question that the most important aspect of creation is to listen. If you truly listen to the artwork it will guide you.

On a practical note regarding creativity, it is imperative that you work on this process every day. The best-case scenario is to be in the studio working every day but if that doesn’t happen you still need to have your head in your work whether it is searching for ideas, taking notes, journaling, or exploring. We all hit creative road blocks. I once had a teacher tell me that when I feel empty and I don’t think I have anything to give, pick up a pen and draw straight lines. Keep drawing the lines as a form of meditation and the next thing you know you will be drawing. It works!

"Pear With a Five", mixed media painting by Cathleen Gordon

“Pear With a Five”, mixed media painting by Cathy Gordon

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
A: There is no question that my main goal for this residency is to create and produce art. This residency is a gift. It is a such a joy to walk into the studio and not have any of my regular life demands trying to draw me away from the studio. I am usually pretty good at dedicating time to creating art everyday but to have all day, every day to work has been nothing short incredible.

Creativity is often nurtured through experience and the fact that I came here from Texas is in and of itself, an experience. I am calling my month here, “Zen and the Art of Art.” I am looking at art along the way, creating art in the studio, meeting new people, seeing new landscapes and just trying to absorb the experiences.

I am working on both painted mixed media and cut paper projects while I am at Main Street Arts and I am working on incorporated mapping and charting into the works.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am a drawing and painting professor by day and an artist by night. And while that will continue, I am changing the location. As soon as I get back to Texas I will be packing up and moving to a new college in Kansas where I have accepted a new position. The adventure continues!

Q: Where else can we find you?
A: Check out my website at cathleengordonart.com

View and purchase a selection of Cathy’s work at the gallery and in our online shop

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Megan Armstrong

Megan’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


Artist Statement:
A line is a critical tool for communication – whether compositionally visual or textual, a line connected to another line creates a navigational thread to follow – this thread can be woven in and out as a form of coded language – the duplicity of a line is directly linked to the formation and understanding of words – whether drawn or written, a line can develop into structures, systems, labels, and powerful (perhaps dangerous) associations – associations spur emotional, factual, and fallible interpretations and translations – lines act as evidence of human thought – definitions, synonyms, organizations – lines slide back and forth to create new relationships, pairings, combinations, composites, connections – the limitlessness of the line is linked with it’s limitations – through repetitive, compulsive exploration and manipulation of lines I investigate notions of normalcy by examining the narrative lines between fiction and reality.

Through practical and emotional research of a specific system – mental illness and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V) – I create artwork that translates the coded language within the system, as well as the individual experiences that are left out of the clinical translation of human behavior. When a system and it’s coding logic is laboriously translated into didactic lines that weave in and out, attempting individuality, but ultimately creating controlled chaos, the complexity and ambiguity of a convoluted system remains.  

Work in Progress

Megan Armstrong in her studio drawing lines for a work in progress.

For the past three years my work has focused on the exploration of lines, as a form of communication, translation, and investigation of systems and mark-making. While the width and style of the line remains consistent in each drawing, it is important that every endeavor is a challenge, whether in content or form.

Artist Studio

Megan Armstrong’s home studio.

This past summer I moved to Rochester, NY, and set up a temporary artist studio in my home. The second I step into the house I am reminded of the art I have made in the past, current pieces, and the type of work I would like to attempt in the future.

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36"H x 42"W

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36″H x 42″W

Hanging above my makeshift drawing table is Nomenclature, a drawing I started at the Byrdcliffe Artist Residency in Woodstock, New York in 2015, and completed in 2016. The drawing is created by individual ink lines woven together. The background was laboriously hand-drawn, erased, and re-worked in graphite.

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12"H x 12"W drawings

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12″H x 12″W drawings

Resting on the drawing table is a work in progress titled A Reductionistic Anachronism. This piece was started with the simple and necessary idea of individual drawings building and creating a larger drawing. I was in the process of moving and had packed up all of my larger works and tools, except for my micron pens. I began working on a 12″ x 12″ drawing with the intention that it would connect to another, and another, and another… In a grouping of 18 drawings as shown it measures a total of 36″H x 72″. This drawing will continue to grow indefinitely.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12"H x 12"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12″H x 12″W

The drawing shown above was created for the Small Works 2016 Exhibit at Main Street Arts. I challenged myself to take content I had previously worked on in a large scale, to the restricted dimensions of 12″H x 12″W. The drawing created for Small Works 2016, which won the Director’s Choice Award, features 106 lines total, signifying the amount of mental disorders defined by the first version of the DSM. The piece is an iteration of a drawing I created for my MFA Thesis at San Francisco Institute of Art, title The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication (pictured below). The entire drawing includes 394 hand-drawn ink lines, depicting the number of current codes for diagnosing mental illness, as categorized by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V). These pieces were created line by line, and each line is numbered, with a clear beginning and end. This means that you can follow one line in it’s entirety. In both drawings there seems to be a clear form, although abstract, when viewed from a distance. The closer you get to the drawings, the easier it is to see the distinctions between each line, the connections and interactions, as well as the varying paths traveled. Each line is completely unique and wholly individual, yet viewed on the same page and in the same space, they begin to seem the same and it is more difficult to clearly define them as separate.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48"H x 48"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48″H x 48″W

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7" x 8.5" x .5"

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7″ x 8.5″ x .5″

Line Theory is a hand-drawn and hand-written artist book I created in collaboration with photographer Brian Dean, who beautifully hand-bound each book. Each page features a “chapter” and corresponding line drawing. The book holds 28 complete chapters (original poetry) and line drawings (the drawings grow from one line to twenty-eight lines). Line Theory is a limited edition of six, and each book in the edition features completely different drawings.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Megan’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Megan’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit her website at http://www.meganarmstrongart.com and follow her on Instagram @meganarmstrongart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Renee LoPresti.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Maria Victoria Savka

Maria Victoria Savka is one of our first artists in residence at Main Street Arts! She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the month of June 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see Victoria’s studio and work in progress). We asked Victoria a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:

Maria Victoria Savka

Q: To start this off, would you tell us about your background?

A: I come from Rochester, NY and started doodling since I was much younger and shorter! I graduated with a Fine Arts and Illustration BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology this past May where I began to intensely focus on building a portfolio as well as pushing the limits of my own work. As a recent graduate I am exploring my options and currently browsing employment possibilities.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: My personal work tends to be what I like calling organized chaos. Movement is key in my work as it provides me with rough, raw, and vivid imagery. I consider gestural images as some of the most genuine; they capture a moment. As an artist I deconstruct images into abstractions, hopping between subjective and objective. I’ve currently been interested the deconstruction of portraits and locations. I hope to it gives a character or narrative to my subjects.

Maria Victoria Savka, "Blueberry Jeepy", watercolor on paper, 8" x 5", 2015

Maria Victoria Savka, “Blueberry Jeepy”, watercolor on paper, 8″ x 5″, 2015

I also have an avid curiosity when it comes to printmaking. I have been in touch with this medium for the past two years and am still very much interested in exploring it further because of the ability to create and experiment with various layers.

Maria Victoria Savka, "Lydia IV", photo intaglio mono print with chine collie, 23" x 15", 2015

Maria Victoria Savka, “Lydia IV”, photo intaglio mono print with chine collie, 23″ x 15″, 2015

Currently I also have multiple small projects of all sorts that tend to be more illustrative nature I am also very excited to work on during this residency!

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: My personal work starts with a 2-3 minute gestural drawing, a massive amount of loose scribbles. I find seeing the process of a piece intriguing, by seeing the process you are being told the story behind the piece. From that image I build up and create an atmosphere.

A selection of drawings and paintings by Victoria.

A selection of drawings and paintings by Victoria.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: I would like to continue to explore printmaking. I’d like to continue playing with collage and drypoint, but would also like to dive into more linoleum cuts and perhaps woodcuts as well. Overall, I am very excited to be able to sit down and paint for hours. That is my plan.

Victoria inks a plate for a new print.

Victoria begins inking a plate for a new print.

Adding additional colors to the plate.

Adding additional colors to the plate.

Running the plate through the Main Street Arts printing press.

Running the plate through the Main Street Arts printing press.

The final print!

The final print!

Currently I also have multiple small projects of all sorts that tend to be more whimsical illustrative nature.

Drawings, collages, prints, and more pinned to Victoria's studio wall.

Drawings, collages, prints, and more pinned to Victoria’s studio wall.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am planning on going to graduate school in a few years, as I’m interested in teaching as much as I’m interested in making my own artwork. I hope to continue showing my artwork in galleries, and see where the wind takes me!

Q: Where can we find you?

A: You can view my work at www.mariavictoriasavka.com and Instagram @marviccarsav. You can also find my work in the next issues of Rochester’s Lake Affect Magazine and Art House Press Magazine’s second issue coming out in August!


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kate Fisher

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I have been working on this body of work for over a year. Each piece involves several steps and these steps have evolved with time. I started by taking or finding photos. One of the fascinating things for me with this project has been meeting the people whom I have photographed. I usually introduce myself, show them what I am doing, and take some photos. Sometimes they share something of themselves, sometimes they say very little. Almost all of the people I have asked were very curious and willing to let me take their photograph.

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Using the photograph as reference, I then work on a contour/outline drawing. Since my very first drawing class, I have been fascinated by contour drawings. They seem related to haiku poetry. Good ones can say the most with limited lines or words. When I have gotten a drawing that I am pleased with, I use the Bernina sewing machine free motion stitch, and sew the drawing, sometimes adding texture, color or detail. Then I to go to the Genesee Book Arts Center and print the names of the figures using the Vandercook press. This involves looking through the antique wood type collection to find a font that works with my drawing. Then I go to the press where I set the type, proof the print and print the name on the stitched drawing.

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The final step is deciding which threads go and which stay. The threads are very important to these pieces. I feel that they not only add line and motion but they seem to really create a metaphor for the people I have met and stitched. They are changing, growing, and vital.

I am usually the only one to see the back of the stitched drawing. To me they are fascinating, messy and very lively, while still capturing the feel of the figures. I have included an example for you to see.

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People often ask me how long a figure has taken me to create. I never know how to answer this and mentioned it to an artist friend. She said that her response when asked that question is, “a lifetime.” Certainly that is true.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kate’s artwork in our current exhibition The Human Figure (runs through July 1). View her work online at www.blackbirdknits.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Nate Hodge.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kristen T. Woodward

Lucky foot (except for the rabbit)

A native of Rochester NY, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit my work at Main Street Arts. On display in the current Flora and Fauna exhibition are 16  encaustic paintings on wooden panels. The imagery involves abstracted animal forms, often referencing parables and children’s games.

Donkey Games

A small installation in the show also features a full scale deer target and small paintings on Black Forest carved antler plaques.

 painting on antler plaque

Painting on Black Forest carved antler plaque

While on a trip to Germany as a visiting artist last fall I encountered these plaques which included antlers from Roe deer. I found them beautiful and fascinating, and thought they would make provocative supports for small paintings that explored landscape and our sensory relationship to the natural world.

Can you guess whose lips served as a model?

All things are possible, 14x17, mixed media on wood

All things are possible, 14×17, mixed media on wood

As a Professor of Art at Albright College in Reading, PA I teach a wide variety of painting and printmaking processes, but of late I have been personally attracted to the encaustic medium (download my encaustic recipe).

wax in solid form

wax in solid form

This image shows the refined beeswax from an art supply store (it comes yellow or white) next to an unmodified block from a local beekeeper. The local brown block contains a good bit of slub gum, an impurity (bee poop).

encaustic cans on a hot plate

encaustic cans

This last image shows a skillet filled up with a bunch of small mixed colors. I have another skillet for just white and soy wax, which is used for cleaning some of the wax out of the brushes.

I’m also actively writing short reviews for  www.artists2artists.net
You can see my artist2artist page here.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kristen’s work in our current exhibition, Flora and Fauna. The exhibition is up through Friday, February 12. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by watercolor artist E.L. Ryan.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Amy Vena: Process

Art is my life-long passion. I’ve always maintained a connection with art, specifically drawing and painting. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that I really investigated using industrial materials as painting mediums. My relationship with high-gloss epoxy resin began in 2011 and has continued since then. Applying resin to both canvas and panel has taught me about the medium and it’s behavior.

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Amy Vena, In her studio

My painting process is inspired by both contemporary and past artists. Similar to Abstract Expressionist painters of the mid-21st Century (like Helen Frankenthaler), I strive to produce paintings that are active and contain energy. The focus is to achieve expression through tonal variation, depth, and color.

Most importantly, creating artwork is fun and spiritual. When I am in the studio I work through thoughts and problems until everything drifts away. Thoughts about life turn into brushstrokes. Eventually, my mind is quieted by work. Space, healing, and peace are all achieved while painting.

Image 1

By Amy Vena

The pieces contributed to Solid Gold were recently created. They are part of a transitional phase coming from a previous series inspired by images of nebulae. These new paintings are not meant to be representational images. They are  abstract, diverging from themed work. They focus on color and movement.

By Amy Vena

By Amy Vena

I often incorporate objects into my artwork prior to applying epoxy resin. Leaf skeletons and gold leaf add subtle detail. The actual process of creative development is pretty standard between pieces:

  1. Lay gesso and modeling paste on canvas to create the foundation texture and organic ambiance
  2. Use Acrylic Inks to develop a composition
  3. Create or enhance depth in certain areas working the entire painting
  4. Apply aerosol spray-paint
  5. Saturate each end of the value spectrum
  6. Allow the paint to dry
  7. Apply the clear or colored resin
  8. Create striations with iridescent acrylic/epoxy resin mixture
photo copy

By Amy Vena

Layering is one of the most valuable elements in my creative process. It takes patience and time. The application of epoxy resin bears the heaviest risks. Epoxy resin is toxic, and all precautions must be taken when handling the medium. Mixing must be closely monitored, as the epoxy resin will not cure if mixed incorrectly. Complexity level is something to consider when deciding to work with epoxy resin, but when done correctly the medium is fantastic and exciting.

Painting is a journey, and I am excited to see where each new painting will lead me.

For more information please visit Amy’s website, amycvena.com. You can see Amy’s work in person during our current exhibition, Solid Gold. #amycvenaart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by multimedia artist Jeanne Beck.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeanne Beck: Coming Home Through Creating

www.jeannebeck.com

Jeanne Beck at work in her studio in Rochester, NY’s Hungerford Building

It seems to me my whole life has been a slow, steady evolution of coming home to myself. I suspect a lot of women of my generation feel that way. My earlier life didn’t offer a lot of stimulation or opportunity to study music or dance or art, all of which interested me greatly, but I did read voraciously. I fantasized about writing novels and started writing short stories at age 12, but then I became absorbed in teen-age concerns. I turned to keeping a journal, which I wrote in faithfully from 7-12th grade. I’ve done personal journaling in some form for most of my life and have a storage box filled with composition notebooks and more recently, sketchbooks too.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18" x 18", mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

Book of the Ancients 6, 18″ x 18″, mixed media collage, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Cut, collaged, screen-printed and stenciled.

When I decided at mid-life to become a visual artist, I made a total commitment to it. Lose, win or draw, I have invested myself fully in my own creative potential. And, as a result, this midlife adventure has become the most passionate, committed period of my life. Since I began exploring visual art, I have been drawn to combine more than one medium or techniques, as well as create multi-layered surfaces.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests  cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

The Writing in Air pieces utilize a variety of processes and techniques to create a dimensional , cut and manipulated surface that suggests cursive handwriting. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Melding media and techniques to express a concept drives most of my choices. So I might stitch thread structures and dip them in paper pulp, for example. Layering and combining materials and methods is a fluid process and varies with each new idea. I like to envision my pieces accumulating layers over time and bearing the marks of use and age to build their own personal history.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Distressing the leafed surface with layers of acrylic paints and screen printed texts creates a patina of aging. Private collection, Boston, MA.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I've lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

Seemingly random numbers cut in fiberglass screening punctuate the aged surface of this piece. They are a list of street numbers from the houses where I’ve lived over the course of my life. They are as I remember them, but I have no idea whether the memories are accurate. Purchased by SUNY Geneseo for MacVittie Student Union.

I am drawn to aged surfaces and tend to try to and create them in whatever medium or technique I’m using. Rust, decay, and layers peeling away attract me. They also relate to my interests in memory and aging and what happens to personal histories over time.

Most of the scattered  images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once  a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting  has become almost obsolete.

Most of the scattered images on this piece refer to The Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting instruction. Once a part of elementary school curriculum, cursive handwriting has become almost obsolete.

The earliest concept for my current series of language-inspired pieces started in 2007. I had done extensive research on Etruscan and other forms of ancient writing remnants and the marks  intrigued me as visual elements. Then my focus shifted to an interest in 19th and 20th century found journals, diaries and bits of cursive writing.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

This work lists all the names of the teachers I can remember from my elementary school in Pittsburgh, PA. Book of the Ancients 9: Bethel Park Elementary, won a prestigious 2013 Niche Award.

Green World IIMy metallic leaf series began in 2011 with the idea of “fluttering pages.” The exploration of ancient texts and languages to gather ideas for this series led me to an unexpected realization, “ancient” is a relative term. To someone entering adulthood today, the 1950’s and 60’s seem ancient. Amused by that recognition, the first works in this series focus on remembered bits from my childhood. We often refer to ‘turning a page’, ‘ getting on the same page’, ‘starting a new or closing an old chapter of our lives’ in our everyday conversations. These pieces offer a visual take on such ideas.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional  work with layered kozo fibers over a  richly textured, painted surface.

Green World II is a new organically-inspired, dimensional work with layered kozo fibers over a richly textured, painted surface.

The pages series still doesn’t feel finished and I will continue to work on new ideas. However, I am also working on a new series of organic, two and three-dimensional works using handmade paper, pulp and wire armatures.

You can see more of Jeanne’s work in our current exhibition, Solid Gold, or visit her website: www.jeannebeck.com.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Colleen Pendry.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Colleen Pendry: Materials, Metaphor & Memory

My name is Colleen Pendry and I am originally from the suburbs of Washington D.C. I live on a small piece of Heaven in Rockbridge County, Virginia with my husband of 32 years and our assortment of furred and feathered friends – four rescue dogs, one cat, three goats and fourteen chickens.  I received a BA in Studio Art (Painting) from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA and a MFA from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  I am currently a professor with Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA where I teach Drawing, 3-D design, and Art History and Appreciation.

I think I have always been an artist in one capacity or another.  I remember when I was a kid, taking those “art tests” found on the cover of matchbooks. I must have drawn hundreds of those matchbook characters over the years.  My mother was a writer and a folk singer and my father a jazz musician and storyteller. They encouraged creativity very early on, and for that I am eternally grateful!

SONY DSC

fragility ii

SONY DSC

fragility i

My current work fragility, is an ongoing series which began following the death of my mother in March 2008. I remember my mother being in institutionalized in the early 60s when I was about  five years old.  A diagnosis of “tantrums” seemed apt during that time.  She told me once that she had some poems and memoirs for me, but it wasn’t until after her death that I received the faded, nicotine-stained manila folder, stuffed with her past.  A past I never really knew.  Her writings are intense and seem to reveal, in fragments, the taboo of mental illness and her literal way of coping with the silence.  The timelessness of these pages ultimately lead me to a place from her past – the former Western State Lunatic Asylum.

In early February 2010 I was granted access to the sprawling, once iconic campus of Greek Revival style buildings built from 1827–1842. In its inception, the asylum was perceived as a resort-style facility at the cutting edge of rehabilitation and healing for the mentally ill. By the mid 19th century those utopian ideals vanished and the buildings came to be a formidable warehouse for the poor, ill, and transient.

For two years, with camera in hand, I walked the halls, basements,  and attics of the abandoned relic, documenting my steps.  In the winter it was bitterly cold, and I found myself following the light through an endless maze of doors, corridors, and stairways.

East Stairway

Chamber 213

Chamber 213

My Mother, Myself

My Mother, Myself

While painting has always been a foundation in my work, it seemed not enough. Over the next few years I sought out new media and new techniques that would push the work further in an effort to capture the essence of time and space, emotion and memory–bringing the depth of solitude into tangible form.

Testimonial No.2(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel - 24x32 inches

Testimonial No.2(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel – 24×32 inches

Testimonial No.3(2012) mixed media on acyrlic panel - 24x32 inches

Testimonial No.3(2012) mixed media on acrylic panel – 24×32 inches

In early 2013 I had watched a documentary on objects and memory, centered around the building of the 911 Memorial. At the same time, I was reading the Psychoanalysis of Fire by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, and The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter.   Shortly after, I began to strip down works in progress hoping to reflect the emotive and sometimes treacherous process of memory. I asked myself, how do we remember? A face, a song, a verse, a single word, a smell, a taste, a space, a color? An iteration of all the senses perhaps?  And what are the tangible things we hold so dear when experiencing the euphoria and harshness of reminiscence? A stained photo, a tattered poem, a trinket? Then it came to me…

During my final few days of photographing the asylum I filled three paper bags with green paint fragments scraped from the walls of the asylum, later placed in a drawer in my studio.  For months I had recurring dreams of windows, doors and those deteriorating green walls.  I found a strangely comforting familiarity in that specific green.

P1110186   beeswax

After combing through hundreds of images, I chose those imbued with the notion of time and place.  I printed each image on t-shirt transfer material and–after much trial and error–was able to peel the image away from the paper backing, revealing a hauntingly skin-like transparent image, which I then bonded to the paint fragment with beeswax and flames.    These images ultimately became the subject matter of the fragility series and the paint fragments, ironically, the “trinket”.  The copper wire was re-purposed from other works which became not only a base to cradle each piece, but a depiction of the instability of the past.

fragility iv (2014)

Outside of the fragility series, other memory projects include:

 The Plastic Lady-Armor (2014) Mixed media sculpture – silk chiffon, paper, oil, beeswax, copper wire, photo transfer, velvet, resin

The Plastic Lady-Armor (2014) Mixed media sculpture – silk chiffon, paper, oil, beeswax, copper wire, photo transfer, velvet, resin

The Plastic Lady: Transcendence (2014) Mixed media sculpture – poured plastic, wood, ashes, copper wire, 24k gold spray paint

The Plastic Lady: Transcendence (2014)
Mixed media sculpture – poured plastic, wood, ashes, copper wire, 24k gold spray paint

Study for Short Stories

Study for Short Stories

And, as my parents did for me, I am encouraging my grandson to embrace his creativity and have turned him loose with a camera. We are working on a project together titled Below the Horizon Line.  He is four.

Colleen Pendry’s two fragility pieces won an honorable mention in our Small Works exhibition. Stop by the gallery before the end of the year to see Colleen’s artwork in person!

Check out our previous installment of Inside the Artist’s Studio, a post by enamel artist Katharine Wood.