Monday, July 25, 2011

Hearth and Dulse

Peter and I visited Grand Manan up in the Bay of Fundy for the first time in 1996. A honeymoon hung in the sky. We met our friend Don Ritchie, fisherman and dulse collector and solar house builder. He invited us out in his dory one day ("The Wicked Witch" I think) to help him collect dulse. My borrowed boots were too big and I kept slipping on the rocks. We brought home bags of dulse to munch one, but the materiality of it was also beguiling. When you pick dulse, it feels all camera filmy - stiff and plasticy. Then you dry on a stone field you've made in your yard especially for this purpose. Then it becomes airy when it's dry for eating.

When we got home from that trip, I signed up for my first papermaking class at the Women's Studio Workshop with architect and teacher Kumi Korf. I brought in a bag of dulse for the class, and created some handmade pieces of kozo paper with long pieces of dark red dulse embedded in it, with long pieces of unbeaten kozo against a black kozo background.

To the left of my kozo piece is Peter's metal creature sculpture. My friend, the poet Lynn Behrendt, gave me two "magic wands" she welded with stars on the ends for my birthday this year ("since it's your birthday, you get the longer one and Peter can have the other one"). At some point, Peter stuck them into his creature's mouth, and there they sit on the mantle.

Last year for Christmas, Peter dismantled our kitchen mantle, which was covered in this crappy 70s faux brick. He sheetrocked it, and we picked out some excellent colors (although I think I got the top green slightly wrong - it's a little tennisball colored). The bottom color ("Peony Red" - if you knew me - duh) is exactly right.

Honeymoon - Handmade kozo paper with dulse, 12" x 18", 1996

Terza Rima

These encaustic panels are from the late 1990s, when I was learning how to paint with encaustics after studying with Laura Moriarty, teacher extraordinaire at R&F Handmade Paints. My initial interest in encaustic had to do with an early idea about erasure: that the wax is so incrementally opacifiying, text can be made to look increasingly and slowly ghosty. I glued pages of my own poetry to a wooden board, and did a first pass of editorial marks on the paper in oil pastel. I painted over the work in encaustic and let the wax decide what it would show and what I would obscure.

Then I collaged various things onto the wax (brick straps old and new, random metal things found around). The yellow and white one has a piece of metal fencing driven into the wood before it was painted. One has photos collaged onto it (one year, we thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of myself wearing nothing but Christmas lights and use it as a Christmas card - the idea never came off, but the tiny contact sheet photos that I used here were terrific).

The pieces turned out to be subtle and difficult to photograph - the camera doesn't know what to focus on: the ghost text or the surface. I live with these pieces on a daily basis, and the shifting light of the day changes them minute by minute, the light highlighting or de-emphasizing the underwater (underwax) text. While I can't say for sure, it looks like I was looking at a lot of Agnes Martin at the time.

"Terza Rima" refers to a three-line stanza-ed Italian poetic form used by Dante. All the pieces basically have three things going on: two colors in wax + the collaged pieces.

Terza Rima (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) - encaustic, oil and collage on wood, 12" x 24", late 1990s

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kyotologic #2 or "Art vs. Handgun"

The whole piece:

Details, top to bottom:

I just sold this piece to friends who live in Florida ("My birthday is coming up and I want THAT encaustic monotype from Anne's studio and I want it wrapped too," she told him). "If you don't want to sell it, them I'm going to buy her a cute little handgun she wants." "You could buy her BOTH the artwork AND the handgun," I countered. I was very entertained that I was having an "art vs. handgun as birthday gift" conversation.

This is one of my favorite pieces from the Kyotologic scrolls. There's something about the calligraphic marks that are a little different from the others, but it's very subtle. Part of me doesn't want to sell it, but part of me thinks it's good to move on.

It was the second scroll I made (out of 27), and it is the exact height of my husband Peter, almost like I was making a portrait. It's done on hosho scroll paper in oil pastel, graphite, sumi ink with celadon and gold oilstick, and graphite grey and encaustic medium.

Kyotologic #2 - encaustic, oil, pastel, ink and graphite on paper, 8" x 72", 2007

Friday, July 15, 2011

Photo-Interview by Elizabeth Bryant

I participated in a collaborative photo-interview with poet/photographer -extraordinaire Elizabeth Bryant in April 2011. She took these pictures of me and my studio (better ones that what I took below) and one of the our "stump fence" made with old stumps and decorated with glass insulators... Then she gave me 11 words to respond to however I wanted. I did okay with "aphids" and "pail," but had a tougher time with "oxen."

Monday, July 11, 2011


These are pictures of my studio. I made many encaustic monotypes on long scrolls toward the end of writing the poetry in Kyotologic (which I had previously called "Japonisme" forever, and I still think of the book as that title sometimes). It was almost like I had to write the book visually all over again in the form of these scrolls from 2007 until 2008. A small detail of the one of the scrolls was used as the artwork for the book cover.

These pieces have surrounded me in my studio for a few years now. I hate to take them down as I am sort of in love with them, but I just sold one of the first scrolls, and it's one of my favorites, so I'm conflicted about it. But it's probably a good idea to take this small step toward moving on to whatever is next...

Untitled Test Piece

Last summer, I was asked to contribute something for a blog started by Nancy Huth to celebrate Geof Huth's 50th birthday. I very happily set out to work on a piece to honor my friend's birthday, but I wasn't sure the idea I had would work, so I made this test piece first out of library cards collaged into a beautiful birch playwood cradled board that Peter made. I covered the cards (which are often relevant to narrative of my life with Peter) in encaustic medium, mocked up a test of the circles in different colors, liked how that was working out, so I scribed the circles into the wax and filled the lines with azure, cadmium green and jaune brillant oil sticks.

Untitled Test Piece - encaustic, oil and collage on wood, 15" x 25", 2010

5x5=25 (or 50)

First I made the untitled test piece of the last post to see how the work would work itself out in preparation for this piece. Nancy Huth asked a bunch of people to help celebrate her husband Geof's 50th birthday, by making something related to the theme: fives 4 five/two-five Geof is a well-known poet and visual poet, so it felt like the charge to make an object for him had a high-bar. It wanted the piece to be as good as I could make it, and also subtle and ghosty.

I began with the library cards, in five vertical columns related to different parts of his life from left to right:

1. We are all born in bureaucratic unknowingness.
2. A stack of "Fancy Nancy" cards to commemorate his life with NF Huth.
3. A stack devoted to children's library books for his life with his two kids.
4. A stack of cards with lovely books titles to show his love of language.
5. Library cards with pale handstamped dates for his birth month.

The cards were collaged on one of Peter's cradled panels, coated with encaustic medium, smeared with white over oilstick gridded and protracted lines, collaged with a thin piece of Japanese paper handprinted with the number 50.

5x5=25(or 50)- encaustic, oil and collage on wood, 15" x 25", 2010