Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wax & Paper

For years I studied and worked in printmaking. I fell in love with the subtle sound of ink rolling out on the glass plate, of the feel of paper, the mystery of the two combining under the press blanket. In college the history of stone lithography thrilled me, wondering who and what had printed before me.
And then one day I discovered ENCAUSTIC! This edible sensuous medium seduced me away from ink and paper like a new lover or drug. I have been painting with hot melted wax ever since. Like a drug addict I was addicted to the luminous vibrant color and versatility of this medium, with the sweet edible
smell of beeswax and the power of holding fire in my hands. But every now and then, I missed the gentle subtle sound of ink rolling out on the glass. I would visit my old love and struggle with how to combine these two loves.

Finally I found a way to combine monotype and encaustic without reinventing the wheel when I discovered: Paula Roland of Santa Fe who specializes in encaustic monotypes. My two loves collide! The spontaneity of monotype, the feel of paper, the mystery of the result from paper on plate. I feel relieved and fulfilled. I create, both painting directly with wax and with encaustic monotypes and then . . . . that sweet little sound of ink on glass whispers in my ear again. If you love printmaking like I do, you know that sound, you understand. Or maybe you relate because your medium or process sings to you, calls your name, seduces you and you must go to it - and I do. And I find . . . . Elise Wagner in Portland, OR. Elise is not concerned about
claiming to be "an encaustic artist" because it is popular. She's been working in this medium for years, and offers a master's level workshop for serious artists. Its not about the medium, its about how that medium can allow you to create the art that expresses your vision. So combining wax and ink she has developed "Encaustic Collographs", a workshop that I am proud and excited to bring to exPRESSive Arts Studio. Back to the press, working with wax, and the sweet sound of ink on glass . . . . please join me for this exciting opportunity at the Amado Territory Ranch in January 2011.

Encaustic Collograph image by Elise Wagner

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Season Begins

I can't believe its been months since my last post. I thought the summers in AZ were supposed to be slow and quiet because all the snowbirds leave. Apparently those left behind are busy behind the scenes making all the plans and doing the work to prepare for the upcoming season.

I've been fortunate to have a wonderful position working with a fabulous group of people at the Tubac Center of the Arts and have learned so much about what goes on behind the scenes of putting together ongoing art exhibitions.

I've also been working on bringing visiting artists to the Amado Territory Ranch where my studio is located to teach workshops in all sorts of mediums. Here are just a sampling of the upcoming lineup:

Tubac artist, Kim Edwards Keast ( opens the season with her "Mold Making Resin Lighted Assemblage" workshop scheduled for Tues/Wed Sept 21 & 22.
In October, Kim is back with "Rigid Wrapped Up" - details coming soon. October is also the Southwest Fiber Festival at the Ranch and to celebrate the festival, I'll be hosting an exhibit of Kim's fiber creations. These you have GOT to See!!!

Southwest Fiber Festival is Saturday October 30th from 10am - 4pm. The studio will be open with Kim's creations all day with a reception to follow the festival from 4-6pm.
In November, internationally renown jewelry maker/instructor, Hadar Jacobson will be teaching a 2 day intensive for intermediate and advanced jewelry makers in her workshop entitled "Caning and Mokume-gane in Metal Clay".

All of the workshops are on the beautiful grounds of the Amado Territory Ranch, about 35 miles south of Tucson and 8 miles north of the well known art town of Tubac, AZ. The facilities at the ranch include a lodge style bed & breakfast, 2 restaurants, a salon, artists studios, an art gallery and retreat type grounds that make you feel like you are in an oasis in the desert. You basically never have to leave the property, but you'll want to explore the area for shopping in Tubac and perhaps an outing to the Tumacacori Mission, a national historical park.

In December, a twist on monotype printmaking with Mitch Lyons in his workshop, "Clay Monotype". This one has intrigued me for years and I'm so excited to have Mitch visit the studio and share his unique technique for creating monotype prints with clay and clay slip. How cool is that?!

And this is just the beginning. Its going to be a fabulous season! I'm so excited.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Trip to New Mexico

I'm on my last day of a week + road trip to New Mexico focusing on the area between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. My main reason for making the trip was to visit the
Encaustic Art Institute in Cerrillos, about 18 miles SE of Santa Fe. As a mixed media artist working mostly in encaustic, I was excited to be able to visit in person after becoming a member of this non-profit organization in January. EAI has been the dream of artist, Douglass Mehrens since he first purchased the property back in the early 90's. Douglass and his jeweler wife, Adrienne built their home and the institute's gallery/workshop space on the 12 acre property and have incorporated recycled materials into the building such as hundreds of old tires filled with rammed earth.

I was so taken with the space and long conversations with Doug and Adriene that I returned a second day.

Nearby is the artsy town of Madrid where I visited galleries and shops and enjoyed a few good meals.

At the Java Junction in Madrid, their motto is "Bad Coffee Sucks!". Yeah - Right On! I agree.

I met some great artists and friendly folks along the way. Stay tuned for more on the New Mexico Road Trip. The saga continues.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Influenced By:

I wanted to share and give credit to some of the artists that have influenced me in my life and my art. I'll start this series with Wolf Kahn, an artist that greatly influenced my palette and encouraged my ongoing love of painting landscapes.

"The unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn apart. Kahn is an artist who embodies the synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, with the palette of Matisse, Rothko's sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. It is precisely this fusion of color, spontaneity and representation that has produced such a rich and expressive body of work." - Wolf Kahn Website

I really fell in love with this man's art a few years back when my friend Binky Bergsman lent me her book on Kahn, filled with luscious vibrant images of his work. It was difficult but I eventually returned the book and now just occassionally visit his website for new inspirations. I had been working in encaustics then for about a year and created these 2 paintings "A Walk in the Woods with Kahn" based on the inspiration of his work, the colors, the trees, a place I wanted to be. I've since sold one of the 2 paintings and the other hangs in my studio.

"A Walk In The Woods With Kahn"
12" x 36" each - encaustic on panel
Karon Leigh

Who are you inspired by?

Check out this video interview with Wolf Kahn at age 80 - still painting!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evolution of a Painting

I love seeing other artist's works in process and how they complete them so I thought I would share my process as well. I often start with one thing and end up with something completely different as I usually let the painting dictate to me how to paint it. I am not one to draw out and stick to a plan, being methodical and tight with what I hope to accomplish. I have an idea in regards to a theme or a vision or even a color pallet - but that is usually the starting place. The ending place, well, you never know with me.

These two 20" x 24" cradled panels are the largest size encaustic paintings I've ever done. I decided for the new year I was going to push my boundaries, in size and type of work (o you should see what is in process after I completed these paintings! That's another post.) I accepted a personal challenge to participate in an abstract show where every piece entered has to be 36" x 36". So waiting in the wings in my studio is a custom built cradled panel board at 36" x 36". I'm working my way up with the pieces posted here.

I started with a few layers of medium, some purples and red. I then collaged in some grass paper and while fusing the next layer of medium over the grass paper, parts of the paper kept catching on fire. (well ventilated studio is important!) I hadn't planned on burning the paper or leaving burn marks in the piece but it worked and it was fun.

Although I was on the edge of abstract, my subconcious love of landscape found its way into the painting with my next brush strokes of orange across the width of the painting, suggesting a mountain range of sorts.

I've done photo transfers in a lot of my encaustic paintings recently but had never done Joss Paper transfer so - the next step was working the bottom of the painting with Joss Paper transfer. I had gold foil Joss paper and when transferred, it looks pink. Did this transfer process with the water method of eliminating the paper backing by dissolving it with water.

I decided to follow the suggestive landscape and incised some shapes into the top of the painting which I then filled in with graphite to define the line work. I also painted the graphite over areas at the bottom of the painting including over some of the foil Joss paper transfer. More layers of medium. I then painted the shapes at the top of the paintings with titanium white oil paint allowing some of the underlying encaustic and graphite to show thru in areas.

Knowing when to stop has often been an issue for me. Is this painting done? Perhaps, for now at least, as I've learned to step back and live with it for awhile. It will speak to me, but now - it says leave me alone, I'm ok, walk away.

Update Jan 26, 2010:
Apparently the paintings weren't done after all. Couldn't connect the top to the bottom and too much open space in between. So the patterns in the background again dictated landscape and these rolling hills and tiny little buildings appeared. A little bit of a Taos Pueblo feeling perhaps. The places I visit in my dreams.

"Alchemy Between Dream & Awake #1"
Karon Leigh

"Alchemy Between Dream & Awake #2"
Karon Leigh

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010: What "ism" are we in?

During a recent discussion with an artist friend, a question was asked that neither of us were able to satisfactorily answer. My friend, Kim asked "What "ism" are we in? I thought as we start a new decade in 2010, it was an appropriate question to ask and answer. I found this particularly interesting as I am often struggling to narrow down the topics of my almost A.D.D. interests in order to create a cohesive body of work while also expressing a personal yet relevant statement.

Throughout history there have been art movements that are often spawned by a rebellion to current events and defined in a new "ism". Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Modernism, etc.

Currently I feel that I personally can relate to "Stuckism" as I feel "stuck, stuck, stuck" with my art at times. And who decides what is unremarkable or boring in art anyways?


A neo-conservative movement in the United Kingdom formed in 1999 by the leading founder artists Billy Childish calling themselves 'the first remondernist art group - the stucists.'
They are to be seen as 'opposed to the current pretensions of so-called performance art, pop art, BritArt, minimalism, conceptualism, installation art, video art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals, tents or beds - mainly because they are unremarkable and boring'.

'The name of the group was derived, in the best art historical tradition, from an insult, in this case from current Turner Prize Nominee Tracey Emin's evaluation of ex-boyfriend Billy Childish's 1,500 paintings over a 15-year period which was:
"Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!" - taken from Wildbrush's Art.To.Day

Terry Marks "The Hazmat Question"
Proclaimed "Stuckist Painter"

If our current "ism" is in any way a response to our current social and political climate then surely we would be seeing more angry art, more political art, more in your face wake up call art.
The most relevant comment I found in my search for the new "ism" was on

The Middle Class Art Movement:

Constructed Perfection

"The new art movement will be born out of the most devastating idea to hit America in ages - a retrograde motion in status and opportunity for the middle class. This art will based on the perceived attitudes about what the middle class was supposed to be and represent, its expectations and opportunities either lost or placed askew - temporarily or permanently. It will be unique in expressing the middle class perspective and the current struggle set amid a backdrop of commodities that have either slipped out of grasp or have lost meaning. And most importantly it will be set amid a backdrop of a cultural wasteland centered around consumption, excess, and discontinuity. Eschewing the most meaningless archetypes one should expect these artistic manifestations to be straightforward and simple in their presentation but carrying with them a poignant and loaded message. Born out of frustration and the desire for efficiency and meaning this art movement from the middle-class will be some of the most clear and focused art that we have seen in recent years."

Alternatively, people are more focused on a spiritual awareness moving away from materialism and perhaps the "Energism Art Style" is the new "ISM".

"First Dream" by Julia Watkins - Founder of Energism Art

About Energism Art - from "Free Press Release"

"Ms. Watkins has pioneered perhaps the most innovative new form of art, Energism. Based on Tai Chi, these paintings use large colorful swirls representing energy to demonstrate how man, animal and landscape are all interconnected through a natural flow we can sense, but not see. To see the collection go to:

Energist art is meditative. Its goal goes beyond simply creating a representation of spiritual energy. The artist seeks to draw the viewer in so he or she actually experiences the energy. The epitome of Energism Art would be a piece that when simply viewed would give the viewer a profound spiritual experience, a vision of pure energy, love and joy beyond expression."

Perhaps we can be in multiple "isms" at the same time or perhaps we don't have to be defined at all as long as we are still creating, that's what's important.

What are your thoughts on this? What "ISM" do you think you are in?