Encaustic Painting

I have recently heard of encaustic painting.  It is an ancient method using hot wax and pigments, but has been making a resurgence the last 20 years or so, apparently.

 

mummy portrait

It sounds like it can be a common medium with Mixed Media Artists, because it is easy to use as a glue, creates layers and helps with transferring. You can create an uber-smooth finish or build up the wax and make it more sculptural.  I just really like the idea of it, especially because it is so ancient.  I’m just drawn to that kind of thing.

A lot of the videos out there show it with a vibe that isn’t really me, but there are some really cool pieces out there:

I wonder if I can put my own little twist on it.  Anyway…. I’m intrigued and want to at least try it out. We’ll see.

 

The Hitchhiker

Early 1990s summer camp: the place for Aquanet, rayon and adolescent entitlement…and the place of horror stories.  I’m not talking about a-bump-in-the-night scary story.  I’m talking cringe-worthy, sweat-inducing, I-want-to-run-and-hide awkward teen stories. I have many, but this one is called THE HITCHHIKER.

A few hundred kids were under the big tent, taking a break from singing “I Lean” and “Lean on Me”. Church camp teenagers in the 90s LOVED songs about leaning. I think because it was the only physical touch between a boy and girl that was not demonized.  If I were a flirtier teen, I might have tried to sit by the boy I liked so I could LEAN on him, or rub his shoulders when the inevitable conga-line shoulder-rub/karate-chop instruction came.  I was not a flirty teen, so I leaned on a friend and, I don’t know, the camp cook or something. I would do this while I watched the cute boy who looked like Zach from Saved by the Bell lean on another girl. (Skank)

 

the-Big-Tent-31

In case you are unfamiliar with church camp, Chapel at camp always included:

  1.  Sing songs
  2. Play crazy games
  3. Lets bring it down and learn about the lord
  4. Everyone winds up in tears and two girls inevitably need to “work something out” at a different location.

As sure as the sun will rise, this will happen. Amen.

So this night, this horrible night, we had just wrapped up singing songs and one of the leaders broke the kids into 4 groups.  We were going to battle it out and try to defeat the other teams using whatever random crazy ways the emcee dictated.

  • Person with the longest hair!
  • Person who can recite all the words to “Fresh Prince of Bel Aire!”
  • Person who can recite all of the books of the Old Testament (wait for it…) BACKWARDS!

Oh, it was insane, crazy fun I tell you!

Categories came and went and I didn’t excel in any of them, so I couldn’t do much except cheer for my team and pray to God they didn’t forget Haggai.  I didn’t mind though because I always hated attention and eyes on me.

Our team was down on points and the emcee stated the next category: Person with the best Hitchhiker thumb – the thumb that goes back the farthest wins. My team captain told everyone to put their thumbs in a circle so we’d know who to put up against the other teams.  It was undeniable; I was going up.  I was scared but sanctified words washed over me…. for such a time as this.  Yes. I knew what I had to do.

I stood on stage, under the blinding white lights and heard my team cheer “Go Josie!” “Wooo!”

Oh my Gosh.  I have this.  I thought.  I can help my team win!  “Zach” might even be so impressed that he may come talk to me afterwards! This attention thing isn’t so bad after all!

I was the last in line on stage.  The emcee was asking each person one-by-one to hold up their thumb, let’s see their hitchhiker. After each I became more confident and thought “ch-yeah, like that’s a hitchhiker.” Their teams would cheer wildly and I thought, man, these people are going to be BLOWN AWAY when they see mine!

It was my turn, I quickly jabbed my hand out and stuck my thumb back with a proud smirk on my face and nodding a bit like, “How bout them apples?” Instead of the slightly tilted back “lame” hitchhiker thumb of everyone else on stage, my thumb was making a 90 degree angle backwards. BOO and YA.

Silence. The judge paused while looking at my thumb in confusion. “Wha…? Wow! That is, uh…. some thumb you have there.”

Uh oh.

Then I saw everyone in the audience craning their necks to get a glimpse of my, now realized, freak thumb. I looked to the left “Oh my GOD, Even ‘Zach’ was looking!”

 

zach

 

I’ve made a huge mistake.

As they slowly realized what they were looking at, everyone seemed to be muttering in a mix of confusion and disgust.

“Wait, what? What are we even looking at? OH MY GOD!” Mouths were covered. The more squeamish turned their heads away. I’m pretty sure there was a dry heave.

I was declared the winner and there were some sporadic claps throughout the chapel. I walked back to my seat and nobody could even look me in the eye. My team said different variations of “Good job.” Someone took pity on me and patted me on the back.

*sigh*

And that, boys and girls, is how I learned that winning doesn’t always make you a winner.

 

 

 

 

Serendipity

steinbeck country

 

We recently took a family vacation to Pacific Groves, CA and rented one of Steinbeck Cottages. It is where John Steinbeck used to live! (I just found that to be the coolest thing ever.) My sister knows the owner who has lovingly restored the property into a gorgeous retreat that EVERYONE would love. It is so peaceful.  You just want to pour a cup of coffee (or wine), close your eyes and listen to the birds sing their songs before you walk down to the beach.

Not only was it a beautiful cottage in a beautiful location, but it provided the base for the most enjoyable family time we’ve ever had.  My kids struggle with change, but this set-up was so perfect for everyone that it made the whole rest of the trip amazing. We were there for an entire week! Being able to be away from home, and have it be such a success was a giant, pleasant surprise. It just makes my mom heart so proud. 😛

IMG_9382

 

As you know, I’ve been working on doing an art journal for some good creative expression and decided to bring it along. The book I use is Anne Lamott’s Grace Eventually (Thoughts of Faith)I love her and the book and thought instead of it just sitting on a shelf – to get it out and dissect it, to really interact personally with it. My own faith has been so convoluted that I sheepishly hope that by the time my art journaling is complete in it, maybe some of my own thoughts on faith will be more clear. That’s the idea, anyway.

One afternoon during our trip I decided to sketch one of the 3 buildings on the property. (see above!) Being that I was geeking out at this being where John Steinbeck once lived and wrote, I decided to sketch The Writer’s Studio.  This is the building where he would literally go to write! It was like artist-geek-reader heaven! I positioned myself on the ground across from the studio entrance under a huge tree in the garden and flipped through the book to find a blank page.  With a cool ocean breeze floating through, I took my time filling in the details of the house. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so fun to do.

I snapped a picture for Instagram and then closed it up. Later when I opened it up to show my husband the drawing my jaw dropped.

photo (7)

I was so focused on the sketch that I didn’t even notice it was next to the “Steinbeck Country” chapter! I didn’t even remember that it was even in the book at all.

I think my faith, art, family, peace came together in such a serendipitous moment that I can’t help but pause and think..

Yes, I am on the right road.

 

Liberty

liberty

 

I’m working on some ideas with my friend, Yasmine.  I’ve tried the watercolor on this 2 times now and it’s still not looking how I want it to go.  This time it does look better, though. Going to try again – 3rd time’s a charm, right?!