Encaustic Conference, June 5-7, 2009

The Third Annual International Encaustic Conference drew over 200 artists from all over the world.

"Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." (George Carlin)

The immediacy and speed of this medium takes my breath away. Instead of months - I can paint an entire painting in just one day using encaustics!

"Peter and the Pooch" by Karin Wells
8" x 10" encaustic portrait on board

Encaustics are nice mini-break (for me) from oil painting. The two paintings (above and below) in this post were completed this weekend.

The indefatigable Joanne Mattera put together a unique program of speakers and panelists along with 3 different exhibits, 3 days of encaustic demonstrations and discussions, 3 post-conference days of workshops and critiques, and 6 encaustic-related vendors.

Above is the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts where the conference was held.

Hylla Evans is the founder and paintmaker of Evans Encaustics based in Sonoma, California.

Her day-long workshop on Color is amazing - no matter what medium you work in.

Jeff Schaller's demo above is expressionistic, contemporary, and painterly, with powerful brush strokes that are set instantaneously. He will be holding a workshop in Sonoma soon.

Contact: info@evansencaustics.com for information

Encaustic paints must be fused. You can see the blowtorch Jeff used in the picture above. There are many other methods of fusing.

Encaustic paint must be kept hot in order to paint. Most artists keep the temperature at 200 degrees F but Jeff keeps his at 300 degrees F because it gives him more control.

"Cherubic Banjo Player" by Karin Wells
8" x 10" encaustic on board (another one day painting)

Distant Melodies: First Signs of Music and Art

The glories of ancient Rome and Greece were but a blip compared to the great age of music and art which began about 35,000 years ago and lasted for roughly 20,000 years.

Artists from the Stone Age reach out and touch the soul of a modern man.

When Pablo Picasso saw the Lascaux (the Sistine Chapel of cave art) he was reduced to a (rare) state of utter humility.

Its walls were festooned with striking pictures of horses and bulls that date from the Ice Age, all rendered with exquisite sophistication and symbolic force.

Upon exiting the cave, an awed Picasso declared, "We have learned nothing in twelve thousand years."

German archeologists have found what may be the world's oldest musical instrument – a flute carved from a mammoth's bone by European Ice Age dwellers more than 35,000 years ago. It is capable of playing relatively complex melodies.

Another group of 22 flutes found in the French Pyrenees have also been dated at up to 30,000 years ago.

Archeological sites that are widely separated in space and time show us the importance of music and even the systematic processing and use of pigments in art and decoration.

We aren't that unique. From the very beginning, there have always been artists among us.

Happy Father's Day

Lovingly dedicated to The Old Viking (my Dad) - Carl W. Christensen.

And all Fathers everywhere.

Julie London sings "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" (1961) - what a legendary voice.

"The Health Care Horror Show" is now playing in Congress

I have noticed that virtually all of our Republican Congresscritters are exhibiting symptoms of zombie-like behavior, with rapid deterioration of the brain functions that control honesty, empathy and common sense.

(Can you tell that I'm exasperated?)

The caption for the cartoon below is: "Sweetheart, the Republicans say it is better to be sick than to be a Socialist."

How dumb is this?

Irrational fears of the imaginary horrors of a single payer health care plan appear to be leading our Nation into intellectual paralysis.

Thanks heavens I just qualified for Medicare (a socialist plan if ever there was one).

As a self-employed artist I had to purchase health insurance for myself. The best policy I could get cost a whopping $800.00 + per month (with a $10,000.00 deductible).

That rip-off policy was an attempt to protect my family in case of a catastrophic illness.

Spreading disinformation about a single payer health appears to be a product of insufficient moral education and/or corruption and greed.

Any plan that leaves health care in the hands of the private for-profit insurance industry really frightens me.

Ever seen Michael Moore's film "Sicko?" It's a chilling account of Private Health Insurance companies run amok. I think it's nonsense that private insurance companies need to be protected...they don't do a good job.

I think that a good health reform would be "Medicare for all," a single-payer system where the government would cover everyone and pay for it by cutting out waste in the system.

I've heard that Canada provides healthcare for all of its citizens for $49 per month per person - or - $80 per month per family. That's affordable - and their healthcare is excellent!

The "Gripe Sheet"

I've been painting all day and needed a laff break....

Tough to believe, but UPS Airlines turned out to be really funny.

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft.

The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident. So despite the fact that sometimes they get silly on the job, I'd guess that they're doing something right.

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by the UPS Pilots (marked with a P).
And the solutions recorded (marked with an S in gray type) by the Maintenance Engineers:

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Sacred Ground (More of Rembrandt's House)

Here are some more pictures from Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn's House Museum. It is in Jodenbreestraat in Amsterdam.

He purchased it in 1639.

This is a detail from a painting in the entrance. It is a good example of light being in thick paint and darks being thin, translucent and luminous.

The museum resurrected the old plan to restore Rembrandt’s former home to its original condition

Detail of kitchen water pail. Evidently he had indoor plumbing.

A typical chair- obviously recreated and not original.

The objects in his house are true to this period or are authentically from Rembrandt's time.

In 1656 Rembrandt’s property was inventoried for the benefit of his creditors, and his household effects and collection of art and curiosities were sold.

The house was auctioned in 1658 and fetched something over eleven thousand guilders.

Rembrandt moved to a small rented house on Rozengracht, where he lived until his death in 1669.

In other words, the plates shown above may have been his....and maybe not. But they are all authentic antiques.

Some items were found in what I'd call the old "septic tank."

Skimmers hanging over the fireplace.

Three legged pots to set in the fireplace.

Okay, so Rembrandt didn't have an airvent (a modern invention - upper left), but the objects on the fireplace mantel are in the inventory.

Fireplace and oven.

Tongs to grab hot coals.

Candle holders.

Containers for dry foods.

Really old chair with original leather covering.

Notice the black and white floors? They appear in a lot of Dutch paintings.

After his wife died, Rembrandt began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid.

In 1654 they had a daughter and were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Henrickje.

He did not want to lose access to a trust set up for his son Titus. I gather that Saskia wanted to control her husband even after death. Ouch.

Hendrickjke's chest is shown in the front hallway. He kept it when she left him.

Detail of the chest.

The building was constructed in 1606 and 1607 for Cornelis van der Voort in what was then known as the Sint Anthonisbreestraat. The street did not come to be called Jodenbreestraat until later.

This house was built on two lots in the eastern part of the city. Many rich merchants and artists settled in this new part of town.

In 1639 Rembrandt signed a contract governing the payment for the purchase of the house in Breestraat. The purchase price was 13,000 guilders, a huge sum, which he could not come up with in its entirety.

He was, however, allowed to pay it off in installments.

A portrait of Saskia - probably painted shortly after they married in 1634.

Sadly their son Rumbartus died two months after his birth in 1635 and their daughter Cornelia died at just 3 weeks of age in 1638.

In 1640, they had a second daughter, also named Cornelia, who died after living barely over a month.

Only their fourth child, Titus, who was born in 1641, survived into adulthood.

Saskia died in 1642 soon after Titus's birth, probably from tuberculosis. Rembrandt's drawings of her on her sick and death bed are among his most moving works.

In addition to the collection of etchings, drawings and copper plates by the master himself, the Rembrandt House Museum also owns a small number of paintings by Rembrandt’s teacher, his pupils and his contemporaries.

At this time Rembrandt had already established his reputation as an artist. In the same year he bought the house, he was awarded the prestigious commission to paint the Night Watch.

This is the front door - from the inside.

Experts have undertaken lengthy and detailed studies to ensure that the restoration is historically accurate.

The Rembrandt House is constantly refurbishing the rooms in an attempt to get as close as possible to the situation in Rembrandt’s time.

Etching press.

Rembrandt's bed.

The beautiful floor of his printing room.

This time was known as the Golden Age of Painting.

Rembrandt lived beyond his means, buying art (including, it is said, bidding up his own work).

He didn't burn wood in his fireplace - he burned this. Peat?

The authorities and his creditors were generally accommodating to Rembrandt, except for the Amsterdam painters' guild.

They introduced a new rule that no one in Rembrandt's circumstances could trade as a painter. To get around this, Hendrickje and Titus set up a business as art-dealers in 1660, with Rembrandt listed as an "employee."

Rembrandt's art books were his most prized possession.

He kept some 8000 drawings and prints by famous artists in these albums.

So this isn't about Rembrandt but an observation about Amsterdam. I saw cars parked next to canals. There were no curbs or barriers of any kind as you can see here.

Are the Dutch better at parking cars than we are?

Or are there a lot of soggy cars sitting on the bottom of those canals?

Yours truly, Karin (...searching the canals for those sunken cars).