Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Arts- Encaustic Accordian Fold

Book arts is my passion. Encaustics in my newest fascination.
Put the two together and you have an encaustic accordian book.

The board panels are joined with piano hinges.
Cords with buttons and loops provide a fastener on both
sides to keep the book from fanning out when not in use.

Side one opened out.

Side two.

Vellom pages were attached to the backs of the encaustic paintings for the narritive of the book.

Handmade paper with flower petals embedded is mounted to the back of the panel is behind each page.

The encaustic collage-paintings have moth wings and flowers embedded into the wax.
No moths were harmed for this artwork.

Detail of the button enclosure, flower, and wing with word etched into the wax.

Another detail.

Final detail.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recycled Shopping Bags

Inspired by an article by Alisa Burke in one of my favorite magazines- Cloth Paper Scissors, I spent two days making little clutches or wallets from plastic shopping bags saved for this purpose. It is a project I had wanted to do with the after school Art Club, but never got around to. Since I wanted to make a gift for the mural painters, what better way than to try out the how-to article, learn a new recycled art process, and give personalized art!

If you want to look up the article, it is in Issue 22, Jan/Feb of 2009. It is all about making plastic “fabric” by ironing/melting plastic shopping bags together, then turning them into artful handbags. Please look it up and buy the magazine if you love doing art while recycling. My process was altered by several factors. I wanted to use some special bags I had been saving (either because of the places they came from or the designs and colors). I had particular people in mind for the outcome of the creation, so my layers of plastic ironed between two sheets of paper were designed with their particular interests or styles in mind. I only had a couple of days to make eight gifts, so I had to leave off some steps I would have loved to do.

I did not get as elaborate as the photos in the article but I did learn a few things not mentioned in it. I found that parchment paper works best unless you want your plastic to melt to the paper (leaving a layer of paper embedded into your plastic fabric). The first two layered batches taught me that lesson. However, it is a nice way to allow for watercolor painting the finished plastic as the paint sticks nicely to the texture of paper left in the top layer. I also learned that other things like pressed flowers can be laminated between the upper layers to give added interest, but if you go too deep into the layers the objects lose visual impact.

I loved cutting out words and remaking messages; cutting shapes out of brightly colored plastic bags; making designs while playing with different melting temperatures to get nice effects. I would have loved to add more paper items and embellishments as the article showed, but time was a constraint as I wanted to mail these little gifts off this first week off from school.

It was a simple project full of fun and experimenting. I hope the kids get a little summer inspiration from it and try it out at home. One word of caution: 1) always have good ventilation when melting wax or plastic (NEVER let it get to the smoking stage and NEVER EVER inhale the steam from it); 2) always protect your iron and ironing surface from the melting plastic with a good oversized layer of paper under the stack and over the stack (parchment paper is best); and 3) be careful not to burn yourself with the iron or by touching the plastic too soon after ironing.

I will definitely make more and explore the other possibilities in the article. If you would like to see the original plastic fabric sheet for each of these wallets and the back and inside photos, go to my facebook page at this link!/photo.php?pid=407659&id=1800011058

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Catch-up Time

     When an artist works outside the studio it is hard to keep a rhythm in studio creations. As a teaching artist, I am also all over the place with my creative style, medium of choice, and art forms. If I still have any followers, you deserve to know what I have been up to and why it has been so long since I posted here on my nearly-forgotten blog.
     This year (June of 2009 to June of 2010) I have taken a series of course weeks and weekends at John Campbell Folk School and one Saturday workshop at Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association- all accumulating to a total of 256 hours training in enameling, calligraphy, watercolors, metal works, machine quilting/embroidery, polymer clay, encaustic painting/collage, book arts, and the art of puppetry. From the variety of class choices it is no wonder that I am not nailed down to a particular interest. This is partially because I teach. My job requires that I have a broad understanding of the creative avenues that could: 1) be used in the classroom to help promote hands-on learning opportunities; and 2) be used in after school clubs to give middle and high school students creative outlets to explore and adapt as hobbies or career choices.
     An example of how this training is utilized can be best noted in the weekend course in Coptic Binding (book arts) at JCFS taught by Annie Fain. Approximately 20 of the after school art club members each made a Coptic bound book using old book covers and folded art paper, which they used as a sketchbook and a place to insert artworks throughout the year. Next the art history class made a smaller version to use for recording a master artist research project. Several other classes used my help to make Coptic bound books to use in other lessons. Then near Christmas, several students came to me to show them how to make these special books for gifts for family members. All total, over 100 Coptic bound books were made by students as a result of that one weekend course! Not to mention that my own family received some of my own as art gifts also.
     In addition to learning and teaching I have coordinated, managed and attended many art-related fieldtrips and events this year with students and teachers. Some of these include studying architecture and design while touring the Biltmore Estate in NC; learning about Leonardo Da Vinci at the High Museum of Art; seeing the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe put into puppetry arts at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta; presenting (with three students and another teacher) our programs at the annual Appalachian Studies Association conference in Dahlonega, GA; attending (with five students and another teacher) the national annual Arts Advocacy Day presented by Americans for the Arts in Washington, DC; producing (with the help of our Learning Center TEACH Team) a multi-arts experience ART ROCKS event at school for the community featuring: a literary arts showcase, visual arts exhibit and contest, drama and multimedia arts presentation, and a jazz and rock music concert; then led/mentored a group of seven advanced art students in painting a public mural for the community; and finally with a partner arts teacher taught a three week summer arts camp (including a three day visiting artist residency) to finish the school year off.
     So now, I look at my long deserted studio and wonder- what do I do now?

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Pins and Needles (encaustic collage) made it into the Atlanta Mixed Media/Collage Exhibit at The Gallery at Paper Mill Village.

Show dates are March 5 – March 26, 2010 255 Village Parkway, Suite 320, Marietta, GA. 30067.
A reception will be held on Friday, March 5th from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.

I am honored for my work to be selected for this show. This exhibition was open to all mixed media and collage artists in the southeast. This is an upscale gallery in a great location. I am hoping this will be the beginning of a new phase of my work and artistic career.
Kenson Thompson is a well recognized southeastern mixed media artist whose works are represented in Atlanta at the Bennett Street Gallery. She studied art and art history at the University of Innsbrook in Austria, architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and attended the New York Academy of Art. She also studied with New York artist Daniel Green in France. Kenson has held solo exhibits in Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, Asheville and St. Simon’s Island, Ga. She hails a number of publications including “Outside the Lines” (AJC), “Hollyhock and Flowers” (Veranda Magazine), Southern Living Homes (Southern Living), and “Entering a Garden of Insights” (AJC). She is widely collected by corporations and clients including Derek and Caroline Holmes (Atlanta Braves), the Arthur Blank Foundation, Northside Hospital Women’s Center (Atlanta), Crown Plaza Hotels in New York and Philadelphia, and Mindspring, Charles and Ginny Brewer, to name a few.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Little Treasures- Art Boxes

A new collection is in the making with mini-art in the form of re-purposed wooden boxes.
The tops are miniature wax collage works.
The bottom and inside are fitted out with decorative papers.

The sides are colorful paintings in wonderful polished casein paints.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Woodland Mirage

I’ve been working on an acrylic painting. The idea came to me upon waking one morning. The image was clear… that I don’t want to be clear in the final outcome. In other words, I want to steer away from realism on this one and paint what I saw in my imagination. I am having a hard time doing that, actually.

Another choice was to not turn this painting into mixed media. I want to be able to paint without always sticking stuff into the wet paint. I know- there is nothing wrong with mixed media. It is my medium of choice (said with giggly humor). In other words, I have trouble finding my medium of choice, since I like so many of them. This is the delicious dilemma of the multimedia artist. I’m not sure if the goal was reached as I did use an acrylic gel with fibers included.

On this painting, I wanted to have the discipline to rely solely on my painting techniques to achieve the result I want. For an artist that moves from medium to medium- mostly mixing them up, it becomes hard to let the paint do all the work. I began to long for my oils which have been stored forever. My “studio” is actually the dining room converted to hold all my art adventures. This room is part of an open living space, sectioned off with room dividers. The fumes from oil paint would invade our living room and kitchen areas. Therefore, oil paint becomes a summer medium, when I can open the windows and turn on the window fan.

I am glad to have options. I only have to finish off the edges of the canvas and I will be posting a picture of the finished work.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A “Visit” with One of My Favorite Artists

Yesterday was a special day. I was part of a group of five adults and 28 students who went to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to view the Leonardo da Vinci- Hand of the Genius exhibit. It was an extraordinary window into the genius of one of my all-time favorite artists. The best of this story is that you can go to the High Museum website and enjoy much of what we enjoyed (link below). From the main site, click on the Hand of the Genius tab and you will have options to hear the curator tell why and how the exhibit came to be; enjoy an interactive video of the exhibit offerings; and see a video of the installation of the 26 foot high modern-day re-creation of the Leonardo’s Sforza Horse!

I am still learning about blogs and am not sure how to begin a conversation, but I would love to begin one on Leonardo. Please join in by sharing your thoughts on this artist and his works. You can learn a lot from the link above and the internet has many other sites with information about this great artist.

I will begin what I hope will become an ongoing conversation with….

What I like about Leonardo Da Vinci and why you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate his work:

• His ability to not lose sight of the “whole” while dissecting or creating the parts;

• The fact that although he was fully aware of passing time, he assumed he could fully engage in all his pursuits… and thus put himself to the tasks at hand with no regard to ridicule;

• And his attitude that it is good to go through life as the student and the teacher, both at once.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Exploring the Possibilities

Mixed media is an obsession of mine. It is hard to do a work of art in one medium only. Once I get started, all sorts of possibilities intrigue me into explorations. Here are two of my latest discoveries.
The first is a leaf “transfer”. The leaf in this wax collage is created by dripping the encaustic paint onto the actual leaf, then chilling it awhile in the refrigerator, and finally carefully peeling the leaf away. This leaves a wax replica of the real thing- made from a “mold” of the real thing. Lastly, I mounted it to the wax collage background by warming the under-layer and the gently bonding the wax leaf with a heat gun, being very careful to not heat one area too long.

The next collage was an experiment that went through several metamorphoses. As I worked, the art began to shape its own destiny and I just followed. When this happens, I become the audience.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Nature of Wax Collage

I had prepared an animated series of images to show the process of transitions involved in making a wax collage, however I cannot get it to show the animation in the blog. I will keep working on that, but in the meantime here are a few of the images to get the idea across.

Collage is an art form consisting of attaching layers of material to a surface until the desired result is achieved. The process of layering is much like LIFE- with each new thing changing the face of the present moment. The word “transition” most describes what the process is like… always changing.

A link to a poem I wrote (years ago) on the subject:

Wax collage is different from working in acrylic, which I am more accustomed to. With acrylics, once the layer is dry, you can do all manner of things to it without disrupting the layers below (other than covering them). With wax, every time you add heat to bond the layers, it disturbs the formerly “finished” layers. This can be exciting, fun, mesmerizing, and miserable all at the same time. The one constant is there is NO constant. It is always changing.

Just for fun, I have created an animation of the changes made in the making of a wax collage. Some layers were planned carefully and those worked out well. Others were unexpected “happenings”. Some layers were useless steps I could have skipped. However, the important thing is that I was pleased with the finished work. Knowing when you are finished (in any art form) is the hard part. In this case, I just stopped at the point I was most pleased… while knowing I could go on forever.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Christmas Gift Commission

This is a job I finished just in time for Christmas (having only allowed myself little over a week to work on it). My photo of the drawing isn’t a good one, but I hope it relates the scope of the work. The door is a magnificent entry into the Coldwell Banker- High Country Realty building, in Blue Ridge, GA. The gift was from the real estate agents to the brokers- thus the signatures- which I painstakingly transferred to the finished drawing. I love the beautiful restoration job done on this historic building (photo below), and LOVE the door- making this job an enjoyable experience regardless of my crazy time-juggling at this time of year. It was also a joy to make a repeat client happy!

The beautiful photo below was taken by Takeshia Arp
(one of my talented granddaughters)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Shared Passion- A Book Arts Project

(made by husband and wife)

This project name has a two-fold meaning. The book series (of eight) made as Christmas gifts for each household in our family (a total of seven with an extra to keep for exhibiting) was a “work of passion” for myself and husband Johnny. We wanted to share our stories with our children and grandchildren, including how we came to grow up in the same community yet didn’t meet until high school. The writings recording our childhoods include each of our perspectives of meeting, falling in love, and marrying; therefore, the second “passion” (in the title above) without any details of course.

This was the first series I have ever created in my experience in book-artistry. It was CRAZY challenging! First, we didn’t decide to do this until the Thanksgiving holiday. Johnny already had some of his stories written but not typed. He also had some drawings (from memory) of childhood places and events.

I had some clear concepts for the project for some time, but these were nothing but thoughts. We spent all our evenings and weekends on this project from Thanksgiving through Christmas! We held our gathering the day after. I had previously gathered some photographs from our childhoods, but only a few were scanned.

This includes a copy of the hospital bill for my birth-$92.16!

This meant we each had to write stories, collaborate, choose photos, and compose the general format. Then I had to scan photos and make a couple of drawings, format our text to print out in booklet format, plus make that translate from my computer to the copier which would print to booklet signatures, then assemble it all into book form. The formatting/printing process was a nightmare until a friend co-worker tech-guru, Steve Tompkins got my printer set up to go straight to the copier at work. Note: I paid for the ink and brought my own paper.

I wanted to decorate the covers but there was not enough time.

The assembly of all the previous work into a book-art includes the processes of cutting 16 covers from thick Davy board (which Johnny did); covering them with (purchased) handmade art paper (which I did);

making a pocket for the front and back inside covers (which I sewed into the inside facing cover before gluing onto the Davy board); making a two sided map of our old stomping grounds (which I drew with collaborations from Johnny); making and copying 8 sets of DVDs of Johnny’s band (which Johnny had previously make but had to copy enough for each book to have one);

then finally assembling the parts and binding the book (my most favorite part) with Coptic stitching. I learned this method from a class at John Campbell Folk School instructed by Anne Fain of A. Fain’s Books Since learning this method, I have made several books including two for granddaughters (also for Christmas), and have taught it at school with several of my students also using it to make Christmas presents! I added the little heart on each spine to represent the love that went into making the books and the love in our lives as we have shared these forty one years of marriage. I stitched each of these books up while preparing for our Christmas dinner, finishing only the day before our event!!! This is why we did not have time to put up a real tree.

Johnny included a page of current events for the year of his birth.

I didn’t get a photo of all of the books set up together, but the photo at the top is what they would look like (created from one photo repeated in PhotoShop). The book has two fronts- Johnny’s side and then it over flip to begin reading my side. We meet in the middle. This was Johnny’s idea… a good one. They bulge slightly in the center due to the DVD in the pocket on Johnny’s side and the map in the pocket on my side.

Each signature is made up of five sheets of paper, which when folded in the middle breaks down to twenty 5 ½” by 8 ½” pages. There are seven signatures total, Johnny’s side having three (15,421 words), and my side having three plus one as a memorial section about my daddy 19,544 words). There are a total of 34,965 words written for our children and grandchildren to get a sense of place of where we came from and how our lives merged together as one. The stories come to a close just as we learned we were to have a baby and the full thrust of adulthood was about to begin showing us a whole new life together, as parents.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Artistic Journey Begins

Misty Morn by Angie Cook
Yum, the sweet smell of melted beeswax fills the air as I follow my bliss discovering how many of my favorite art forms can be applied in this medium. I can DRAW or PRINT into the warm wax; PAINT by blending colors on the hot plate or with oil sticks or oil pastels over the top of hardened wax (then heat to adhere to layers below); SCULPT by building up thick layers and modeling/carving into them; and best of all: COLLAGE all my favorite "finds" into the composition by embedding under sweet little blankets of wax.

I'm hooked! Now my studio looks like an extension of my kitchen with the hot plate, muffin tin, and crockpot. I don't know where this journey will lead, but the experience thus far is very worthy of continuing the experiment.

Pins and Needles by Angie Cook

Blue Trees by Angie Cook