Summer Solstice


The June solstice has been associated with many ancient summer traditions and continues to be celebrated in modern society. It is also known as the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The June solstice occurs on June 20, 21 or 22 in the Gregorian calendar, which is currently used in many western countries.

The June Solstice and Ancient Traditions

In ancient times, the date of the June solstice was an important source to help people manage their calendars and organize when to plant and harvest crops. This time of year was also a traditional month for weddings. Some societies invested much effort to establish the length of the year.

Stonehenge was built around 3100 BCE. Some people believe that it was built to help establish when the summer solstice occurred. Interestingly, the sun rises at a particular point on the horizon as viewed from the centre of the stone circle on day of the June solstice. At that point the builders may have started counting the days of the year. Many other megalith structures in Europe may have been built for similar purposes, although reasons are still uncertain.

In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of summer solstice.

In many countries in Europe, Midsummer festivals or celebrations were held around the time of the June solstice. In ancient Gaul, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, many pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In many parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

In North America, many Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Usually performed during the June solstice, preparations for the dance included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).

The June Solstice’s Influence in Modern Times
There are many solstice observances held by New Age and Neopagan groups throughout the world. Thousands of people, including modern-day druids and pagans, usually gather at Stonehenge for this occasion.

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the summer solstice are held. These events include: local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings.

In northern European countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the Midsummer Festival is one of the most festive summer celebrations. Celebrations occur when the summer days are at their longest – and in the north it is the time of the midnight sun. Midsummer festivals generally celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth. In Sweden and many parts of Finland people dance around maypoles. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches.

I found this on Wikipedia- I have a fascination with all things Midsummer. Just now while I was walking through my studio, I came across this small encaustic I’d created and immediately named it Summer Solstice.

And, poof!…blog post!


Sunday Blues

imageJust the right shade of blue for a Sunday afternoon…another no-rules encaustic on 12×12 cradled panel.

No Rules, Just Art

20140607-220557-79557228.jpgI went into the studio and made this. I didn’t plan anything. I used the colors already on the palette; the choices based on which ones became liquid first. And I just kept at it until it was done. I like that plan.
“Faded Flowers” 12×12 encaustic on cradled panel

Just wanted to add a little color to your day.

Another image from my encaustic palette – with the addition of a couple of birds from ‘distressed fx’ app.


On Monet’s Pond

monets pond

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them –

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided –
and that one wears an orange blight –
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away –
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled –
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing –
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

Another wonderful poem by Mary Oliver.

Another encaustic by me (on 5×5 cradled panel).

Life in the Balance


Hi there!  It’s been awhile. 

My computer was under the weather for a bit (a virus) but seems to be doing better now.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was for it to serve as a way to a) hold myself accountable in creating art every day, and  b) to share those creations with you along with any information about the subject in the hopes that, in some small way, it encourages you to do the same.  That doesn’t mean that your art has to be the same as mine – your art may be completely different – it may not even be art at all…but the point is to “inspire” you to do whatever it is you find inspiring.  And to make time for it because it is important.

Sometimes we hear about what another person is doing and, even though we never plan to actually do what that person does, it does broaden our horizons just a tad…kind of like living vicariously through someone else or it simply offers a different perspective.  Either way…its a good thing, I think.  Keeping our minds open to possibilities keeps our minds flexible and open.  No one wants a stiff, closed mind.

I created this piece this weekend – its an encaustic.  I was trying some new techniques and I like how it turned out.  I titled it ‘Life, hanging in the balance’ which reminds me of a topic that seems to be on everybody’s mind’s these days: work/life balance. Also referred to as “WLB”.  Apparently its a hot topic and for good reason.  It seems there is a shortage of it.

How do we get back that work-life-balance?

I think the reason we feel so compromised these days, is because there is no longer a ‘start’ and ‘stop’ time to our work days.

The work day now begins BEFORE we get to work, it continues through lunch (if we even get a lunch break) and follows us home, to the grocery store, to dinner, to parties, to ballgames, to social gatherings, to exercise class…each and every day of the week.  Vacations are no longer off limits.

And when work isn’t following us; we’re following it.  We check for emails and messages each time we pick up our phones to make sure nothing has slipped past us.

It never stops.

24/7 is the new work week.

And until that schedule changes….and I don’t see that happening anytime soon – we’re going to have to figure out how to make it work for us.

About the only way I know how to do that is to ‘work in’ (no pun intended) little ‘vacations’ during the 24/7 time frame; mental vacations that open up those clogged neural pathways – to let some fresh air in.

And my way of doing that is making sure I get creative in some way each and every day – and then, telling you about it.

I’m back on duty!

Lost…and Found


As I’m sitting here typing this post I can smell these panels.

Encaustic is such an organic art form – in more ways than one.

First, there’s the beeswax – the very heart and soul of the process.  Wax in its solid form has a really nice fragrance, but you cannot imagine how wonderfully pleasing it smells in its liquid form.  And since the wax must remain liquid (and warm) in order to paint with it – you’re enveloped in this heady aroma during the entire painting process.

And it lingers even after that!

Not only is the medium itself organic but this weekend I took a class taught by Elizabeth Schowachert on a process she calls Organic Fusion.

And how appropriate …because it felt as though it was the culmination of several  recent artistic explorations fused together on to my panels.  It wasn’t just THIS newly learned technique but also bits and pieces of techniques and processes I’d been exploring for the last few months.  And not just with encaustics but with acrylics and with my digital composits as well.

And even though the class wasn’t as long as I would have liked, the new technique allowed me the freedom to lose myself in it and not focus so much on the process itself.

And I think that was the best part of all.

Big Blue Ball


I grabbed a 16×20 panel today that I’d already painted (but didn’t really care for) and started playing around.  I find painting over an existing painting (especially one you’re not thrilled with) very liberating.  You can jump right in without worries – and since there’s already a base you can build on – there’s a good chance you’ll start to see some results fairly quickly – which is helpful when you’re not feeling especially motivated.

I tend to not take things as seriously when I do this – and that helps to take the pressure off to create something ‘wonderful’.  Instead, you can just play around and see what happens.

That was the case today…nothing serious…just playing around.

This is Big Blue Ball; beeswax, resin, pigment, oil sticks and collage. The American Graffiti theme (from yesterday) was still on my mind – just used a different medium and went in a different direction with it.

Speaking of direction…thought I’d take some ‘flyovers’ to show the topography since its rather 3 dimensional in places.


Hot off the Press

betsy eby book encaustic art r

Encaustic art is one of the oldest forms of painting.  It originated in ancient Greece over three thousand years ago but has only recently begun to receive the acknowledgement it deserves.  But thankfully, due to the dedication of a handful of individuals, the word is slowly, but surely (finally) getting out.

And I received two new encaustic books just today!

Encaustic Art by Jennifer Margell and a book of Betsy Eby’s encaustic works entitled, Betsy Eby.

Both are beautiful, hardback books that you will enjoy having in your studio or library.

The cover art on Jennifer Margell’s book is by Lorraine Glessner, who I was fortunate enough to spend 3 days with in a workshop she taught (just this past weekend at the Encaustic Center in Richardson, Texas).  The book is filled with the beautiful art of many artists while covering lessons on technique, interviews discussing ambitions, inspirations and painting techniques and also featuring a gallery collection of other contemporary encaustic artists working today.  It is beautifully done and a must-have for your collection.

Betsy Eby’s over-sized book is 150 pages long.  Open to any page and you will be rewarded.  But this should come as no surprise if you are at all familiar with her work.  The book includes more than seventy-five full-color plates of Eby’s evocative paintings; the book is a significant survey of major work from the past decade.

Viewing all of this beautiful work is inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

But I like what Jennifer Margell says in the introduction to her book when she talks about encaustics being like no other form of painting, in that there are endless techniques and fleeting seconds before your medium solidifies.  It is a medium where you have to trust your instincts and paint in the moment.  You have to take leaps of faith.  In the beginning there are many frustrations, but over time you learn how to work with the beautiful accidents which incur.

“The best way to learn the art of painting encaustics, she says, is not to create beautiful paintings.  The best way to work with the medium is to create painting after painting, focusing on a different technique each time.  Even a technique you do not plan to use will later be another option added to your repertoire.”

This is so true and I came to that very conclusion myself this past weekend while learning even more encaustic techniques.

Encaustic art truly is a melting pot of possibilities!