Monday, April 30, 2012

A Lovely New Medium for New Directions in My Painting

Last weekend, I attended a 2 day workshop on Beginning Encaustic Painting taught by Sherry Ikeda at the Encaustic Art Institute just north of the Village of Cerrillos, NM, on the Turquoise Highway (NM North 14).  Here is the workshop description:
Encaustic is a Greek word meaning "to heat or burn in" (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented. Pigments may be added to the medium, or purchased colored with traditional artist pigments. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer.

This two-day workshop is open to those who are brand new to the medium, as well as to artists who already have some familiarity and experience working in wax but are looking to refine their technique. Topics covered during this workshop will include: safety, grounds, priming the board, transfers, creating texture and collage and much more.
Sherry taught 6 students over two days and we all had a great experience.  Doug Mehrens, who founded the EAI, provided our class with first class support and facilities.

I learned the basic techniques and produced a number of encaustic paintings, some incorporating collage elements.

I applied wax and heat to some of my pastel paintings applied to wood backings


Linda and Erle came from Phoenix, AZ and already had experience with encaustic

Lynne and Paula are artists in Santa Fe and were new to encaustic art

Applying and heating the hot beeswax and resin mixture on the second day

Glenn (an Albuquerque architect) and I working on our encaustic paintings on the first day

This medium has allowed me to approach my painting in a more liberated way. I don't do abstract painting generally, but this medium has allowed me to expand my painting into the world of fantasy and design. Check out the Encaustic Art Institute's Blog for more paintings and events by encaustic artists.

The Encaustic Art Institute will have an Opening for Member Artists Show May 5th from 1PM - 6PM at the EAI in Cerrillos.  The EAI permanent collection is in the gallery, open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 1-6 PM until September.  

Now you know what that pyramid is to the east of the Turquoise Hwy between Madrid and Santa Fe.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Wildflowers in the Monte Largo Mountains

Dakota Vervain Verbena bipinnatifida

Wednesday afternoon, before all the fierce wind hit Thursday, I took a hike to check on what's blooming in the Monte Largo mountains. I took the trail off Gaddis Rd. in Sandia Knolls. It was about 78 degrees F, partly cloudy, a nice day to walk in the juniper-pinon forest about 6700-7000 ft. elevation.

The trail off Gaddis Road is not marked except by some large boulders on the north side of the road.  It starts across the street and NE from 12 Gaddis Rd.  This trail follows an arroyo through forest and meadowlands up to a saddle in the Monte Largo Mountains where trails go off into different directions. 

Bernalillo County has established a small area north of Sandia Knolls neighborhood as Open Space. In addition, land owners in adjoining areas NE of the Open Space have allowed access and trails to this natural area for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists.  No motor-driven traffic is allowed.

This trail features rocky outcroppings with
Hedgehog Cacti and Banana Yucca

Red-stemmed Filaree or Heronbill Erodium circutarium, is a member of the Geranium family and is always one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom

The spring weather has been delightfully warm.  Our last freeze was about 2 weeks ago.  I saw a lot of wildflowers that were blooming, some are  3-4 weeks earlier than normal.

 Wafer Parsnip Cymopterius constancei
(see page 11 of Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos)

This early spring flower of the Parsley family had already bloomed and gone to seed. 
I returned May 1st and found Chimajá  Cymopterus acaulis var. fendleri
(see page 10 of Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos)

Chimajá has a long taproot with petiole leaves borne on a false stem.  The flowers are yellow umbrells,

I think this is Wafer Parsnip Cymopterius constancei about to bloom

A Milkvetch Astragalus var., not sure of the species

Perky Sue  Tetraneuris argentea

This cut in the arroyo shows the thick root system of Blue Grama grass, the extremely xeric native grass that survives on as little as 6 inches of rain a year.  Blue Grama is New Mexico's State Grass. I use Blue Grama grass and Buffalo Grass for my yard.  It goes brown when dormant in winter, but it is now nice and green.

Baby Asters

Scarlet Globemallow Sphaeralcea coccinea

Northern Rock Jasmine  Androsace septentrionalis

 Pale Wolfberry Lycium pallidum

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus Echincereus coccineus, one of many along this trail, are found profusely growing on the east-facing slopes

Datil or Banana Yucca  Yucca baccata is New Mexico's State Flower

Foothills Paintbrush Castilleja integra


  Slim Vetch Vicia ludoviciana Nutt.

New Mexico Locust Robinia neomexicana - not blooming yet

Gambel Oak  Quercus gambelii is a common tree in these hills.
This scrub oak  is just beginning to green up.
Wax Current Ribes cereum

Santa Fe Phlox Phlox Nana

Cutflower Puccoon or Fringed Gromwell
Lithospermum incisum

Dwarf Lousewort Pedicularis centranthera

Golden Smoke Corydalis aurea

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus Echincereus coccineus


Perky Sue is one of the earliest Asters in the spring

Stickseed Lappula redowskii with tiny white flowers is blooming everywhere

Landowners have done a lot of clearing of dead trees that were killed off during the last Bark Beetle infestation in 2002-2004.  Today, there are nice meadows with grasses and wildflowers returning.

Looking southwest toward the Sandia Mountains

Small-flowered Milk Vetch or Nuttall Loco Astragalus nuttallianus

Hedgehog cactus and Santa Fe Phlox

Fendler's Penstemon or Purple Foxglove Penstemon fendleri

Spreading Fleabane Erigeron divergens

Horned Lizard or Horny Toad

My home is at 6900 ft. elevation. Here are some pictures of the Monte Largo mountains looking northeast from my home.

Monte Largo in summer

Monte Largo in winter