Surprised to hear from me again so soon? I was on hold with the employment office and thought, why not write a blog post? Funny what goes through your mind after listening to repeated pre-recorded messages and disturbing muzack for an hour. That’s right, an hour.

In my last post I sent links to the print-on-demand books The Theory and I created for Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly. Two of those books (One through Nine and The Observatory at Jaipur) documented exhibitions Lee had at his gallery in Portland.

The books contained:

  • Photographs of each piece in the exhibition, captioned with names and dimensions
  • Photographs of earlier pieces that are related in some way to the new work
  • Critical discussions of the new work
  • Brief introductions explaining why we thought a book was a good idea
  • Biographical information about the artist

I’m going to discuss each point in turn but right now let’s talk about why a book can be an important tool for an artist and another way to direct the messaging about your work.

Exhibition catalog
I’m not speaking for every commercial gallery, but here most galleries don’t produce exhibition catalogs for their artists. Public museums and collections often do, as a matter of course. But most of us wait years to be included in a major collection or even (gasp) get a career retrospective exhibition. So what happens while we wait? We mount important shows in commercial spaces, the work sells or it doesn’t, and a month later it’s as if the show never happened.

You probably document your new work and exhibitions on your web site. A web site is the most important tool you possess because it contains everything and is easy to update. But speaking as a user, I know how quickly most people click through web sites. And getting people to read anything longer than a caption online? Whew!

Old tech like a printed book can place images in context with writing and give depth and insight into the artistic process. Or allow a critical thinker the ability to write about your work at length. And because the book is available online (through whichever online publisher you choose) you can buy copies of the book at cost to give away or provide a link so that people can buy it themselves. It’s always there.

Preserving a body of work or important period in an artist’s life
I was talking to my father about the book we wrote called One Through Nine which discussed an exhibition of paintings he did in 2013. It was his first exhibition of paintings on canvas since sometime in the 1960’s. He said, “I didn’t realize until I saw the book that the paintings all related to one another. Without the book, the paintings and the ideas would be gone.”

All that said, this is not a get rich quick scheme unless you are a genius self-promoter.

A book is another way to take control of the messaging and presentation of your work.

Next time I’ll try to channel The Theory about why having a smart guy or gal write about your work is a good idea.

New Lee Kelly Books

Jaipur cover_bogHello, everyone, I’m not dead. I’ve been… well, that’s a long story for another post. Right now I want to tell you that The Theory and I have put together three new books about Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly. Who is, coincidentally, my father.

Observatory at Jaipur
Catalog accompanying Lee’s show in October 2015 at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Full color, 86 pages. Get it here: Observatory at Jaipur

One through Nine_cover_blogLee Kelly: One through Nine
In 2013, Lee Kelly created a significant body of new work, a series of paintings entitled “One through Nine.” These nine paintings are oil on canvas, a medium the artist had largely abandoned in 1963. However, these new paintings do not represent a return to Kelly’s Abstract Expressionist past but emerged from his sculptural work of the last ten to 15 years. Full color, 68 pages. Get it here: Lee Kelly: One through Nine

A bog cover_blogBook of Gardens
A Book of Gardens was first published by Lee Kelly and Bonnie Bronson in 1987 as a study of garden designs from India, ancient Egypt and Japan. Hand-printed and illustrated by Lee Kelly, designed and spiral bound by Bonnie Bronson, this small book had a single release of fewer than fifty copies. This 2015 edition includes a facsimile reproduction of the original book and photographs from Lee’s sculptures as installed at his home in Oregon City. Get it here: A Book of Gardens

For the next week or so, I’ll send free pdfs to anyone interested in taking a look at the books. Leave me comment below and I’ll get back to you.

What’s next?
With these books in mind, I’m considering doing some posts about the process of putting together print-on-demand books for artists. In a world where exhibition catalogs can be expensive to produce, print-on-demand might be something for artists to consider. So more on that later. And hopefully another year doesn’t pass before I do these posts!

As promised, here is The Theory’s list of archival texts about encaustic art and materials from GoogleBooks. All of these texts are free for download. I can’t promise high-quality scans, so don’t be surprised if a header turn up in the middle of a page of text. Most of these works date from the rediscovery of encaustic during the 19th century, so it is foundational information and some are surprisingly current for encaustic artists.

Go to GoogleBooks and type the author or title into the search field. Good hunting!


Frederic Crowninshield – Mural Painting (1887)

Charles Lock Eastlake – Materials for a History of Painting (1847)

TH Fielding – The Theory and Practice of Painting (1852)

Thomas John Gulick – Painting Popularly Explained (1864)

Eugenio Latilla – A Treatise on Fresco, Encaustic and Tempera Painting (1842)

JH Muntz – Encaustic, or Count Caylus’s Method of Painting In the Manner of the Ancients (1760)

John Sartain – On the Antique Painting in Encaustic of Cleopatra (1885)

WB Sarsfield Taylor – A Manual of Fresco and Encaustic Painting (1843)

W Cave Thomas – Mural or Monumental Decoration (1869)

James Ward – History and Methods of Ancient and Modern Painting (1914)

When we last spoke (regrettably, almost a year ago), my studio needed a new roof and our bee hive had died.

So let’s catch up. The roof was replaced, but not without further adventures in dry rot, wet rot, basically all sorts of rot. The Theory and I had to lie down with warm compresses on our foreheads and whiskey in our coffee cups after writing that check. The good news is that the roof doesn’t leak anymore.

On a beautiful day in early May, we welcomed a new box of bees to the hive. We learned so much after last year, such as don’t let paper wasps set up shop anywhere near your girls. Don’t let your hive get wet and moldy (see paragraph above for rot). And keep feeding those girls into the fall months. We had favorable weather through November, and even when winter set in, it hasn’t been cold or rainy for long. We have our fingers and toes crossed.

The summer months were taken up with a new project. My father built an archive building to house and preserve his and my stepmother’s artwork. When I say build, let’s keep in mind that professionals (Meng-Hannan Ltd) were involved. Check this: the archive building is the first new structure on the property since 1923 and the only one that is up to code. I just get shivers.

And no year of ups and downs would be complete without someone losing their job. And that would be me. After 19 years and 11 months, my stint as a kept woman came to an end. I know about doors closing and windows opening (people say the darnedest things…over and over again). But what I came away with, along with my wheelie chair and a box of binder clips, was admiration for the people I worked with for all those years.

What will I do next? I believe a nap is in order. But I have one interesting factoid from the land of the unemployed: there is just as little time in the day when you don’t have a job as when you do. And here I thought I would get so much done!

The Theory has some encaustic research goodies to pass on, which I will do in a couple of days. In the meantime, happy new creativity, everyone!

You may think that a broken-down studio roof in a rainy Pacific Northwest spring is about as a bad as it could get. But no! It gets worse.

Our beehive died.

Yup, that picture taken on Snow Day back in February is actually a photo of a silent tomb. Silent except for a family of well-fed mice which freaked me the heck out when I lifted the lid to look inside. I’m not mouse-phobic, but on that first sunny day when we opened the hive to find dead bees and live mice, I nearly threw up.

The Theory did the hive postmortem while I was at work and he said that when he tipped the hive over, most of the mice got away, except for those taken out by our cat Spot. I felt bad when he told me that the mom mice carried away the hairless baby mice in their mouths. Until The Theory reminded me the adults would probably eat their young, now that they’ve been evicted from the honey pot.

We think the bees have been dead since late November when we had a week or two of arctic weather. We haven’t had cold like that for years, this being the Willamette Valley and heaven on earth, except for the mud (and leaky roofs, but don’t get me started). The bees just couldn’t stay warm enough.

The inside of the hive was carpeted with dead, desiccated bees. We didn’t take any photographs of the devastation, so here is an image from someone else’s deadout. Ours looked exactly like this except for the mice.

The inside of a top bar hive. You can see a full bar of comb on the left.  Photo courtesy of Kittalog.

The inside of a top bar hive. You can see a full bar of comb on the left. Photo courtesy of Kittalog.

I borrowed this image from the April 3, 2011 blog entry from Kittalog (http://kittbo.blogspot.com/2011/04/beehive-postmortem.html) which is a beautiful site with many great photos. None of which I will ever use again.

UPDATE: Undaunted, we installed another package of bees last week!

The snow shown in my last post (February 7th)? That’s long gone! So many un-wonderful things have happened since that peaceful snowy day that I haven’t had the heart to post anything.

Where should I start? Oh, right. Let’s start with the money. My studio roof is leaking. Actually it is pouring, flowing, dumping and flooding. I have five buckets set up inside but the water is sloshing around on the floor, free-flowing and unrestrained. I had a scary moment when I realized that rain was actually coming in THROUGH the light fixtures. How did I know? Because I had just turned the lights on. Believe me, I walked carefully back to the light switch and turned them off.

We got a bid for a new roof. As you can imagine, this is the part that really hurt: a new roof is going to cost two bills. Let’s all join hands for a moment of silence.

Here are some photos:

OMG. There's a quart of water in that globe.

OMG. There’s a quart of water in that globe.


Inside the studio. My wintering geraniums are in the back, getting lots of water.

Inside the studio. That’s my work table under the tarp. Wintering geraniums are in the back, getting lots of water.

Another work area with a water-catching device on top. My heat gun, torch and many jars of dry pigment are under there. Did you catch that? DRY pigment. Ugh.

Another work area with a water-catching device on top. My heat gun, torch and many jars of dry pigment are under there. Did you catch that? DRY pigment. Ugh.

For anyone who wants to get all sentimental, here’s a photo of my studio before the blue tarps descended from heaven to ruin my life:

BEFORE: Here's what it looks like under the blue tarps. Bet you see the problem: moss.

Bet you can see the problem: moss. I thought it was picturesque!

I’m watching the snow fall, the very snow I’ve been waiting for all year. I understand, people in other parts of the U.S. scoff at Oregonians’ inability to drive in the snow, dress for snow or, let’s be honest, think in the snow. Snow starts coming down and we flee the workplace by the thousands convinced it’s the end of the world and we’re all going to freeze to death. On the other hand, what group of people knows more about seasonal affective disorder than Oregonians?

Although we’re only getting our snow now, we had a savage cold snap in early December. The lows were in the single digits. And again, I understand, this is nothing for you folks in Montana (Stacey Jean Barron of Missoula, Montana, I’m talking to you) but for us it was unexpected, especially for beekeepers. A friend lost two hives, and we have no idea whether our bees are still alive. Anyway, it’s still pretty out there:

Sculptures in the snow.

Lee Kelly sculptures in the snow. The one in the foreground is from the 1960’s. The lonely table in the background is where The Theory and I had lunch during the reno. It was sunny and warm then. Seems so long ago now.

Lavender from the garden, probably dead.

Lavender from the garden, probably dead. I don’t want to talk about it.

Our beehive huddled under straw bales.

Our beehive huddled under straw bales. That’s Akbar’s Elephant in the background, a stainless steel sculpture by my father. Sculptures always look great in the snow.

A close-up of the hive. Snow is insulating, right? I can still hope.

A close-up of the hive. Snow is insulating, right? I can still hope.

Well, I need to get the hurricane lamps set up in case we lose power. A happy snow day to all… and to my bees, good luck.


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