Posts Tagged ‘Encaustic Materials Handbook’

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!

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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!

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I’m reading a wonderful book called the Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox. It’s a detective story of sorts, about the people who deciphered the written language of ancient Crete, called Linear B. It looks like this:

Sample of deciphered Linear B, the language of Mycenaean Greece.

Sample of deciphered Linear B, the language of Mycenaean Greece.

Linear B is a very early written language, dating from 1450 BCE. Clay tablets inscribed with Linear B were discovered on Crete around 1901 but it wasn’t deciphered for another 50 years. This script was so old that it didn’t seem to come from any other known language. There wasn’t a Rosetta Stone lying around to make things easier. All I can say is that I’m glad no one was waiting on me to decipher it. That’s real work! Pretty though, isn’t it?

linear B sample2

The Minoans developed the language in order to keep track of things, goats and cows and sheep, chariot wheels and pots. They’d come to a point where they had to write down what they knew or risk forgetting it forever. And they wanted other people to share this knowledge. I love these beautiful little symbols, and I love the fact that some of them are syllables and some are pictures of what they represent.

Ideagrams representing male and female sheep, goats, cows and pigs.

Ideograms representing male and female sheep, goats, cows and pigs.

One of the reasons the language resisted translation is because some of the people working on deciphering it wanted to attach sound to the signs and make it a spoken language again. The successful code breakers were the people who didn’t let their emotions get in the way.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about language and memory, what we keep private and what we reveal. Sometimes we are driven to write in order to remember the most beautiful events, other times the most terrible.

As a human being, I value those times when emotion gets in the way and we are compelled to create things that are charged with all the beauty and horror that we’ve seen, all the questions our experiences have raised. All our secrets. As much as I want to preserve these events in my own life so they aren’t forgotten, I may not want to look them in the face every day. One of the reasons I work with wax is that the surface can be somewhat distinct from the idea, and that extra misty layer can protect the image from the world, as well as protect the world from the image.

So here’s a sketch of five events that happened to me in the last year—though not in actual Linear B. One is happy—going to the beach, another is sad—losing my cat. Another is about bees. You get the idea. Think of it has encoding rather than deciphering, of making plain language secret again. I swear I’m going to get out to the studio this weekend and slap some wax on this sucker.

My ideagram language--encoded thoughts and memories.

My ideogram language–encoded thoughts and memories.

Encaustic Materials Handbook update.
Amazon tells me that almost 250 copies were downloaded during the promo period last week! I myself only downloaded it once, so the other copies had to be you guys. That a couple hundred more than I thought possible! Now if only some absolute strangers would buy a copy….

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I don’t know how to reblog a Facebook page, but I wanted to share images of new work by Oregon artist Laura Ross Paul. Here’s what she says on her FB page: “The technique is oil and wax over watercolors, all done on the new Arches Hulle paper, which has sizing embedded.”

New work by Laura Ross Paul

New work by Laura Ross Paul

New work by Laura Ross Paul

New work by Laura Ross Paul

Laura’s work demonstrates a balance between beauty, wonder and technical genius. When I see her paintings in person, I almost never notice the material at all–just the work. In fact, I just learned recently that she uses wax. That’s how bowled over I get about her paintings!

Check out Laura Ross Paul‘s work on her web site, or go find her on Facebook.

MinicoverEncaustic Materials Handbook update
The free promo week is over, guys. Now the price rockets to $7.99. I surely don’t want to stop folks from paying real money for my book–the royalty is equivalent to a mocha latte, which is heaven in this lovely summer weather. But there may be other promo weeks coming up. Amazon lets me do that occasionally. Sign up for email updates on the right and I’ll let you know.

But if you want me to have a mocha latte, go ahead and buy my book! Oh, almost forgot, anyone who hasn’t reviewed the book but still intends to (except for John who threatened to leave only two stars because his ancient, prehistoric Kindle doesn’t have color, and that’s somehow my fault) can still score a free review copy. Just let me know.

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I spent most of Sunday trolling Google and asking “how to make art ebook.” I got 50 billion answers like this “Learn to make art with this ebook.” Clearly I haven’t discovered the right terminology yet.

I then went to the online publisher Blurb, where The Theory has created some nice p.o.d. (“print on demand”) books about my father Lee Kelly and my stepmother Bonnie Bronson. Here’s a link to one he did for Lee Kelly’s 80th birthday.

Lee Kelly and Kaji Shakya in Patan, Nepal in 2009. Kaji is a bronze caster who cast a number of small sculptures for Lee. That's Lee on the right. Photo by John Failor.

Lee Kelly and Kaji Shakya in Patan, Nepal in 2009. Kaji is a bronze caster who cast a number of small sculptures for Lee. That’s Lee on the right. Photo by John Failor.

Blurb also does ebooks. This link takes you to their $9.99 ebook production feature. Be sure and watch their twee video—like I will EVER have audio and video embeds in an ebook.

The Theory took a number of photos for the The Encaustic Materials Handbook to illustrate wax medium and various paint types and tool. I want to use them in the book at a reasonably large scale, say 600 pixels wide. And Blurb would do a great job—a lot of artists, especially photographers, use this service.But I’m not sure I need everything that Blurb does, since I’m not doing a p.o.d. book.

Stumped for an answer, I went back to The Great Google and asked “how to make an ebook.” Clearly I’d given up hope since I dropped the word “art.” All I wanted was a clue. And that’s when I found a link to a free program called PressBooks.

PressBooks uses the WordPress engine. (For those of you who can’t tell by looking, The Hive Encaustic is a WordPress blog.) I was immediately intrigued. Here are a couple of advantages to using PressBooks:

  • It’s free;
  • Uses familiar WordPress format;
  • Outputs your book in pdf, mobi, EPUB formats, as well as a bunch of others I don’t care about (yet);
  • Creates a great clickable Table of Contents;
  • Handles footnotes and endnotes perfectly;
  • Accepts your Word text and preserves most styles;
  • Did I mention it’s free?

Unlike Blurb, it does not support a p.o.d. (print on demand) format although the developers are thinking about adding that to later versions.

Read more about PressBooks. And here are some review links I grabbed from a PressBooks newsletter:

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Well, folks, I decided to write a book about encaustic materials. An ebook for Kindle or iPad or… well, I’m really not sure yet. Something electronic and self-published.

I’m calling it “The Encaustic Materials Handbook.” Although there are a lot of books by wonderful artists who are experts on technique, mine will look at DIY materials and offer cheap alternatives to expensive encaustic supplies. (Hello, encaustic industrial complex!) Also it’s going to be cheap in so many other ways too. For instance, I haven’t ruled out including nude photos of my cats.

The photo The Theory doesn't want you to see! Our cat Eva showing us her best side.

The photo The Theory doesn’t want you to see! Our cat Eva degrading herself for the camera.

Creating a book for Kindle or iPad is really confusing. For instance, I want to include a lot of images but how do you format ebook pages so the images don’t get split between page breaks? Or what’s the difference between Amazon CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, anyway? Do I use their ISBN and their marketing machine or do I strike out on my own and market it myself?

What is an ISBN anyway?

And the other thing, it’s easy for me to rattle on about cold wax and gesso, tell stories about The Theory, or call our friend John a clown (which he is), but it’s much more difficult to promote my work or myself. I simply hate self-promotion. Maybe there are other recluses out there who can share my pain. Think of all the great art that could be exhibited if Damien Hirst and Jeff Koontz hadn’t sucked all the air out of the room!

But I digress.

So my plan is to blog about producing the ebook, since this is all I will be doing for a while, no studio time or anything (playing sad music, boo-hoo). And, I admit, putting it out there is scary. I’ll track my resources as usual and maybe we’ll all learn something. Or it will be me next time degrading herself for the camera.

Eva in repose. You can see her lovely odd eyes--one blue and one yellow.

Eva in repose. You can see her lovely odd eyes–one blue and one yellow.

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