Archives for the month of: December, 2010

When I first moved into the house I’m living in now, I took a walk out back in the woods and came across the this large mass of wax under a tree. It smelled pungent with gasoline, reminding me of a dank, earthy room. Three years later, still being curious about the wax, I took a chunk of it off and melted it for the painting I was working on, which was a room or attic filled with fabric, strange looms and hanging oil lamps. The smell of of the wax was peculiar, it took me to another world, sparking new creative thought. Because smell is used by our most ancient part of the brain, I’m sure the unconscious part of myself was sensing all kinds of information from this potent wax. The smell report.

star drapes 38" x 48" oil, wax and thread

It seems I can say more with an image than with words. When I started painting, the theme of connection and freedom were on my mind the most. I wanted to convey an emotion to show what this “connection” was about and the following images were sketched out. I wanted to show simple illustrations that packed a punch with just form and color.

I think the artist does not need to say anything really, except maybe titling the piece, to guide the viewer in a certain direction. Everyone has their own opinion about everything anyways. I was never a big fan of long, drawn out artist statements. I’d much rather eat up the image with my eyes and come to my own conclusions.

oil pastels









What came from these sketches were bold and kind of primitive paintings now in the attachment series.

I hope it’s finally finished. This is part three in development. Walking I added darkness to the side walls which seemed to lift the room up and scraped off some wax on the floor’s shadows to resemble the rest of the piece.

before version

Before, the shadows are too blunt and do not appear as the rest of the painting, where bits of the canvas show through most of the image.

I once lived in Western Massachusetts and was always amazed of its natural beauty. It is a place where beaver ponds, stones walls and lush woodlands are the common scenery.

After taking a picture of this magical little place that sat at the bottom of a field behind our house, I sketched it out, getting all stones and trees in place, knowing where the light would come in. Then, started the never ending fun challenge of batik, a true labor of love. Starting the ritual of batik

Now a wall hanging, Ode to Haydenville, is a reminder of things past. The black dye I intended didn’t come through as planned, as with the uncertainty of batik, you never know quite how it will develop. Here,  burgundy was the last dye and the material could not get any darker. I completely saturated the fabric with dye, that the black just did not take. After boiling off the wax, I could have added another layer, but that would have required too much work, and a chance of ruining the image. I am content with the piece though, and have come to appreciate the unintended color scheme.

I couldn’t find a sketch for this one.  It was painted in 2006 along with the idea of factory type settings. Crumbling to the ground and being consumed be the natural world, these rooms are still breathing in a very quiet passage of time. The interior of the old mill building I used to work in set the mood for the image. What was before, no longer is. We can see it though, shape shifting into a beautiful world of decay. The large sinks are for washing out a fabric of some sort. The floors and windows are gleaming as if still wet, dripping with colors of turquoise, lemon yellow, sap greens and bits of lavender highlighting

My favorite hobby is dyeing fabric in the batik style. Wax is used as the resist. There are multiple dippings of the fabric into a vat of water with soluble dyes. Where ever the wax has been applied, no dye can penetrate, leaving you with the color beneath. With this method, you can create any kind of image, considering how many dyeings and waxing applications you do. After you boil the wax off, a beautiful pattern emerges.  It is a fantastic challenge. Completely unpredictable, similar to developing your own photographs as you’re never certain how they will turn out.

I did this piece as a secret Santa in 2002? and of course procrastinated like crazy. I think I finished that night and realized I should take a picture of it before it goes forever. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a flash with my camera because I was using a manual one at the time. So, I used a spot light tethered to the top of the fridge, which made the light source a little uneven. Putting out a black bed sheet on the kitchen floor, I laid the wall hanging on it  and stood on a stool to take the picture. Hence, the golden glow. In photoshop I tried to get it back to its original shades of olive greens and dusky browns.

Usually, a piece will take many tries to get the desired result, this one, however was amazing, everything went well and I only had to do one trial run. I think it’s because I sketched it out several times, going over and over the intent and of course  the color sequence: cream, yellow, greens and browns. The purpose of the piece was to get an emotional light streaming through the tree trunks. After the dyeing was completed, I used strips of black wood paneling back to back with the fabric sandwiched between on the top and bottom as a kind of frame for hanging cloth.

A while ago, my mom gave me her batik book by Ila Keller, written in 1966. I love its thick yellowing pages, black and white photographs and really bold, simple designs. It’s one of the best batik books  published.

by Maud Rydin

1966 version

She goes over the Javanese history of Batik and has such concise methods of attaining a really great design. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but totally worth the effort.

In the diagram below, she shows how you start out by drawing your design on the fabric and then compiling  the dye information for testing. Bees wax can be used, although I like a paraffin and bees wax combination on a cotton/ linen cloth. Very hot wax is brushed on the cloth or, if you’re using a tjanting tool, you would draw your image on the fabric like using a pen. The cloth is then submerged into a dye bath. Since the wax is not penetrated, your shape will stay intact. The more dyes you use, the more depth you can receive.

It would be my dream to have a studio with hot running water and a stove to do this art. I don’t have a basement in my current home like I used to, so I’ve had to use my little bathroom and kitchen the past couple of times.

These pieces evaporate during the day because of the sun’s blue light. When it shines across the wax, a dulling effect takes place to the surface. The midday sun hides the color, but it brings out the texture, causing you to stop and look very closely at  the detail.

"walking through your midnight"

Then as night comes, incandescent lights are turned on and the painting appears entirely different. Regular light bulbs give off a yellow glow, making the painting’s hues appear deeper and rich with color. I took this picture at night with a flash.

The previous two versions are posted  on October 9th where the shadows are lighter and the left wall does not exist.


The darkness surrounds the paintings as much as the light, but it is the light that lets you enter further. When painting, I feel as though I’m trying to get through slabs of concrete, yet the challenge is satisfying and it keeps me going.

50" x 42" oil, wax, thread and high gloss polymer

That’s probably why there’s this heavy resting moment in each piece of work. The image is tinged with melancholia, although not without a feeling of resolution.

It seems as though when working, I always look at the image as if it were something in the    past, something  you know only partly of, but I think that the paintings come out with a sense of future as well. The sketches are of a being called an opperatant who is learning about the end of one’s life and the beginning of another.



oil pastel

oil pastel