Saturday, December 29, 2012

The last post of 2012!

The holidays are a tough time to get things done in the studio even for those of us who are Jewish!

This year I made a small Thanksgiving for my family instead of going to relatives. Then Chanukah came right away after that and I had my annual Chanukah brunch with all the latke making that goes with that!

My kids and grandson all have birthdays at that time so there was that going on.

Then on Christmas, even though I am Jewish, I still enjoy preparing a feast for my family. This year I made my first roast beef.

We also met some new cousins this week and spent lovely hours over lunch getting to know one another. It was really wonderful and a big highlight of the holidays for me.

So between all these things, I have not been able to get much done in my studio. Instead I thought I would show you some samples of the textures I have been making for my gelatin prints. I find that string and thread make the loveliest textures. I like them even better than the stamps I had on hand. The gelatin picks up every little nuance of the yarn or string and makes for some very interesting results.

Hopefully after the holidays I can get back to work. I really want to re-open my Etsy shop with some of my collages as well as some cards.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Oh and PS, I sold 4 pieces this week! Exciting!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tacking Iron

This piece was ruined or so I thought until I got my new tacking iron today!

Wow what a difference ironing down the pieces makes. The iron makes it all so smooth. All the air bubbles and wrinkles came right out. Happy me!

Here is a picture of what the tacking iron looks like. I ordered it from Jonathan Talbot. Here is the web site in case you are interested in getting yourself one of these wonderful gadgets.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Perched by Roberta Warshaw
Perched, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I am so in love with the ghost prints from these gelatin prints. I like them much better than the first print.

I almost lost this piece due to some bad adhering on my part to the substrate. Luckily I was able to salvage a portion of the image, the one with the bird. I do believe I am going to try the dry adhesion process with the tacking iron and release paper. It just isn't worth losing a piece to wrinkles and tears.

I know that there is quite a backlash right now with adding birds to art, but I really love the way this looks. So it is a keeper as far as I am concerned.

Bird and all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Purple Papayas

Purple Papayas by Roberta Warshaw
Purple Papayas, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

When I lived in the Florida Keys one of my favorite plants to grow were papayas. They are an interesting plant to grow. They grow really fast. About a year and you get fruit. There are male plants and female plants. If you want fruit then you must weed out all the male plants but one for the fertilization of the female plants.

If there were no male plants around then the female plants would become both male and female. You could tell the sex of the plant by the way the flowers hung.

But of course the fruit was always better if the female plant was fertilized by an actual male.

The fruit would hang big and heavy and when they were unripe they were a lovely deep, dark green color. Some people use these as a squash and cook them. But I always liked to wait until they were ripe. When they ripened they would turn a luscious orangey yellow.

They were never purple of course.

But when I began to look at this piece, it reminded me of the way the trunk of the plant looks with the heavy fruit hanging just so. So I am calling it “Purple Papayas” anyway. I can you know. Artistic license and all that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Golden Tree

Golden Tree by Roberta Warshaw
Golden Tree, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
The background image on this piece is very meaningful to me. It is a print I made from my mother's brown wedding dress. Her wedding dress was brown for what reason I do not know. I think it had to do with her  step mother’s wishes but I am not sure. My mom doesn't like to talk about it.

Anyway, she gave me the dress and I proceeded to make a lace pattern with it. I hadn't found a use for it until now but I think it works well here with the gold tree.

The last few days I haven’t done much in the way of artwork. I think I needed a break. Plus I decided I wanted to set up an online gallery with available artwork for sale. I have had a few people ask me where they could buy my work and I didn’t really have a good answer.

Frankly, I am tired of Etsy and all their fees. I thought I would try something different. Although if it doesn’t work out, Etsy may be the only other option.

So if you are so inclined and you would like to purchase a piece you can click on the link here or at the top of the page and it will take you there.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Purple Flowers

Purple Flowers by Roberta Warshaw
Purple Flowers, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I keep getting taken down different roads with these gelatin prints. I just keep following along. Someone mentioned working in a series on another blog. I am pretty sure this qualifies.

Each work leading into the next. I also find that if i spend too much time on a piece it will not work no matter what I try. Each piece has a mind of it's own it seems.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

City of Gold

City of Gold by Roberta Warshaw
City of Gold, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I am loving the way the gold leaf looks with the work but it is quite a bear to work with. It flies all over the place, sticks to my hands, and just generally creates havoc in my studio.

I keep the sheets between tracing paper but as soon as I open the paper up all hell breaks loose!

I discovered that if I go around the studio with a piece of my textured tissue paper that has been painted with wet medium, I can just blot up the tiny pieces and create some interesting bits of color with the scraps.

When I try and sweep the scraps, they just blow around...........yikes! I get very impatient chasing them all over and have to calm myself down after a while!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Abstract #1 by Roberta Warshaw
Abstract #1, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Ha! How appropriate that I would finally get a luscious black on black Friday. I used ultramarine blue instead of cobalt blue and that seemed to do it. The red is still cadmium red and the yellow is Indian yellow.

I love mixing blacks and grays. I don't often get what I am seeking but I keep trying because that is what I do.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. We had a lovely time. My son makes the best apple pie ever. Well, my grandmother made great pie too but it skipped a generation since I can't make a pie to save my life.

But my son really makes fantastic apple pies.

Next big holiday, Chanukah. I will be having my annual brunch with latkes and all the fixings.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Grasses by Roberta Warshaw
Grasses, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Originally this was going to be a cactus collage. But then there were these lovely lines and before I knew it, the cactus became the tips of some type of hay or grass.

The element of surprise with these gelatin prints is what keeps me coming back for more. I can plan all I want but as soon as I begin adhering all bets are off.

I am not sure just how much I will be getting done this week painting-wise. I am hosting Thanksgiving this year and for the next few days the house will be filled with all the good cooking smells of the holiday.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love that it is not religious in any way. Just food and family.

Of course it is always my children's birthdays as well so pumpkin pie always has birthday candles stuck in it.

Enjoy your holidays and don't eat too much!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Memory Series

Hayfield with Clouds by Roberta Warshaw
Hayfield with Clouds, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I seem to be on to something here with this new series of collages. I am calling them the "The Memory Series" since that is what they are.

These are all done from my memories of living in a rural environment. It has been over twenty years since I last lived there and yet the visual memories are still with me. When I lived there I painted the countryside all the time but in a very different manner. More detailed. These are much more streamlined.

I am enjoying this series very much as painful as it is. I do my best work when I am not too happy.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Landscape #2

Landscape #2 by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape #2, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I am becoming quite productive with these gelatin prints. They really speak to me in a new way. I am finding that I like the ones that just seem to fall together quickly rather than obsessing over minutae.

And I like the colors on this one. Especially that color on the top. I originally thought it was the sky but I see now where it is the treeline on the edge of a lake.

It reminds me of the lake we used to stay at in Monterey, MA. called Lake Garfield.

It also makes me a little sad. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is part of the stirring up of the sad memories of my old life in the country.

I don't know but I am not letting it stop me. The colors here are only three. Cobalt blue, cadmium red, and Indian yellow.

They make a lovely blue gray and wonderful rusts.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Landscape Memory

Landscape by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Another gelatin print collage from my landscape memory series. I feel a lot of these coming on right now.

I have also signed up for a weekend printmaking workshop in the spring at Mass College of Art. I am really interested in learning more about this medium and especially having access to a real press for the weekend. That should be interesting!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Barnscape by Roberta Warshaw
Barnscape, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Many years ago, I lived in a very rural area.

It was quite beautiful but it was a very lonely place for me to live. I had a job I hated. I sold ads for the local bi weekly newspaper. I was never very good at it, after all I am not a saleswoman at all. I find cold calls to be quite fear inducing.

Anyway, my job involved driving from small town to small town trying to sell ads to locally owned businesses. Getting from one town to another took me through some of the most beautiful farm country I had ever seen.

I always had my sketchbook with me and often I would stop on the side of the road and draw the farms. Then I would paint them in watercolor or gouache when I returned home.

I live in the city now and those years are but a fading memory to me. But I will always be able to see the countryside in my minds eye. This collage is from my fading memories of upstate New York.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Landscape of Lines

Landscape of Lines by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape of Lines, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I am getting some interesting line work from string on the gelatin plate. By using both the first pulled print as well as the ghost image, I was able to manipulate the collage into some interesting patterns.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

City on the Hill

City on the Hill by Roberta Warshaw
City on the Hill, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I am trying to make a new collage every day. It isn't always possible but I do enjoy the challenge.

This piece is collaged from elements I created using my new Gelli printing plate.

As you can see the colors are very different from my usual highly saturated colors. When I use the plate I can get some very subtle colors which I really like.

I am happy to have found this plate because in a way, it reminds me of working on the encaustic hot plate which, as you may remember, I had an allergic reaction to.

I very much like printing as I had never really tried it before. I look forward to trying more involved layering as I improve my techniques.

I just have to remember to let the paint really dry before I collage with it. I am using Golden Open Acrylics with the plate and they require more drying time than regular acrylics.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Climate Change by Roberta Warshaw
Climate Change, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
This piece came about today in an interesting way.

I have been experimenting for the past few days with my new Gelli Plate. I had never even heard of these plates until recently and was anxious to see what all the excitement was about.

I was playing with some of my stamps on the plate and realized that they looked like waves and buildings.

It all happened very fast and very spontaneously. I guess it is my inner response to all the destruction.

I call it "Climate Change".

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moon Over Tucson

Moon Over Tucson by Roberta Warshaw
Moon Over Tucson, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
Throughout my painting career I have always admired abstraction from afar. I say that because I have never been successful at it. Realism always steps in and takes over. No matter how hard I try to paint large masses of color for the sake of large masses of color I don't seem to be able to do it in a way that is true to myself and my own inner workings. But I still admire artists who are able to do it successfully.

I think this is why I can relate more to artists like Arthur Dove, Charles Burchfield, Charles Sheeler and of course Georgia O'Keefe. They take realism and abstract it just enough so that you still know exactly what it is but you also know what it is not.

But then there is always Mark Rothko. I can get quite lost in one of his paintings even though they are "just" masses of color.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Watching the seedlings grow.

This is kind of a bad scan. I did the piece on canvas this time and the under layers show through here. They don't show through when it is hanging though. Just on the scanner. I think I will just use hard panels from now on though.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Collage Papers

Some new papers I made by Roberta Warshaw
Some new papers I made, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I thought I would share some of the latest collage papers I made using two different types of printing papers. I know that some people use tissue paper for this but I wanted to use only acid free papers so for the base paper I used Yasutomo sketch paper and for the crumpled paper on top I used Hanshi paper.

The process is simple. Paint acrylic medium on the base paper and adhere the crumpled Hanshi paper on top of that. Then paint more acrylic medium on top of the crumpled paper flattening the wrinkles as you go so that it is all adhered.

When the paper is dry, paint it with whatever colors you want to have in your palette.

I really love the way these look!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Green Flower

green flower by Roberta Warshaw
green flower, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Sorry that I had to turn on comment modification. I was getting spammed. Sigh.

This piece was a problem for days and then this morning it all came together.

Heading out to lunch in a bit with some old co-workers. Enjoy your Sunday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dancing Cattails

Dancing Cattails by Roberta Warshaw
Dancing Cattails, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
This turned out very different than the original plan. I was coming back from my swim and all these tiny little golden leaves were tumbling down around me. I thought they would work well on here. But when I placed them, something wasn't right. Suddenly they became cattail tops.

Oh well..............stuff happens.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Golden Mountains or Droopy Flower

golden mountains by Roberta Warshaw
golden mountains, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Not sure which title is best. But I am having fun with the gold/metal leaf. I am not using the real gold leaf. I do have some left over from my enameling days but it seems too precious to use this way. So this is called composition gold leaf. Much less expensive.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Large flower

Large flower by Roberta Warshaw
Large flower, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I never really know where these things are going. That is half the fun. You can't plan really. I just dig around in my piles all over the desk and table until I find something that will look good cut up and then have at it with my scissors. Like Matisse when he was too old and sick to paint.....well hopefully not exactly like that.....

It is very relaxing. Much more so than creating a painting from start to finish.

You have heard of Picassos "Blue Period", well I am calling this my "post-op period!"

These pieces are definitely helping me in my recovery.........

Friday, October 5, 2012

Flower Collage

flowers by Roberta Warshaw
flowers, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Sorry, I missed yesterday. Between physical therapy and trying to keep up with everything I didn't get into the studio at all yesterday. Swimming takes a huge chunk out of the day but I really need to do it for my recovery so there you have it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Desert Dreaming

saguaro by Roberta Warshaw
saguaro, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

My collage for today. Added some gold leaf for highlights. Must be the jewelry background coming out a little.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One a Day

Desertscape by Roberta Warshaw
Desertscape, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I am trying to make a new collage each day. Hopefully I can keep up with it. I am not usually too good at keeping these goals and challenges I set for myself but for now I will give it a try.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Deep End

three flowers by Roberta Warshaw
three flowers, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now must think I have gone off the deep end. Where is the jewelry? The polymer clay? What happened????

The only thing I can say is, I have gone back to my painting roots and it feels great. It almost doesn't matter if the work is successful or not. The physical act of putting paint to paper is enough for me right now.

I hope you can all forgive me.......I really do feel like my jewelry/bead making days are behind me.

As one of the political parties says...........Forward.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Abstract Flower Collage

flower by Roberta Warshaw
flower, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I am having a really great time with these quick study collages. They are small and I am finding them very freeing.

I never know what they are going to look like since I just paint the paper first with no intentions. Just pure paint and color explorations. And you know how I love color. I especially love the tertiaries in all their muted glory.

I am working with only 3 colors plus white. I work best when I am not working with too many colors. The three colors here are cobalt blue, hansa yellow, and quinacridone magenta. Don't ask me to say that word. No idea how to pronounce it.

I love seeing what happens when I add a bit more cobalt or a bit more yellow. The rusts and the deep purple greys have always been my favorites.

I am learning how to work really fast with the colors. They dry almost as soon as they go onto the Sumi paper.

I like the way I don't have to commit to a design until I have moved the pieces around a bit. Quite different from painting where a work is easily ruined by a poor composition or the wrong colors.

Anyway, that is it for today. Time to go make dinner.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tribute to Dove

Tribute to Dove by Roberta Warshaw
Tribute to Dove, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

This collage reminds me of the Foghorns by of my favorite artists.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


sketchbook collage6 by Roberta Warshaw
sketchbook collage6, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
In trying to unblock myself, I found a wonderful book by the collage artist, Jane Davies. She suggests making a collage every day in your journal or sketchbook.

So I am trying that and it seems to be helping me to unblock myself from this creative morass I find myself in. One of my blog readers suggested that I try and paint with polymer clay but with my back problems I can no longer work the clay in the pasta machine. It is too hard on me physically right now.

I am working in acrylics and working fast as the paint dries in no time! So I am painting rice paper and sumi paper and then cutting it up afterwards. I find I don't really like cutting other peoples work from magazines and photos and such. I like the physical act of painting. So I am enjoying painting the papers and then cutting and rearranging the pieces. I have had quite a few nice surprises this way.

I think this practice is just what I needed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I am still really distraught over my allergic reaction to the encaustic paint. I haven't been able to do anything in my studio at all since.

I feel adrift right now without a medium. I had looked forward to it for so long. I can't even seem to sketch in my sketch book.

I guess I will try acrylics. But honestly I have never had much luck with them. So thick and pasty and they dry so fast, There is no time to play around. I may try the Golden open paint and see how that goes.

But my heart isn't in it. And that is a problem.

One thing that I realized during my short stint with encaustic is how much I still love collage and applique. So maybe that will remain a direction for me. I don't know yet.

Bear with me. I have to snap out of it soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Allergic Reaction

WIP pink flowers by Roberta Warshaw
WIP pink flowers, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
Over the last 20 years or so, I have developed some interesting allergies to things in my environment.

It first began in the late 1980's when I was working at a hotel in upstate New York and the hotel installed new carpeting. I had such a bad reaction to the smell of the new carpet, I couldn't go into work for days until it had all aired out. Of course everyone thought I was quite nutty.

The second time I had an allergic reaction was to a new shower curtain I had purchased. I couldn't even have it anywhere in the house. The smell affected me just like the new carpet. My head filled up as though I had a bad cold and my eyes burned.

Sometimes I cannot even read a magazine. Especially high end magazines with very glossy paper. It must be something in the paper varnish. The Wall Street Journal comes out with a lovely quarterly magazine but I am unable to open it due to the smell and my immediate reaction to it.

I am also allergic to some band-aids and adhesives for wounds. In fact I developed an awful rash from the bandage on my back after the surgery. It was itchy and blistery like poison ivy.

Which leads me to my newest allergic reaction. Encaustic. Yes, it is true. Each time I worked in my studio I came out with a headache and burning itchy eyes as well as a stuffy nose. I did try to ventilate as I know you are supposed to. I had a fan blowing the fumes towards the window and another fan pulling the fumes out of the window.

But it was not enough. I think that my home studio is too small to work in that medium. I think you really need a big space. or maybe it wouldn't matter. Maybe it is just another of my allergies. I don't know. But I can't work in it.

Yes, I am disappointed, but my art is not worth risking my health.

I will have to work in water based media since oh yes, I forgot to mention, I am allergic to turpentine and turpenoid and so cannot work in oils any longer either.

It is weird that I never had a reaction to the polymer clay. Since that is melting plastic for heavens sake!

Well, I'll figure it out. I will find a medium I can work in and then I will get back to work.

I did really like the monoprinting and collaging aspects so I am hoping I can monoprint with water based paints.

Always something............

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Red Flower by Roberta Warshaw
Red Flower, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
As you know I have been struggling with this new medium I am trying called encaustic. Coming from a watercolor background, it is very different.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been frustrated and ended up melting off most of my work when I discovered I could blot the paint up with tracing paper and get some interesting results.

I soon realized that I was essentially doing monoprinting in a very basic way.

So I did a little research online and found this wonderful DVD by Paula Roland. I had remembered that a colleague of mine had gone to Santa Fe last year and took one of her workshops, so I decided that since I was not going to make it to Santa Fe anytime soon, I would buy the DVD.

I cannot tell you how impressed I was with this DVD by Paula. She is so thorough, and so knowledgable that you really need to watch it multiple times. I watched it all the way through the first time and then I broke it up into sections. I decided that doing it in small amounts is the best way for me to learn all the techniques she shows. It is an entirely different way of painting for me and I really like it.

This is the first piece I did. It is actually a collage of two of the prints I made.

I like this technique a lot and I think it will enable me to get creative and find my voice in the medium sooner than I had imagined.

Thank you Paula!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Encaustic Painting

garden sprouts by Roberta Warshaw
garden sprouts, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I thought I would share this with you as it is the first piece I feel is somewhat successful. After multiple failures, I had a bit of a "happy accident" as Bob Ross was famous for saying.

When I first tried to use the encaustic paint I had some trouble since they are so thick and there is little time to plan. Even if you do try and stick to a was just not working out.

The nice thing about encaustic is that if you don't like what you are working on, you can place the piece face down on the palette and melt all the paint off.

When I saw all that mushed paint sitting and running all over the palette, I tried to wipe it up. All I had nearby was a piece of tracing paper. So I blotted it. And there on the tracing paper was exactly what I needed. A lovely wash, sort of like water color, which is the medium I am used to.

So I kept doing it. This time on purpose. Putting paint on the palette, and blotting it up with the tracing paper.

Then I got busy with the scissors.

I really like incising and filling lines but as you can see, I need to work on this since I had some bleed through here. Although I kind of like the bleed since it seems like the stems are a bit fuzzy. Which stems sometimes are.

Anyway, I am getting a feel for them but as you can see I have a way to go!

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Directions.....

My new hot palette by Roberta Warshaw
My new hot palette, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I have spent the last few days back in my studio. It feels really good but also hard. I know I had mentioned that I am trying a new medium, encaustic. I am all set up with the hot palette, the fans, the heat gun, and the paint. So I can show you that at least. I am not ready to show you any work yet. Maybe in a few days, I’ll have something that isn’t awful.

Painting with hot wax is tricky business. It is funny because people always used to ask me if watercolor was hard to control. No, not compared to encaustic, it isn’t. Yikes! This stuff is weird. But I am enjoying the challenge very much. The nice thing about it is, if you make something really awful that you never want to see again, you just place it face down on the hot palette and the wax melts right off and you are left with a nice clean board, ready to go again.

I really like carving into it with my carving tools and scribes. The only thing is, everything is covered in wax. I forgot to buy some paraffin for cleaning my brushes. This weekend I will pick some up in the canning section of the grocery store. I don’t have enough brushes to dedicate one for each color.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Cape Cod Shells by Roberta Warshaw
Cape Cod Shells, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I feel as though I have been given new life. I am walking on a cloud. I am walking.

The reason that I was so scared to have the back surgery is that I was told that it doesn’t always work. I could still have the weakness and the numbness as well as the pain in my leg after the surgery. Or the symptoms could be worse than before.

But I am happy to report that most of my symptoms are gone after only 2 ½ weeks. I still have some numbness around my knee area but the leg is no longer weak or painful. For that I am eternally grateful to both my surgeon and my physical therapist for telling me which surgeon to see.

Today I walked over 2 miles. I couldn’t walk two blocks before the surgery.

My goal is to be able to walk to the local pool. So when it comes time for me to be able to swim again I will just walk over there.

You see, I think I caused the injury to my spine myself through years of doing too many sit-ups and crunches. I never knew they were so bad for the spine, until recently.

I am never going to take my body for granted again. I am going to know my limitations and continue with new, age appropriate exercising..


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rooftop in Callicoon

Rooftop in Callicoon by Roberta Warshaw
Rooftop in Callicoon, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I painted this house in 1987 when I was living in a really small town in upstate NY called Callicoon. This house was directly across the street from my house and as you can see my house was on a bit of a hill so that all I could see was the roof and the dormer part of the house.

Every morning I sat there with my coffee and this is what I saw. Until one day I was sitting there when I heard what sounded like an explosion, And then the house collapsed in a cloud of dust. Time stood still for a minute until I got up and looked out and there stuck in the ruins of the house was a garbage truck. Clothes and furniture from the house lay strewn about. Luckily the trash stayed in the truck.

Apparently the truck was coming down the very steep hill and lost its brakes. it crashed right into the house which lay directly at the bottom of the hill and completely destroyed it. Luckily there was no one home at the time since it was only a summer home. The driver of the truck was very lucky and only slightly injured although they did have to use the jaws of life to get him out.

Needless to say, this is the last picture that exists of the house.

And yes, this was done during my Edward Hopper phase.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downsizing My Studio

Tulips in Callicoon by Roberta Warshaw
Tulips in Callicoon, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
Right before my surgery was a very scary time for me. Let’s face it. Death was always in the back of my mind. I would be crazy not to think about it. After all, remember Andy Warhol. He went in for a simple gall bladder operation and never came out.

In a way, for me, it was kind of like when I get on a plane to go somewhere. Essentially you are putting your life in someone else’s hands for a few hours and you just never know, do you?

So before my surgery I came to some decisions about what would be next for me if I came out of this alive. Yes, I know. What can I say. It is how my mind works under stress.

I looked around my studio and saw quite a few supplies and tools that I haven’t used in quite a few years. For example there is my nearly brand new Paragon Sc2 kiln. It takes up way too much space and I think I used it a dozen times if that. I had originally bought it for enameling but I quickly tired of that medium, I could never get the colors right and all that sanding was killing my hands.

So then I started using it for metal clay. But the price of the clay was unaffordable after a while and so the kiln sat unused for a quite a few years.
Tonight I sold my kiln to a wonderful enamellist and jeweler who was in need of a new kiln. Perfect. I am also donating all my unused or partly used Thompson enamels to the local art center. They teach a lot of children and adult classes in enameling so they will get good use of it all. And I can get an entire shelf back.

I am also selling all my unused and unopened packets of PMC3. They are two years old already and I don’t see myself using them again. Let me know if you might be interested in them and perhaps we can strike a deal.

I need to downsize in a big way. I can no longer afford to keep working in expensive materials and not be able to sell it. My jewelry business has never made me much money and frankly it is now just an expensive hobby.

Which leads me to the next sentence. I am closing my etsy shop and will not be selling (or trying to sell) jewelry any longer. I am going back to my first love of painting, Now that I have the time to be in my studio every day where one painting grows out of the next, that is going to be my focus.

I will totally understand if you don’t want to follow my blog anymore especially if it is not going to be about making jewelry. There are so many blogs out there I am honored that you have all followed me for so long. Of course I will still be posting about all my travails as an artist so even if it isn’t directly about jewelry making, you may still want to stick around. I hope so because I have gained some wonderful friends and followers on here.

But time marches on, life is short and I need to follow my art heart wherever it takes me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recovering Now........

It is 3AM and I am having trouble sleeping tonight so I though that I would write a post for my blog.

It has now been 11 days since I had my back surgery.

Surgery is so brutal on the body in so many ways and back surgery is no picnic. I tried very hard before my surgery to take extra special care of myself. I swam in the local pool every day. I did between 30-35 laps each time. I couldn’t use my legs very well but I was able to get in lots of deep breathing by mainly using my arms.

I ate well and got lots of rest. I walked every day as best as I was able with the leg being what it was.

As it turns out, the disc was not just ruptured but was in many pieces. It took the surgeon much longer to get them all out and so it may make my recovery take much longer. My leg still has issues. Mostly related to all the manipulating he had to do when he was in there. I have no leg pain so far though. As far as the weakness goes, it is hard to tell since it is so early and I only really noticed that doing strenuous activities. Needless to say I have not been able to do anything strenuous. I am supposed to walk as much as possible so I walk in my small condo from the kitchen to the bedroom a few times each day.

I can’t sit or lie for long periods either. I did go off the pain meds though since my legs were swelling and my doctor thought it was from all the fluids they give in the hospital plus the pain meds. I am mostly achy anyway. The severe pain is pretty much through.

I do have a new pain underneath my right breast. I am not sure what that is all about. Maybe I pulled a muscle getting up or down or if it is something that happened in the hospital when they had to turn me face down to do the surgery. I hope it is just a bruise and will go away. As I said surgery is brutal no matter how you try to prepare for it.

In the end it is out of your hands.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A History of My Studio

Key West House by Roberta Warshaw
Key West House, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I haven’t always had my own studio. I first began to paint in 1976 right after my daughter was born. We were living in Key West at the time. I had an adjustable drawing table in the living room. I could sit at it and paint or draw and watch the children at the same time. It was this way for quite some time. When we moved to a larger house in Key West, there was a car port outside. Since the weather in Key West was usually always nice, I made half the car port my studio. That was until my son and his friends decided to “play” with my very expensive Windsor and Newton watercolors. Then it was back into the living room again locking everything up at the end of the day.

When we moved again, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I took over the entire dining room. That was my first studio. The kids liked to eat and watch TV at the same time so we put the dining room table in the living room. No one seemed to mind.

Then we left Key West and moved to upstate NY. We built a tiny cabin to live in and I was again without a studio and only had a small corner of the living area with a table and a sewing machine. ( I made all my children’s clothes at that time).

We were in upstate NY for quite a while. It was not a happy time in my life. We moved to a really large house there. The biggest I had ever lived in. There was a glassed in wrap around porch and it was there I made the most beautiful studio I had ever had. There was no heat in it, but I bought an electric heater and it worked quite well. The weirdest thing about that studio was this. I was the most prolific I had ever been in my fine art career. I made some of my favorite works there in a beautiful studio. But I was more miserable there than anywhere else I had ever been. I am not a small town person, my marriage was breaking up, my kids were teenagers. Everything was falling apart except my artwork.

After my divorce, I moved to Boston near where I grew up. At first I was a caretaker for my grandmothers house while she was living in a nursing home. This time the “breakfast room” was my studio. It was a small room off the kitchen for eating , as the formal dining room was only used for company.

I re-married and in my new apartment there was a second bedroom which became my studio. About 12 years ago we bought a condo where I have been using the second bedroom ever since.

I know that some artists prefer to have their studios off site. But for me, with a family and various household duties to perform, having it steps away is what works best for me. I have to admit that I sometimes feel guilty and selfish keeping this room all to myself. For example, when my son became unemployed and we thought he may lose his apartment, I could not offer him a place to stay. Giving up my studio is no longer an option. No boomeranging here. When my grandson came to stay with me when he was born, I had to give up my studio for a time and I was quite resentful.

When you are a woman and you have a family, it becomes all consuming as well as ever changing to carve out a space to create.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Landscape 4 by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape 4, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I really love this little landscape. It sort of sums up my vision of the world away from a city.

When I was working on it, I discovered that by using a palette knife I could mix up colors as though they were paints and really get the color I want in small amounts. That is how I got that interesting purple color in the stems. I just mixed fuchsia, cobalt and a bit of zinc yellow.

I am thinking that you could actually paint that way with the clay. Maybe later. Right now I am enjoying these heat set paints. if you haven't tried them you should. Karen at Clay Alley sells small sampler packs and they seem to last a good long while.

I am trying to limit my computer time so back to work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Landscape with trees by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape with trees, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

Something is happening in my work and I think it is pretty major.

You might remember that I took a class with Kathleen Dustin a few weeks ago. I enjoyed her class very much and learned some great new techniques in polymer.

One thing she spoke about was the similarity between translucent polymer clay and beeswax as it is used in encaustic painting.

Encaustic is a medium I have never tried. I have worked in oils, watercolors, gouache, polymer and enamels. But never in encaustic.

I think I would like it and that my work would be interesting in that medium. I would like very much to try it. It means rearranging my studio though in a rather large way. Right now my studio is no longer set up for painting but it is set up for jewelry making. Plus encaustic needs serious ventilation.

Right now I am mainly reading all I can about the medium. Looking at some of my Jasper Johns museum catalogs and just seeing and thinking about what I want to do.

Do I want to go back to painting? Is it time? I stopped painting in the mid 90's. But it feels like it may be making a comeback in my life. I will go where it takes me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back from Vacation

Sea flowers by Roberta Warshaw
Sea flowers, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I have returned from my vacation in the Berkshires. it was lovely and I swam in the pool every day. I ended up just doing a lot of sketching with my colored pencils. I had few distractions other than the pool. The TV was horrible and there was no internet and no cell phone service. So I always had pencils in hand and pad on the lap.

We only went to Tanglewood once to see Joshua Bell. Mostly we just stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet. An old friend came to visit for the day and we spent the day floating in the pool and catching up. Another friend came and stayed for a few days. We have been friends since high school and even though we talk or e-mail daily, we don't see one another that much as she lives over an hour away. So it was a good chance to spend some quality time together.

This week is a little busy. Doctor appointments and such, Never ending. I had an epidural before I left but it wore off and we are back to square one now.

Ah these bodies and their wearing out parts. Anyway, I will try and get back into my work slowly. I am also going to try and get in some pool time at the local pool. Swimming feels fabulous. No pain while swimming. Now if I could just become a fish and swim all the time I will be all set.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Goldenscape by Roberta Warshaw
Goldenscape, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

This will probably be my last post for a few weeks as we are going away on vacation and won’t have any internet service where we go. I do enjoy that, especially now when I find myself burning out on all the social media. I need a break from it all. I really do.

I am bringing my macramé and my beads with me as well as a brand new sketchbook. I always bring a new sketchbook with me in the hopes that I can inspire myself to going in some new artistic directions. The place we go in the Berkshires is really lovely. Lots of green and hills to inspire.

Speaking of new directions, this is a piece from the new series. For every successful piece I make there are at least a dozen unsuccessful ones. It is a challenge to say the least but I can’t seem to go back right now to simpler polymer times. I keep trudging forward in the hopes I can perfect the technique and open up to a new way of working.

So, I’ll see you all in a few weeks. Until then, have a lovely and enjoyable Fourth of July!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Landscape Series

landscape series by Roberta Warshaw
landscape series, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

These pieces are quite grueling. I really admire Kathleen's work more and more as I see what goes into these pieces. Of course my favorite part is painting the base. That is the easy part.

My pieces all have air bubbles. We are not talking about the occasional large air bubble, but rather clusters of tiny ones. They are like a rash. Very hard to get out. You cannot see them until the piece is cured.

The other question is how best to frame them. If they are going to be jewelry then they need a place for an attachment. I haven't figured that out yet either.

But for now this is my progress.....needless to say, it is slow going. But I am very challenged by this process and will keep you posted.

Tomorrow I have a one day photography workshop at Metalwerx. I am hoping to learn a bit about taking better photos of my work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

I have been working hard yesterday and today at all the new techniques I learned in Kathleen's class.

I knew that I would forget something very important. And that is that lamella has only one direction. It has a nap to it and if you put it on in the wrong direction the golden glow is gone. You can see here where I laid one of the pieces in the wrong direction.

I am still not quite adept at carving my lines really well. You can see where I carved out too much in the leaf stem on the far left.

But the good news is, I had NO air bubbles trapped in this piece. I was much more careful at pressing them out this time now that I know what to look for.

I ordered some heat set paints but since they haven't come yet, I used Pantone markers on this piece. Hence the colors are not that great. Plus I only have three markers. A yellow, a blue and a red. Plus a colorless blender. So not too many color options

Once my Genesis heat set paints come I will be able to get my colors the way I want them.

This technique is right up my alley since it is so painterly and my background is in painting. But it is NOT as easy as painting. Especially getting that transparent thin enough. It is like phylo dough. So between the thin gold leaf flying around the room and the clay folding over on itself and sticking to itself, needless to say I had a few times when I had to just walk away.

My mold making has taken a bit of a back seat but when I need something less stressful to do, I know what to do!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Class This Weekend

This weekend was my 2 day workshop with Kathleen Dustin. I wasn't sure how my back and legs were going to hold up given all the standing I did but I am happy to report I didn't do too badly and there were a few times when I was able to sit down so I wasn't in too much pain.

The class was amazing. And even though I took copius notes, I am sure I won't remember everything.

The most important things I learned were, that I must get some Genesis Heat Set Paints as well as a heat gun. I loved these paints. The piece I am showing you here is really the only piece I made that I was happy with. It isn't finished yet, since it is in need of a border and I have some corner repairs to do as well as more sanding. The paints are oil paints and they don't dry until you want them too. Hence the heat gun.

After they dried I applied the imitation gold leaf and then a layer of translucent clay. The design is simple. I didn't use the full repertoire of inclusions as in my other pieces, but I really like the simplicity in this piece. It looks more like one of my oil paintings.

The second most important thing I learned is how interesting unconditioned translucent clay can be. I had never worked with translucent clay before. At least not like this. Very, very thin. Number 7 or 8 on the pasta machine. I had no idea clay could be used this thinly. Any time I have tried to make my clay this thin, I have not had luck with it going through the pasta machine. But I learned the technique and gained a new technique from my polymer pieces.

The other two pieces that I made, I am not showing you because I was not happy with the way they came out. I did learn a lot from them anyway. For example I learned how to carve and then back fill the carving for an interesting additional linear layer.

And I learned a new word. Lamella. What is a lamella you ask? Here is the definition from Wikipedia.

In polymer clay it is a cane made with gold or metal leaf and translucent clay in such a way that it resembles fish scales. It is a lovely technique Kathleen developed and I was happy to have learned how to do it. It does take some getting used to since I didn't get it thin enough and you can't really put it through the pasta machine because of the metal leaf in the cane. But I am sure with practice I will get better at using it and be confident in adding it to my work.

So I was happy to have been able to take the class. I wasn't too sure about it for a while. Next week I have a one day seminar in photographing my jewelry. That should be interesting and hopefully I will learn more about manual settings on my camera. Right now I am all about the "auto" setting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Upside Down Flower

New bail idea #1 by Roberta Warshaw
New bail idea #1, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I decided that this flower looked better upside down. What can I say. I like to mix it up sometimes.

I am also trying to add more wire work to my pieces, hence the new bail idea. I like the idea of the bail being added this way rather than attached inside the clay. I have not had much luck adding the metal into the clay and keeping it interesting as well.

I gave up a long time ago on adding the metal with a piece of clay over it. Or with a clay bail. I had a piece come back to me with the clay bail broken. That was when I decided not to use clay bails anymore. Metal is so much sturdier as well as decorative. I think the addition of metal, especially with clay gives it more substance as well.

So I keep trying new things. After all that is what we do, right?

Monday, May 28, 2012

How my garden grows.....

One of the results of my not being able to ride my bike due to my ongoing back problems, has been more time spent in the studio. Normally I don't get in the studio much in summer. I am busy riding my bike 12-15 miles a day. I used to leave early in the morning, around 9-ish and return home around lunch time.

This has been the hardest part of all of this for me. I love working in my studio but I need my exercise. I haven't been able to exercise since February and it is really getting me down.

I try to stay positive and the art helps. I don't know how I would manage if i didn't at least have that.

I see the surgeon this week to discuss what is next for me. I was supposed to see him last week but he cancelled on me.

Hopefully, somehow this can be resolved. I need to be able to exercise.

Meanwhile please enjoy how my garden grows......