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..