Archive for January 2009

Daffodil Days- Help raise funds

This isn't an art posting today but rather a posting from the heart! ...

When I was a kid, I volunteered for Daffodil Days to sell flowers and raise hope, awareness, & funds in honor of my grandmother's passing from cancer.  The first year I participated, my grandmother was still alive and it was a wonderful feeling to hand her a bouquet of daffodils and tell her that what I had done for her.  

I hope that you will join me in making any contribution that you can to bring light, hope, & love into a cancer patient's life.   I recommend the "Gifts of Hope" package which starts at $25 and provides flowers anonymously to cancer patients.  You will not receive anything physical from this donation but you will enrich the lives of a patient.

Thank you for reading and hope you're able to contribute in some way!  Click here to go to my American Cancer Association fundraiser page.

Things are looking up up up

Yesterday I received a phone call from the Board President of my gallery association-- they are inviting me to run for a Board position!  This is so exciting-- hooray!  I also asked to be put on the slate for Secretary cause I just love typing so much!  I take the minutes of our meetings at work and rather enjoy it so I thought I could lend that skill to the team.  

Anyway-- They vote in April at the annual meeting so I'll find out for sure then.  Cool!

And so I don't leave you pictureless-- for all of your letter writing needs :)
Set of 4 original gouache notecards

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!!

GIVEAWAY~ Enter to win a free "Hot Mess" tutorial


Enter for your chance to win a free tutorial: "Hot Mess Painting with Wax, an introduction to encaustic painting -PDF Tutorial"

To learn more about the tutorial, click here.

How to enter for your chance to win!...

+ post here with your favorite item from my Etsy Shop:

If you would like an additional chance to win…

+ blog about the giveaway, come back, and post a second entry with a link to the post
Entries will be accepted until Thursday February 5th, 2009 at 5:00pm
I will use a randomizer to pick my winner an announce them on my blog!  Please be sure that you leave a way to contact you!  (I will only use the info to contact the winner)

***Update: Giveaway has ended- comments are now closed.***

Looking Closer: Talking Pictures #1

Talking Pictures #1
Oil on Canvas
6 x 6"
June 2008

Looking closer- a brief exploration of art:

When I paint, I love to keep small canvases or boards handy so that I can work out ideas on them.  This painting actually came about while I was working on a larger oil painting.  I didn't want to throw away the old crusty and almost dried paint on my palette.  There's just something inside me that makes it seem so wasteful and such a dent on my wallet to get rid of that paint.  So I decided to use that extra paint on a few small canvases and not have a subject in mind.  Just let the paint tell me what to do.

I loved the freedom that this allowed me and I used my palette knife, razor, fingers (gloved), and brushes to go wild.  I love the texture that evolved and the richness of the layered colors.  I've found that this has really helped me when I work in encaustic and that I'm applying the paint in a similar manner as with this oil painting.  

still working

Still working on my oil paint making tutorial.  I'm having fun typing this up and am looking forward to releasing it!  Head is a bit spinny today, much like this paint, so I don't have much to report on-- Off to bed to feel better for tomorrow.

Influences- Civil War photographs

My encaustic series, Ghosts of the Past, came about from my love of Civil War photographs. These images are so haunting and alive with emotion-- I'm entirely drawn to them and to the people in them.  Having a brother-in-law in the military, I have begun to wonder about the lives of these Civil War soldiers. What were their lives like before they went to war?  Who did they leave behind? Did they return to their families or did they die on the battlefield? Who were they and what were they thinking when these photographs were taken?

Looking into their eyes and judging their posture, I begin to imagine all the answers to these questions. Some are tired and worn out from a long struggle. Some are proud to be there and are filled with energy. Some men seem angry, others are pensive. These men are thinking of their wives, their children, and the lives that they may never return to. They are thinking of their brothers and friends that they are fighting alongside as well as against.  As I paint, I think about their mortality. I ponder these questions and try to express their emotions as I perceive them to be.

I'll never truly know the answers to these questions but I do know that, through the years and through the countless wars throughout the world, soldiers are always going through the same emotions that these men were facing. They are always living and fighting through unimaginable circumstances. Always guarded, perhaps we'll never know what they are truly feeling inside. Hopefully, a photographer is able to document their struggle as well and with as much humanity as the photographers of the Civil War so that we will never forget their anguish. So that we may begin to know these ghosts of the past.
Photo Credit: Gen. George Thomas and a group of officers at a council of war near Ringgold, Ga., May 5, 1864. 77-HMS-344-2P.  National Archives, Civil War images.

Making Oil Paint by hand!

March 10th 7-9pm- Oil Paint Making demo at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, taught by your very own Jamie Ribisi (That's me!)!

Ever wonder what goes into making a tube of oil paint? Come and participate in a hands-on demonstration where you will learn how to make your own oil paint from scratch! Discuss the different properties of various oils and what would work best for you as an artist. Making your own paint can save hundreds of dollars a year on supplies and is a technique that is easier than you think! 

Come watch, learn, ask questions, and leave with all the knowledge you need to start making your own paint!

This event is free and part of the Art Talk series held at the Harlow Gallery, 160 Water St, Hallowell. Sponsored by the Savings Bank of Maine.

Today I made a tube of oil paint in preparation for this demo that I'm going to be giving!  I've been making some of my own oil paint for some time now, it's such a great treat to use paint that you've made by hand!  I'm going to be making a PDF tutorial on this, as well, which will include lots of resources of where to buy the supplies and how to save money.  I'll post it here once it's ready-- of course!....

Newly listed- Fall Into Formation

I just listed an older painting in my Etsy shop.  It had been on short term loan to a law office and now it's back home, looking for its next life!  Show it some love!

Also listed "Phosphorescent" which was also on loan and now looking for it's next home.

Fall Into Formation
Oil on Linen
30 x 30" (76.2 cm x 76.2 cm)
July 2005

New Painting- Ghosts of the Past #5

Ghosts of the Past #5
Encaustic, Photographs, & Graphite on Cradled Birch
12" x 12" (30.48 cm x 30.48 cm)
January 2009

Not currently for sale, please inquire if interested.  (Photo credit: Gen. George Thomas and a group of officers at a council of war near Ringgold, Ga., May 5, 1864. 77-HMS-344-2P.)
(click inage to zoom, click title for details)

Finished this painting tonight!  I think this battle is over.  
So, as you can see in my previous post, I had glued down two images.  One was of these officers and the other was an image of clouds.  I wanted to cast a heavy storm above their heads and give these men an outward glow.  The General is given an iconic treatment.  

I don't normally like to talk too much about the symbolism and ideas behind my paintings, I like to just put them out there and see what people get from them.  I'm happy to discuss when prompted, though!


The battle

This painting has decided to declair war against me!  I can see the General plotting it out now.  He thinks he's so smart and he had me in a corner for a long time.  But I finally pushed forward and I think I may have bested him.  Only time will tell.  I hope to meet him on the battlefield tomorrow.  There's much to do but I will stare him and his cronies square in the eye and charge towards him, Braveheart style!


New prints available- Trees #1 & Share

Trees #1
5" x 5" image size, 7" x 7" paper size
Giclee Print

I have about half a billion prints that I've ordered and still have to list.  OK-- that's a slight exageration, but you get my point.  I had gotten so many pre-made for some art shows and have a good deal left in stock.  

Today was a day of renewing energy and I decided to list a couple!  These are more of the small 5x5" ones, I also have some larger sizes but I think I need better pictures of them. 

I love the way that these giclee prints come out!  Sometimes the texture looks so real that it could pass for a painting...almost!  If you're looking for a place to get yours printed, check out  I swear by them!

5" x 5" image size, 7" x 7" paper size
Giclee Print

Artists I Admire: Lauren Simone

Farm Utopia
9" x 9"
Watercolor, india ink pen, drawing ink, and thread on handmade rag watercolor paper
by Lauren Simone

I absolutely adore the detail and the color that Lauren puts into each of her drawings (click on the image to zoom in). They are wonderful imaginary landscapes which make you feel as though you are stuck inside of a great adventure novel.  Perhaps my favorite part of her drawings are the details.  I love the threading that she does around the land masses and the fact that she goes back to them and paints them in varying colors.  It gives such a great depth to the piece.  

Lauren has been my Etsy bud for a while now and we are both fortunate enough to live in Maine and be on the Etsy Maine Team! Visit her shop-- she currently has a Valentine's Day Sale running!  Tell her Jamie sent you!

New Painting- Ghosts of the Past #4

I love when an idea works out better than expected!  I had this image which I pasted down yesterday (see last night's post) and had an idea of what I wanted to do with the officer's bodies but not sure about exactly how to incorporate the background.  The trees are what initially drew me to the image and I knew that I wanted to keep them in.  I wound up painting around them and then chasing after the lines with scraping/carving and drawing them in with charcoal.  

This painting, along with 1 or 2 more, will be submitted to a gallery show called "White, Black, & Shades of Gray."  I'm glad that I decided to do this and challenge myself by taking the "color" out.  Of course, I still mixed actual colors into the painting to give it depth.  Can't wait to get paint on the next board!  Hope this makes it into the show.  Wish me luck!


Ghosts of the Past #4
Encaustic, Photograph, & Charcoal on Cradled Birch
12" x 12" (30.48 cm x 30.48 cm)
January 2009

Not currently for sale, please inquire if interested.
(click inage to zoom)


Work in Progress

Today I started working on 2 new paintings.  In a previous post I stated that I usually have a few pieces going on at the same time and that's no lie!  Currently. I have 3 encaustic paintings and 1 oil painting in progress.  The oil hasn't been touched in a while but it's still there staring at me jealously.  The encaustics include 1 that is waiting for the final step; still unsure how to proceed and finish my thoughts on him.  

The other two are these 12 x 12 pieces.  I was printing out these images for a much larger painting and had the weirdest error with the ink.  The black decided not to work so these B&W photos wound up being printed with color ink only.  The result was sort of solarized and I thought that I could explore this further and see what I could make of it.  After all, I hate wasting paper!  I found the it opened me up to the way that I 'm using the photographs.  I'm picking and choosing the pieces that I want much more carefully and I'm excited to get some paint on these soon!

Andrew Wyeth 07/12/17 - 01/16/09

"Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing - then a work of art may happen." 

"When people want to bring sex into these images, OK, let them," ... "The heart of the Helga series is that I was trying to unlock my emotions in capturing her essence, in getting her humanity down" - Andrew Wyeth

Hot Mess: Painting with Wax, an intro to encaustic painting tutorial

Hot Mess: Painting with Wax,  an introduction to encaustic painting PDF Tutorial 

-Want to learn encaustic painting but don't know a darned thing about it? 
-Maybe you're wanting to learn more before diving in and buying supplies? 
-Or perhaps you just love learning?

Then this is the tutorial for you! Learn everything you need to know about painting with beeswax! From set-up to clean-up. It couldn't be easier.

6 page tutorial is written in a joyful voice that is very easy to understand with clear photographs showing you every step of the process. Includes a handy supply list with detailed information and tips on where to find the items inexpensively! This intro will walk you through buying supplies, setting up, basic encaustic painting, fusing, embedding objects, clean up, caring for your paintings, and a list of supply resources.

**What's encaustic painting?** Encaustic painting is the use of beeswax and damar resin melted together and combined with dry pigments to create a painting medium. This paint is applied hot (not a cold paste) and manipulated with a direct heat source. This makes for a lovely layered image into which objects and photographs can be added. If you've seen a Jasper Johns painting then you've seen an encaustic painting!

I am always available & happy to answer any questions that you have about painting!

Find this and forthcoming tutorials in my Etsy Shop:


Influences- Nathan Oliveira

As I work, I'm always thinking about other artists and their work that sticks in my head.  When I get stuck and can't think I usually will turn to an art book.  I have a nice collection of monographs and my favorite one is of Nathan Oliveira.  He's one of my favorite painters and someone that I look to often.  When I was doing figurative work, it was his movements and compositions that really turned me on.  As I studied his paintings and got to see some in person, I began to look at the broader picture.  I was really attracted to the paint itself and the layering of colors.  The simplicity and intricacy of his color palette really astounds me and heavily influences my work.

Another thing I admire about Oliveira is how his work has changed over the years.  I love that he isn't afraid to completely change the look and subject matter of his paintings and prints.  That is something that everyone should strive for, I know I do. 

"Given all the technology that we're in the middle of, I would be so pleased if someone would look at one of these prints and say, 'You know, I feel like that.' What I'm concerned about now is creating a metaphor for what the figure really is."
-Nathan Oliveira


The Amount of Tea I Drink in a Week

Ok, I have a problem. I *love* tea. That may not sound like a problem but I *REALLY* love tea and when I made this group of paintings I actually sat down and figured out how much tea I drink in a week, on average. I drink about 17 cups of hot & iced tea a week. I'm ok with that, especially if there are cookies involved.

These are the 3 paintings that I was working on Sunday.  They have actual tea leaves embedded in it-- vanilla spice chai to be exact (my favorite!). Each have the a tally of 17 hatched into it to reveal the underpainting color. The overall color is how I like to drink my tea-- milky! This was really a great mix since the painting smells like chai tea with honey-- perfect!  I really do love the smell of encaustic so adding tea to it is like a dream come true.

I'm hoping to make a bunch more with different colors but for now, these are available via or

The Amount of Tea I drink in a Week, orange, red, & green versions
Encaustic & Vanilla Spice Chai Tea on wood
6" x 6" (15.24 cm x 15.24 cm) each
January 2009


Cutting up

Today was a cutting day!  I needed to make some supports for the back of the panels that I painted yesterday so I found some wood scraps from our recent flooring project in the studio (read about it here).  Took them to the mitre saw and had some fun!  Well, to be honest-- that darned thing scares me!  I used to love going into the woodshop and using power tools but these days I don't feel coordinated enough to feel safe with myself.  And yesterday my friends were all talking about injuries that they recently sustained and I don't want a story to add!  

Luckily, everything turned out perfect and I've glued my supports on and will hopefully get to photograph these new paintings tomorrow and list them on my website and shop!


A productive day!

I had a very productive day today! I made three new paintings!  These have tea leaves embedded into them and hatch marks actually hatched in-- more on that soon!  I painted these on thin plywood so I just need to build a support for the back and add hardware.  I know I should do that first but when the idea moves me, I just have to get to painting!  

I've been saving up these tea leaves and had a rough idea of how I wanted to use them but not what I wanted the story to be.  It came to me this morning when I was thinking of another painting that I'm working on (I always have a few going to keep my mind occupied).  This other painting is part of the "Ghosts of the Past" Civil War series and I wanted to do hatch marks representing the number of people who died in the battle pictured.  I looked it up.... 28,900!  I don't think I can make that many hatches.  So I moved the idea to these tea paintings-- the amount of tea I drink in a week.  The number was also a sad one but easier to deal with!


Art shows, calls for art, etc

Do you submit your work to art shows?  I've been thinking about getting back into it.  I used to submit my work upon occassion ...if I found a show that I really thought suited me.  Have you had any reasonable success with this?  I've done great for local shows but not for those big national and international calls that you see all over the place.  

They have so much promise but sometimes I feel like it's just a big ploy to make someone some money really easily.  I mean, $35 to $50 to submit 3 pieces of work (or less)?  Nevertheless, I'm thinking of getting back to submitting my work but only for the shows that I feel have merit to them.  And I want to build up my portfolio a little bit more.  Most of the time, I feel like I should be making a specific piece for each show but it would be nice to have a stock to pick items from.

Do you submit your work?  What resources do you use to find calls for art?  I know about and and several others-- what do you use?

Red Flower in Antique Glass Jar
Digital TTV Photograph


Painting with wax- whatcha want to know?

I've been working hard on writing a tutorial about painting with wax.  I have the introductory 'course' written already and some other subjects like using images, embedding objects, etc.  What would you want to learn about?  If you're experienced already or just wondering about encaustic painting...what would you want to know?

Are there specific skills that you'd like to learn?  Any questions that have been wracking your brain?  Let me know!

Post here or email me at jamieribisi{at}

I'd love to know so that I can be as thorough as possible!  I have a focus group reading my draft right now and am loving their comments!

Color me happy

I made some more encaustic paint samples last night and am loving the enhanced colors.  I wanted to add some more vibrance to them and am so happy with the results! I have some more color lines I'm thinking of making-- how can I find more hours in the day?  I think I've exhausted all the workable hours I can find.  But it feels good to keep busy so on I go!  If I could only figure out how to hand make time.  Hmmmm.

But back to the paint... I've had so many people write to me that they are looking to try encaustics and that makes me SO happy!  I assure each and every one of them that they are quickly going to become addicted.  It's very true-- ask any encaustic painter you know! Making these paint cakes is really a great time consumer of mine because, as I posted about the other day, I love to mix colors.  Would it be weird to confess that I want to kiss that blue color? Maybe it would.  If so, pretend I didn't write that!

After the art has left the nest...

Today I received the most wonderful email from Samatha in Toronto.  She had purchased a watercolor painting of mine some time ago and was holding onto it until she could figure out the right home for it.  As she wrote to me, 

"I finally have your piece framed and hung. I took me forever. Last spring I carried it around in my diaper bag for 3 months and went to 3 different frame shops. Then I was looking through a closet and found an old vintage frame and print and I had long ago stored away. It's perfect! The frame has a great old-fashioned feel to it that compliments the classic style of the nude. It's a deep brown wood with very sublte gold leafing. I have it hung in my dining room, where it looks great and has received many compliments. I bought your painting as a gift to myself shortly after the birth of my son."

I love to hear stories of where my art goes to live after it leaves my studio and it's very refreshing to learn that this piece has ended up in such a nice loving home where it will be cared for and enjoyed!  Thank you so much, Samantha, and thank you for letting me share your story!  Best wishes to your family!!

Artists I Admire- Adam Junior

3.5' x 2.5' x 3'
Resin, clay bricks, tin
by Adam Junior

I've been friends with Adam for many years.  We became friends when we were both teaching art classes at The Huntington School of Fine Arts in NY.  He was (and still is) the sculpture guru- and with good reason!  His imagination is really something to admire and his enthusiasm for sculpting is contagious.  It was always a treat to eavesdrop while he was one-on-one with a student and hacking away at their clay sculptures.

The best part was watching how he applied what he was preaching to his own work.  Anyone that teaches knows that your advice to your students weighs heavily on your own work.  One sentiment from him that I remember  was to keep chasing the vision and to never let the sculpture win-- the artist is always in control.

I have the distinct honor of being Adam's webmaster which means that I have the first chance of seeing his sculptures before he releases them into the world.  This newest piece pictured above, 'Studio', really grabbed me and I keep coming back to it, zooming in, and imagine being inside this tower as it's flailing around.  I feel this turbulence in my own studio and in my head but I have to remind myself that it's on a solid foundation-- no matter how crazy it looks, it's solid and will hold me up.  I'm not sure if that's what Adam intended with this piece but that's the nice thing about art; you bring your own emotions and baggage to the trip.  And our ideas are golden as long as we enjoy the ride.


Mixing colors

This morning my friend asked me to make her a custom color of encaustic paint- Robin's Egg Blue!  I love mixing custom colors and couldn't wait to come home and give it a whirl.  I used my white encaustic medium and mixed in some ultramarine blue, titanium white, a custom yellow mix and natural encaustic medium for that slight hint of green.  I'm not sure if there's anything I love more about painting than mixing my own colors!

I honestly spent my entire senior year of college enthralled with my palette.  I barely produced any paintings of note but I had a love affair with color and am happy that I did so!  Now I look at an object, evaluate it,  and daydream about blending the right colors to compliment what nature has created.  Hopefully I'm doing some justice to Mama Nature along the way!

Thanks, Pam, for making my day!

Thoughts on colors and why we are drawn to them

Today I had the extreme pleasure of visiting a yurt!  We've been dying to get one (or twenty) for our backyard -- yurts in the hayfield!  There is a clear dome window at the top which lets in the most beautiful natural light!  It would really make such a perfect studio setting; fantastic even lighting and plenty of room to spread out all my art supplies!  Oh that would simply be heaven!

Inside this yurt that I visited was a beautiful yarn shop with wonderful hand dyed yarn.  The color range was endless and the combinations exquisite!  (Read more about the visit here) This got me thinking... what colors are you naturally drawn to?

My sister and I kept picking up skeins and shouting "Isn't this perfect?!" and then our reply would be "Oh, those are your colors, they really suit you."  Mine are coppers, olive greens, and cranberries-- and yes, I do surround myself with these colors in my art and in my life.  I am really drawn to muted jewel tones, they give me a feeling of calm and sensitivity while still being vibrant.  I think this describes my personality to a T.  I don't look for these things, I'm just naturally drawn to them.

What are your colors and why are you drawn to them?

My husband is obsessed with yurts- that's his drawing at the top of this post:
Three Yurts, by Brian Braley
17" x 11"
India ink on watercolor paper

Available in my
Etsy Shop

Looking closer- Ghosts of the Past 2, Encaustic Painting

Ghosts of the Past 2
Encaustic, embedded Photograph, & Grass on found wood

9.5" x 9"

September 2008

Available in my Etsy Shop or through

Looking closer- a brief exploration of art:

This painting incorporates the technique of embedding objects in the wax. The grass and the photograph are both embedded and it's a pretty simple task!

First, I fused one layer of encaustic onto my substrate and fused it. Then I brushed encaustic medium onto the back of the image and a little bit on the area that it was heading to live and smooshed them together real fast. Using a flat tool, I got all of the air bubbles out and then layered another bit of medium on top of the image. Fuse and repeat the layers of medium until satisfied with the result.

The grass is done in a similar manner but takes a bit of adjusting the blades because they are so small and 
fragile. Embedding natural objects into wax is really fun because the material will change as it adjusts to the heat and to the wax. They tend to brown and dry out slightly as they sit in the pool of molten wax. Just like nature-- you never know what's going to happen and that's the best part of encaustic painting-- in my world, anyway!

If you liked my little behind the scenes venture into painting, keep following my blog for the "Looking closer" series and learn what I do, how I do it, and why!

For the encaustic dreamers, I will also be creating a tutorial that will give you detailed in-depth tips, tricks, & techniques with lots of technical info so that you will feel safe and armed with the knowledge to feel comfortable creating your own beeswax art! I'll post it here once it's ready for sale (& some freebie opportunities, too!)

Roots #1 - new encaustic painting

Roots #1
Encaustic, Image Transfer, & Oil Pastel on Cradled Panel
8" x 8" (20.32 cm x 20.32 cm)
January 2009

Now available in my
Etsy Shop or through

The idea for "Roots #1" came from a painting trade that I did with the Etsy Beeswax Team. Our theme
 was 'sharing' and I had just started using tree imagery in my work. I loved the thought of a set of trees sharing roots together; living off the nutrients that they were sharing with each other. Much like being a member of a team!

The image of the tree is a transfer of one of my photographs onto the encaustic. These are trees from my backyard that I stare at from my studio window.  The roots are carved into the wax with a tool, revealing the color of the board and wax underneath.  I love drawing into the wax this way-- just like painting with wax, you never know what's going to happen!

I've also just started painting on Masters Baroque panels and they are so silky smooth to paint on-- I'm so loving these and Brian is loving them, too, because that means he doesn't have to help me build my own!  They are affordable, great quality, and come in many square sizes!  I love being a square :)


Welcome to my new blog!

My plan for 2009 is to bring you some great art tutorials, tips & tricks, share my work in progress, finished pieces, and favorite artists & crafters!

The project I'm currently working on is a tutorial on painting with encaustic.  You can see some teaser pics here and also a sneak peek at my newest painting- a 2 for 1 peek!

Looking forward to sharing my love of art with all my friends, readers, & fellow artists!

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