Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Weekend of Heavenly Beeswax

I thought I was finished with classes this year. Both teaching and taking. But at the end of August, a phone call woke me from a sound sleep and a voice at the other end asked me if I was still interested in taking an encaustic class taught by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, author of Encaustic Workshop. I mumbled something like "no, I don't have the money now", hung up and went back to sleep....until my conscious mind said somthing like "are you crazy!? you've been trying to get into that class for months!!!" Now I'm really awake and I hit redial and call the Sitka Center and explain that I say some silly stuff if I'm not awake and yes I want to take the class. Alas, he had already offered it up to another woman and she had accepted. I was pretty disappointed and later sent an email asking to be put back on the list in hopes someone else would cancel and received an immediate call back. The woman had cancelled and I was in the class. So on a chilly, foggy fall morning, I take a trip to the Oregon coast for three days doing nothing but encaustic in a setting nestled between the Sitka pines overlooking the Salmon River estuary where it meets the sea at Cascade Head.
The drive heads through several suburbs of Portland. The rural beauty of Yamhill County sneaks up on you gradually. Acres of trees and fields peeking between buildings...quaint towns built upon wineries and tourism. Suddenly it seems the trees close in and you reach the Cascade range and feel as if you have turned back centuries of time and entered a premordial forest, hidden in the foggy mists....a dark forest full of the sounds of birds, and wind and babbling creeks. I imagine living here in a small cottage hidden deep with a stone fireplace and a warming fire...I miss the simplicity of living far from the sprawl of the city.

Before I know it, I am turning off at 3 Rocks Road that winds along the north side of the Salmon River estuary. The signs of fall are everywhere....browning grasses, turning leaves and a crisp freshness in the air that smells of hot chocolate, pumpkins and full harvest moons.

The center itself sits among the Sitka pines...old sentinels of the forest with octopus branches wrapped in moss and crevasses filled with fern fronds. You hear the song of birds drift through the trees...the soft tweets of chickadees and bushtits contrast sharply with the cawing of jays and crows.
And in the distance is the roar of the ocean, as it meets the Salmon River at Cascade Head. The breeze tickles your nose with salt and the smell of the sea.

But first I must get to my class. An amazing class. So amazing, that I took no photos to remember it by...I've never been in a class I did not stop to take photos, but in this class I was so busy trying the profusion of techniques Trish offered, I never stopped to think about my camera at all!!! A generous instructor, Trish provided us with an unending supply of beeswax. The heavenly smell filled the air for three days. Our first day was filled with basic instructions, easily understood and applied. No one stopped for a moment. We were ordered out of the room to take a lunch and few of us wanted to go. But it did give me a chance to run back to town for supplies I neglected to bring. I shared the class with 13 women and 1 man, all incredible artists. We not only learned from the instructor, but from sharing with each other, with many of us coming to this class as a new medium. In no time the day was over, and I took a drive to Siletz Bay where I love to comb the beach for treasures.

I wanted to preserve the many textures of the sand and beach stones as I processed in my mind all that I had learned this day. To be in the presence of so many artists is exhilerating and sets my mind spinning with possibilites.

I walk a new path now, full of uncertainty as I struggle to grow as an artist while coping with the stress of a new round of layoffs at work...asking myself is it possible to take a risk and make a career jump or go back to school no matter what age you are? Do I have the faith and strength to make a dream come true? When I take classes that fill my mind with creativity and possibilities, it does seem possible...even probable. My mind filled with thought, I headed back to my campsite, letting my thoughts drift among the stars in the sky...
Our second day of class, even better than the first...we are introduced to the lucious RF encaustic colors that melt like butter and pop with color on your pallette. We use exotic material such as asphalt patch, plaster, foil and charcoal. We incise, we fill, we carve away, we embed, we played with fire...nothing is out of bounds and we tried all that was offered. And a second day flew by in the blink of an eye, despite being allowed to stay until 6 PM. No time for a walk tonight, I head back to the campground again, and watch as clouds moved in and a gentle rain began to fall.
Our third day of class, we experiment with ATC sized boards, cutting a larger pieces into smaller pieces making a dozen separate art works from the original, making inchies...I even covered a magnet with a little piece of encaustic work. I've never completed so much work in any class I have taken...both the result of a good instructor and a forgiving medium that hardens so quickly, you can work non-stop until the piece is complete. All too soon it's time to clean up and go. I leave with a dozen new pieces and several new friends and a wealth of information to take my encaustic to the next level. But before I go back, I go back to walk the beach...a meditation of the heart that fills my soul...even in the driving rain of a fall storm.
And here are some of the pieces I created in class....some complete....some waiting for the next spare moment I have to continue working in my favorite medium....but first comes Art and Soul...


artymarty said...

I think you have the soul of a poet Jan. The work is wonderful. I am so happy for you that you got to take classes with the master in your favourite medium. Good luck with the path ahead

Toni said...

Jan, I LOVE what you did in class!! Even the Sitka sign intrigues me with the lettering. What a wonderful journey to class, during and after.
Deep breath put your faith and trust Jesus for your answer about going back to school. This I can tell you, you are never to old and it is never to late. Hugs as you decide.

Cindi V. Walton said...

I am so amazed! Not at how wonderful all your pieces are, but that in three days you made so much! You know if Boise is ever your destination, you have a bed here for as long as you need it.