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Irreverent Encaustics #1 . . .

December 31, 2020 . . .

Today, the 31st of December, 2020 is the date of my first blog entry. Ever. I’ve been thinking about doing this for years and now, suffering withdrawal from family and friends because of the Covid Virus, I find I have the time as well as the inclination.

I’m an encaustic artist living in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Moving here from South Texas (Hurricane Katrina did it for me) I’m so in awe of all the changes that occur as one season ever so subtlety morphs into the next.  Any time of the year, there’s a painting everywhere I look!

As I write the posts for this blog, I realize I’m not only writing about art or painting, little snippets of life experiences and opinions have a way of rising up within whatever subject I’m writing about. So- if you continue reading you’ll probably learn more about me than you ever wanted to know.  Mainly, I’m old and I have an opinion about everything and don’t mind sharing my opinions.  I still use terms such as . . . Eeeeeeek and Haha when composing emails and I’m about as computer literate as a screwdriver but I’m learning. I hate bigots, racists and homophobes and I love animals, nature and this world we live in which you will probably find reflected in my art as well as my blog.  This blog comes to you via 77 years of experiences and what I’ve learned from those experiences, good or bad, right or wrong.  I do hope you will respond, I’d love to hear about your experiences and your opinions!

An artist all my life, I was a graphic designer and began my career back in the 70’s, before computers . . . Back when I had to call a type setting order in to a business in another city to have type set for a particular project then go to the bus station in the middle of the night to pick it up in order to finish a magazine ad by deadline the next day. I often think— if I had just had a color copier back in those days I could have ruled the world!

I did have the opportunity to meet some very interesting people during those midnight visits to the bus station.

I also worked in television, designed the sets for all our little local programs . . . Dialing for Dollars, Morning Magazine, etc as well as redesigning our news and weather sets every year or so. I was responsible for all the art used for our PSA’s (Public Service Announcements) and anything art-wise used in a commercial. Later I opened my own advertising/marketing business- La’Nelle Gambrell Advertising Art.

Art shows and competitions were important back then and I participated as often as I could. As the only woman in town in the ‘Ad business’ . . . Think Mad Men . . .  It was always a thrill to win an award. OK— I’ll say it . . . It was always THE best feeling in the world to beat out one of the guys that had the luxury of entertaining male clients where I, as a ‘respectable’ woman in those days, er . . . uh . . . could not go.

Those days seem like another lifetime. Now retired, I live on this beautiful Ozark mountaintop where I’m lucky enough to have my wonderful art studio (thanks to my husband Joe) and I’m able to watch the leaves turn and the deer race around the pond while I melt wax and burn shellac!

I’m in my encaustic studio almost every day working on something. I‘m always experimenting with different tools and mediums and techniques. Sometimes I have eureka moments and other times dismal failures but always I have fun plus I learn something in the process. I’ve learned a lot through the years by trial and error and via this blog I hope to impart some of those successes and maybe even save you from some of the failures!

Back when I started in encaustics, there was very little information out there. No YouTube videos, no How-To books. The only modern day encaustic artist I’d even heard of was an artist living in Mexico, Eshwan Winding, who is a very fine artist and does beautiful encaustic work. I found her before I found encaustics. I was looking online for some rather obscure recordings by a famous big band era trombonist named Kai Winding . . . I found the recordings and also discovered his widow, Eshwan, the encaustic artist, living and teaching in Mexico. She had some of her work online as well as a blog at the time and even though I never traveled to Mexico to take her classes I learned the basis of what I needed to know to get me started with encaustics. She was my inspiration. Who knows, perhaps this blog may inspire someone to give encaustics a try!

This is it, my first installment. Within the next few days I’ll add more content. I’m thinking I’ll start with a description of whatever I happen to be working on and I’ll list the tools and supplies I use. I’ll also tell you why I have chosen the particular tool or material I use, what I used when I first began my encaustic journey and how/why I evolved into using what I use now. Most often the tools I use these days are much less expensive than what I thought I had to have in the beginning. I could have saved quite a lot if I had known then what I know now. I’ll try to pass on some of those tips, tricks and techniques, even, dare I say . . . Secrets? I mean, why, at my age am I holding on to them? Haha!

I’m hoping you won’t be too critical of my writing style or the content . . . I’m sure to veer off the topic of encaustic art and tell you about my 20 year old cat Abigale who is nearing the end of his life. He is pretty much on my mind during these, his last days. I probably won’t be able to resist posting videos (probably bad video) of the two big rack, buck deer that come late at night to eat the corn we leave . . . or post photos of the moss and bracken that grow on the rocks here that look like alien, microscopic forests.

If you’re struggling with a particular encaustic dilemma  or have a question go ahead and ask, I’ll be glad to give you my opinion. If you have suggestions for future encaustic topics, please let me know. I sometimes think I’ve seen it all so to speak but probably not, still I’ll tell you what has worked or hasn’t worked for me. See ya next year! Hope 2021 will bring us all health, healing and happiness. Create more art and stay safe!

La’Nelle

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