Tag Archives: Encaustic

Harvest of the Heart

“As you learn to live by heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story, calling your tribe, and liberating not only your heart but the hearts of others.” –  Martha Beck   http://ow.ly/OiQJA

I read these words by Martha Beck​ and see the sequence of choices that led to the creations of “Harvest of the Heart” – a body of work in encaustic monotypes that evokes the bounty of nature, ripeness and my childhood in the countryside in France.

It started with a pause, and stillness. I was on a creative retreat where nature was the heart of the experience, as a studio, a subject and co-teacher.  I paused because I did not quite know what to do, where to go, so I stopped for a moment.  Then I took a step, rather tentatively. I gazed down, spotted a feather and picked it up. I gaze up and see this small wild apple, still green at the end of a branch.

Apple K. Chaussabel

Apple
K. Chaussabel

I found my inspiration, or rather it found me!

I sat down on a big boulder below the tree, feather dipped in ink, my hand following the contour of this fruit, over and over.

Nature notes - apple

Nature notes – apple

 

I loved the ease, the gentleness of this find, of this encounter,  and I felt it also in my hand, in the contact between the feather and the paper. There was a certain tenderness. It was echoed by the presence of a statue, hands cupped, an orb resting in them.

Nature Notes & Statue K. Chaussabel

Nature Notes & Statue
K. Chaussabel

 

 

Holding K. Chaussabel

Holding
K. Chaussabel

In hand, and in my gesture,  I was following my heart, connecting to memories of my childhood spent in the countryside in my native France.  Those memories were more vivid at this point time as I had moved to Texas where the land was flat, arid and felt very foreign to me. Suburban life added another layer of challenge to the experience…  Here I was, on this retreat in the Eastern Townships in Québec, in a natural setting that brought all those feelings to the surface.  Ink and feather in hand I was retracing, and recalling my roots, steeped deep in nature.

It is a process that continued, grew, beyond time and place.  Back in the encaustic studio, “Harvest of the Heart”, emerged from pools of molten wax, spreading and sinking into paper – along with a touch of pen.

The making of a monotype K. Chaussabel

The making of a monotype – Harvest of the Heart series
K. Chaussabel

I grew up harvesting cherries from a cherry orchard, vegetables from my parents, grandparent’s gardens.  Abundance was shared. We gave and neighbors brought and shared what they grew, raised.  Our family also gleaned chestnuts,  foraged for wild blueberries, raspberries, mushrooms.  There was a bounty from nature, wild and cultivated that permeated my childhood.

This is the story woven into Harvest of the Heart.

Harvest of the Heart Diptych Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Diptych
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Fullness I, IV, II Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Fullness I, II, IV
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

It is a story I get to share  this coming July for my debut at The Island Gallery.

There is a natural unfolding, an ease, just like the beginning of this journey, to showing  Harvest of the Heart for the first time, here on Bainbridge Island.  For I have found, for the first time, since leaving my native France, a place where my French country roots are alive, once again. It has been a long dormancy for sure! The taste of the local harvests offered by farms, food artisans, neighbors and friends, has awakened them!

I am deeply grateful for nature’s offerings as well as for those who share their bounty with me.

Harvest of the Heart Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Encaustic, Paper K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Encaustic, Paper
K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart Triptych Encaustic, paper, pen K. Chaussabel

Harvest of the Heart
Triptych
Encaustic, paper, pen
K. Chaussabel

Opening night is July 10, 2015!

 

Framed and matted pieces are available through The Island Gallery

 Ste 120, 400 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 –

(206) 780-9500  – http://theislandgallery.net

SHOW CATALOG:

 

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“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – Reflections on my creative journey

“The Vital Obstacles in the Creative Process” – These words definitely caught my attention when I recently saw them posted on the FB Page of On Being with Krista Tippett!  http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-vital-obstacles-in-the-creative-process/6311#comment-add-form

It is counter-intuitive to associate obstacles with any kind of positive light, yet it can be. I know that, deep down. And I learned that early on in my art practice. As a matter of fact, reading the following quote by Wendel Berry really brought my creative journey into view and made me pause and reflect about the energizing role obstacles have in my creative journey.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”

I came to creating art from that point very point of not knowing what to do!  As a new transplant to Montreal, Canada, I was looking for something to do. That’s when I came across the description of a course about creativity that caught my eye. Little did I know at the time that signing onto this class would lead to a journey of cultivating creativity on many different levels.

I knew very little beyond some high school art class about art, materials. So I was definitely stepping into unknown territory at the time, with little to no expectation but one, to try and see.  And try and see I did, over a few months, then year, then years and I have kept going ever since.

Try and see. That’s my motto.  And in the process what really I got trained in is the art of founding my way around obstacles and into new territories. I learned that early on. When I started painting, using brushes felt awkward in my hand, so one day I stopped. And I started using socks instead! The socks really did it for me! I had a more immediate contact with my painting surface. As a result, I felt freer with my gestures. I found an ease and it made my creative explorations fun and liberating.

I see my creative explorations as encounters where obstacles turned out to be  catalyst for change, and stepping stones for new found partners in materials, techniques. Early on, I found that using canvas was getting in my way, so I switched to paper. That was a very happy change for me. I found a whole new range of gestures and mark making. I could draw on it, paint on it, collage, stitch, print. It is a material that really took me, and still does take me, on many creative explorations. And I love that.

IMG_8988

Red Hot Purpleness – Encaustic, pastel, dictionary page – Karen Chaussabel

 

Tree of Life serie

Encaustic, pastel, pencil on amate paper – Tree of Life Serie – Karen Chaussabel

Stitching my heart out - K. Chaussabel

Stitching my Heart out – Thread, silk, pen on paper-  K. Chaussabel

IMG_1599

Paper, thread, encaustic, pastel, ink  Mixed Media – Au coeur – Karen Chaussabel

In the process, I find what works, often because of what doesn’t.  When I signed up for dry point printmaking, I discovered that doing quick gestural work is hard. Making a mark with the etching needle on copper plate requires a stronger touch and one that involves friction. Both went against the grain for me and that made me realize how much I cherish fluidity in material and process! It challenged me to find my way. And I did, with chine collé. The first time I dutifully went by the rules of keeping the thin rice paper within the confine of my printing plate. After that I took a certain pleasure of picking paper larger than my printing plate. I also started using different types of paper, including paper I had painted on before.

IMG_8977

Mixed Media Dry Point – Untitled – Karen Chaussabel

The best discovery in playing outside the box was the star-filled-evening-sky effect I got from using cyanotype paper for chine collé!

Red Wood Constellation

Red Wood Constellation – Dry Point Chine Collé – Karen Chaussabel

I have to say at the time I felt a great sense of having overcame a challenge. And with it came a sense of having stayed true to myself. That was a great learning moment and one that became a compass for me. I learned to flow around the obstacle, I learned to find my way. I consider that a very valuable skill -in art and life.

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing

I came across a poem, Black Bowl Dreaming, by Leila Philip and found particular resonance in the verse towards the end: ” a life spent knowing, through the hands.”  That is one of the most important experience I had early on in my creative explorations and it’s a teaching that stays with me. It’s starts with being present with what is, showing up with that and letting the hands get to work. That’s when I encounter the “knowing.”  I don’t look for it, rather it finds me.

This week,  I noticed that when I work with clay that I am more willing to be patient, unhurried, enjoying a leisurely pace! It’s rather different for me for I usually like to work quickly.  A slower pace is also reflected in my latest creations on paper.

Taking the time to stop and reflect.

Untitled - encaustic & thread

detail

Being with what is

Untitled - watercolor

Like fall outside, slowing down, taking stock of what has been harvested

untitled - watercolor & pastel

untitled - watercolor & pastel

Knowing it is fall, outside and inside.

China

I just came back from a two weeks trip of a lifetime to China where I studied Qigong and visited numerous historical sites and temples. I am still processing all I saw and experienced….

One of the experiences that stands out for me right now, is walking up many many many steps to reach the top of Eimei Shan, a sacred Buddhist mountain.  Stepping up and up and up, through the forest, in the fog, I was keenly aware how magical and extraordinary an experience this was for me. I took a moment to celebrate  where I was and it was captured in this picture:

Pausing to express gratitude and Joy - Eimei Shan - K. Chaussabel

And these are my first creations since I came home.

Moved - Encaustic on paper- K.Chaussabel

Moved - detail - K. Chaussabel

Moved - detail - K. Chaussabel

Moved- detail - K. Chaussabel

“We are life’s music, so let us dance.”

Julia Cameron – Prayer to the Great Creator

Those bumps in the horizon

My recent road trip between Texas and Seattle, Washington rekindled my love for the wide open horizons of the west with its roads stretching into infinity, open skies and the occasional landmasses rising from the land.

Somewhere in Northeastern New Mexico - Photo Karen Chaussabel

I particularly like seeing the hills rising from this sea of infinity. And when you are driving from hours on end, it’s comforting to the eye and mind!

Those bumps in the horizon - Photo Karen Chaussabel

I have enjoyed following the movement of “bumps” in the landscape in my work.

Following the Thread - Mixed Media paper & silk

Vista II - Encaustic on wood

Mixed media on wood - ink, pastel, thread

Encaustic Monotype

“Departing Souls” continued – Circle of life

“Departing souls ” deals with lives lost, and souls rising from bodies.

Departing Souls serie

Departing Souls I - MoMa Wales Tabernacle - A Book about Death

Bodies are dissolving, becoming shells, going back to the earth, completing nature’s circle of life.

Circle of life

Circle of life

Into the human realm

One of my very important starting point for my creative process is to be open. I keep myself open to possibilities. I try to be open to my surroundings and to what touches me. More often than not I am tuning in to nature and that’s reflected in my work. Earlier this year I turned my attention to the human realm when the Haiti earthquake struck. I let the devastation in and a serie emerged. It’s called “Departing Souls.”  It feels like a commemoration, bearing witness to lives lost. It feels like a process of honoring souls that are passing on.

Destruction – an unrecognizable landscape – a world that does not make sense to the survivors and witnesses

Departing Souls serie

Departing Souls serie

A world of great fear (“peur bleue” in French, literally “blue fear”)

Departing Souls serie

A world of suffering and pleas for help.

Departing souls serie

A world of countless lives lost.

Departing Souls serie

Two Journeys- Photos of the installation and reception

Photo by The Encaustic Center

The Encaustic Center has posted a very nice slideshow of pictures for the installation of “Two Journeys,” for the opening reception and the demos. You can see more pictures by clicking on this photo and scrolling down to “images from the reception.” I very much enjoyed doing the demo and to be able to talk about how I work.

“Into the Horizon” at The Encaustic Center

 

 

Two Journeys
Karen Chaussabel and Susan Sponsler
November 20 – December 20, 2009

Opening reception: Friday, November 20th, 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Karen Chaussabel
Into the Horizon
Born in France, Karen spent her childhood steeped in nature, aware and appreciative of her surroundings;
the connection endured, all the while moving to Canada, and now creating in Texas; her work speaks to those
landscapes and the process of integration and movement.
“This body of work represents a journey of exploration, both personal and artistic. The fluid quality of
monotyping with encaustic paint, is particularly suitable to embodying land and sea masses. The experience
of loosely brushing the paint onto a hot plate, having colors run into one another, blending and melding,
contributes to the feeling of exploration, of stepping a little further into those horizons as expansive
bodies of water and land emerge. Trust and respect of the process are at the heart of my creative journey.”
“I enjoy being in the process, engaged in a dialogue with my material. I find that through that dialogue,
my experience in art and life are enhanced. By letting materials be my guide, I get the unique opportunity
to grow and cultivate my creative voice. And exploring those new horizons through art has given me a familiarity
with them I did not have when I stood in their midst. That connection brought me to appreciate where I am”

Susan Sponsler
Yellow Work
Susan Sponsler was born in Seoul, Korea. She was adopted by American parents and arrived in the United States –
Iowa, specifically. Sponsler’s father, a Korean War veteran, and her mother went through the Holt agency to
adopt two babies – Susan and the two years later, a brother.
“The Yellow Work series consists of encaustic photo-based images related to my experiences as an Asian American
adoptee. My early dislike of the color yellow was closely entwined with my low self esteem as an Asian American.
From derogatory to powerful; naming ourselves Yellow now comes from the strength of our survival.”
“Yellow Work incorporates photos of myself along with items symbolizing Asia including, traditional Korean
language symbols, bamboo, the beautiful yellow leaf and other nature photos with yellow as the main focus.”
Sponsler’s work has been exhibited internationally – Seoul, South Korea, The US Embassy in Panama City and in
various cities in the US such as New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas, to name a few. She has a bachelor’s
degree in advertising and a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from Texas Woman’s University.

material as my guide

I once heard a presentation by Benjamin Zander and was inspired by his belief that there are untapped possibilities and connections in people. He sees his mission as someone who awakens possibilities in others. I must say he was quite convincing in his way of engaging, drawing the audience into his world, which is classical music. He has been the Boston Philharmonic conductor and his passion for classical music brought him to share it with others by inviting them to open themselves up to experience classical music, to let it pour in and to feel it. He made the spectator an actor of their own experience and it seems to me that is the way to tap into to new possibilities to make new connections. Being open, receptive is very much part of my creative process. It is through encounters of various kind that I learn to tap into new possibilities, create new connections.

I am reminded that it sometimes happens in many small ways. The seemingly casual and ordinary act of choosing and picking up a certain material can be the start of an encounter where the material becomes my guide.

I have had a few such encounter. One was with a paper that I brought back from Mexico. I had seen a show in Zacatecas, Mexico where Amate paper or bark paper was used. I liked what I saw so I went to the museum shop and asked with the Spanish I have where I could find it. I was directed to an art supply shop and bought several sheet of bark paper. That was 3 years ago. This spring I decided to give this paper a try for encaustic monotype.

Embarked on the Sea

Embarked on the Sea

I quickly found out that with this paper, I was to take a step back and let it be the conductor if I wanted the whole process to work. I had to find a way to cooperate with the strongly textured nature of this paper, to make it work with me. So I decided to make it part of my pieces. The dark unbleached pieces of bark became elements of the seascapes.

Seascape II

Seascape II

They became elements in the ocean in the piece above and the contours of the clouds/horizon in this painting.

I also found out that reworking a piece the way I sometimes do was not a given with this paper. Once the encaustic paint lands on this paper, it stays there. It won’t be rubbed, moved or blended. Paint can be added on top, in very small quantity, and it stays on the surface as the fiber is already thoroughly saturated from the first monotype. I find it is a paper that lends itself to be minimally handled and I learned to respect that and appreciate it.

Tree of Life serie

Tree of Life Serie - untitled

With amate paper, I also learned to do most of the work on the plate, where I can play up textures by juxtaposing brushed paint and oil pastels (red textured lines). Both get picked up and layered and intertwined. In this case, I was able to use pencil marks and to use plain medium for adding translucent shapes that feel substantial enough but also unobtrusive. With the light touch of plain medium I felt unburdened by adding more color and also like I was respecting the beautiful texture of the amate paper by not overpowering it. It seemed appropriate to let the woodsy fiber be part of the piece, a piece inspired by a tree. It is a material that indeed taught me to treat it for what it was, to play with its unique qualities, to connect with it. It did serve as guide, a conduit that allowed me to connect with my subject, a tree, and to honor both subject and inspiration.

I have had such an experience where material and inspiration connect while making my own encaustic paint. I found in my stash a prussian blue pigment I had bought a few years back in Montreal at Kama Pigments. I gave it a try, using all the appropriate safety precautions (mask, gloves) and added it to the encaustic medium. What I found out is that without the oil to act as binder, the pigment tends to float in the medium, staying rather gritty. It happens to have been a happy accident and discovery, as I was working on seascapes. To have an element resembling sand seems so appropriate for a seascape like this one below!

Sea Burst

Sea Burst