Posts Tagged ‘Midsummer’

In my last post, I mentioned that there is a story behind the two pieces pictured.  Here’s the lowdown:

Those two pieces are from my encaustic “Midsummer” series.  Both sold very quickly; one in late 2008 and one in 2009.  I knew the purchaser of one piece (a fellow artist) and had some email correspondence with the purchaser of the other. 

So when I had the opportunity to have some of my work photographed at the 1109 Gallery in Lawrence, Kansas, I contacted the owners to ask if I might borrow the two Midsummers for an afternoon so that they could be included in the photo session.  Because both of these people are wonderfully generous, they unhesitatingly agreed. 

I assured them that I would take exemplary care of their artwork and further, on the it-will-never-happen chance that a piece was damaged, it would be covered by my professional liability insurance.  But none of us were concerned about that, because nothing like that ever really happens.  Ever.

It was a wonderful photo shoot.  (When everyone present is telling you how much they LOVE your work, it’s a good day.)  Afterward, I carefully packed the 15 pieces and returned home.  This is probably a good time to mention that this photo shoot took place in February.  And that we had ridiculous amounts of snow and ice this year. 

What happened next is so mortifying that I am reluctant to describe it.  Let’s just say that in relatively short order I was a) on the ground, howling over encaustic artwork that was cracked, broken, and in some places shattered, and b) calling my husband in near-hysteria, telling him he had to come home IMMEDIATELY, because I had done something BAD.  (Okay, it was actually full hysteria.) 

And because you, dear readers, are an intelligent and intuitive lot, you already know which two pieces received the greatest damage.  The two pieces from the Midsummer series.  The two pieces that belong to other people.  People who paid for them.  Who love them.  Who trusted me to care for them.

After my husband broke land speed records getting home and had helped me calm down, I was able to step back from my emotions and assess the damage objectively.  People who know me know that I am a particularly determined woman.  My modus operandi is to bare my teeth at a challenge and take that sucker on.  And although I had never had to repair damaged encaustic before, I was pretty certain I could restore the pieces.  Not being able to restore them was too hideous a prospect to consider.

I notified the Midsummer parents that there had been an accident, but let them know I was on the job and had every certainty that I could restore their babies to their former fabulousness.  I told them that if I didn’t restore the pieces to their satisfaction, I would repay them the full purchase price.  And I would throw in another piece of my artwork – their choice and anything they wanted.  Bless their hearts, they were super-duper gracious and showed total faith in my curative powers. 

However, as I stood looking at the two pieces on the work table in my studio, I pinballed between confidence and doubt and panic.  I considered taking photos of the damage and the repair process, but I simply could not bring myself to document the mess, even though I knew I would wish later that I had. 

It took a couple of weeks to make the repairs.  It was very wearing as I worked through trial and error, put everything I know about my process and my medium to the test, and had to take things slowly and methodically when all I wanted was to get this disaster fixed and finished.  But ultimately, the restorations were successful, and Midsummers #1 and #2 were returned to their rightful owners.

And I vowed that never, never again under any circumstances whatsoever would I ask to borrow one of my sold paintings, no matter what show I’m offered, no matter what opportunity is presented.

Unless it’s just too good to pass up.  And then I’m going for it.  No guts, no glory, people!


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I generally fill incisions in encaustic with more encaustic, as I mentioned in an earlier post (Aaaah, the Studio).  I showed a piece in progress in that posting.   Here is a different piece that uses the incise/fill with encaustic/scrape technique.   (Please forgive the background…it’s lying on the floor of my studio for this shot, and I don’t have a professional photo of it yet.)

Midsummer 1; Encaustic; 12x12, 2008.  Malissa Martin-Wilke, copyrighted.

Midsummer 1; Encaustic; 12x12, 2008. Malissa Martin-Wilke, copyrighted.

Here’s a detail of the same piece.
Detail of Midsummer #1; Malissa Martin-Wilke, copyrighted.

Detail of Midsummer #1; Malissa Martin-Wilke, copyrighted.

More to come on incision later!

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Yesterday, I showed at the Lawrence Art Guild’s Holiday Art Fair in Lawrence, Kansas.  Given the economy and the fact that I hadn’t had time to prepare any new small works that would be more affordable, I wasn’t expecting a lot in terms of sales or crowd.  And that was how the day went…until…

Some backstory:  I love the abstract work of a local artist, Karen Wiley, and I have very much aspired to even approach her level of work.  I have spent a lot of time standing in front of her paintings any time I find them around town, just studying and admiring.  And just last week, I received an announcement of a holiday open studio, and I hung it on the fridge, telling my husband, “We’re going to that!  Karen Wiley will be there!” 

So yesterday, who came into my booth?  Good guess – Karen Wiley!  And she loved one of my pieces in particular.  I was so thrilled, and also a little intimidated, because geez, there she was in my booth, and I’m self-taught and have only been painting for about four and a half years, and she’s well-known and so good…and so went my mental litany.  But it was great, and I really appreciated her appreciation of my work.  We visited awhile, and then she went on her way.  Later, Karen came back.  She kept studying the piece, and finally she said, “I have to have this.  It says so much to me, and I see so much in it.”  You could have knocked me over with a feather, to use a cliche.  And so the encaustic painting “Midsummer #3” became Karen’s. 

I will be honest and say that to have someone whom I view as my local art idol 🙂 love a piece of  mine so much was incredibly affirming and a little overwhelming.  What an honor.  And I think I blathered like an idiot for a few minutes…actually, I know I did.  Oh, well.

And one more piece of backstory:  I had taken this piece off my easel the night before and thrown on the hanging hardware just in time to get it to the show.   I don’t even have a photo of it!  It’s the third in a series of “Midsummer” pieces I’ve been working on.  But I’m sure Karen would let me come take a photo of it at some point if I need to.

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