13th International Encaustic Conference – My highlights

Preparing for this post, I created a list of my highlights of this year’s International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown. It is long.

Coming from Europe where artists working with the dammar based Encaustic medium are scarce compared to the US, exchanging ideas with like-minded artists and having the chance to meet and discuss with the major vendors who all were present with a vast selection of encaustic artist supplies for sure was the highlight.

Sourcing these materials in Europe may be pretty time-consuming and cumbersome, as a lot of them are not available in Art Supply Shops and others are not even shipped to Europe. The representatives of Vent-a-Fume, for instance kindly checked on shipping costs for their Vent-a-Fume and found they would double the price of their product. Seems for the time being we have no other choice than to be creative and develop our solutions.

Thanks to the IEA scholarship, I was able to attend the conference the second time in a row this year. Being familiar with the venue, the different activities at the conference and reconnecting with familiar faces turned it into a different and more intense experience this time. The IEA Board of Directors kindly organized a dinner in honor of all the recent IEA Awards on the Gallery Opening Night on Friday, and we ended up exploring not only all the exhibitions featuring exceptional Encaustic Works but diving into Provincetown’s vibrant nightlife.

Starting the week with Lia Rothenstein’s Pre-Conference Workshop „Encaustic & Cold Wax together“ in the studio of the Truro Center of the Arts at Castle Hill was a fantastic choice. The peace and quiet at the Art Center allowed me to focus and to meet a handful of other artists before the conference. Lia’s readiness to share her wealth of knowledge and the chance to work with a range of different products generously donated by the various vendors created an inspiring and relaxed working atmosphere.

However, I had to deal with mainly two challenges: composing my conference program and keeping in check in the Vendor Room. Cherie Mittenthal put together an exciting selection of different demos and talks which happened in parallel in different rooms. Choices between two events often had to be made with a heavy heart.

Lisa Pressman’s „The Art and Craft of Teaching“ had to give way to Joanna Kidney’s „Drawing within Painting“ who demonstrated a lot of different styles and methods to include lines in encaustic works.

The talk with the wonderful Lorraine Glessner about „Materials, Method, and Process“ had to give way to Richard Frumess’ demo with the rather unspectacular title „Mud“, but a lot of spectacular insights into the topic of color saturation and offering memorable quotes like “Pigments don’t fit a Color Chart”.

I had to abandon the „Leaf Stencils & Organic Materials Demo“ by Dietlind Vander Schaaf in favor of the talk with Kim Bernard „Cultivating Creativity“ where we discussed different ways to overcome an artist block. And last but not least the talk „Growing together: Mentor and Mentees“ with Jeff Hirst, Lisa Pressman and Jen Greely and not the discussion with Michael David on „Critical Thinking and the Use of Encaustic in Abstraction“ made it on my schedule. Lisa, Jeff, and Jen candidly shared their experiences and highlighted the advantages of a fruitful mentoring relationship.

Luckily there were no alternatives to Judy Pfaff’s excellent keynote on Saturday morning and the panel “It’s not ALL About the WAX but a Tool in the Toolbox” with Joanne Mattera, Michael David, Deborah Kapoor, and Susan Lasch Krevitt.  I also did not have a conflict when attending Janise Yntema’s talk on the „Environmental Politics of Wax and the Future of Encaustic,“ where she provided an excellent and deeply researched overview on the topic.

All in all, I left the conference ultimately „saturated“ and inspired and couldn’t wait to get back in my studio to work on some new ideas. I kind of failed in the Vendor Room, though. It simply felt like paradise to have all these supplies so readily at hand, and I went way over budget.

But from what I heard from other artists – I was not the only one and happily traveled back to Europe with an extra piece of luggage.

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