Author Archives: Carol Mell
I’ve always wanted to teach
Saturday, Oct. 21, 3 pm – 6 pm
With an iphone, a few apps and an afternoon at Ghostwolf, your photos can be transformed into art. In this workshop we’ll use a camera app to capture our images. Then, with editing, painting, sketching and filter apps we’ll make an artistic selfie, an elegant still life and an atmospheric landscape suitable for printing and framing. No experience necessary.
Instructor Fee: $50 (Students will purchase apps)
Minimum 3 and Maximum 6
Ghostwolf Gallery, S. Plaza St. NW, Albuquerque, NM
This month my “Giants in the Earth” series was the cover story for an online magazine about photography called Shadow and Light Magazine.
Friend and fantastic photographer Tim Anderson puts out this very good magazine about photography. He had to be convinced to do an issue on encaustic but it seems he came away with more understanding and respect for the medium. The editor, Helen Garber, wrote about how much she loves leaving Photoshop behind and making images with her hands, images that can be touched, smell like honey and allow us to incorporate sculptural elements. For me, making images outside in my quonset hut is a day well spent, lost in the movement of wax, wind and flame.
That story was also featured in Spring/Summer edition of Encaustizine, a digital magazine of the International Encaustic Organization.
This is a great ezine for learning about the encaustic work of some of the most exciting artists working in the field. I scour this magazine to learn all I can or to just get inspired.
And while we are on the subject of my “Giants in the Earth.” I just found out I was a runner up in the 10th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers in the Fine Art Series category with my images of the encaustic works. This international competition was “ established to honor those women behind the lens that fought to build a more inclusive and gender-equal society.”
Almost 5,000 images from 57 countries were received this year so I felt incredibly honored to be in the top ten for a fine art series. The images can be viewed in gallery five of the Gala Awards at:
All of this fanfare is really miraculous for this series which was a true labor of love on my part. I worked for the better part of a year on these 12 images both in Photoshop and in Encaustic and oils. I approached four or five galleries and while I was told that they were powerful, galleries did not want to handle them. I’m not sure of the reasons, they just didn’t think they would sell. I joined a collective gallery so I could show these and have gotten really great feedback. And I’ve sold two of them to people who said they fell in love. It just goes to show that the best road to success is to heed my motto :Follow the Dirt Road in Your Soul.
Here’s an intro video to my famous quonset hut studio and a view of my workspace. More videos to follow on specific techniques and tips.
Today I take six 8 X 10″ pieces and six 16 X 20″ to be packed in a crate and sent to New York for the Affordable Art Fair in New York, March 30 – April 2. They are all landscapes that I have printed on fine art paper and mounted to a panel. Then, I either paint or pour melted beeswax over them and then work that surface with texture and color.
It is truly a pleasure and a pain to send them away but I hope they will add joy to someone’s life.
My daughter says that all my years of work in landscape photography and now encaustic leans into the realm of fantasy. I’ve been thinking about this. It is true that the initial photograph is only a jumping off point for me into a game a photo friend calls “improvisation.” Improvised photography?
The artistic training I did have was in choreography. I took a dance class for PE credit in college and ended up at The Juilliard School because I was making quirky but complete dances. I began to play around with movement right away well before I mastered dance technique.
I approached photography the same way and spent years trying to incorporate movement into my “still” photography. With a little help from a neutral density filter I developed a method for photographing trees that allowed the light to flow around the frame. I called it “camera dancing.” The resulting images were on the abstract side but I hoped they would convey the sense of a living spirit that I had always known among trees.
Which brings me back to my thoughts about fantasy. I could see that my images of nature were not realistic but fantasy didn’t seem to fit either. Then, it hit me. While the images might seem fantastical to others I was striving to show that sense of presence I had known since childhood, the hidden realities of earth and her creatures that had seemed like constant companions throughout my life. My images are a window into my kinship with the living planet.
Now with my use of beeswax, resin and oils I keep working to make my images express what I see even more. I take the output from my camera and spend many hours playing with it in photoshop until it seems satisfying. That becomes a canvas for wax and paint.
For the Giants in the Earth I learned how to manage composite photography in photoshop, adding several images together with many texture and color layers. I had never really worked with figures but these Ethiopians standing by the road spoke to me in their beauty, simplicity and struggle. It was their relationship to the earth that interested me. Through improvisation and intuition I built environments for them that seemed to fit. I don’t do this work by thinking, I play around until I hit on something I like. Then with wax and oils I am able to play around even more, creating characters who live in a world all their own.
So is it fantasy? I suppose so though I didn’t aim for the genre. My aim is always to find what feels true and right. Often, the story comes later. In future posts I’ll be crafting a story about my recent work not to explain it but to further build the sense of a world that is complete and natural.
January 14-15, 2017
10 am – 5 pm
Adding melted beeswax and resin to photographs produces a rich alchemy of color and texture to create something new and often unexpected.
Learn the basics of photo encaustic. Explore pigment, collage elements, textures and photo transfer.
This course will cover studio basics, paper, panels, mounting techniques, encaustic pouring and painting using glazing, scraping, incising and dry brush techniques. Proper tools, studio methods and safe procedures will be discussed.
Cost: $240 + tax
Five panels and all supplies included.
New Grounds Print Workshop
3812 Central Ave SE,
Albuquerque, NM 87108
For Course info: