Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas - An Expression Of His Love

It is just a few days before Christmas and I have gone as far as I am able to go in preparations without more money - just waiting on hubby's current paycheck to show up in the mail.

Every year I say I'm going to get an earlier start - and this year I actually kind of did - as far as I was able to without getting fully paid for one of my own teaching gigs. But somehow here we are again down to the wire with still a few crucial things left to do. Always one kid who doesn't give me a list until the last minute and even with a minimal budget, times seven kids, it adds up to so much money!

And of course it doesn't help that we have a car in the shop (also waiting for the current paycheck).
But really - the tree looks so pretty and the railing up the stairs is wrapped in garland and antique glass Shiny Bright ornaments with the stockings all hanging along the way and it is just such a magical feeling...

I know it isn't about the gifts and the giving and the getting. It is about THE GIFT that we each received when God came to earth and was born as a babe in the manger, preparing to serve and spread the good news of His sacrifice to be freely given to all who ask - But how else could I even begin to express my joy? My desire to give what I have so freely been given? Nothing - NOTHING can even come close to that feeling.

And yet I try. And I will keep trying to express the love he has put in my heart for my family through the decorating and the baking and the gift giving and the wishing of Peace and Merry Making.

And I wanted to share this joy with each of you in some tangible way. But I couldn't because, you know, the money thing. And also the running out of time- which is very nearly as scarce as the money this time of year, especially since I tend to squander it sometimes - but then I remembered HE gave his gift to you too!

And we can just link our arms together over the virtual miles and gaze up at our Christmas trees or at the stockings hanging along the railing and just be content in the receiving of it. and the beauty of it. and the enormity of it.

and the knowledge that everything any of us really ever needs is right there in that gift. HIs gift.
Eternity in His love.

Merry Christmas - it seems like such an inadequate way to express it - those two little words.
and the tinsel. and the presents.

But there it is. My inadequate heart to express His more then adequate gift of eternal love. Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Introducing Utterings: A Wordless Prayer

Working in my studio in silence my eyes are hearing from the overflow of my heart. I have no words to express these yearnings and longings.

They are known only to the Spirit. I move these scraps of paper around until there is a silent confirmation. Each one is a prayer. An offering. Perhaps a request or a blessing. a silent plea for mercy. grace. peace.

"So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought,

but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance." ~Romans 8:26

* While I may feel an impression or sense what a particular Uttering is about, I have chosen to leave the individual collage's in this series untitled so that the recipient is free from the influence of my words and able to find meaning that is personal to them.

Visit OPF Studio at Etsy to find available Utterings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Holiday Give Away! Yes, I said Give Away!!

Have you heard? Cloth Paper Scissors has a new special edition holiday publication out called Gifts! I spent the evening last night perusing the pages of this action packed tutorial guide and I have to admit I had a hard time sleeping with so many inspiring ideas dancing around in my head!

Favorites? Of course! But a lady never tells - oh, but who said I was a lady?? I have to say there were TOO MANY favorites to do justice to, but can you say encaustic advent calendar?? Tech savy gadget skins?? or how about no sew tote bags with plenty of style? Okay - I have to admit there was a project that stood out as a must try for me - check out page 72 for a project titled "File It Away" by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. Just what I need to motivate me to get organized!

What's that you say? Don't have a copy to see what I'm talking about?? HA! You are in luck! It just so happens that I have TWO COPIES of this special holiday edition to give away! Courtesy of Cloth Paper Scissors and from my door to your mailbox - leave me a comment (with some way to contact you!) between now and December 23rd and I will enter your name in a drawing to win one of the two copies I have to give away!

Whoot! I feel like Santa Claus!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

It's Not Where I've Been - But Where I'm Going....

Yes it has been well over a month since my last post, but the question is not where I've been, but where am I going?

Today I head to The Merchandise Mart in Chicago where I will be setting up a booth at the One Of A Kind Show and Sale which starts tomorrow and runs through this Sunday. With 600 juried artists, in its 10th year of production, this show is the ideal place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your holiday list!

Come find me in booth 8-2013 in the Etsy Emerging Artists Pavilion. I have been working like crazy to produce new work especially for the show and can't wait to see you there!

Philippians 3:12-14

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Announcing Encausticamp - A Highlighted Journey

Dabbling in encaustics was a natural and somewhat uneventful shift in my journey as a collage artist. I was looking for a way to enhance, protect, and add more depth to my work, while maintaining the textural quality of the antique papers that I loved. After spending time perusing a stack of new art books at Borders one evening, I came home with "Encaustic Workshop" by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, feasted on the eye candy it contained, read a bit on the process, and set about developing an encaustic style of my own, falling in love with the process, and eventually coming up with my "Wax & Wire" jewelry line. I couldn't get enough of the endless possibilities using this warm honey-smelling medium. It all seemed innocent enough...

To say that doors have been opening as a result of this exploration seems like a bit of an understatement. In fact, I have been feeling more like Natalie Portman in this scene from "Where The Heart Is". The door hasn't just been opened, but more nearly thrown from its hinges, barely leaving me time to register the wonder of it all as tornado-like forces suddenly pull me through.

 Melodramatic? Maybe a little. . .

There are times in your life when you just know that something is significant. There is a shift in the ground beneath your feet. A tiny crack in the heavens, just beyond your vision, for just a billionth of a fraction of a second, as you glimpse behind the curtain to the brilliance beyond. It's what my friend Sue recently described as God "highlighting" something significant. It may be just a verse from a song, or a scripture you've heard so many times it almost passed your notice. A word softly spoken by a stranger, or something that makes a particular person stand out among so many others and a new friendship is born. Even something that resonates deep within as you pick up an art book from the shelf at the bookstore. 

And you just Know.

Not that you know what it is that you know. You just know. The moment has been lit from above.  

The wonderment and suddenness comes when you look up one day and you start to see the connections between those highlighted moments and realize you were on a deliberate path that brought you to this place all along.

It is gazing at a night sky filled with millions of pinpoints of starlight and noticing some are brighter then others and then tracing a line between those bright stars and seeing the Big Dipper. Not so random. Not so unconnected.

And this path you have been following widens just a little and it all seems so suddenly to have come together. 

And you know. You just know. Others can see it too and it becomes so bright, so visible, it beckons for them to follow.

These highlighted moments would fill many posts and may yet find their way into a few, but each one has led to this moment and yet this is just one step in many to come - how do I know? I just know that I know.

Join me on this creative journey at Encausticamp - A special all encaustics retreat - for 3 full days and 4 evenings of inspiration and education hosted by Artist and Author Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, July 2011. Follow Trish's Encausticamp blog for unfolding details and stay tuned here for news!

Fun with EncaustiKits

This week I had the honor and fun of testing an encaustic incising kit from artist Patricia Baldwin Seggabruch's line of EncaustiKits.

My kit came with everything needed to create encaustic masterpieces utilizing the technique of incising, 3 tins of encaustic medium (1 basic and 2 pigments), 4 Hake Brushes (high quality, so soft and lovely to work with!), 4 Encausticbord's, 2 incising tools, and 2 color pigment sticks.

The quality of the refined beeswax Patricia has selected to use in her wax is evident in the pure clarity of the wax and the honeybee smell permeating throughout my studio.

I followed the instructions in the enclosed brochure giving my board a base coat of clear and then a second coat of yellow, fusing after each application. Then the fun began!
Choosing to use a stencil as my guide on the first piece, I traced the lines with the incising tool. Now I have to say that I typically am a "use what you have" kind of gal and incise my wax with just about anything I find laying around the studio, but this little tool really made a difference with its quality ball tip (a different size on each end) that slid easily through the wax and left a smooth line behind it. After I was satisfied with the pattern, I let the board completely cool and then used the blue pigment stick to fill the lines, carefully rubbing and wiping away the excess.
I fused again to set the incising and then decided to add a little stenciled detail with another layer of yellow wax.

Sorry my photos do not do the color in this piece justice - the one thing I don't like about my studio space is it's lack of natural lighting - but I am tickled with the results.

Next I followed a similar process but with two layers of clear medium and adding a bit of old text for interest. I incised a tree and filled it with the red pigment stick, staining the entire upper portion of the piece with red before incising the word "life".

Here I masked off a portion with painters tape and used the blue pigment stick to fill the word life and stain the right half of the board.
The pieces I created are quite a departure from the collage work that I normally do. And I found myself wondering where the flowers and playful images were coming from when I realized it was simply the act of being allowed to play. It was a fun afternoon and I am inspired to pursue creating more pieces in this style. Patricia's kit contained all the materials I needed to complete these projects and then some, sans skillet to heat the wax and heat gun to fuse. Hop on over to the Encaustikits website for a variety of kits, tools (including the skillet and heat gun if you need them!), books and inspiration, and just in time for the holiday gift season, but I have to warn you....
It may be addicting!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Art and Soul - Portland 2010

"Utterings: A Wordless Prayer Series"                  by Crystal Neubauer

It's hard to believe I've been home for two days now. I taught three classes in two days and have to say that I am still floating on a bit of a high from the experience. My only complaint? I just did not take enough pictures. I was just moving along on a creative tide not thinking beyond the moment. Yes, it was that much fun!

Tuesday was Front and Center: 3D Collage with a Story. A day packed with learning techniques that are transferable to all kinds of collage and mixed media projects, learning to saw acrylic with a jewelers saw, making tube rivets, and tuning in to what is going on inside to hear the story wanting to be told. I'll be teaching this class once again at Art & Soul - New Orleans in July. Here are a few class pics from Tuesday:

Wednesday day was Encaustic Adornment, also known as my "Wax & Wire" class. I've managed to combine these materials in an unlikely marriage of metal, paper, and encaustics and was eager to share the technique. Not only was it a fun class in which I was delighted to be able to see how each student interpreted the process to suit her own style, but I came away knowing I had met some really cool and inspiring artists (as I did in all my classes!!) - not as teacher to student - but as a peer learning as much as I had to share.

I've a few class photos, but be sure to go check out Jan's blog for a close up of her cool pieces with tiny found objects attached as well!

 Admiring all the beautiful work!

 Muriel's pieces were gorgeous - but my camera didn't like the lighting~

 Here I am with my eyes closed - but the class was poised and ready with smiles!

And oh one of the most special things about Art & Soul, as I am sure those of you who have been there will agree, is connecting with friends, new and old. My dear dear sweet friend Sue Simpson is peeking out at the camera. We have been friends online for years and were finally able to meet face to face solidifying what will be a close life long friendship. Even now I have tears of joy at how God works to connect similar souls through the thread of art and a love for Him.

This is the multi-talented Becky Christian manning her booth on Vendor night. For the second year in a row Becky picked me up from the airport and drove me and all my stuff to the hotel (even returning to the airport in the afternoon to retrieve part of my luggage which did not make it on the same flight as I did!). Becky played chauffeur driving me far and wide searching out a Chipotle so my poor tummy could eat something I knew would be gluten free. She spent hours behind the wheel and more hours sitting in my room with me as we bagged and prepared our goodies for vendor night. There are friends you just know that no matter how many months go by without talking or seeing each other, will always be your good friend and Becky is one of them. 

I did not manage to get any photos of my evening class "Encaustic Collage In An Evening" on Wednesday night (also being offered in New Orleans in July). I had a full class of 22 enthusiastic students soaking up as much as they could creating quick collage's and learning the basics of using encaustic wax to enhance and protect their art, along with some fun techniques including image transfers, incising, stenciling, adding color, and an overview of the endless creative possibilities to be found in encaustics. The unanimous plea as they went out the door with their beautiful pieces was "we want more!" ~ so stay tuned for a special announcement!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I've just arrived home from teaching and vending at Art & Soul Portland where time seemed to pass in warp speed. There is so much to share I'm not even sure where to start. A nap is in order and much unpacking to do, so for now I will leave you with an image from my new line of collage works on paper titled "Utterings" and I promise to be back soon~ xoxo

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recent Works 2010: A Juried Competition

My original two works from my new series "My Kind Of Town" were accepted to to be exhibited in the Lake County Residents show "Recent Works 2010". -- As there were a record breaking 296 works submitted for entry, and only 61 of those selected for the exhibit, I am feeling especially excited about the show.

Opening reception Friday October 1 from 7 - 9 pm.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again

A friend of mine noticed OPF Studio was up and running again this morning and wrote that she was glad I was back in the saddle again. Now that song is stuck in my head ~ thanks Jan!

Life Lessons               by Crystal Neubauer

Among the collage works I've just listed is "Life Lessons". I have been in the process of learning so many lessons of late. Good lessons. Hard lessons. Life changing and building lessons.  - If only life came with an instruction book. I could have read it a long time ago, kept it around for those times that questions have come up about the "rules" - and by questions, yes I mean those knock-down-drag-out-power-struggle-me-first kind of questions! A good rule book now and then might come in handy. Well, okay, I do have one sitting next to my bed and it helps when I open it and give it a good read every morning.

Winter Bird       by Crystal Neubauer

Winter Bird is one of a new series of works I've created combining collage, encaustics, and image transfers I created from my monoprint birds. 

 Friends and Honesty            by Crystal Neubauer

Friends and Honesty is one of a series titled "For The Birds" within the series of monoprint bird collages - 9 works done on 4" x 4" cradled canvas - appealing on their own or grouped in vignettes of two or more.

For The Birds Series        by Crystal Neubauer

The series is modestly priced allowing a snippet of art for any budget and making a collection possible.

Coffee Break               by Crystal Neubauer

Coffee Break, aptly named for the calming tones and foundation that began on a used coffee filter, is one of the few collage works that is not completely done in encaustics. Sometimes the textures and tones of the work beg not to be covered.

Along with reopening the Studio at Etsy, I have been busy this month getting settled in to a new studio space and home. Thought I'd share a panoramic view of the space as I get settled in. What will be, I'm sure, a rare view of a tidy space. I've just about got it all sorted and put away, with the exception of the goodies I plan to take to Portland for Vendor Night.

Be sure to take a look at my Etsy Studio frequently, I'll be adding new works all month and if you haven't signed up for my newsletter be sure to do so and I will send you the latest copy with an exclusive offer for newsletter readers good for the entire month of September~ And now I'm Back in the saddle again - Whoopi-ty-aye-yay!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Welcome to Chicago: My Kind Of Town

Left Side: Anatomy of The Artist                       by Crystal Neubauer

Tomorrow night, Friday August 27th, I'll be setting up shop with my art and objects at the Cloth Paper Scissors Create Retreat, Artists' Faire and welcoming you to my neck of the woods. Chicago is just a short jaunt from home for me and I'm commemorating the occasion with a new series titled "My Kind of Town".

Anatomy of The Artist                               by Crystal Neubauer

This series of collage & acrylic works incorporates a small series of digital collages I previously created from photographs taken during a visit to Navy Pier in Chicago, November 2008. 
Side View: Anatomy of The Artist         by Crystal Neubauer

"Anatomy of The Artist" speaks of the complexity of life, our Creator and the beauty to be found in all of creation. It measures 6" x 18" and is sealed with a textured acrylic gel medium that has a subtle wheels and gears pattern made with stencil from MaryBeth Shaw's line.

Reel Life                    by Crystal Neubauer

Also measuring 6" x 18", "Reel Life" is a skyline view of the city from Navy Pier with a dreamy surreal quality designed to evoke thoughts of a life that is larger then the individual, with consideration to the role one was created to play.

Right Side: Reel Life                       by Crystal Neubauer

In addition to these larger canvases, I have created a few small collages for the series "My Kind of Town" for purchase, along with my new series "For The Birds", many of my abstract collage works, some of my jewelry items, and of course a wide variety of my unique objects and paper packs for you to use in your own art projects. If you are planning to attend the CPS Create Retreat, or are in the Chicago area tomorrow night, be sure to stop by the Artists' Faire at the Hilton Rosemont, Chicago O'Hare, just outside Chicago from 6 - 9pm. The event is open to the public.

Left Side: Reel Life                       by Crystal Neubauer

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finding My Way Back Home

 Finding My Way Back Home                          Crystal Neubauer 2010

One thing I have discovered to be true, I am a collage artist. First and foremost, above all other mediums, my first and truest art love is collage. I could rip and tear and glue papers from now and through eternity. I have bins full of saved scraps of papers and old books in the worst of conditions are stored away on book shelves as if they are literary classics bound in the finest leather covers. I am a hoarder of language. I've described in previous posts how this art form is therapeutic, meditative even, and can be a form of worship for me. As I spend quiet hours in my studio these papers take a turn toward an unspoken language between myeself and God. A groaning of the Spirit as I push and pull and tear away with physical papers I am opened to see with greater clarity whatever it is God is working out in me through my love of collage.

But then came encaustics. When I first set out to explore with encaustics I thought this would be an aside from collage, a detour, if you will, but I found that it so perfectly suited the work I was already doing that it did not compete for my time in the studio, but completed it. And though I still have just scratched the surface with what is possible to do with this medium, I have fallen in love with the waxy substance that binds the papers and protects and enhances and adds a luminative quality to the textures I so love to work with.

And then came monoprinting, With fickle infidelity I fell in love again. This time with inks and brayers and new possibilities that stretch out endlessly in front of me. Monoprinting is fun and freeing. Where I had no knowledge of painting, I can paint. And where I did not know how to draw, I draw, and it is deeply satisfying. Again, I believed that this would be just a detour, that there would be times I would want to express myself through monoprint and times that I would work with encaustic and collage. But how could I not find a way to marry all of my loves?

And so I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting my new line of monoprint encaustic collages next week at the Cloth Paper Scissors Artists' Faire in Rosemont. If you are attending the CPS retreat or are in the Chicagoland area on Friday don't miss out! I will be selling my art and objects alongside many talented artists from 6-9pm at the Rosemont Hotel O'Haire in Rosemont, Illinois. I hope to see you there!