Encaustics and the discarded series

"Sordid" - encaustic on 10" x 10" cradled board, $250.00

As another branch of my "Discarded" series, I have been incorporating antique photography into encaustic works.

I have a fascination with antique photography. It's sad and intriguing to find old family snaps and formal shots for sale at junk shops and antique stores. I can spend ages sifting through these crumbling old pages from someone else's life.  I like the idea of giving them a new life by putting them into art pieces. I find these images so inspiring - precisely because I don't actually know the people in them. It affords each image the potential of infinite stories.

My newest iteration of this series is incorporating these images into encaustic works. Encaustic is painting with melted wax, and you can do image transfers, collage and carving into the wax to build your image. I used the image transfer method to create this series.

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One way to monoprint

There are lots of ways to create monoprints. I learned a fun way to do it in a workshop with Karlyn Holman a couple years ago. I've used this process to create probably more than 100 paintings by now. I've done series of flowers, vegetables an fruits, portraits, birds, and most recently I have come up with a new series I'm calling "Absurdity Birdity".

I've found this process to be really versatile and fun, as well as freeing. You end up with smears and marks from the ink, and the collage paper ends up in places you don't expect. This gives you the opportunity to "make it work". I find it challenging and I feel some of my best work has come from this process.

I thought it would be fun to show how to do it.

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Absurdity birdity

A new series of monoprints has been inspired by an upcoming show "Art is for the Birds" at the Deer Path Art Gallery in Lake Forest, Illinois.

I was looking at the bird paintings I've done in the past and at the many figurative paintings I've done in the past year and wanted to put the two ideas together.

I liked the absurdity of the presence of a bird on top of someone's head, as if it was an every day thing. The silliness of it makes me smile. Doing this series in monoprint/collage/watercolor allowed the dirtiness of the monoprint process plus the brightness of the watercolor and collage papers. All together I think the effect heightens out the absurdity of the image itself.

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Two sold from Snow Day series

I am very pleased to report that I have already sold two paintings from my new series, "Snow Day". Considering I only started this series about a month ago I'd say that's great progress!

First one sold was "O'Hare in the Park" (above) to my friends Scott and Roger - owners of the dog featured in many of the paintings. Thanks guys!!

Second one, "Snow Day" pictured below, was sold at The Leigh Gallery. Thank you Jean Leigh!

So far I've painted 10 in the series - some are hanging at the Leigh Gallery and I'll be hanging some more at the Andersonville Galleria, where I'll also have some prints available soon. Please stop by to see them in person!

"Snow Day" - prints available, contact me for details.


My friends at Felines & Canines

Last month I wrote a post when I completed a series of pet portraits I planned on donating to my friends at Felines & Canines. I wanted to give them something to help decorate their soon-to-be-completed, totally renovated, new and improved pet shelter. Well - the long year of construction is finished - and now they have a totally gorgeous, warm and happy, no-kill shelter for cats and dogs. They moved in this week. They took an old house and made it into a state of the art, clean and friendly place where they can house 2-3x the pets they could before. Not to mention prior to the move they took in only cats - but now with all the extra space they have become a cats and dogs shelter. They are an amazing team and truly wonderful people. I can't say enough about them. If you are a pet lover, you must stop by. Adopt a pet, donate to a very worthy cause, donate some of your time, or just stop by to say hello. You will be as impressed with them as I am.

The photo above was taken yesterday - only a day after they moved in. They are posed in front of my donation - featured in their fabulous new adoption room. Abby Smith and her partner Kelly Thompson run this amazing place and Marie-Clare Balabanian pictured at left is one of the many dedicated and warm-hearted staff members who take such excellent care of these pets. The lovely canine front and center is Knuckles - Abby and Kelly's dog and a favorite at the shelter. Knuckles is featured in one of the portraits, upper right.

Congrats, my friends, on the fabulous new place, and the beginning of a new era for Felines & Canines!

Pictured above, from left: Marie-Clare Balabanian, Knuckles Thompson-Smith, Kelly Thompson and Abby Smith

To get a better view of the portraits, click the thumbnails below.

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Getting myself back into fine art


Artist's Statement

“I experience true moments of peace while I'm painting.”

When I was little, whenever my brother and I would complain we were bored, mom used to sit us down with paper and crayons and let us go. This was my start as an artist.

In school art was always where I excelled most and in my youth you would usually find me in the midst of creating something. I have attempted many mediums - drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, carving, collage, photography, weaving, rug hooking and macrame (yes, I am a child of the 70s). By age eleven you'd find me checking how-to books out of the library on such subjects as cross stitch or drawing cartoon characters.

When I went to college, I decided to study fine art. I took classes in ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, metalsmithing, fiber art, film making, oil painting, watercolor and drawing. I learned about color, composition, shape and line...techniques, tools and materials...drama, content and meaning. I learned from my teachers, other students, and from studying the masters.

I graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Painting and Drawing and a minor Art History, but on graduation immediately set down my brushes and began a career in graphic design. While I had learned all about how to make art while in school, there was absolutely no formal training in what to do after you graduate. Plus my mom, ever the realist, quipped "You know another name for a professional artist?... a waitress." An ironic comment coming from someone who is an artist herself.

Now - I have nothing against a career in food service - but even at that young age I knew it was not where I would excel. And I'd just spent the previous few years and lots of money learning to be an artist. Fortunately during that time I'd also been working part-time in a quick print shop in order to pay school bills and support myself, and at that job I'd learned about desktop publishing. So, while I had no idea how to make a living in fine art, I knew I could make a living as a graphic designer.

It's now nearly 20 years later and I am a successful designer. Since 1998 I have been running my own business, Andiamo Creative - a graphic design and web development studio in Chicago. I have worked with hundreds of clients in both the US and Europe and my company is currently undergoing a big growth period.

I created very little art since graduating, and many times friends and family have asked, "What about your painting?" I had a good response for that - I would always say, "I use my creativity all day as part of my job, which leaves me with no juice to do anything creative during my free moments." That makes sense, doesn't it? Well, I can see now that was a major cop-out.

The turning point

What changed everything was the decision to take a watercolor class in June 2010. My mother, my Aunt Milly and I took a class with Karlyn Holman in Washburn, Wisconsin. It was a week-long seminar, during which time Karlyn teaches the class several different techniques that she's honed in her successful career as a watercolor artist.

We had an amazing time! Every day, mom, Milly and I arrived super early and started work immediately. The next moment I would look up and the day was over. I was so into it, I totally lost track of time. By the middle of the week our table earned the nickname "the over-achievers". The week flew by.

Walking through the door

I took stock and realized that the only times this phenomenon has happened to me - losing time like that - has been while I am creating art. I think these lost moments are doorways into your true soul, your passion as a human being, and the point of your existence on this earth. Through that door is boundless energy and creative juice. I have come to the realization that if you find this kind of thing in your life, you must go through that door.

So, since that class in June 2010, I have been a daily painter. I've finished over 120 paintings to date and I am still making more. There are always more ideas, way more than I have time to pursue. Mom, Milly and I took another class with Karlyn in April 2011 and I'm looking into other classes I can take. I have started showing my work at the Chicago Art Gallery, the Andersonville Galleria and have recently joined the Illinois Watercolor Society.

My main joy as an artist is the act of creation itself. I am inspired by everything around me - from garden flowers to spectacular views to the light in children's faces to patterns amongst chaos. I think my overriding style is not so much attached to my subject matter but can be seen in how I use color and line and form. Bold composition and hues are the running theme throughout my work. And if my efforts are appreciated by others, that means joy all around.


The fact that I have a background in fine art gives me an edge in graphic design since I see a  project from a fine art standpoint as well as from a graphic design standpoint. Plus I am one of the few designers around who can actually draw (since the advent of the computer we are a waning crowd). This means throughout my career I have been able to offer my clients professional illustration in addition to graphic design. However, it is also true that my years working in graphic design have increased my mastery of composition, color and drawing ten-fold. The lessons I've learned throughout the years in graphic design have made me a much more circumspect artist. Certainly the business lessons cross over as well, and I am working out how to make a living as a full-time artist. But for now both careers co-exist and are moving forward at full speed.

The most important thing I have learned is that the creative juice it takes for me to be a graphic designer is completely different from the juice I have for creating my own art. And happily, the darn jug overflows.


90 degree winter

It's been so hot in Chicago lately that I was inspired to paint a couple winter landscapes, below. Nearly monochromatic, these were created using only four paint colors - 3 blue hues and one red. I am totally digging the stark quality.

"Winter path" - original watercolor painting by Rochelle Weiner

"Frozen Morning", original watercolor painting by Chicago artist, Rochelle Weiner


A new direction

Painting from life

I am thrilled to report a new direction in my art. Back in art school I used to really look forward to my painting from life classes. I love the immediacy of standing there and painting what you see and feel from another human being, right on the spot. It's amazing to me that there would be a class full of students, all painting the same model, same pose, each ending up with a totally different interpretation. Everyone's painting was different, because everyone's experience is unique and individual - even when the stimuli are as controlled as a single person sitting in a single pose for 3 hours time.

No opportunities

I've not had an opportunity to paint from life like this since I was in school - nude models aren't exactly knocking on my door (that's probably a good thing...) But I've always had it in the back of my mind that if I'd ever find this opportunity again, I'd jump on it. Well, the opportunity presented itself through a brilliant artist I met recently, Piotr Antonow. He and I are currently in a gallery show together in Chicago and he does these remarkable, large scale, colorful, energetic, abstracted nudes. Stunning work, I am blown away by his talent. On meeting him and discussing his work he has now invited me in on the live model sessions he attends 1-2x a week.

What joy!

Finally the opportunity has presented itself, and I am having a ball. A third artist is also working with us - Marina Nemtseva - and between the three of us we present three totally different points of view of the same model, same pose. This is just like I remember from art school. Cool!

I thought I'd show an example of this. Below is an example of two paintings I did during last week's 3 hour session, and also an image of Piotr's painting done of the same model at the same time. Alas I do not have an image of Marina's painting because I didn't have the idea to write this blog until a few days after she - shockingly - destroyed her painting! What?! Bummer! it was really cool! I guess she must not have liked it! (I'll have to be faster next time.)

Susan at the Window - original acrylic painting by Rochelle Weiner

Susan at the Window - original acrylic painting by Rochelle Weiner

Susan in Glowing Light - original acrylic painting by Rochelle Weiner

Susan in Glowing Light - original acrylic painting by Rochelle Weiner

Nude in Natural and Artificial Light by Piotr Antonow


Accepted into IWS national exhibition!

I'm over the moon! I was just informed that my painting, "Jealousy in Red Gloves" (see below) has been accepted into the Illinois Watercolor Society's national exhibition! I've been told that nationally rated artists submit paintings to be in this show every year, so to be one of 60 selected for competition is a major honor in itself! Woohoo!

This painting is one of a series I'm developing where I use discarded antique photos to inspire a painting. I will be showing rest of the series in May in Chicago, but "Envy in Red Gloves" will be displayed that month at the IWS show.  Tentative name of this series is "Discarded".

Information regarding the show coming up in May:

IWS 28th National Exhibition

May 4 – June 1, 2012
Reception: Saturday, May 5

Judge of Awards: Donna Jill Witty, AWS, NWS, TWSA-MS
Demo by Donna Jill Witty at 1 PM

The Next Picture Show
113 W. First St., Dixon, Illinois 61021, 815 285 4924



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