Experimental Encaustic workshop with Shawna Moore

 |  May 25, 2012

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live. ~Mortimer Adler

It has been a busy, busy time of year and there are so many things that I want to post about, but just not enough time! So, I’m just going to update when I can and it may be a little out of order, but I’m ok with that. I really want to share a workshop that I took with Shawna Moore last weekend at the Zhou B Art Center. Her workshop was called “Experimental Encaustic” and it was hosted by Jenny Learner in her wonderful studio, Studio 303.

Shawna demonstrates

It’s been over 5 years since I’ve been in a workshop and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the energy of being there, the spirit of exploration and just having the luxury of having a day in a studio, having fun. No pressure to actually produce something finished.

Now, why haven’t I taken workshops? Well, first I don’t time. My art time is so very limited. Second, I’m frugal with my art budget. Third, I am a total loner in the studio. I need to be alone, shut out the outside world. When I have been in a workshop setting, I tend to flounder around. The workshop I took 5 years ago was with Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch to ensure that what I had been teaching myself with encaustic was correct before I started to show and sell my encaustic work. And with that foundation, I felt good about continuing with my own explorations and research through the various books that have come out. And now I am able to discuss things in person with fellow FUSEDChicago artists.

BUT, there are several artists that I would just love to have a chance to be in a studio with them and discuss the process and observe their approach. When I found out that Jenny had invited Shawna to come to Chicago, I jumped at the chance. Shawna was going to cover the combination of encaustic with oil paint,creating transparent layers, as well as various mark making methods.

such lovely wide brushes

Combining encaustic with oil paint, creating transparent layers and mark making…..all things I do already, right? I didn’t care- the point was that I would get an opportunity to observe an artist whose work I admire. I know that I can always learn something new- like a tweaking of a technique, or even just a new way to think about things, or even a new tool. So, I was really looking forward to this workshop that I was treating myself to.

Well, Shawna Moore didn’t disappoint. Not only is her work powerful and exhibits a mastery of the medium, she is an excellent, excellent instructor. The day wasn’t just about technique- she would really explain the how and why the paints worked the way they did. For me, while I have studied all this on my own and have an understanding of it, it was still so very helpful to hear the things that I know from both gut and from my own experiments articulated in such an intelligent and clear way. She brought clarity to me, for sure. She also discussed her creative process and approach which was enlightening. And since I do work more opaquely, I forced myself to really work and explore the wonderful transparency of the encaustic medium. In fact, we did not work with encaustic paint the entire day! We only used encaustic medium with pigment sticks or oil paint. That was a learning experience, for sure.

Shawna discussing her work at the end of the day

And besides all that, there were a couple of other FUSEDChicago members there and it was so much fun painting alongside my friends and colleagues. That experience alone is worthwhile to taking a workshop. We often just see each other’s finished paintings, never the beginnings, the mistakes, the surprises. Maike took a lot of photos and they are posted on the FUSEDChicago Facebook page.

a painting I created during the workshop, still going to work on it a bit when I get to the studio…hopefully soon!


  1. by Jennifer on May 25, 2012  2:56 pm Reply

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I still think the piece you created during the workshop is perfect as is. The contrasts, the patterns, the colors...aahhh.

    • by bridgette on May 25, 2012  8:55 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Jennifer, it's the bottom part, the white that I think I still need to mess around with. Hopefully it won't go all awry!

  2. by Kathryn Dyche Dechairo on May 25, 2012  5:56 pm Reply

    I've never had the chance to work with this type of media and would love to take a workshop. I too am a bit of a loner in the studio and find it hard to get creative if any kind of pressure is put on me. I should really give it a go one of these days though, workshops look like great fun.

    • by bridgette on May 25, 2012  8:57 pm Reply

      I do recommend taking a workshop if you are interested in encaustic just because there are so many tools and equipment involved. Makes sense to experiment with it before investing! I had a really great time and the creative hum that permeates a workshop is invigorating. I hope that you will give yourself a chance one of these days soon!

  3. by Michelle O'Connor on May 26, 2012  10:28 am Reply

    Wonderful! very cool concept of oil and encaustic. I don't know a thing about encaustic (haven't done it) but it is an absolute favorite of mine to look at. The results are so organic and beautiful. Reminds me a little of glazing pottery in a way. I have to agree with you about being a loner in the studio and I love how you describe yourself as "floundering" in a workshop. Looks like I share the same experience! Sounds and looks like this was a great one, though Have a great holiday weekend

    • by bridgette on May 26, 2012  9:49 pm Reply

      Michelle, I hope you get a chance to try out encaustic soon. It's interesting that you say that it reminds you of pottery. One of the things that I like about working in wax is the malleabity of it (not sure if that's the correct word, spell check isn't like it) but what I mean is- at times it reminds me of working with clay- the working of the surface. Hope you have a great weekend too!

  4. by Jann Gougeon on May 26, 2012  1:37 pm Reply

    Gee . . wish I had known Shawna came to Chicago. I live in SE Michigan, and Chicago is MUCH closer than Montana!

    • by bridgette on May 26, 2012  9:47 pm Reply

      Jann, I believe that Shawna and Jenny are making plans for her to come back in 2013!

  5. by Seth on May 26, 2012  8:24 pm Reply

    Sounds like a wonderful experience...on many levels. And that painting...love it!

    • by bridgette on May 26, 2012  9:47 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Seth! Yes, it was a very enjoyable day for me.

  6. by Laura on May 30, 2012  9:55 pm Reply

    Oh I am crying that I missed this workshop! End of school craziness...I just wasn't paying attention! What a great experience. I will definitely have to keep my eyes open for that date in 2013.But for now I am getting really excited to have Jenny come out to visit our school in the fall.

    • by bridgette on June 15, 2012  12:11 pm Reply

      You students will have so much fun with Jenny!

  7. by Steph on June 15, 2012  11:08 am Reply

    What a blessing to be able to have a workshop with Shawna. She has been one of the encaustic artists I have looked up to since I started working in the medium. You however are also an excellent instructor. Your calm thoughtful teaching manner, inspired me to tweak my own teaching method.

    • by bridgette on June 15, 2012  12:35 pm Reply

      Stephanie, you honor me with your words. Thank you so much, that means a lot.

  8. by Jenny on March 12, 2013  8:34 pm Reply

    Yes, Shawna Moore is coming Back to the Zhou B! Memorial Day weekend May 24th-26th.

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