This is a guest post by Michelle Belto; the first in a seven week series. Each  week one of the seven EncaustiCamp instructors will share their story, process and progress in our collaborative exhibit for EncaustiCamp 2015.

Michelle does a fantastic job of helping to introduce the overarching goal in this collaborative exhibit process~


I don’t know why it is, but the third piece in a series is often a turning point for me…and it is always a difficult birth!  I started this one with two major strikes against me.  The first was color.  I had picked up a rich umber color at the paint store, but I found that after working with such lovely colors in the first two pieces, this color was dull…dull…dull.   The second strike was the image I chose from Pinterest.

I have a rule, of sorts, that states, “you can choose any image or two that you want, but once chosen, you can’t go back to Pinterest.”  Why you ask am I so strict with the rules?  It might be my Catholic school education that kept us on the straight and narrow…and it might be a way to make myself push beyond my stuck places.  Whatever it is, the rule exists and I work with it.


The art work I chose had a tag “ceramic” from the Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, MO.  It reminded me of a Chihuly piece that was commissioned by our public library.  I could vision paper-wrapped wire swirling out of one of my canvas windows.  It actually might have been a Chihuly after all because the links led nowhere; I couldn’t find the art work on Google images or in any of the works of any of the current artists.  That IS one of the draw backs of Pinterest.  Images are pinned and repined constantly with no artist credits—I’m guilty of that as well—and the descriptors and links get detached from the images.

I decided to keep the inner window unpainted and planned to somehow wax “squigglies”.  I worked for a week on that darn idea!  Nothing looked good.  Nothing was working…but in that length of time, at least the color was beginning to grow on me.  I know from long experience that I can’t force a painting to go where I want it to go.  It has to take its own course.

Here are some of my trials and errors.

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In frustration, I dug through my found object stash.  I came across a carved figure from Peru.  Suddenly, the marks I had made in the canvas came alive.  Even the tie downs I had made for my wax dipped squiggly, fit.  I began to think about museum artifacts…and my sadness over the recent destruction of 5000 years of culture in the Mosul Museum of Antiquities.  As I worked, I remembered afternoons of pleasure spent in museums in my travels.  When I looked back at the other two finished works hanging on the wall, I could see other artifacts that might be found in such places.

As artists we are protectors of beauty…guardians of culture.  While only a select few will have work collected by museums, it is something that moves each of us to do our best work.  There is something here in these musings that speaks of purpose and direction and focus for this series.  While I continue to think about what statement I want to make with these works, I have discovered how I will want to use my proceeds from the sale of this work.  I will be donating a portion of sales to the McNay Museum of Art for their educational programming.


To see the story of the other four art works in this series, sign up to follow my continuing blog at

These artworks will appear later in the summer for an online auction!