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Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lantern Festival  The Chinese Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, marking the last day of the lunar New Year celebration. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and they solve riddles on the lanterns. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times though, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs, often made in the shape of animals.

The lanterns are almost always red to symbolize good fortune, and they symbolize the people letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they will let go of again the next year.

porto Venere

Festa della Madonna Bianca  In 1399, the plague was sweeping through the small seaside village of Porto Venere (just south of the Cinque Terre) in French-occupied Italy. In desperation, a villager by the name of Lucciardo began begging a painting of the Virgin Mary for release from this terrible disease when suddenly a miraculous event occurred: the colors of the painting began to glow. Just as suddenly, the plague mysteriously vanished.

Witnessing this strange phenomenon, the villagers attributed the disappearance of the plague to the Virgin Mary, and transported the painting to safety in the nearby Church of San Lorenzo. Thus began the devotion of the faithful to Our Lady Madonna Bianca, patron saint of the community, named for her glowing skin in the painting.

Every year since, on August 17th, the villagers celebrate with a torchlight procession through town, lighting thousands of candles along the streets leading up to the Gothic Church of San Pietro and covering the cliffs below.

diwaliDiwali  Also called the “festival of lights”, it is an    ancient Hindu festival celebrated each autumn. The festival spiritually signifies the    victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, & hope over despair.

Festival preparations and rituals typically last five days, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

In the days leading up to Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night itself Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, they light diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their homes and participate in family puja (prayers), typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Puja are followed by fireworks and a family feast including mithai (sweets) and gifts are exchanged between family members and close friends.


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Over the years, I’ve admired encaustic paintings but knew very little about the actual process. Last spring, as the seeds of the 50/50 LIGHT project were just being planted, I was introduced to the encaustic technique by my friend Jessica Abbott Williams – owner of Brushstrokes Studio in West Berkeley, CA – who hosted a series of classes first with artist Susan Brady, followed later by artist Barbara Maricle.

Group encaustic shot

Encaustics proved to be one of the rare mediums that a beginner could attempt and achieve incredible results with almost immediately. It also has the potential for incredible depth of technique, and can be quite complicated and complex. The work that resulted from this class was a marvel to all of us who participated.

The word encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos meaning ‘to burn in’, and the element of heated wax is a requirement for a painting to be called encaustic. The earliest known examples of this technique date back to the 1st century BC.

Romano- Egyptian Fayun mummy portrait encaustic panel paintings, 1st century BC
Romano- Egyptian Fayun mummy portrait encaustic panel paintings, 1st century BC

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, utilizes heated beeswax with the addition of colored pigments. The heated liquid is applied to a hard porous surface (necessary to bind the wax) – usually prepared wood, although canvas or other materials are also often used – to which multiple layers are then applied to build up the desired effect.

The wax can be worked in a multitude of ways to create an endless array of effects: metal tools, special brushes and/or other manipulatives can shape or texture the surface before the wax cools; or heated metal tools can manipulate the wax further once it has cooled on the surface. Historically, the wax was only able to be worked quickly and initially, as each layer was being applied. In modern times, though, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, wax pens, and other methods of applying heat have allowed artists to extend the amount of time they have to work the materials.

Because the wax is the binder for the pigment, in addition to painting, encaustics can also be sculptural. 3D materials can be encased or collaged onto the surfaces, or into layers using the encaustic medium to adhere objects.

Aspects of Light

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illumination ~ refraction ~ reflection ~ luminosity ~ incandescence ~ glow

it’s effect on color vibrations ~ saturation ~ full spectrum ~ translucence

energy ~ connection to heat ~ embers ~ scintillation ~ combustion ~ prism

weightlessness ~ light as a feather ~ hummingbird ~ diaphanous ~ waves

hardness vs softness ~ contrast vs diffusion ~ glare ~ blur ~ scattering

light at the end of the tunnel ~ speed of light ~ light of my life ~ glimmer

the gloaming ~ Delft licht ~ by the light of the moon ~ shadows and light

aurora borealis ~ rainbow ~ eclipse ~ mirage ~ fireflies ~ bioluminescence 

light vs dark…


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A yearlong exploration of LIGHT.

In the year between October 2013 – October 2014 a group of 25 artists, led by Deb Durant, will work to create 50 pieces of artwork all focusing on the concept of LIGHT. This common thread interrelates all of the artwork pieces via each artists’ chosen aspect of light: be it literal, physical, temporal, metaphorical…

The groups’ collective works represent numerous differing media – metalsmithing, lighting, photography, written word, painting, glass, encaustics, ceramics, and textiles. The collaborators are all artists whom Deb has worked with over the past decades.

The goal, simply put: to amass an artistic collection that represents a unique community of artists. This particular compilation stems from the many creative associations formed and developed over the years by artist Deb Durant as she explored, struggled with, and finally forged an artistic career of her own. It’s a revelation of decades of work, in contact with and inspired by these talented artists. It’s also a reflection of the ways in which individuals can deeply affect you, and how they can mold your creativity.

The aim of this show is also to mark the celebration of life at 50; a momentous and deeply fruitful time in most artists lives, as they shed the insecurities of youth and embrace a sense of growing professional maturity and freedom. Often it marks a time of hitting your stride, an opportunity for sinking your teeth into the meat of your endeavors, prompting a renewed sense of ‘I’m really just getting started…’

This project will culminate in a gallery show in San Francisco this October – (to coincide with Deb’s 50th birthday) where all 50 pieces will be on display.

We welcome you to the celebration!