Welcome to my New Studio

“Melody”.  Mixed media – encaustic paints, collage, oil sticks on wood 2.5 x 3.5.      ©Dora Ficher 2011

I have moved to a “Studio Building”. 915 Spring Garden Street houses 5 floors of artist studios.

The building has a very interesting history: In 1909 the Reading Railroad completed construction of the 915 Spring Garden Street train station. During this prosperous era of heavy industrial construction, trains were the primary means of long distant travel, making 915 Spring Garden Street a focal point of commerce for Philadelphia.

And so it is today, only artists have replaced RR workers and the commerce is Fine Art not travel. Providing studios for over 100 artists of varied disciplines, from potters, furniture makers and jewelers to painters, photographers and sculptors

In 1981 the 915 Studio Building, as the public has come to know it was inaugurated, with a group of painters, potters, and graphic designers making up the role as tenants.

You can read the whole story here.

As many of my facebook fans know, I love my New Studio. I get to walk there, about a 35-minute walk from my home each way. So, I not only get to go and have fun while I do my art, I also get a good exercise.

The photo below is of the hallway leading to my studio #212 on the 2nd floor.

@Dora Ficher Art

It is so awesome to have plenty of room to work.

Following you can see some pictures of my encaustic materials and some new work I have done in the past month or so. I have been experimenting with different collage materials and with the torch to fuse the wax.

©Dora Ficher Art
@Dora Ficher Art
Mixed media – encaustic paints, collage, oil sticks on wood 2.5 x 3.5.      ©Dora Ficher 2011
Mixed media – encaustic paints, collage, oil sticks on wood 2.5 x 3.5.         ©Dora Ficher 2011
Mixed media – encaustic paints, collage, oil sticks on wood 2.5 x 3.5.          ©Dora Ficher 2011

Some new Poppies…

“Springtime” Collage, Mixed media – encaustic paints, collage, oil sticks on wood. ©Dora Ficher 2011

Website:    http://doraficher.com
Blog:   http://doraficherartblog.com/blog
Twitter:    http://twitter.com/doraficher
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/doraficher
Facebook fan page: http://facebook.com/doraficherart

Do you wear new pink undies?


“Success”  @2010 Dora Ficher

In my family we have a tradition that every New Year’s eve we wear something new…usually underwear. This way we welcome the new year wearing something new . I have done it since I can remember.

I posted this on facebook and got many interesting answers. Here they are:

Susana : yes….….pink new underwear… don’t not why…..this year i forgot!

Raylene: Love it! I pick a word if the year as my mantra and try to stuff a grape for each of the 12 hours/months in my mouth (Spanish tradition) as the click gongs. Hilarity ensures…though it’s a little messy for new clothes.

Deb: We have a group of friends and we get together on New Year’s and wear pajamas and plan a mulitcourse dinner – that starts at 8 and ends right before 12.

Luciana: Put $ in your pocket. Brings good fortune.

Sergio: I do not, except for the usual party etc. I am starting a new tradition; ” to be here next year.”

Cintia: I do the same! BUT – it has to be pink. Don’t ask me why but that’s how i grew up celebrating the transition from the old to the new year. Hope you have an excellent 2011!

Peg: As soon as “the ball” drops we all run outside yelling Happy New Year and banging pots and pans to scare away the bad spirits.

Alyson: My friend from Colombia says yellow underwear for New Year’s.

Marlis: RED new undies in italy and the italian part of switzerland

I would love to know what the traditions are in your family or country.

You can leave a comment and tell us about it below:

Happy & Healthy 2011!

“Happy Stars” ©2008 Dora Ficher

Interview Wednesday ~ Donna “Iona” Drozda

Donna “Iona” Drozda
Iona who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia loves to paint in the middle of the night. She adores nature. Yoga and gardening. She is now also enjoying Kayaking.
In Iona’s words: “My community goal is to assist you in diving deeply into physical, emotional and spiritual zones where true creative joy resides. Lunar phases inspire me. I apply this inspiration to my mentoring program, Lifecycle. My monthly ‘Luna See’ newsletter helps keep us attuned to creating with the moon cycles. I design studios for The Contemporary Art Center of VA and as a Statewide Artist Educator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 140 illustrated journals testify my gratitude for being here now. A few ‘Drozda Art Life’ adventures: ~ first gallery sale: 108 paintings to private collector ~ owned a gallery in a bustling arts district ~Chanted with monks in Tibet ~Witnessed the Ketchek trance dance, at midnight, in a forest in Bali ~hospice volunteer and author of book for care givers. Volunteer and on Board of Advisors for Tidewater Arts Outreach ~With its many phases life is simply wonder-full.

Iona and I met online while working on our mutual blogs.

We were classmates in “The Blog Triage” class given by Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris.

I was fascinated with Iona’s blog posts, her art work and right away signed up for her newsletter ‘Luna See’.


The Red Room (detail), Drozda 1993, 64×48″ Acrylic on canvas


Iona, could you tell me about your relationship with the moon and your  ‘Luna See’ newsletter?
  • First of All, thank you, Dora, so much for inviting me to sit with you for a Dora Ficher Blog interview.
  • Watching the moon dance across the sky has always lifted my spirit. Since 1989 I’ve been  following the cycles of the moon as a way to look at time, and my creative work patterns, in a calmer gentler way.
  • For 6 years I met monthly with a small dedicated study group and our teacher, Robert Kent Myers. He would record our sessions and send them out to subscribers across the country. Each October several hundred  highly creative students of the moon phase work  gathered here in Virginia Beach for a seven day intensive at the ocean front. Each year I was one of the lead teachers. We were all interested in living with more creative focus and balance and spent the week learning, sharing, exploring , creating, dancing, drumming and playing.
  • ‘Luna See’, my monthly e-newsletter, helps us to look-up as we consider slowing down.  Over time, as one follows  these eternal patterns, they  discover a  natural harmony that aligns with the eight phases of each lunar cycle.  Each moon cycle carries a keyword which is then woven through each of the eight phases. This process, cycle by cycle throughout the year, builds a rhythm and offers  ways to engage your self expression . It’s a terrific tool for focus. For example; each August is the “Trust’ moon cycle. We can begin to look forward to this time period each year to focus on how that quality is functioning in our lives and particularly in the studio. A few other keywords that we visit during their specific month are: Introspection, Strength, Clarity and Renewal…with each month bringing our total to twelve.
  • Each phase of the moon extends for approximately three days and within that space there is a specific way to creatively express what the phase represents. For example; at each new moon we can take three days to hold a vision…at the first quarter phase we take an action on that vision… at the full moon we reflect on how the vision is unfolding and what it’s revealing, this is an appropriate place to look for any fear, trepidation or as I call it, ‘Luna See’ regarding what we’re striving for…and at the third quarter we devote time to watching with gratitude as our creative idea matures for the current cycle. That’s just  a glimpse at four of the eight monthly phases. Each Monday I do a blog post for that weeks moon phase energy.

    River of Time, Drozda, 2007, 14 x14″, Acrylic on wood
I read that on your first gallery sale you sold 108 paintings to a private collector. Wow, how did that happen? Could you tell us about it?
  • It was so magnificent. Here’s the  short story: I worked in relative seclusion for 5 years before the time of home computers. I had no phone, TV, radio or outside distractions. I didn’t have a car. I was recovering from violent crime and invested all of my time in gardening, healing and  the study and making of my art. At the close of those years I moved back to the city and made an appointment to have the top art gallery look at a portfolio containing 12 of my paintings.  The gallery asked to keep the work to show the pieces to the curator of modern art at the major museum in town and also to a private collector. The museum curator was out of town. The collector came to see me in my studio, went through all of the paintings I had done during that 5 years and contracted with the gallery for the purchase of 108 completed works. I light up each time I think of what dreams may come to meet us.
Marsh Morning, Drozda, 2003, 14×12″ Acrylic on wood
You say that you love to paint in the middle of the night, what is it about it that you love? I’m particularly asking this question because I also love to paint in the wee hours of the night.
  • Then you know, don’t you  Dora, that there is a quiet and a certain alchemy that happens in the wee hours that simply isn’t available at any other time. That’s what I love. My pattern is to go to sleep at about 10:30 instructing myself to wake when I’m rested and ready to create. This happens spontaneously (no jarring alarm clock) between 2-3 am. I move into my studio and let the muses show me what they will. I generally work until dawn. Then a short nap and the whole day ahead with another nap, of 20 minutes,  in the late afternoon.


March Morning, Drozda 2008, 16×16″ Acrylic/board

Could you tell us about your mentoring program, Lifecycle?
  • Since 1990 I’ve also incorporated living in harmony with the phases of the moon into this studio outreach service.  Lifecycle is a personal energy reading and the format is an 80 minute audio CD that’s based on two pieces of your birth information plus a sample of your handwriting (I’m a certified analyst in love with the way we make marks on paper). The information  focuses on you and the creative energy that is available to you focusing on the twelve months ahead. Many of my clients get an update each year at their birthday to stay tuned into their own creative rhythms.
  • I have clients from all across the country and beyond. Lifecycle clearly and gently reminds you of your innate gifts and talents. It’s like a portrait in words or a refreshing energy drink that you listen to!  Any reader who may want more information can email me. I also follow up with many clients who sign on for 6 phone sessions which allow time for deeper exploration and cultivation of creative strengths.
Spirit House, Drozda 2003, 36×48″, Acrylic on board
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
  • I don’t think I could do any better than to quote Georgia O’Keeffe.  “Go to work.”
The Bodhisattva, Drozda 2001 48×60 Acrylic/canvas
How do you get your inspirations?
  • I’m passionate about symbolism and metaphor combined with observation of the natural world. I’m inspired by the opportunity to be alive! How fleeting and what a treasure.  I feel that ‘affecting the quality of the day’, as Thoreau said, ‘is the highest of arts’.
What is your favorite medium to paint with?
  • I mix materials with abandon but Acrylic is my paint choice. I love its versatility and color quality. It stands up fabulously over time. A new media favorite are the beautiful Pan Pastels.
‘Don’t Stop the Dance’, Drozda 2006 60×60 inches Media Blend on Unstretched canvas
Bee Goddess, Drozda 2000 8 x8 “ Media Blend on wood

Iona, thank you so much for being part of my “Interview Wednesday” I have learned so much from you in these last few months.

You can find Iona at:

Celebrating Art Life At

Her Website: http://www.donnaionadrozda.com

Her Studio Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wren-House-Studio/

Her blog: http://donnaionadrozda.com/blog

The Bees & me

Following you can see some of the work I have been doing these last couple of days. It’s been such a fun and creative process. And I LOVE the smell of beeswax…

You can also see some photos of me at my encaustics workshop with Leah McDonald and Athena Petra

Working at Leah McDonald’s studio

Working at Leah McDonald’s studio. Photographer  Toni Robertson on the left and me on the right

Dora Ficher “Untitled” Mixed media, encaustic paints, oil sticks. 12×12

As with most of my work, be it oils, watercolors or encaustics like this one, I imagine in my head how I would like it to look or what I think I am doing but it never works that way. It usually ends up looking totally or somewhat different, which is how I want it to look now and it might end up being something totally different than when I started out. That for me is the fun of creating. I love to experiment and try new things out. I love to work with shapes and that’s usually how I start, but you never know where it will take me.

I need a title for this painting. Could you help me out and give me some ideas. You can leave your ideas in the comment section.

"Fusing" with a hot air blower
“Fusing” with a hot air blower
Dora Ficher “Water & Sky” Mixed media, encaustic paints, oil sticks. 8×10

This piece I started to do at the workshop but then kept playing around with it and ended up looking totally different.

Dora Ficher “Poppywax” Mixed media, encaustic paints, oil sticks. 12×12

For those of you who don’t know me, I love Poppies and all kinds of flowers so I had to try “My poppies” out with wax. I even stuck little mirror (that Heidi, my partner took off her jacket) in the middle of each poppy. See, we don’t throw anything away, we recycle everything and Heidi takes it to the school where she teaches for the kids to create with them. Now that I’m using more recycables myself with my encaustic work, I need to go through the bag before it goes to school and pick up goodies for me.

Dora Ficher “no-title” Mixed media, encaustic paints, oil sticks. 6×6

Dora Ficher “Oh” Mixed media, encaustic paints, oil sticks. 6×6

Dora Ficher “Glass” Mixed media Collage, Photos, encaustic paints, oil sticks and oil paints. 8×10

This piece was done at the workshop. It has several steps. Everything that you can see are photographs that I took and then cut up. They were glued on to the substrate along with other collage papers that I found in Leah’s big box of magic collage “stuff”. Then it sat overnight to dry and was continued the next morning. I painted it with some faded encaustic paint and then used mostly clear bees wax. Afterwards, I used tools to scratch around in order to be able to see some of the photos in the background, I filled in the scratches with black gesso, cleaned it all up and then highlighted the images with oil sticks and oil paints. I even stamped it with a flower stamp. Next time I will photograph the whole process.

The birds and the bees

Encaustic Workshop

What a great week-end!  Two whole days of just creating. The workshop was given by Artists / Photographers   Leah McDonald and Athena Petra. I got to be part of it along with a few other artists most of them photographers. I learned not only about painting with encaustics but also about encaustics and photography. Following is a visual journey of my week-end.

The “Bees Wax”
The paint melting
Leah McDonald

Leah showing us different things you can do with the bee’s wax once it’s applied to the substrate.

Leah & Toni

Toni Robertson, photographer

Leah McDonald and Athena Petra

Athena sharing one of her photographs


Rita Bernstein, photographer

Oil Sticks
Oil Paints

The painting room in Leah’s studio.

Encaustic Photograph

One of my “Hat” photographs glued to the substrate, covered with Bees Wax and painted with oil paints.

My paintings with encaustics will be up tomorrow.

This is my 2nd workshop in the last few months. I took another one back in December with encaustic artist Lorraine Glessner

I think I’m falling in Love

I spent a wonderful day on Saturday (4/10) learning new things which is one of my favorite things to do. Especially when it’s hands on and we get to play and try everything. I have to tell you, It was so much fun. It was five of us doing our thing and learning in this wonderful

studio setting.

I really think I am falling in love with this new medium called encaustics. It all started in December when I took my 1st Encaustics workshop. You would love this medium. It’s so soft, warm, and so forgiving. I am going back there today and will tell you all about it on my next post.

I will tell you about the artist teaching this class and about the artist wh works with her. You will get to see some video as well. Have to run to keep playing with my new love.

Blogging Adventure-part 2

I am rewriting this post as part of my Blog Triage class with Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris.

Who are the people I want to visit and read my blog:

Of course I want you who is reading this right now to follow my blog. You are probably interested in all aspects of the art world, maybe in art education, art/artists from different countries.

Would you be interested in hearing about older artists/non artists who are starting over and doing what they love? I’m sure that just like me there are a lot of you out there who are enjoying this time of your life when you can be who you are, have fun doing what you love with out much regard to what other people think.

What is it about getting to be of a “mature” age and deciding or just finally letting ourselves be who we are? Isn’t this fun? I guess we don’t need to impress anyone as much as we did when we were younger.

One exception though, I’m sure that you as much as I want to impress art websites, galleries, art collectors or designers, correct?  If you are one of these readers, I am very happy to share my art and blog with you.

Wonder what our next assignment will be? Stay tuned!

Getting Organized

I am taking Alyson Stanfield’s “Getting Organized” class for a 2nd time around. You will see why when you look at the pictures. Since I moved I needed to reorganized everything so what better than doing a refresher course of this class.

Following are some “Before” pictures. Stay tuned for the “After” pictures in about 3-4 weeks.

These 2 pictures are of the closet in my studio/office. There are so many things that I can’t even close the door. The containers in the closet shelves are either full of photographs or belong to my son who can’t take them because he lives in Manhattan in a much smaller place than this.


To the right of the closet I have bookshelves full of books plus papers which I’m not sure if I should get rid of. Let’s call this side the “office” side.


Still going around to the right of the whole wall of book shelves is some other kind of shelves where I keep many things. Then comes the shredder and a little table with drawer where I keep all my camp things. Those 2 big blue & green bags are actually binders with all the emergency forms signed by the parents.

IMG_9320 IMG_9321

Hanging from these shelves I have These very cool colorful organizers (not sure what they are called) which I planned to use for my mail and other things but have not used yet. These shelves are in pretty good shape except for the top one.

IMG_9323 IMG_9324

The pic on the left is what used to be my desk chair which I now use to put things on because I don’t have an “actual desk” in the room and if I have to sit I use the big red ball which is supposed to be good for my back.

On the left you can see my printer cover with papers which I haven’t gotten rid off and next to it is the file cabinet with the scanner on top and a box of something on top of that. But…if you look on the shelves under the printer and the shelves to the right, I have all the printing paper organized.

IMG_9327 IMG_9329

Since I don’t have a desk anymore I got this computer desk on wheels witch I can take around the apt. It was the best solution for now.


So moving on to my studio side you will see that everything is much better organized and labeled. The picture in the middle has all my encaustics things. That black thing you see is a griddle which is used as my palette.

IMG_9330 IMG_9332 IMG_9333

The rest are a few pics of the studio side. Everything is a little cramped but…this is the room I have.

Here you can see my easel and table which I use for encaustics and watercolors.


And remember…Stay tuned for the “After” pictures in about 3-4 weeks.

How the summer enables me to be an artist

Heidi's Plants-new My life feels kind of opposite from most people. Summer for me is a time for long hours of work outside of my home. Much fun but long hours. What is summer to you? Time for vacation, to relax, slow down, right? For me summer is my “day job”  that allows me to be able to spend autumn, winter and part of spring being an artist. Well, actually I’m always an artist, that’s who I am. So to rephrase, it is when I am able to do my art. So thanks to the summer months I have the freedom to create, explore, paint, post on my blog…and be the artist I want to be. There are two d ifficult times in this backwards living: the transition between working i n my studio, doing it on my own hours, no alarm clock, to all of a sudden getting up at 5:30 am and working 12 hour days outside of my home. As much as I like it, it is definitely a shock to my system.

When summer starts, the first thing I do as soon as I leave the house is go to Starbucks and get a “Venti” (the largest) cup of coffee. This to summer transition takes me probably 1-2 weeks. Little by little I get used to being up at the crack of dawn and about my business. In case you are wondering, I have (together with 2 other teachers) an awesome camp called Fun in the Sun which I have been doing for 20+ years.

Banner for blog So all this lasts for about 12 weeks. Wonderful summer days surrounded by amazing, fun, creative, children of all ages. Campers from 4-13 and counselors from 14-30ish. We go non-stop 7:00AM to 6:00PM+  from the very first day of summer break to the Thursday be fore Labor Day.

And then…it’s back to the studio with out any prior “Getting ready to….”. So here I am, back and feeling overwhelmed and a bit at a loss. No alarm clock (and still wake up at 5:30) get up and not sure what to do. First of all, I make my own coffee (OMG), not sure if I remember how to do it. Photo on 2009-09-14 at 12-small

Then I have to figure out how to get back on facebook, twitter, update my blog, start painting, getting ready for a show…and I feel more like the little kids looking around on their first day of camp, not knowing where to go. “Me”…trouble with transition? I guess so! It’s been a bit more than a week and I am finally, well kind of, getting back to my “art” mode.

Where are all those wonderful children though? There is no one around…Up to two years ago I used to go directly from teaching to camp to teaching to camp, so I did not have a break to think about the transition, it kind of just happened. But now I have the privilege to go to my studio and create. I feel blessed & happy. At the same time…I feel like my painting,” Dazed & Confused”. Dazed and Confused-web