April 21, 2011

New Encaustic Work - Post Grad 2011

Primordial, 28"x28", Encaustic, Oil, Graphite

Quietude, 18"x18", Encaustic, Oil

Absolution, 24"x12" Encaustic, Oil, Graphite

I am slowly but surely crawling out of my post-grad cocoon.  The last few months since graduating in December have meant regeneration, thinking about new things, submitting to venues, etc.  I was drawn to work with metals at first, so began working with copper, brass, aluminum and a very small amount of silver.  It figures the price of silver is a record high just as I develop an interest in using it, but it forced me to consider other options. I love the 3D sculptural nature of working with metal.  Unlike drawing or painting, it requires that additional dimension, nurtured early on when I took 2 sculpture classes with Brad Allen at the University of Montana (Metal casting, (I made 3 sculptures, one each of aluminum, iron, and bronze) and Blacksmithing).  I love to see how each metal responds to cutting, shaping, heating, etching solutions, and various patinas.  While working with metals on a smaller scale, I discovered there is a jeweler in me that I never knew about.  I then remembered long ago, a few mentions that my Grandfather, on my mother's side, was indeed a jeweler, and my mother and her step-sister secretly played with black diamonds behind the shoji screen.  Such a fascinating anecdote to discover so late in life, but I love the story and hold on to it.

I am now ready to continue working on a series of encaustic pieces I began about a month ago.  

Encaustic painting involves painting with molten beeswax combined with damar resin crystals. Encaustic layers are added gradually, and fused with heat using either a propane torch (my preferred heating method) or heat gun. This heating process is what gives encaustic painting its name, which means "burning in" in Greek. This is an ancient medium, originating over 2000 years ago. Examples from antiquity include the Fayum Mummy Portraits from Egypt, discovered in the late 1800s, completely preserved to this day. waxes and damar resin in the medium of encaustic. 

I saw my first encaustic piece about 4 years ago and absolutely fell in love with the lustrous, shiny surface.  The piece I saw hung in a gallery, and I was mesmerized by the colors and smooth texture.  I really had to find out what it was, and did, and now encaustic is probably my favorite medium to work with.  All of the above pieces are recent and the encaustic medium has been applied to baltic birch panel--mostly failed pieces from my grad school days.  I found I can recycle them, so I do, very happily.  Most of the old grad work had photomontages on them; the cool thing I am finding is that I can get bits of these layers to shine through in the final work.  It gives a bit of mystery, color, and occasional line(s).  In fact, I liked the photomontage as an initial surface so much that I took an old print from my thesis show that wasn't the right colors (much to my dismay, at the time it was printed out), and adhered it to a large new panel.  The print had unusual colors; i.e. dark, deep reds and an aqua color, and these suggested the palette I would use.  When the piece was finished, a small portion of the print showed through the layers of wax, which added a nice effect.  "Primordial" is the painting which evolved from this early start.  I recently dropped this 28"x28" painting off at the Holter Museum of Art in Helena, MT for a show and auction in May and June, 2011.
Two other newer encaustic pieces are "Quietude" and "Absolution".  I am thinking about emotions, moods, states of being, as I work toward a collaborative show coming in September, 2011 at the Brink Gallery in Missoula, Montana.  Although I'm not quite sure these will be part of that show, I find it a good topic to dwell on; expressing feelings and emotional states through color, texture and shape.  "Quietude" for me probably is my answer to what "Disquietude" is not; the heavy and thorough examination of that topic of the last two years lead to it's antithesis, simple, clean, quiet.  

"Absolution" means formal release from guilt, punishment, and obligation.  I looked the word up when I heard it sung by "MUSE," a rock group most people would be surprised I like.  But it was the title of one of their albums I downloaded, and I kept playing their song "Absolution" until I literally couldn't get it out of my head (must stop doing this!).  I feel the meaning coincides a bit with how I am feeling upon achieving a goal I didn't know I had (working toward the MFA), because it took me so many years to finally realize there was an artist in me, and that artist needed a lot of professional help (i.e. a formal art program), and when I finally broke the barriers (the voice saying an artist doesn't need training), I came out feeling a bit of absolution.  Unfortunately, it isn't permanent and must be nurtured through belief in one's self, the continuance of one's true purpose(s) in life, and total honesty with self.

The journey continues. 

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiring story and journey of a true artist!