Monday, March 15, 2010

Sensuality in the Studio

One of the new mediums that I am exploring these days is encaustic painting. I had never heard of encaustic, even though it seems to be getting more popular amongst artists, until I met my fellow-commissioner (Palo Alto Public Art Commission), Dr. Ally Richter. Ally is an encaustic painter and does huge, luscious pieces, and has been generous with her encouragement and information.

My original plan had been to experiment using a combination of my digital prints within encaustic and I have done a bit of that—just not satisfied with them enough to show. But, I have also tried experimenting with painting techniques with encaustic and have found it is like being a kid again, falling in love with doing art!  Here are my first few. They are various sizes, up to a length of 14”.  It’s a real challenge, but very satisfying work. As you can see here, I have been trying different layering techniques, color palettes, and styles, and incorporating oil paint for some of the detail. It's harder than you would think, to control the wax.

Encaustic painting is also known as hot wax painting, as it uses molten beeswax, usually hardened with damar resin, and colored with pigments. It’s an ancient process that was used to paint mummy portraits by the Egyptians (100-300 AD) and thanks to Jasper Johns and some other  20th Century artists, has had a resurgence as an art form.

These paintings are as varied as imagination can dictate—the wax can create shapes and be painted by brushes or sculpted with tools. One can make layers and gauge through to under layers, or use heat sources (I use a heat gun) to fuse and re-melt the wax into different looks. It is painting in 3-D, even if the end piece is flat. It is very sensual during the process, and the finished piece is equally sensual – in both appearance and tactile feel. In person, once their "bloom" is buffed off with a soft rag, they glow.

I am grateful to Ally for introducing me to this wonderful medium. 

Note: the top painting is titled "Primordial," and the middle one is "Garden Delights." The red abstract is untitled.



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