Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Studio Output - The Darker Side of Wax
I have been doing some work with encaustics recently-mostly just working with the wax as a material and practicing the build-up of texture and various applications of paint mixtures and techniques to build up the surface of the work. Basically, I'm just playing in the studio, exploring a bit, trying to do things like make "smooth" (whatever that really means) or "rough" or "shiny," that sort of a thing. Those of you who do not paint might not get this part, as it's more about the technique of laying the paint down and working with the surface, working with the medium, fusing the wax, and learning or trying various techniques to see what works and what does not.
Encaustics are a very difficult medium to work with in a way. I mean, they are very forgiving, yes, but it's hard to get exactly what you want, exactly what you might have in your head at any given time. Your "technique" is limited in some ways (well, unless you have been doing encaustic arts for years-it's something that is quick to learn but hard to master, I suppose.) I have grown to view every encaustic piece as a sort of "happy accident." You almost always get something cool looking but, that something cool looking might not be exactly the something you had in mind when you set out into the studio. Frustrating? It can be. I've learned to live with it and to just accept the fact that my technique will build up over time. I'm not that impatient when it comes to painting, I guess. (Of course, please do not use this as an excuse to get me to photograph some birds, as you know my feelings about this already.)
This encaustic panel started out as a mistake. I know that because, well because it's covered in yarn. Allow me to explain. I start out every encaustic piece the same way-with paint. (I'm not really as big on the "found objects" as some folks who do encaustics are actually.) I started painting and I came up with a painting that I actually liked (well, sort of) but I thought that, as I do with many of my encaustic pieces, there was no center of interest. The painting had no subject. It was....shall we say, almost like an "underpainting." That's one of the big problems I have with encaustics. They seem to make for great underpaintings-almost like the musical equivalent of "always a backup singer, never a lead vocal" in the art world. Anyway, I decided I would try to put a stripe in there to make it...you know, to give it a center of interest. I did that, but then I wound up with the strip to painting ratio a bit, shall we say, "off." I can't really explain it but the "stripes" were now taking more space than the background. It was a competition and I was losing. So then I decided I would just cover the entire thing in yarn-I would fuse this nice fuzzy yarn I had found into the layers of wax.
Lately, it seems like my "technique" involves trying lots of things and, for whatever doesn't seem to work, use lots of fuzzy yarn dipped in wax to cover my tracks. While this is maybe not the best way to go about doing things, I now am developing a series of works in wax featuring yarn. As you can imagine, there are a lot of mistakes. Fortunately for me, the yarn does a good job of covering up my "tracks" as it were.
I have to say I love the output-I love this painting. I recognize though that it's a bit dark-a lot of people who look at encaustics might want the shiny happy type of artwork, I don't know about that. I'm having more fun exploring the darker palettes with the encaustics. I actually like the black encaustic paint, although I'm the first to admit it's not really "black" more like a "dark charcoal." Still sort of interesting though, and I love exploring the darker side of wax.
Yes, yes, I know. I'm probably the only one. Everybody else is doing shiny happy red stuff or lots of "found objects" with, you know, all kinds of cool crap floating along in their encaustics. I'm just not that kind of a girl, what can I say?
So, there you have it. I'm a dark palette painter running around with lots of yarn. Almost sounds like a black cat on Halloween night, doesn't it? So much for my dreams of being Edward Hopper, I'll have to settle for a great big ball of wax and some fuzzy knitting material instead.
This is some of my recent work. I've got about six new paintings to be included in the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) starting this Saturday over at the art complex on Bohlm Road (next to Big Medium.) Look for me to be in the studios either there or over at Flatbed Press showing off some of my photography for this years East Austin Studio Tour (EAST.)
Until next time...