Oh boy, I have been gone for some time, haven't I? In November, our family moved to the Denver area, and in January we moved into our new, absolutely darling new home in Arvada, Colorado. I plan on staying here for a very long time. Moving sucks.
One of the most wonderful things about returning to Colorful Colorado is that I've been able to spend time with many old friends from college and earlier. One of these lovely classmates, Royce Roeswood, cohosts (with comedian and all-around neat person JD Lopez) a monthly live edition of the podcast Left Hand Right Brain. The year-old podcast is a light-hearted discussion with local creative types, and Royce asked if I would be the guest for February's live recording. I said yes! Now you can listen to me talk to other humans about art and other things.
I think that JD might regret telling me "don't feel like you are talking too much. That's what we are here for, to promote you" before recording--I just talked and talked and talked.
Crazy-working bees provide me with an abundance of beeswax to use in my encaustics, so I got back in the studio and started experimenting with some variations on my technique.
In my previous encaustic works, I did an augmented monoprint technique of melting the wax together with pigments on a heated surface into a thick puddle, laying the vellum on the wax, and pulling the piece up slowly. The stratification effect comes from removing the vellum with a sort of dipping motion--as the wax is pulled onto the paper, it begins to cool, but the dipping motion allows sections of the wax to stay heated for a longer period of time resulting in less wax hardening on the paper. For this round of prints, I expanded on that technique with multiple pressings of the same piece into the wax in an effort to achieve more advanced layering of the translucent material.
These works bring up so many nostalgic wonders for me--I think of the ghostly textures that misused dark-room chemicals left on my photographs in high school; of my grandpa's sand art that sat in the front window and mesmerized me for hours; of eroding lands and terraced hillsides and melting skies; of the art direction for the Nine Inch Nails album With Teeth (as well as my general sense of being when I am listening to Nine Inch Nails). As my eyes move across the works, some also remind me of the pathways of the bees flying through the air heading straight from bloom to hive in a direct zip or meandering through large circles of breeze to reach their home.
We passed the one-month-in-our-new-home marker!
Everyone is feeling comfortable and finding new favorite spots in the new place. StarFox is fond of staring out the window and watching bikers pass our house on the Pinellas trail, Nemo prefers to cuddle up to anything that was recently laundered, and Dave has been reading/devouring an Orson Scott Card series my mom recommended.
I've been experimenting with encaustic paints the past few days, and let me tell you, learning a new medium is frustrating. I find myself trying to use the paints in the same ways I use acrylics instead of embracing the material and allowing myself to discover its strengths and limitations.
Encaustic paints are made of beeswax and pigment (oil paint). To use them, the paint must be melted and applied while hot. My initial attraction to this material is the ability to create a sense of depth through the layering of translucent and semi-transparent waxes; I also like that items can be embedded in the surface of the wax. Last year I began adding feathers, leaves, bones, insects, and other dead things into my paintings by suspending each object in clear epoxy, but it was difficult to visually integrate the shiny, smooth surface of the epoxy with my rather grungy paintings. I think the wax could be a better way to incorporate these kinds of elements.
I read a book on encaustic techniques, but in the end I did what I normally do--I jumped in without really have any clue of what to do. So, no surprise, my first attempt was a huge failure. I ended up making a small painting that looked sort of like what I normally would do with acrylics, except way worse. It was a waxtastrophe.
One incredible thing about these paints are that if you mess up, you can take the wax right off of your painting surface and melt the encaustic medium back down and use it again. I grabbed a knife, scraped all of the wax off of my failure painting and into a pancake griddle, melted it all back together, mixed in some oil paint for color, and started making monoprints. A lot of monoprints. Enjoy.