Monday, May 20, 2013

Encaustic Transfer

One of the reasons I wanted to do encaustics was because of the transfer technique.
  I'd tried it before with

different medium withtout much success.  And the first time I tried it with beeswax wasn't much better. I used a photocopy of a 1920's era photograph because I wanted to keep the photograph to use in pother projects. When I applied the photocopy to the wax, the wax was still warm and pliable.  It turned out to be a massive failure, many parts of the photograph didn't take, the paper wouldn't come away after I wet it down and all I was left with was a blackened blob.
But after talking to Greg Flint, a dedicated encaustic artist, at the Art Bomb show this past weekend,  I had more hope. He told me that when he tried it first, he used warm wax, which was the way I tried it. He failed too. Greg  recommended waiting until the wax had ctrying it with cold wax. It's just been amazing to me how helpful and encouraging all the artists of the Village have been.  they've offered me tips on techniques and supplies and haven't hesitated a moment to share their methods. 
I found much more success.  so far I've only tried it with a conte/crayon/oil pastel drawing of a mermaid which I call the Melusine. I wish I'd taken more photos of the process. The first photo is of the drawing I used.

The second one is the finished product.
I had started with a thick walnut colored board of wood I found at a thrift store.  the kind crafters used to do decoupage on in the 70's and 80's.  I painted it seafoam green with acrylic paint. Then I covered it with about three layers of white beeswax
medium to give it a smoother ground. 
I cut my drawing to size and laid it face down on the board and burnished it first with a spoon and then with the rounded handles of my Bare Escentuals make up brushes in the foundation application size and then the eye shadow size.  These worked great for getting into all the crevices and dips.  I could actually hear and see the paper adhering to the wax.  I finished it off with the rounded end of a bone folder and then carefully peeled the drawing away.  I didn't wet the paper, at all this time. And it worked beautifully.  It looked a bit more antique when finished because I didn't catch every spot but I wanted it to look ancient.  I then added color to the shell in her hand and in her mermaid skirt and finished the edges off with gold leaf.  This process took more time to do than the actual transfer.  I knew these would apply pretty well, because I tried  the word "Berlin" in charcoal on the piece that didn't work out which unfortunately I've already covered over with colored wax for another project.
I'm going to make an attempt to do another piece using a photocopy.  And will take photos of the steps I use.

Eancaustic Abstract in Landscapes and Architecture

The addicting nature of  encaustics has driven me to try lots of new techniques. Maybe that's the draw. 

 A recent piece I've been working on is in with oils or guache and the beeswax mixtures, sometimes working with layers of oil or guoache first, then adding layers of tinted beeswax.  I find it works beautifully in abstract landscapes or architecture because of the depth of the lower levels in the traditional paints and then the luminosity offered by the colored beeswax layered over white beeswax.  I've painted a few mixed media oils in abstract architecture styles, but find the beeswax as an added medium not only adds texture but that illusive far off in the distance mystery which I like in abstract work.
Like with other medium, I know nothing about the rules of abstract art, but Patricia Riddle, one of the artists at Les Beaux Gallery, as well as a staff member, has been helping me with some basic points.  Never in a million years dd I think I'd be learning about abstracts. I just thought my earlier pieces were distorted architectural pieces. So the learning curve takes another twist.
What's so unusual about beeswax is that it gives a very ethereal look to any art which is what I was seeking in Bell Towers. When smooth  and polished the wax shines and glimmers like a transparent metal.  And when textured it adds depth to a piece.  I was pleasantly surprised with the paradoxical combo of these effects on Starbirth such as in the rough texture of the earth and the glimmer of the glass buildings of some unknown planet.  
My inspiration comes from real places in my past, places I've glimpsed in dreams or fantasy, film and other artists. Wendy Farrow is one of my favorite artists.  She does a number of styles - all very ethereal. And Julie Shakbee Hughes inspired me with one of her pieces of France for Belltowers. I loved her image of spires in the distance.
I tend to work on two or three at a time if using oils to give each layer a chance to dry before adding the next layer or wax.  I can finish a background in a day but then it takes a week or two to add the final layers of painted wax and then the tweaking with color balance, line or even composition.  Some of the simpler appealing pieces such as Hampton Marsh may take longer than the more complex pieces. This piece is one where I'm trying to catch an area near Hampton Village in New Hampshire where one could see marsh for long distances and during hide tide the marsh would fill up and glisten during sunset. I've even taken a piece to hang in the Gallery at Les Beaux Arts and once seen in the lighting there noticed an area that needed to be changed and take it home again for more tweaking.
It's a constant ongoing process.   

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Encaustic Talk

More and more I'm meeting experienced encaustic artists. During last First Friday (May 3rd) I met Patricia
Kilburg, a fascinating artist with lots of tips and stories (including some of disasters with wax) about the world of  encaustics.
Tricia Earle also shared with me how beeswax and resin, the first medium humans ever used to make art, is dated back to Greek and Roman times.  And Patricia noted that encaustic is Greek for "to burn in."
along with the history and artist's stories, I'm learning more about this seemingly simple but actually quite complex art, at least for me.  I love it, it;s fun, but it''s also fickle and can be dangerous: breathing in too much Damar resin, working with butane flames, spilling a large amount of hot wax in your home, as Patricia did.  Thank goodness she's now in a studio at the Flat iron Building in the Village at the West end here in Greenville, SC. where a mess is not so much of a disaster to clean up.  The wax is not difficult to clean off tabletop surfaces, just heat it up and wipe away . It even polishes my butcher block counters, but when spilling a large amount you end up wasting a lot of wax unless you can figure out how to crack it and pick it up in the solid pieces when its cooled.  I'm not sure what Patricia did and hope to never have to learn.

So inspired by Michael Ziemer, Tricia Earle, Patricia Kilburg and Paul and Greg Flint, I carry on feeding my newest addiction. I've traded the smell of linseed oil for melted wax.  I've learned a lot so far about which surfaces to use and which mediums but learning to control the wax is almost as difficult as water color to me. Although wax is so much more forgiving, heat it to move it or to peel back a layer if something doesn't work.
Patricia showed me how she uses the butane torch which smooths the wax to a satin-like finish.  She made it look so easy and not so dangerous that I'm tempted to add one to my heat blowing tool.
 I also saw how much wax she could hold in an electric skillet and I'm on the hunt at yard sales and the flea market for one.  I love my small heating pan from Ranger Inks and so far haven't needed massive amounts of wax at a time, but so far I've been working on rather small surfaces. The largest I've used so far is the one entitled, Berlin" 11X14, where I attempted a transfer technique and it didn't work. So I have to heat that board clean and start over.
So my newest pieces continue the series of  strange landscapes but this time I'm combining my fascination with the universe and the beauty of the death and birth of stars. The first on is "Starbirth"  and takes place on a planet I've only seen in my mind's eye.  And the second is "Magellenic Cloud."  the cloud of gases and particle resulting from the death of the star prior to the formation of new stars and galaxies.  these have been a lot of fun as well as an experiment working with gauche and white beeswax on primed and umprimed board surfaces. I now prefer the primed. I have a few more I want to do in this series.

Monday, May 6, 2013

IAMX - The Loft -Atlanta, GA 2013

The band and crew may have felt waterlogged but you couldn't tell by the dynamo that was IAMX this night
of deluge.  The show at The Loft on May 4th in Atlanta, Georgia, was a darkly brilliant patch in the weekend - like a comet in a night sky. IAMX and Chris came in, warmed us with  his remarks, fueled us with their energy, recognized us in the watery essence, each and every drop of us together, in the unified field, and drove us onward in the search Chris shares in both authenticity and awareness. Chris was dripping wet from time to time - but his fire burned from all his accumulated history and blazed for those of us who care to look in the dark and then look inward.

Chris posted a photo of the drive from Atlanta in the rain - the same view going into Atlanta for the concert.
 Here's the link:

The show was up close and personal - steamy - that's how to categorize this electrifying concert.  Jeanine, Jeff and I slogged through heavy downpours to the Loft, located where Centre Stage is in Atlanta, arriving just in time to see the line of beautifully freakish people, so many dressed out for the grand occasion, despite the 4-5 inches of rain that fell on the area. As lead singer, musician, brains, Chris Corner said on twitter. "Oh lordy lordy...amazing southern crazies, blowing us away like that. What a bunch of gorgeous freaks. Love2uAtlantaCCX "

 We stood in the crowd near the stage for 2 1/2 hours to maintain our 2nd/3rd row from the stage position, all depending on who tried to move in front of us. The concert was worth every minute of the wait.

The stage was tight, I mean tight, no room for mistakes in movements as evidenced once by a roadie trying to fix one of Chris's electronics.  But the band managed to put on a vibrant and visually manic performance, utilizing every inch, belting out every song. The stage was also very dim, with a off and on spot so that
sometimes the stage was really dark.  It was lit from the back, don't know why there wasn't as much action from the front but IAMX played in such a way that you didn't care until you got home to look at any video you shot.
Lots of people with cameras at first, which was irritating, but they went away after two or three songs.
 IAMX played songs from the new album The Unified Field on this the Animal Impulses tour, but also fed the crowd's sentimental craving for older songs, including Kiss and Swallow,  Tear Garden, Nightlife and a few more, I was too absorbed in the moment to keep track.  I wish I could recall which ones, because there were a couple of dance remixes which were brilliant. Very different and more upbeat form the originals, one may have even been a ballad redesigned.  I have to say, Sorrow, was one of my faves from The Unified Field, with its sweet melancholia and vulnerability.  - as well as the title song. Tear Garden where Chris showed, a frail and intensely human side, even while his stage persona was present, his voice payed the price for earlier songs. The lyrics drifted out to us from a personal place, for a moment I felt like a voyeur, but couldn't look away or even feel guilty, because it was an invitation for us to examine our own frailty in this cosmic unpredictable comic of life. The rampant performer who later seemed too pent up for such a small stage revealed the Philosopher, one inclined to introspection and not afraid to show it.  I loved the paradox, which showed up in other songs too, which is one of the main reasons I was thrilled to be there.  His lyrics reveal so much about the human nature of a seeker who can't stop thinking, one ready to rip the veil off of every scam perpetrated by our societies, an indoctrination hard to escape unless one's ready to throw everything away. He's aware and he wants us to be aware too.
I Come With Knives was one of the stunners - Chris was in rare form, and the performance spellbinding. I was intrigued all night lone at how precise he could be in his movements on the drums, beating out the songs with the microphone faster and faster, yet still in such constant fluid motion, alarmingly erratic at times, frantically energized.
 It was like watching a Shaman, taken over by other elements, driven from within by an uncontrollable, but perfectly controlled essence.
To prove the point, Chris walked out onto the hands and shoulders of the audience and sang while holding onto the spotlight supports. Wow. And during the when, Chris came out wearing a black horse paper mache  horse mask, the Shaman was revealed. I view the horse as a symbol for spirit and have painted it in a number of my works - and a black horse, is the spirit of the subconscious breaking through and instructing us on our real path as opposed to the path enforced by societal standards.
 In voudou, when the voudou priests open themselves up to the gods, they become "ridden" by the gods.  They call it "riding the horse. So when Chris pushed the mask up and peered at us, his heavily mascara-emphasized eyes evident from beneath the horse face - it only enforced my conception of Chris as shaman - especially since he speaks for all of those believing in the call to wake up and realize that in the unified field we all have an equal chance to create our realty. What a perfect ending to a night filled with Tesla level electricity.
I took the show as a not-so-subliminal challenge to not only wake up, but to acknowledge. The night proved all the more  valuable because we went through the 2 1/2 hour dreadful drive and then the  2 1/2 hour standing initiation first, I imagine everyone in the room, from the band and road crew to the Loft staff, to the audience felt it - that effort to face the elements only to experience a confluence of elements of a different and alchemical nature.
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