Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why encaustic?

Many artists are challenged when they have to speak or write about their work. I am certainly one of them. I need time and research before I feel I am in any way ready to record my ideas in print especially. That is why this blog is an excellent vehicle for my development as an artist. I've always believed in confronting things I find difficult.

Since the last week in August I've been exploring the various facets of encaustic. I am attracted to this medium and using it feels like the next step in my mixed media work.
When a friend asked me why I like encaustic I babbled a somewhat incoherent answer that satisfied her, but left me feeling less of an artist because I was so inarticulate. Since then I've been scribbling furiously in an effort to redeem myself in my own eyes. I'm feeling more grounded and informed as a result of this exercise.

Encaustic is truly a multi-sensory medium, appealing to the the visual, tactile and olfactory senses. It is one of the few mediums you actually love to smell.

Its transparency allows you to create many layers of information that show the history of the process. The seductive surface draw and hold the viewer and prompts an emotional response. It is a perfect medium to evoke many things at once: layers of history, t transparency of water, emotions, elusive memory and the passage of time.

Nothing is more sensuous than the feel of wax and the movement of your hands as you fashion the surface to match your intent. It is reminiscent of soft skin.

When compared to the static nature of oil or acrylics, encaustic is a very malleable medium that exists in a continuum from liquid to solid. This allows you to manipulate it in many ways to suit your needs.

Pouring to:
  • create smooth, deep and fairly transparent surfaces
  • create wax castings of real objects (more about this later)
  • fill a large inscribed area with a different colour.
Heating/Fusing to:
  • merge previous layers and a new layer together
  • integrate an image transfer with a previous layer of wax medium
  • attach a collage element to a new layer of wax medium
Brushing to
  • create smooth surfaces that can be buffed to a high shine
  • create very textured surfaces depending on the temperature of the wax medium and the roughness of the bristles.
Dipping to:
  • coat paper or small objects with wax medium and adhere them to the surface of your work
  • create raised lines or whole areas on the surface of your work
I guess I'm now worthy of continuing to work in this exciting medium.

Check out the work of one of my favourite encaustic artists and the person who first introduced me to encsustic, Angela Antle. I am also the lucky owner of one of her works.


Kim Hambric said...

Very well put. I am so intrigued by encaustic. And you mention the smell. I've never thought about that before. I love working with batik fabrics because of their wonderful smell. Another reason to check into encaustic.

Looking forward to seeing what you create.

Margaret Ryall said...

Thanks Kim. I think you should definitely look into encaustic. On top of all its positive qualities as a medium it is just plain fun to use.

I have new work completed but my camera is in for repairs. It is very frustrating waiting to use it again.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

HI Margaret: I am avoiding everything with a smell due to a medical condition, but would otherwise love to try encaustic. I'm looking forward to seeing yours! Thanks for explaining that odd comment thing.

beauty comma said...

i quite agree about it being difficult to express art through language. i face this every day when working with my piano students... it makes work more interesting though!

(by the way, i linked to your blog in today's post, hope you get some visitors from me!)

Kathy said...

Nicely stated! Jasper Johns did some very interesting works in encaustic. I used it years ago, when I was mixing pigment with bees wax and heating it up. I started getting terrible headaches, only to find that I was allergic to the bees wax (pollens). Too bad ... because it is a great medium to use, as you pointed out. The Egyptians were the first to use it and it stood the test of time.