Saturday, June 30, 2012

Technique-a-aplooza Part 1

After a day spent working alongside one of my favorite local artists in her studio, I'm starting to understand that my fledging encaustic practice is actually a little further along than I thought. I've had in my head for awhile what I wanted my encaustic work to look like, but kept thinking I didn't have enough knowledge or had never found the right technique for it or even, possibly, that I just didn't possess the necessary talent (and I just heard every other artist reading this go "eeeeeEEEEEEEEE...").

As it turns out, none of those things are true. And doing a survey of my encaustic work to date, there are quite a few pieces I'm very happy with (including the three that now live in other people's homes) that show a reasonable ability to execute a wide variety of techniques; some of these early pieces are almost purely about the techniques themselves. Here are a few for your enjoyment!

Western Starshower
6 x 4 inches
wax and oil paint on wood

Possibly the most straightforward of the techniques is just the application of layered wax, creation of marks in the wax and then infilling with contrasting paint or wax. Western Starshower started as something else entirely. I've always been vaguely dissatisfied with the piece, until one day I turned it upside down and suddenly it made sense. I like the texture and sort of 3D quality of the black hills in the foreground. At the same time, though, I don't think this is one that will ever make it to the sale table; it's just a little bit too rough.

3 x 5 inches
wax and oil on canvas panel
Bengali is another piece that began as one thing and became another. There are so many techniques in this tiny piece I almost don't know where to begin talking about it. It's got layered overpainting, scraping away, "buttering" with the tacking iron, and a final layer of gold oilbar highlight. I have to say the addition of the gold is what kind of turned it from "nothing" into "something." I'll probably frame this one and put it up in my house somewhere. I haven't been able to make a photo of it that did it justice.

5 x 7 inches
wax on encaustic board
Misty Garden
8 x 8 inches
wax on wood panel
Speaking of buttering, Buttery is tacking-iron process run a little bit amok. This is purely overpainting and then pulling back the wax to varying depths with the tacking iron, revealing the different colors beneath. Again, I'm a fan of texture that implies 3D rather than 2D--the wax "sits up" in waves, the colors surprise, the form feels at once chaotic and elegant. In the same style is the much larger Misty Garden. It's less tactile, a little bit more glassy, but still with the technique of using the tacking iron to butter back layers of color to reveal unexpected layers of color underneath. On this one, though, I've also used the tacking iron to "style" the wax colors into patterns and waves.

Winter Trees
3 x 5 inches
wax and inkjet print
on encaustic board
3 x 5 inches
wax and pastel rubbings
on encaustic board
I'm not a big fan of image transfer processes in encaustic; most of the work I've seen that uses image transfer feels too much like a graphic design or collage project to me, and I've never had any illusions about being interested in working in either of those styles. But there can be something magically about the inclusion of printed images in this work if handled with a slightly different point of view. My two favorites in this style are Winter Trees and Leaf. Each uses a very different technique. Winter Trees involved embedding an inkjet print on rice paper into the wax; Leaf also features embedded designs on rice paper, but instead of an inkjet print, I made  multiple pastel rubbings of the leaf in different colors and carefully layered those to make the final piece. A little bit of oil paint was used to emphasize highlights and details.

9 x 12 inches
wax on clay board
I had the good fortune to know a number of extraordinary painters in grad school, and what they did seemed like magic to me; I've never painted and felt pretty confident that I couldn't ever create anything that looked like it had come off the end of a brush held by Lisa or Gail or Elise or Jenn, Mo or Anastasia or Nora. These artists still amaze me, and I'm not shy about saying they are all my inspirations when it comes to encaustic. This last piece is the closest to what I want to be as an encaustic artist, and rather than my previous assumption that I just probably didn't have the ability to create work like that, it turns out it was just another technique, combined with a tool problem. Some thought, some luck and the proper tool are what helped me produce this piece, which doesn't have a title yet. But creating this was so satisfying (and surprising), it defies description.

I have in my head now what I need to do to continue to produce work like this, the trick will be to keep working and be willing to fail. That's a good lesson both for art and life in general.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Irony Sandwich ... Art Show in AVN!

After a series of random connections and pleasant events, my first art exhibition in the 3D virtual world Avination is now open. It doesn't have an official title, but I'm thinking of it as "Irony Sandwich," not just because of the work, but also because of the way it came into being.

First, the important details:

Show star: Me. Only in Avination, I'm Winterlight Cazalet. Now you know. :)
Show location: Oasis of Art, Inspiration Terrace, Southern Bay sim, AVINATION.
Reception: Sunday, June 10, 4-5 pm PST (that's 7-8 pm eastern, and midnight to one for all you fabulous euros).

I would LOVE for anyone with a computer that has the chops to join us at this reception. Even if you've never set foot in a 3D Virtual World for any reason, please do so for just this one hour. It's absolutely free to join, it's easy, you will not receive a lot of stupid email spam for joining, and I will not be bothered at all by a lot of noobs at the reception. In fact, the sight of a noob in AVN thrills me to death!

All you have to do is go to the Avination sign-up page, create your account, download the Avination viewer, and log in. If you're already in Second Life, you can keep your SL name and even use some of the same viewers to log in (Firestorm and Imprudence both work just fine for AVN viewing and have the grid already listed among their login options; all you need to do is fill in your AVN avatar name and chosen password). Once you are inworld, just use search to find my avatar name, and send me an instant message if I'm online or use the landmark in my profile to get to the show.

I have 15 works on display. Now for the "Irony" part: they're all digital photographs of real-world things; works that I've actually produced and shown in what people like to call "real life." They're "real" pictures, but they're digital. And now they're being produced and shown in a "virtual" space. Given my ongoing interest in blurring and underscoring the arbitrariness of the separation between "virtual/digital" and "real," you can perhaps see why I find this amusing on a lot of levels.

So, come have a look at my Irony Sandwich. It will be up throughout June and maybe longer. And for all you artists already working in other 3D VR environments, please come have a look at Avination. I have a dream of this place becoming "the artists' grid," and I'll need your help to get there.