New Work

Aaahhhh! I finally got a few things finished. What a long haul this group has been.

I like to think they're worth the trouble. Feedback is requested. Getting some very nice effects and textures; getting a better sense of how to work under 500 watt lights so that they don't wither on the wall under average light. You may notice that they're either smallish single panels or large multi-panel affairs. I'm still working on how to approach huge single panels ...


Here we have the keystone of this body of work, "Mystery Map #1". My pal was SO excited when I brought this one in, I was a little overwhelmed. It took over three full weeks to finish this piece. First off, it's HUGE! I've never thought of working this big, much less actually tried it. It's a quad of 12" x 36" panels... that's 12 square feet. I used 7lbs of beeswax, 1lb each of damar resin and marble dust, and lots of cocoa, coffee, salt, chili powder, and ash.
The big breakthrough for me with this one is the use of denatured alcohol. I've been trying to find ways to capture watercolor-y effects in encaustic, but of course, water just beads up on a wax surface. On a whim, I tried using rubbing alcohol to make a "paint" of cocoa, and Eureka! This has opened a whole new horizon. All of the new work in this post make use of alcohol washes.
As usual, when I start using a new technique, things start off a bit uneven... A chunk of the time it took me to finish this piece was just getting a feel for using alcohol washes; sometimes having to scrape off an hour's work and trying again.
Presently, I'm very happy with it. It's fun to encounter, and after a few weeks with it, I find it's very dynamic in the way it shifts depending on the light and mood of the hour. It's only major weakness is that at this scale lighting becomes a real issue. (It's very difficult to supply 12 square feet of dedicated light without installing warehouse lighting in one's living room.)

Mystery Map #2 is a much smaller work on a chunk of old wood. I went right into this piece to hone some of my ideas from #1. I used a ton of marble dust and alcohol to build up a concrete-like base, then carved through that layer to establish the design. Generally, I love this one. It gives one the sense that it's a chunk of cave painting removed from the bedrock somewhere. It's really heavy and substantial despite it's small size. The surface is very flat and even, yet one sees a rich texture. It also has the benefit of high contrast, so it glows in any lighting.

"Mystery Map #3" is actually at the end of the list chronologically, but we're progressing alphabetically, so here it is. It is a diptych of 12" x 36" panels, made of encaustic, carbon, cocoa and marble dust.
Chronologically, this one benefits from another two weeks of research and development. The color values and contrast have gotten stronger to compensate for lighting issues, the alcohol washes have more subtlety ... It's gorgeous , if I do say so myself. This is the piece we chose today to grace the gallery announcements. Please feel free to email me your address and I'll send you one as soon as I get'em.

"Frogskin" is an 18" x 30" triptych on those same thick, weathered boards. (It might as well be stone for how heavy it seems.)
This one was a vacation from all the alcohol washes- It's pure encaustic and a lot of it. The wax itself is like, a 1/2" thick. I enjoyed making it a lot, a very playful process.
"Hidden Fish" is another venture into the oversize realm. It measures 50" x 22" and basically covered my entire bench, leaving me using every other surface within reach to put all the tools and jars and whatnot. It was really awkward working like that, and doubly frustrating because I had just built that bench last month to supposedly accommodate bigger work.
Chronologically, this is the oldest piece. I used really thick applications of marble dust and water attempting to create washes, and never really had any success toward that end. I DID however, discover the concrete-like textures and carving techniques that came in very handy later in the month.
As a work of art... this one is a lot like the last. It's luminous, full of texture and depth. It doesn't play hide and seek the way Mystery Map(s) #1 and #3 do, but it's sheer size and presence is lovely, I think.

I hope you've enjoyed my little presentation. I have a couple more that still need to be photographed... I'll get to those next week, and by then I should have another couple fresh from the bench to add as well.
Thanks for visiting.


As a side note-
This week I discovered Facebook.com. It's been a romp through long forgotten past lives and oddly inspiring to reconnect with the folks who inhabit that landscape. The flip side is that I received 10x the volume of email I'm used to, all of which I wanted to respond to. As one facebook friend put it. "I'm losing too many billable hours to this site, but I just have to say..."
It's voyeuristicly compelling and totally satisfies my narcissism. It's like TV about ME! I got into a rhythm of putting a new layer down on the piece I'm working on, fusing it with the torch, then while it's cooling go see what so-and-so had to say about whats-her-head's story from 1978. Sometimes an hour would go by, before I remembered I'm working in here.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

I love them all! But my favorite is Mystery Map #2. It's like something old and secret that shimmers on the edge of being understandable -- and then flashes out of reach.