The Art Pivot

I love photography! It has been a primary passion of mine since early teen years. I also have wanted to be an artist in some other media besides photography for nearly as long. I was very involved in stained glass in my 20's until I wasn't. That was my starving artist period and I only have two pieces from that time in my life. If I recall, the final nail in my glass art was not being able to afford the studio rent and not having the space to do it in my own habitation. Almost ten years ago, now, I bought a home and it has a separate garage. Right away, I furnished the garage with a variety of studio tables and work benches not knowing what I would do with them but knowing without them I wouldn't be doing anything. Then the years ticked off and before I knew it the garage was a cluttered mess with the benches and tables piled high. Once in a while I would clear a space for some studio photography work but there was something gnawing away at me that remained unfulfilled. Ideas would come and go without me acting on them. Then the pandemic came. I began a mission to reclaim the studio space.

Several years ago, I drove around with the idea of filming people I know who are artists and create a documentary. I filmed two of them and promptly had some hellacious technical snafus where i lost most of what I shot. It was disheartening but also somewhat of a relief as I had bit off way more than I could chew with the project from many angles. Mary Roberson, one of the artists I spent several days videoing and interviewing, showed me encaustic techniques she used with some of her work. Several little serendipitous moments later (almost 10 years) I finally got past my obstructions and bought some encaustic supplies at a local art store in June. I was determined to not let the supplies gather any dust!



Encaustic lends itself to working on several pieces at a time. Two full months into this pivot I think I have close to a dozen pieces. Three of them are finished. Three of them are being prepped. Six are in process. I start with a cradled board and prep them with a substrate medium to the raw panel. It's white and meant to create an archival base that will not change through time. Interestingly, the wax I apply does shift over time. It becomes more and more translucent. I'm personally drawn to the translucent qualities of encaustic and am only at the beginning of this journey! I am trying various methods and techniques, all so far, using my photography. I can mount the photo and then paint clear wax layers over it. I can also make various types of imprints of my photos into the wax which is extremely intriguing.



So, this is how it all began! LOL! I used this moment to create my first ever stop motion video. This little video went easier than I thought it would. Stop motion is very much like time lapse. Instead of shooting a frame every few seconds of activity, you take a shot and then move the subjects around. Knowing that there will 24-30 frames in a second of video gives you a little math problem. So little i could even solve it. I wanted this clip to move fairly quickly. So, I took 5 shots of each scene before moving it. When i'm not dreaming about what sort of encaustics to create I am dreaming about what sort of stop motion scene I want to create next! Ive been taking time lapse of many of my sessions and plan to do some video of particular techniques I am learning for anyone who is interested in learning more about the art making.



I chose my SeaDream #25  named, "Timestamp" as one of my first pieces and it has become the very first to be finished. It truly has been a journey as you can see comparing it to the original photo below. All the other pieces I got started with got scraped down for a second try. I refused to give up on Timestamp. It probably has 10 layers of clear and 3 or 4 layers of blue and brownish encaustic paints. Rule one to learn is that one does not entirely control the encaustic process. You have to be willing to let it guide you like it did with me where the clouds meet the blue sky. I also tried out adding pastels and watercolor paint and look forward to more experimenting with them.

I began by mounting a pigment based inkjet photo in the middle of the board. That left about an inch or so at the top and the bottom to fill in. What you can't see in this photo is the texture of the face of the painting and the high gloss the wax takes on after being polished with a microfiber and sealed with an encaustic sealer. I am going to do several if not all of this collection of photos. I think the encaustic photography process lends itself very well to it. Painting the top and bottom have given me the confidence to paint more freehand in my process.



I have been remiss in my blogging and I aim to make up for it. Blogging is a process in its own right and it takes a bit of discipline to include in ones MOO. The last two months have been a blur of activity which made it easy to put on the back burner. But now I think i can roll along here with many more new and old stories to tell. Truth be told, this Labor Day weekend is so hot outside that I am happy at the computer writing this. Yesterday, the studio in the garage got above 100 and of course if it got up to, say, 115, my encaustics would begin to come alive. Even at 100+ things were beginning to get tacky!


Here is an in process view of a few of my pieces. Trying some collaging, imprinting and other techniques to learn which ones work for me.


Some day I will paint large encaustics!



I can't believe I am this many blogs in without a tip of the hat to George Duke! A jazz legend who died too soon in 2013 from Leukemia. He released his first album in 1966 and spent two remarkable years with Frank Zappa which launched his very prolific solo career. In my studio I have a time capsule called an... ITouch which holds thousands of tunes I acquired in the early digital music years and there is a ton of Duke on it. Fun to just flip it on shuffle and see where it takes me.


I didn't know it would be the last time i saw him when this super group, DMS, rolled into Santa Barbara in 2011. I thought it was just the beginning of his "popular" years. To say that this band was epic is an understatement and i hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed digging it up to share with you. George was always an outlier. Maybe his time with Zappa got him blacklisted? But with every passing album he spun magical stories steeped in some of the funkiest grooves ever known by mankind! If you know him, you know! If you don't this is your chance to discover.