Monday, May 11, 2015

Seven Degrees of Separation, Part 1

Facing the Terror of Beginning

How does one begin a new series?  That has always been a hard one for me.  With so many choices as to subject or image, I find myself paralyzed.  So, one of the first things I like to do is to give myself some parameters.  Sometimes the restrictions are inherent in the theme if I am wanting to apply to a juried show or am part of an invitational show.  I find the limits as actually freeing, and sometimes, the greatest restrictions have resulted in major breakthroughs in my work.

As a group of instructors for EncaustiCamp 2015, we do a collaborative show to raise money for scholarships.  In the past, we have actually collaborated by sending work in a round robin fashion so that I might start a piece with one direction in mind only to find it become something entirely different in the hands of several other artists working in hugely different styles.  This year we are collaborating by setting strict limits on size, colors and theme.  This and the following several blog entries is my attempt to take you along with me on the road to the creation of this body of work both in word and in image.

Series Restrictions
I guess the first and overarching parameter is medium.  Since this is for EncaustiCamp, we are asked to work in the hot wax process, normally referred to as Encaustic.  We will each also be limited to size and support.  Ampersand, who makes the luscious Encausticbord, has graciously created a special size cradled panel (7”x 21”) for this project and donated eight panels to each of the seven instructors…seven each to be used for the show and one as just-in-case!   Last July we all trapesed down to the paint department at Home Depot in Seattle and chose colors that appealed to us at the moment.  We agreed to use the color from the sample as an important element of our work, so much so, that it would be a full 70% of the color on the panel.  Since we have been instructing in a particular approach to wax (mine with paper and wax), it is hoped that we would somehow incorporate our signature materials in the work.  And lastly, we have a theme to explore…Seven Degrees of Separation…or, as we have begun to think of the title…Seven Degrees of Connection.

I've been staring at the boards and feeling uncomfortable, yet mildly excited, ever since they arrived at my doorstep.  The size is not really problematic for me, but I find myself stymied by the panel.  I usually create my own panels out of paper and don’t often work on Encaustibord.  As I look at my color samples, I find myself wondering what I was thinking when I chose all of those pastels! Yikes!  I get my color from oil and medium.  While I use pigmented wax when I teach encaustic painting, I don’t use it often in my own work.  More importantly, my work has become more and more sculptural.  I have no clue as to how I am going to create in a way that moves my own work forward.

To see how I began to approach this project and to discover my two favorite ways to get a handle on where I am going in a new series…stay tuned to the next blog!

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