Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seven Degrees of Separation, Part 4

The Paralyzing Factor of “Preciousness”

I've often heard it said, that in order to find what is authentic, the artist has to let go of what is “precious.”  But what does that mean???   I think we each find our precious place by experience.  For some, it is the area of the canvas that was painted exactly PERFECT! ...meaning that this area of the painting will be protected at all costs.  When the rest of the “not working” parts of the painting have been reworked to death, I finally paint over the one good area and by magic, the rest of the painting begins to work.  I think my buyers would indeed be surprised at how many precious areas have been abandoned under layers of paint…or in my case, wax.

While I am familiar with that “protect and release” rhythm in my studio work, I have never actually had to wrestle with preciousness BEFORE painting.  In this series, that is exactly what happened. We were all sent these lovely, luscious cradled panels by Ampersand.  I was dying to begin work, but I couldn't figure out how to make them work.  How could I get dimension from this flat surface?  After doing some big time struggle, I realized that the canvases, themselves, became precious and had to go.  Once that realization dawned, I was free to set them aside an get to the task of creating my own canvases from handmade paper and foam…a process that I have described in my book, Wax and Paper Workshop: Techniques for Combining Encaustic Paint and Handmade Paper. 

  Step 1:  Design canvas and cut foam board
 Step 2: Wrap mulberry paper onto foam board.

Three of the completed canvases.

I began by making several canvases the same dimensions as the original Encausticbords.  I left openings or windows in order to provide opportunities for inserting three-dimensional materials later on.  For this series, I decided to use handmade mulberry paper that I purchase from Thailand through a US supplier.  I often make my own paper, especially if I want to distress it, but for this series, I didn’t want to spend the extra time and money renting paper studio space.  Besides, I was now “itching” to get working.

To see the art I “stole” and how it worked out, stay tuned.

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