The image here is of six, out of a suite of twelve, 4″ square deep canvasses, to which I’ve added a top layer of plaster cloth (Mod Roc). I’ve then added layers of clear encaustic medium and to some, yellow ochre and indian red oil paints (wiped on then wiped off) white encaustic medium and soy bean wax, blending and fusing the layers as I’ve gone, with a hot gun.
The technique is an adaptation of a process for making plaster and encaustic artist books developed by artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills. Instructions for the process appear in the book Encaustic Revelation, Cutting Edge Techniques from the Masters of Encausticamp, which includes step-by-step demonstrations of innovative techniques for encaustic printmaking, from nine artists, including the author of the book Patricia Baldwin Seggerbruch.
The technique allows for the inclusion of photocopy prints or small objects, such as leaves. To the canvas on the right I’ve added a recent eco print on organza – I’ve written about this batch of prints at The Gift of the Unexpected and The Gentle Spear.
It was a spontaneous – I could add desperate – act. For a few days I was intensely uncomfortable with what I’d done. It seemed to have no meaning. How did it tie-in with my Below the Line project? Which is all about meaning, about existence, origins and sources. And I don’t want my art to be just decorative. Decoration is absolutely okay – we desperately need more beauty – but that’s not what I want my work to represent.
Bridgette Guerzon Mills has written this: “I thought about how artists are the ultimate meaning makers. That is what we do. That is our practice. We take what human beings do all the time, every second, without thinking- but we do it all the time, with purpose and intent.”
And then I saw it, the meaning in my little work.
Forces and energies. I wrote, in The Gift … : “Eco printing is about forces, reactions to pressures: the pressure of compression, of chemicals, of time and space. The results are always emblematic of life and living. Could it be said that the accidental, the disappointing, can better be seen as The Gift of the Unexpected, an opportunity, a fresh way of making something beautiful and useful (i.e. art)?”
I missed out heat as a force, from the list, but no matter.
I’ve been following a blog Spirit Cloth, for most of this year, the work of textile artist Jude Hill, whom I’d describe as one of the most insightful women – and women artists – I’ve ever come across. She wrote this: Idea + Technique = Form. It’s a breathtakingly simple equation, describing how art comes into being. I’m inclined to write: QOD, because I have Idea; I have been searching for Technique, so there has been little Form. I think I have found Technique, at least for now, for as Jude also writes, about Balance: “One must be ready at any moment for everything to change.” I’m balanced for a big change, an avalanche of Form. First, this suite of twelve little canvasses.
It’s a funny number, twelve. It represents a cycle (such as in twelve months equals one year). I read that twelve, being the product of three and four, represents the union of people and God.
1 Kings 18:31-38 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord …
Stones. I know all about stones. And if you’re wondering what the stones are in the first picture, they’re rock crystal. I’ll be writing about that adventure shortly.