Today I took a "mental health day" and attended an encaustics workshop at Silvermine Art Center. The workshop was taught by a knowledgable, generous artist named Nash Hyon. She introduced us to the techniques and processes, showed us all the basics and got us started on an exploration of encaustics or "hot wax painting". The Ancient Greeks used this technique for portraits and murals and, more recently, artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Delaunay have used it. Due to a few very pressing deadlines I won't be able to explore this medium further until after the new year, but taking the class today got me thinking about my current medium of fiber in a deeper way.
Encaustics is all about layering. You start with a (usually) blank surface and patiently, slowly build layer after layer of wax medium, adding collaged items and colored pigment if you choose. Incising lines, scraping away layers, adding still more layers until you declare yourself satisfied with the result. Now I'll try to translate some of that patient layering to my fiber art where I've been trying to work more complexly in layers of imagery, color and texture.
I enjoyed the process of encaustic, but it's a skill like any other that takes practice to master. Today I was mostly experimenting with how the different materials I was collaging would react with the wax. I'm definitely looking forward to exploring further and seeing how best to incorporate this technique into my "vocabulary".
I've also recently taken up tap dancing again. Another medium, another opportunity for creative inspiration. Choreography follows a lot of the same principles of design that visual art does -- repetition, rhythm, variety and balance among others. Besides, it's good exercise for both body and brain. And I can combine art quilting and tap dancing if I "shuffle off to Buffalo" every time I head to the ironing board and "shuffle hop step" when I head back to my machine!