I've always wanted to try my hand at encaustic painting. This is a process that involves painting with melted beeswax that's been mixed with damar resin and pigment. Each layer of paint/wax is fused with the layer below by using a heat source, such as a torch. It's an ancient process, and also surprisingly stable and strong. What's appealing to me is that with all of those layers of wax and paint, the effect can be very luminous and ethereal.
This past summer I attended a demo by the women who run WaxWorksWest, an encaustic studio in Corralitos, CA. The demo was impressive, and I immediately signed up for one of their one-day workshops. I learned a lot in that one day, and I'm really looking forward to going back. Here are some of my fellow classmates in the Encaustic Boot Camp Class:
Here we have a hot plate heated to about 200 degrees. Those little tins hold the pigment and wax combo. A flat thermometer helps us keep track of the surface temperature. If the wax is overheated, it can become toxic. Several box fans keep the area well ventilated. The best part was playing with fire, in this case butane torches, to fuse the wax. I somehow managed not to ignite anything that I wasn't supposed to.
At the end of the day, I had four completed pieces. I loved the process. To me, it was such an experimental and playful process. I had a blast, and can't wait to make more.
Detailed images of these paintings soon to come.
I've started gathering the materials and tools needed to do these on my own, in my studio. In the meantime, I've signed up for another day-long workshop. Care to join me on November 12th for the Encaustic Transfer Techniques class? You can see the complete class list and schedule on their website:
It turns out that a lovely friend and collector of my work has an excellent eye for framing. In general I don't frame my own work. In part, I want the buyer to decide whether they want it framed at all, and how to do it. I'll be honest, it's also about economy for me, since framing can get expensive. My framing tastes tend to run toward the clean and minimalist. Simple floater frames for me, if any. In contrast, my friend went for whimsy and bold. She grouped my bee paintings together on one wall, and I love the effect.
This last one stands alone on it's own wall. I love what the frame does to the painting. It gives it an added dimension, drawing your eye in and giving it another layer of drama and presence. That is what good framing does.
This painting is my donation to my local school's fundraiser. They host an incredible event here in the Santa Cruz Mountains every October, raising money for our small public mountain school. Not only is the event a LOT of fun, it also brings in much-needed funding for our school. The evening brings us wine tasting, live music, a silent auction, dancing, and a very lively live auction. Can't wait!
About the painting:
The Gala is held at an incredibly beautiful venue, a private estate called Maison du Lac. Earlier this summer, with camera in hand, I explored the grounds and gardens. I took this photo of a red bench overlooking the little pond. The funny thing is that I took the photo with my iPhone, using a little application that emulates a vintage cameras, where you get to select the lens/film/flash options. The resulting image for me was compelling, and was the source for this painting. Old meets new: oil painting meets iPhone technology.
So, come to the Gala if you can. Look for this painting at the Silent Auction.
A friend of a friend was in town, and was brought to my studio for a tour. After selecting a few paintings to be shipped home, she mentioned that she wanted a grouping of three small pieces to hang together on the same wall. Sunflowers are her favorite, so I took a request to make a sunflower & bee painting. Another small painting with a bee & flower complete the group. I'm looking forward to seeing all three framed, and hopefully I'll get to see a photo of them hanging together.
(note: this little painting is on nice wide stretcher bars, so it sits about 1 1/2" off the wall. I love these little chunky canvases. The edges are painted, so no need to frame it unless you really want to. The are ready to hang on the wall. )
My kids are out of school for the summer, which means squeezing in painting when I can. I have a few small projects and commissions in the works, but mostly I'm following my inspirations and personal goals. I have a large canvas that I'm finishing up, as well as a series of small scale pieces all in various stages of completion. There are more bees, as well as a chicken portrait or two. I've been playing with my iPhone and enjoying the images that I'm creating with a fun little application called Hipstamatic. Some of these will likely translate into paintings. I am always on the lookout for imagery to use in my paintings, forever collecting photos to reference when I am back in the studio.
I've recently created a Facebook Group page. If you're on Facebook, be sure to join the group Giselle Gautreau: Paintings. I'll post new images there as well as have updates that relate to what's happening in the studio.
I'm hosting my first open studio since moving here. Mostly it will be friends from the local school and neighbors. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to come by! I promise to have plenty of coffee on hand.
(note on the painting: this little cutie grew up to be our own little Fluffball, the infamous chicken that went on a 5 day walkabout in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She's got street cred. amongst the hens. Fluffball is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.)
note on the painting: This portrait is of Cinco, the fifth chicken that we picked out last Spring. She's an Ancona hen. When she was small, she was "tasted" by our Black Lab, Bella. Cinco lived to tell the tale, but she wasn't very happy to see our dog for a while after the incident. Cinco is one of our smallest chickens, and she generously lays one small white egg for us every day.