Sunday, March 25, 2018

Encaustic Workshop with Carolyn Berry

Carolyn  Berry was a textile and jewelry major in college and became a fiber artist before she found her calling with encaustics.  Taking workshops and classes from teachers such as Danielle Wolf and Linda Robertson made her realize she could combine her love for so many artistic elements such as texture, textiles, drawing and painting in one medium -- wax.

Encaustic art is not a new phenomenon; there are examples of detailed portraits rendered in wax from the ancient Greeks and Romans.  Examples of Egyptian Fayum portraits from 200 AD still exist today.  Google Fayum portraits and be amazed at these lifelike renderings -- each a portrait associated with a mummified body, painted on wooden boards and laid to rest with the deceased.
Painting with encaustics and pigment required the use of fire to melt the wax which could be dangerous.  So when oil paints were invented, they essentially replaced encaustic painting.  However, this expressive medium has been making a comeback in recent years.  Diego Rivera was known for his use of encaustics in the 1920's, as was Jasper Johns in the 50's.  There is even an Encaustic Institute in Santa Fe.

Carolyn started out her workshop by giving her students an overview of encaustic's history, and explained the techniques and procedures prior to us getting started.  And of course told us what not to do if you spill hot wax on your skin (don't peel it off, or it will take your skin off with it!)

Pans of hot wax--beeswax and damar resin, were liquified on a hot plate and ready for us to start creating.

The 5 hour workshop introduced us to fusing the hot wax to our gessoed boards, how to use overlay, collage, transfer and painting with pigmented wax.  Time went quickly in our creative states and everyone had fun putting together 4 pieces of encaustic art.
 Carolyn had provided all the material and tools to make this workshop fun and educational.  Take her class if you get a chance!

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