Guest Post by Paula Scott
As an artist, I often question who I am as an artist. Am I a photographer? A printmaker? An encaustic artist? A painter or mixed-media artist? You see, I work in all of these mediums and have worked in photography the longest; hence it is my most prolific area. There are no clear lines or boundaries for me when it comes to working in these different mediums. How does one begin to combine them and perhaps more intriguing, WHY would you combine them?
Curating and presentation of one’s work makes all the difference in the world; the choice made in the presentation can totally transform the piece. In the realm of photography, many have gone past the tradition of the glass and frame and now have so many ways in which to present their work. Even the kind of paper the image is printed on makes a huge difference. Photo encaustic offers a great alternative to the traditional presentation of photographic works.
Encaustic, which is bee’s wax in most cases, combined with a bit of dammar resin (the combination is referred to as encaustic medium), brings a very different quality to a photographic image. The image becomes more luminous and seems to glow from within, giving it a different kind of depth. The kind of paper you use to print your photograph on in combination with the wax, also dictates the outcome. The best part about this marriage of photo and wax is that that the image is not restrained under glass. It brings another level of intimacy to the viewer.
In this first example, “Bandelier,” the image was printed as a laserjet image, adhered via wax, to the board that was already ‘prepped’ with encaustic medium. Oil pigment was also used in many thin layers, which is another advantage to working in wax as it allows you to build up translucent layers adding even more depth to the final image. Think of it as glazing your photographic image.
In “Raven Boy II,” the image was printed on a thin, handmade Japanese paper called chiri. Chiri means “leftovers” and refers to the small pieces of dark mulberry paper bark that are left in, or added to the paper vat. The image was mounted to a burned birch panel, a few thin layers of encaustic medium were applied and additional oil pigment was selectively added in areas to balance out the tone.
You can see in the image what it looked like before adjustments were made and before it was printed.
In the next image of the contemplative Buddha, there are a few more steps involved.
The background of the image is a photograph of a leafless shrub shadow printed onto scrapbook paper (which had the image of the ‘map’ on it). It was then adhered to a small cradleboard. A few layers of encaustic medium were then applied and the next image, which is an inkjet print of Buddha’s profile, was trimmed and adhered with encaustic medium. The wax medium also makes the paper translucent, allowing the visual information underneath it to show through. It is an artistic choice.
In the final example, “Blue Line,” it is a macro shot of a surface in the Albuquerque Railyard (a worn surface of peeling paint with the edge of some spray art). The image was taken so that there is no reference to what the image is, which is an abstraction of what many would see as mundane. The example on the left is the image ‘as is.’ The one on the right is printed on watercolor paper, adhered to a small cradleboard and a few layers of encaustic medium is applied to the surface.
My work is often about spontaneity, experimentation, exploration of color and textures; offering the viewer a different perspective of the ordinary. Being an artist who works in a handful of mediums, I love to capture what would be considered mundane, and with these moments, celebrate them. It is in these details of life that often go unnoticed that I see as the essence of living in the moment. Combining mediums such as encaustic and photography offers me more ways in which to express this.