My “Natural Abstractions” series are watercolor + wax works focusing on amazingly colorful natural occurrences that scream for exploration, exploitation, and abstraction in an artist’s studio – from the extraordinary and beautiful hot springs of Yellowstone, to the mysteries of stellar nebula or northern lights in our night skies. Vivid colors are my signature, just like my watercolor paintings. My artwork always presents more of the essence of a subject, rather than a realistic representation. I have succeeded when my viewer participates in deciding what the subject actually is.
Watercolor and wax shouldn’t even be able to mix, should they? People are familiar with watercolor as a medium and perhaps even encaustic (wax). But I have combined both of these media in my work to present an interesting dichotomy – opposites working together. Each medium becomes more visible upon close inspection, and the view from farther away brings the suggested subject matter to light.
Encaustic painting involves using heated encaustic “medium” which is beeswax, damar resin and linseed oil. Colored pigments are sometimes added. This molten wax is applied to a surface such as wood or a specially prepared encaustic board. A blowtorch or heat gun is used to fuse the wax between layers, which makes the process rather exciting! The wax is impervious to moisture. (See my videos of hot wax in action.)
In my NATURAL ABSTRACTIONS series I use layers of rice paper that I have created using my splash and pour technique with watercolor. Each piece of paper gets the hot wax treatment and becomes translucent, and then several of these colored papers are layered one on top of each other, with clear encaustic medium in between each, usually mounted with wax to a specially prepared wood box. Often dried leaves, flowers and bark are encased in the layers. The result is a beautiful undulating textured surface with mysterious, enigmatic subject matter suggested by the overlapping colorful layers below.
The Pollinator Project series takes this layering and abstraction a bit further into actual commentary. My motive is to bring to attention the dire straits pollinators are in (and therefore our crops and health). Bees, bugs and butterflies (naturally expired) are imbedded in the wax along with dried flowers and leaves, overlaying colorful rice paper backgrounds.